Has my Landlady broke any laws? | The Tenants' Voice
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Has my Landlady broke any laws?

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287 views 1 replies latest reply: 24 January 2017

Well…where to begin…!

So, I saw a 2 bedroom flat advertised on gumtree in March/April 2016, fully furnished and for £200 per week, all bills included apart from council tax and parking permit and the deposit was £500 for two of us. Contacted the advertiser (which was the current tenant) for a viewing, viewed the property, agreed to take an assured shorthold tenancy that started in September 2016. The current tenant, said that she would pass our details in to the landlady and the landlady would be in touch with a contract etc.

The landlady emailed us copies of the contracts for us to sign and said that when our deposit was paid, it would be protected in a government scheme. Filled out the contracts in May (which stated all bills were inclusive apart from council tax and parking permit), returned them too her for her to sign. Then when she returned the contracts after being signed by her, we paid the deposit (July).

Arrived at the flat on the 1st September to collect the keys and go over the details. We went with the old tenant to the council offices to register for council tax. I am exempt as a student and my girlfriend had to pay as she was working. Then we realised that the previous tenant was the landlady’s daughter. Upon our return, we ran over the inventory, which was photographs taken on an app called smart inventories on the landlady’s phone and were asked to browse the photos and sign if we agreed that those photos were okay, which we did. Then she started talking about her use of electric and gas and her daughters use, saying something about £10 for this and £20 for that, which were nodded in agreement to but not really too sure of what she meant, it didn’t help that her English wasn’t brilliant either. She said that there was £50 on the electric and £60 on the gas and her or her daughter would be in the area to top it up occasionally.

Fast forward to January 2017…

I emailed the landlady letting her know that we had deposited our rent (£1700 each) which would mean we didn’t have to pay any rent until May as the contract stipulates. We hadn’t seen her since she came to change a lightbulb (we asked her to come at 7pm and she turned up at 2pm with her brother in tow and let herself in to the building with a key fob). I had been topping up the gas and electric meters myself but kept all the receipts to be reimbursed as the contract states all bills included. I mentioned this also in the email and asked for a copy of our deposit certificate, gas certificate and the inventory.

Basically, she has just put the deposit in a DPS scheme (21/02/17, with the wrong information) and we still have no gas/EPC certificate. She is now adamant that she has booked a date for the boiler to be serviced but won’t inform us of the date until 48 hours before? This is inconvinient as I have University and my partner works. She is not willing to reimburse us but sent us a copy of the inventory after requesting it 2/3 more times. This turned out to be an electronic document that was 60 pages long and has written on it on three different sections that the limit for the gas and electric is £20 per month in total. We have never seen this document before. She also stated in her email that we were not due for a top up of gas or electric until 15th February 2017. So £50 electric and £60 gas was to last from the 1/09/16 until then. I was polite in our correspondence and have remained so as we are still going back and fourth.

Where do I stand with regards to this?

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The inventory is not a document that overrides the assured shorthold tenancy agreement. Please read your contract again and if it says ALL BILLS INCLUSIVE (minus this and that), then it’s all bills inclusive. 

The landlady might have made a mistake by drafting the wrong contract to sign, but it’s signed now and legally binding. If she doesn’t comply, you can go and make a formal complaint with the EH department of your local council. 

I suggest you two also negotiate and come to specific terms about the future of these meters. Write up an addendum to the AST and go from there.

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