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Full property extension under the guise of 'Repairs'

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260 views 1 replies latest reply: 01 January 2016
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Tenant

I am renting a shared house with 2 others. I pay £550 per month I have signed my tenancy agreement singularly, although it states the full rent of £1650 per month. The letting agents sent an email stating the following: I would like to do some alterations in the first floorback bedroom and am providing you with a notice as per Condition 18/19 of your tenancy agreement entitled “Access for Inspections and Repairs”. The work is expected to take 14 working days and will not impact any of the occupied bedrooms, toilet, or shower room. The builder will be putting up a new ceiling cover in the back part of the kitchen which will take 1 to 2 days as part of the alterations in the First Floor Back Bedroom. In order to compensate the tenants for any disruption I would like to offer them a 50% rent reduction during the time of the works. 1. the 1st floor back bedroom ‘repairs’ were in fact an extension of the bedroom outwards over the kitchen/diner below. 2. The small ground floor bedroom was then also made bigger by making the main bathroom smaller, which is next to it. 3. With steel braces to hold the 1st floor up, which my own bedroom was above, they removed the wall between the ground floor front bedroom and bathroom and a put a steel RSJ going right through from front ground floor bedroom, through the actual shower cubicle to the back bedroom, the toilet was removed. In other words no functioning bathroom, let along privacy. 4. Building supplies left in walkways and kitchen/diner. 5. Another lock added to the front door without any of the tenants being informed, resulting in my having to stay overnight in a travel lodge. 6. When I enquired how much reduction in rent this would now be, the exact figure I was emailed by was a reduction of £130. 7. Work started Dec 2nd, still going on over Christmas. 8. I have full photographic evidence. One of my housemates has complained and asked to be released from the tenancy and deposit returned in full. The landlord agreed to this. I have also asked the landlord to release me from the tenancy agreement, which he has refused without a reason. I want to be released from this tenancy without being penalized or pursued for further rent. What can I do?

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Administrator

Hi Samantha

I’m a bit confused as to whether your tenancy is a joint tenancy – if it mentions the full rent it sounds like a joint tenancy (although I’m not a lawyer). Does it use the words ‘joint and several’? If so then it is likely a joint tenancy and the landlord would probably need to bring the tenancy to an end to release one tenant and then sign a new agreement with all the other tenants and the departing tenant’s replacement. Even if it’s not a joint tenancy then the landlord is setting a precedent by releasing one tenant for what has happened. What justifiable reason could there be for releasing them and not you?

First, find out what kind of tenancy you have. Then set out everything that has happened in writing, including timelines (and how far over the predicted date the works went) and the costs you have incurred, as well as the inconvenience and stress of the situation. I’m pretty sure that ‘Access for Inspections and Repairs’ covers the annual maintenance inspection and minor repairs – in fact, what has happened here is building works which is not the same thing at all. On that basis you could potentially sue the landlord for breach of the tenancy agreement, particularly as it went on for so much longer and you have been poorly compensated. As I said, I’m not a lawyer so it’s worth speaking to Citizens Advice or someone at a law centre to make sure you can do this. In my experience, I have had something similar where an arrogant agent told me that the roof would be replaced with me in the building (in the top floor flat and working from home) and that the landlord had every right to do this under the tenancy even though it wasn’t an emergency – I put everything in writing and then suggested I would sue the landlord via the small claims court if I wasn’t released from the contract and my deposit returned, as there was no basis in the tenancy for the landlord to do this without my agreement. That worked as the landlord just didn’t want the hassle and knew they could find someone else.

A different alternative is to suggest the landlord agree (in writing) to surrender the tenancy if you find a replacement to take it over. That would mean you could leave once a new tenant signed a tenancy.

Hope that helps.

Alex

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