Hey guys, wondering if anyone could offer any advice on what I should do about my ex-landlord.
it’s a little long winded so I apologise in advance!
Basically me, my partner and my brother began renting a house in February 2015.
When we viewed the property there was a family living in the house so it was just a quick viewing. During which we could see that there was a lot of re-decorating to be done – the floors downstairs were bare floorboards covered in large spilt paint stains, every room needed re-painting, gardens were over grown ect.
We didnt mind these problems as the house was in an area we really wanted to move to and was the perfect size for us.
On the day we were due to collect the keys the letting agent said he didnt feel happy about us moving in that day as the last tenants had left furniture and rubbish everywhere and wanted to get the landlord to remove it for us. Unfortunately it was already 2pm in the afternoon on the day set for us to move in, so all our belongings were waiting in the removal van and we had already handed the keys in for our previous house. We said not to worry and we would clear it ourselves as we had no other option at this point.
However as soon as we got in to the property the nightmare began!
within minutes we discovered that the boiler had a notice on it stating it had been switched off and was unsafe to use – the notice was dated 6 months prior to us moving in.
the kitchen cupboards were falling to pieces, the plumbing under the sink was leaking and looked as if it had been for a long time.
the backdoor had a panel missing with a piece of cardboard in its place. there were no keys to the backdoor so we couldnt access the garden which was full of rubbish.
the sliding door to the front porch was missing a handle and almost impossible to slide open and shut.
nearly every single plug socket in the house was hanging off the walls with exposed wiring. and half the lights weren’t working.
the cooker had a sign on it saying do not use and the mains wire had been cut.
once we’d cleared the furniture and rubbish we descovered lots more spilt paint stains in the kitchen and on the bedroom carpets.
there were also lots of numerous holes in walls and cracked glass above doors.
I immediately called the letting agent to discuss the problems to be told he wasnt managing the property and was just hired to get tenants in (something never mentioned to us before hand) He told me that our landlord lived in Vietnam and gave me an email address for him.
I sent a very polite email to the landlord introducing ourselves and attached photos of all the damage to the house, I told him that we were more than happy to deal with the redecorating but would obviously need his help with the boiler, back door, kitchen and cooker, I also asked if he would be able to pay for hire of a van for a day out of the previous tenants deposit to get rid of the furniture and rubbish left behind and we would do the manual work to save money.
within a few hours he phoned me from a withheld number and apologised for the condition of the house stating that the previous tenants must have detroyed everything. he said that the property never came with a cooker so we would have to replace that ourselves (not something we were expecting) and that he had been trying to get the boiler sorted for a few months but the previous tenants had made it hard to arrange gas engineers and he would get it sorted for us as soon as possible. he also forwarded me emails between him and the letting agent showing them discussing the boiler needing to be fixed (which made me even more annoyed that the letting agent hadn’t warned us of this when he had known for over a month before us moving in)
he told me that he wouldn’t be able to pay for a van for the day as he had already returned the previous tenants deposit (they had only moved out that morning) we got on well on the phone and I felt that it must be hard for him being in another country. He said he didnt ever intend on returning to the uk so was happy he had tenants that wanted to stay indefinately and make it a home.
anyway after this phone call we bagan to relax and thought ok lets just get on with it.
over the next few weeks we began on clearing the tons of rubbish left behind, repainting and sanding down the floorboards and painting them white as we couldnt afford to re-carpet.
I spoke to the landlord regarding the electrics as lights were beginning to burn out and after getting an electrician in I was told that it couldnt be legally signed off as the consumer board was too outdated.
The landlord asked me to get quotes for him which I did, but everytime he asked me to get another, after weeks of getting different electricians round for quotes and him constantly saying the same thing I told him that I wouldn’t be getting anymore as it was taking up all my days off work staying in waiting for electricians. (i gave him 14 different quotes and still he never took any action on the electrics whilst we lived there)
long story short it took the landlord 8 months!!! to get the boiler changed (that’s 13 months of renting to people with no access to heating or hot water) I was in constant communication with him trying to get it chased up. At first he was helpful then he started making comments like “well you could always invite your friends round for a gang bang to warm up the house” or “you should count yourselves lucky it’s 40 degrees here, i’d kill for a cold shower” he then told me that he was to be going in to a vietnamise prison for a few weeks for not paying a fine so i’d have to wait until he was out.
In that time I had been going to citizens advice and got environmental health to visit the property, to be constantly told we shouldn’t withold rent as he could legally evict us (we had nowhere else we could go and not enough money for another deposit and fees) they said that because he was in another country there wasn’t anything they could do for us, but it was illegal for us to be living there due to the dangerous gasses.
The landlord then went on to tell us that we needed to say to people that we were just house sitting for him as he didnt have the right insurances to rent the property out and even asked my brother to commit insurance fraud by pretending to be him and sign some forms – we obviously said no to this.
In late October we finally got the new boiler and I then asked him if we could replace the kitchen as the cupboards were in pieces and we were just having to store our food in boxes on the floor. He said we could do whatever we wanted to the house.
I managed to get a second hand kitchen for free which we installed, and although not in perfect condition it served its purpose finally.
we saved up over the next few months for deposits and handed in our notice. He told me that he would transfer the deposit the day we moved out after the letting agent had inspected the property.
the letting agent did this and we were sent a copy of the email of him telling the landlord that we had left the house in a much better condition than we had recieved it.
I also sent him an email with photos of the condition on us leaving.
however 2 weeks passed and we still hadn’t recieved our money, I then found out that it was never put in a safety scheme (I know we’re idiots for not checking this!)
after a month of moving out I started threatening legal action, he finally replied and said that he had just recieved a council tax bill for our time residing in the house – nothing had ever come through whilst we lived there so we pressumed the house was declared empty due to it being legally uninhabitable.
he said he was keeping our deposit to cover this bill and that he needed forwarding adresses to give to the council, I asked why he would need that if he was paying the bill with our money and asked for either proof of him clearing the debt or our deposit back so that we could pay it.
I then recieved and email from him saying that he was going to be taking us to court for criminal damage to the house and forwarded me an email from his new tenants complaining about the broken back door, missing porch door handle, lack of carpets, holes and cracks in walls and glass above doors and also it had been advertised to them as having a brand new fitted kitchen which obviously wasnt the case!
I emailed (staying polite as usual) explaining that those were problems that were there when we moved in and that we had stopped doing up the house when we decided to leave, I forwarded him the email sent to him on the day of us moving in with the pictures to prove this and reminded him that the letting agent that inspected before us moving in and after us moving out had confirmed that it was in a much better state.
He’s now saying that our deposit isn’t going on the council tax and is going to replace the carpets we have stolen?! a brand new kitchen and a new cooker!!
I have said to him that I am going to be seeking legal action, for him to email back smugly saying that he’s not in the country so good luck with that! and that he is going to persure us in the criminal damage charges.
he has emailed me this morning saying that a new tenant has recieved an electric shock from the dishwasher we left (was asked if we would leave as it was intergrated) so he will be suing us for that too. I reminded him about the electrics never being signed off as safe and that the consumer board was outdated and we too had had issues with shocks and lights burning out.
Anyway, sorry for the huge story!
does anyone know if there is anyway we could file charges against him?
is it possible to take out a case against the property as he is in Vietnam?
We want to clear the council tax debt but only if we are getting our deposit back as the things he is charging us for are ridiculous and I have so many photos and all conversations between me and him as evidence.
Other than paying the outstanding council tax I’m not too bothered about money but just don’t want him to be able to continue treating people like this.
Would it be a good idea to write to the new tennants warning them about him? I’ve seen from the string of emails he forwarded me that he is telling them that we trashed the house, the same thing he told us about the tennants before us.
It seems there is a lot of help for landlords against tennants but not the other way around, especially as he is in another country.
Thanks in advance for any replies