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Gas Fire in Tenancy Agreement and Inventory

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647 views 3 replies latest reply: 22 October 2015
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Tenant

Hi I hope someone can help us. We are renting from a private landlord and we have a problem with a gas fire that is included in both the Tenancy Agreement and the inventory.  This fire was condemned by the gas engineer who issued the gas safety certificate on 31 July this year. We viewed the property with the agent on 1 August and agreed to take the property. We had a second visit to the property to meet the landlord and her father and they advised us then that the gas had been disconnected to make the fire safe. This is a fire which is part of a fireplace. We were told that it would need a bolt fitted to keep the flue open before it could be reconnected.  The landlord is refusing to have it repaired and the agent has advised her that she doesn’t have to do this.

We have been told that legally this has to be repaired as it is in our Tenancy Agreement under fixed heating and also on the inventory as part of the property.  It is also included in the Landlords responsibilities to keep it in repair.

We were not given the inventory to the property until 6 days after we moved in. When we received it there were a lot of mistakes on it but we went through it thoroughly and made the amendments and took it back to the Agent.  We have now been asked to sign the inventory again with further amendments on 16 October which we think is very unreasonable. 

We would really love to know what the legal position is as when we write we are just dismissed and told that she doesn’t have to repair it. We have been told we can leave the property if we give a months notice and forfeit our deposit for her administration expenses! We do not want the disruption of moving again so soon. We also don’t want to forfeit our deposit of nearly £1000 when it is not our fault that the fire doesn’t work. Any help would be very much appreciated and sorry this is such a long message.

Thank you

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Administrator

Hi Dee

Firstly, you cannot ‘forfeit your deposit.’ The deposit is to pay for damage to the property that you cause, or unpaid rent – it remains your property throughout the tenancy. It should be protected by a deposit protection scheme – have you been given details of this scheme? You are supposed to be provided with details within 30 days of paying the deposit – if not you can make a claim against the landlord for 1-3 times the deposit amount. What they might mean by this is that you are probably bound into the first six months of the tenancy and you can’t leave until the end of the sixth month – or if you do you’re still liable for those six months of rent. Perhaps they are offering a way out of that by keeping your deposit, rather than chasing you for that six months of rent.

With the inventory, don’t sign one that isn’t correct. Send your amended version of the inventory via email and via recorded delivery and state in both that this is the version of the inventory that is correct and that you have evidence to support it. Take photos, videos, any evidence you can get to support your version of the inventory. If they continue insisting you sign he wrong one then just continue replying that you won’t sign the document until it properly reflects the reality – you’ll be able to use the one that you’ve created as long as you’ve got proof of the date it was sent and some evidence to back it up, should you need it at the end of the tenancy. The inventory will be used at the end of the tenancy to determine whether you may need to pay for damage so it’s key that you don’t sign a document that doesn’t reflect damage that was there when you moved in or you’ll end up paying for it (if you don’t agree with a landlord’s suggested deductions when the tenancy ends then you can raise a dispute with the tenancy deposit scheme and the inventory will be key when it comes to helping them to decide whether the deductions are fair).

If your tenancy agreement says it’s the landlord’s responsibility to repair the fire then it’s the landlord’s responsibility to repair the fire – that’s a legal document that both parties have signed. There’s also an implied provision of repair in law that appears to cover gas fires (I’m not a lawyer but it looks right) – section 11 of the Landlord and Tenants Act 1985 (more info on that here).

Perhaps write a letter or email to the agents and landlord stating the above and asking – for your clarification – why the agents feel that both the tenancy agreement and the law don’t apply here? Get them to justify the advice they’re giving to the landlord, don’t just accept it. If they can’t then the landlord remains in breach of contract until the fire is fixed.

Alex

 

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Tenant

 Hi Alex first of all thank you so much for your help. It has eased our minds a lot and as you can imagine we have been really stressed out about the whole thing because of the type of responses we have had from the agent.  We will now write again to the Agent as you suggest as we are just being constantly dismissed and we are now being accused of causing further animosity by trying to get this sorted out. 

This fire was condemned on 31 July and when we viewed the property on 1 August it was not mentioned to us. The agents have confirmed that they had not been told and would have told us had they known.  We made amendments to the inventory within 7 days of receiving it and took it into the agent where it was signed.

We have now received by email an amendment to the Inventory made by the landlord which now states amogst other points  that the gas fire has been decommissioned. This is seven weeks after we took the property.  We obviously don’t want to sign this but are being asked to.

Thank you

 

 

 

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Administrator

Hi Dee

It’s just what (some) agents do – the first time you’re treated like this you tend to think ‘oh god am I being a trouble maker?’ or to feel like you don’t have any rights, which is of course what agents who behave like this want you to think. Once it happens a couple of times you realise that it’s more bluffing than anything else – many agents succeed in keeping deposits or forcing tenants to accept things not because they have any legal basis for it but because they are adept at bullying and bluffing. Once you see through that you can stop being intimidated by it.

I’m confused as to why they’re being so insistent on this new inventory. Normally, unless there’s some advantage for the landlord in getting a new one signed off, they wouldn’t push for it. What are the other changes in there? If you don’t want to sign it then don’t, there’s nothing they can do to force you other than the aforementioned bullying. 

I’m not a lawyer but a wonder whether the ommission of the decommissioned fire might be a misrepresentation. Especially if you could prove they did know (they must have known, the landlord would have had to fill out all sorts of information forms when signing up with the agent). There’s info on that here. It might just be complicating the issue and you’d need legal advice but it could be useful when trying to get the agent to do something about the situation as you could sue them.

Alex

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