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Can I get a rent abatement?

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283 views 1 replies latest reply: 23 December 2015
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Tenant

I returned from a 3 week holiday on Wednesday, having undergone a 37 hour trip, to find I had to kick the front door open as it was stuck (warped).  When I walked into the property, the wooden flooring had lifted and a hill had mysteriously appeared in the time I was away.  I found this strange but when I walked into the kitchen, I had water pouring from the light fitting.  Of course, I phoned the agent straight away and I was informed someone would be out immediately (this was at 9.00am).  I kept myself awake all day waiting for said someone and the only person who turned up was a handyman to look at the front door.  That’s all he did was ‘look’ at the door (he said he didn’t have any tools with him to fix it).  He said he would be back the next day.  Meanwhile, I couldn’t close the front door and had to leave it open all night (luckily I have a porch too).  The plumber came the next day and said it was a valve leaking – I had established from the agent that a new tap had been fitted in the basin in the bathroom while I was away.  I asked if it was connected and he said no it was a random problem (the agent subsequently advised it was due to him fitting the tap).  He managed to sort out the leak but in the meantime, I was still not to switch on the kitchen light.  I phoned the agent again on Friday and said I wanted an electrician to come out as I needed to be able to see in the kitchen to use the cooker etc.  I went back to work Friday and got home to find that someone had been in the property, but I have not had a phone call from the agent, nor was there a note left by the ‘someone’ as to whether I could now use the lights.  I therefore spent all weekend using a torch in the kitchen.  My question is can I get a rent abatement?  The situation has still not been resolved…  Thanks in advance

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Administrator

Hi Joanna

So all this damage has been caused because the agent fitted a tap improperly while you were away? If you have that in writing then you’re in a very strong position. It might also be worth pointing out that you should have been given notice of the visit on the Friday – all entry to the property by the agent, landlord or anyone working for them requires 24 hrs notice unless an emergency for example the house is on fire (cleaning up after an emergency doesn’t count). Usually, a landlord must deal with an issue within a ‘reasonable’ amount of time and that varies with the issue and the circumstances – in this case that time is probably now up, especially as it was the agent who caused the problem in the first place.

I’m not a lawyer but I’d start by putting all this in writing, setting out the period within which the property – or aspects of it – have been unusable and describe the various issues there have been on a timeline. As long as these remain not dealt with, the agent is putting the landlord in breach of tenancy (look in your tenancy and you should be able to find the landlord’s obligations) so you could also tell the agent they have a specific time period within which to fix this and state the rent abatement you want or you’ll speak to the landlord about what the agent has done and then look at taking action against the landlord for the ongoing breaches of your contract.

As I said, I’m not a lawyer so if you want a legal opinion contact Citizens Advice or someone at a Law Centre.

Alex

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