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Really need advice - please help!

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467 views 2 replies latest reply: 15 March 2014
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Tenant

Hi to all…

I am new to this website so please be patient with me

We (myself my husband and three young children under 6) moved into our rented house on 2nd Feb 2013.

We viewed the house on 12th Jan 2013 before the tenancy began and paid the £550 deposit which I have a handwritten receipt for.
When we were viewing the house the landlords said the kitchen and bathroom would be modernised before we moved in ( very dated kitchen and bathroom approx. 40 years old with units falling apart )
upon this verbal agreement of improvements we paid the deposit and moved in on 2nd Feb 2013.

On the day we moved in the bathroom had been completed (apart from a fixed mirror that they said they would get us in the next couple of days) but the kitchen they hadn’t had time to do so it would be done at easter 2013.
They said that as the kitchen hadn’t been done that we only had to pay £475pcm until it was done but rent would go up to £550pcm once completed.
we agreed that as they would be doing the work and the tenancy was a 6 month fixed term AST that we would pay £500pcm as long as the kitchen would definately be done.
The landlords asked for cash rent payments from the day we moved in and never provided receipts.

Time rolled on and the kitchen was never done. The boiler broke down in April 2013, this was quickly replaced as they knew beforehand that it was on its way out but used the excuse that they had spent the kitchen money on a new boiler, so the kitchen would be done during the next 6 month tenancy in the summer holidays.
We also requested pre tenancy that the electric meter and fuse box be housed and covered as it was at child height and had large grey wires hanging that a child could pull on – the landlord attended and fixed two batons on the walls but never finished this.

We signed a new 6 month fixed term AST on 2nd August.
The kitchen was never updated. repairs were never done. The landlords wife (joint landlords) developed a nodule in her throat that was cancerous – they said this was the reason they had not done the kitchen but it was the landlords wife that always came fortnightly to collect the rent in cash and did not provide receipts.

2nd Feb 2014 we asked for a meeting with the landlord as the new tenancy was due, he came round and we discussed what was happening… he said that they thinking of selling the house (even though he had promised a long term contract once the kitchen was done) and they would let us know a decision in april.
we again signed the 6 month fixed term AST but we were not happy but continued to pay the rent in cash and are up to date.

On 6th March 2014 I sent them this email.

Dear (names removed – Landlords),

Thought this was easier to email given our hectic lives with kids/work etc…
We have a few concerns about the house we rent from you (Address given)
They are as follows…

Gas:
• We have never had from you a copy of the gas safety certificate and a new gas safety check hasn’t been arranged yet. Could you please arrange this and supply copies?

Electric:
• We informed you both after 6 months of living here when you visited for us to sign the 2nd 6 month tenancy agreement that the electrical switches, sockets and lights were buzzing, You agreed that this would be looked into but hasn’t and now some of these have sparked and cut out randomly, (Tenants name) has also had a shock from one of the sockets in the kitchen. Can you please get the electrics checked and made safe as we are worried about the risk?
• The electric fuse box and meter is still not covered in the back room, (Landlords name) did start this early in the first tenancy but this hasn’t been completed and is a risk as it is child height – we won’t even let our kids in the room to get things from the fridge as we are worried about this. Also the grey electrical wiring from the main supply is not fixed and covered and could cause severe risk if pulled. As we understand it this may be against safety regulations.

Energy performance certificate:
• We have never received one.

Deposit Protection:
• We have checked and our deposit appears not to be in any of the rent deposit protection schemes, can you please advise us which deposit protection scheme it is in and a reference number as we will need this if/when the tenancy ends.

Repairs:
• Radiator in the smallest bedroom has a small leak and is now turned off to minimise damage (we acknowledge we have not informed you of this yet as we only noticed last week)
• Cupboards, especially drawers are falling apart in the kitchen – this need to be made safe and useable.
• Front door is increasingly getting more difficult to lock.
• Bath seal needs resealing
• Front window in living room needs sealing as the wind blows through the gap at the top.
• Bathroom mirror has never been replaced.

Summary:
When we started this tenancy we were looking to have a long term tenancy to ensure that our kids were not moving around, we spoke to you about the kitchen before signing the tenancy and you assured us it would be done and after the initial 6 month tenancy that it was your intention to let to us long term.

When we moved in the kitchen still wasn’t done and we understand that you were excellent replacing the boiler when the old one stopped working, even though it was a bank holiday – we really appreciated what you did, however then you said that the kitchen would be done in the next 6 month tenancy as you had used the money for the boiler, we signed another tenancy on this understanding as we believed that you had the intention of doing the kitchen so we could then sign a long term tenancy.

Last month the tenancy ran out and when (Landlords name) came round he informed us that (Landlords name) was discussing now selling the property and we would have to wait until April for a decision on this.
We are understandably anxious that the house where we believed would be a secure home for our children now would probably be sold this year leaving us to move into whatever accommodation/hostel the council would give us due to our situation.

We would appreciate an answer very quickly if your intention is to sell as this is leaving us in limbo while you decide; as you have children also you can understand that we just want a stable place they can call home.
If you do want to sell please start possession order proceedings asap so we can start the process of relocating with the council, or inform us in writing that you do not intend to renew the tenancy in august as early as possible to give us adequate notice to find another house.

When we first met you, you informed us that the deposit would be £500 – as a goodwill gesture we gave you £550, this was because you promised that once the kitchen was completed within the first 6 months tenancy that the rent would be £550pcm so the deposit would match.

You asked us for £475 rent pcm until the kitchen was completed – we agreed to give you £500pcm from 2nd February 2013 as it was promised that the kitchen would be done within the first 6 months of us living here – you even changed the first tenancy agreement to accommodate this agreement. Since then you have accepted £500pcm even though the kitchen has never been done… an overpayment of £325 to date as your part of the verbal agreement hasn’t been fulfilled, we are understandably unhappy about this as this is a considerable amount of money for us to pay when the agreement hasn’t been fulfilled.

Every time we have had contact with you both you have seemed nice and honest so we are unhappy to have to contact you about all these issues but at the end of the day we are paying for a property that is substandard and has potentially dangerous electrical and gas faults and we have three small children that need to be protected as well as looking out for our own safety and interests.

Please do not take this letter as a personal attack; we just want these issues dealt with and a safe home for our family, as I am sure you would if you were us.

Please respond to us as soon as possible with a mutually satisfying agreement so that we can get this all sorted one way or the other.

We do understand that you are busy like us so please text/email/ring in advance of any work or to arrange a time to come round giving us 24 hours’ notice so we can ensure one of us is here.

Many thanks
(Tenants names)

On the 6th March 2014 (the day we sent the email) our deposit was put into a protection scheme.
On Monday 10th March 2014 the landlord attended with the tenancy deposit information and with gas and electrical engineers who checked and certified the electrics (replacing 2 damaged faults kitchen sockets and two buzzing light fittings) and capped off the gas fire.
They also supplied a copy of the gas certificate (finally!) which had apparently been done in april when the boiler was replaced and the energy certificate.

The landlord has said that he will visit on sunday to fix minor repairs and that the kitchen is again promised for easter this year now and after our AST runs out in August that they are not selling the house and wish to have us then as periodic tenancy rolling contract.

Now…. I am understandably nervous about all this…

*No receipts for rent paid in cash – ever! I have bank statements saying when I withdrew the cash but nothing else.
*deposit was never protected for two of the tenancies and late on the most recent tenancy and no information – where do I stand?
*promises of kitchen was agreed pre-tenancy but never fulfilled and they have always taken £500pcm – do I have a right to the £325 overpayment?

Basically where do I stand on all this and is there anything I should watch out for?

We haven’t much money – three young kids and my husband has Aspergers syndrome so I am the only one who is able to confront them over all this – any help greatly appreciated!

Many thanks x

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Tenant

My apologies for my essay… there is so much I had to say I did not intend on it being so long…

• Where do we stand regards the deposit not being protected for over a year?
• Does a deposit have to be re-protected and information supplied each fixed term tenancy even though it’s the same tenants? Meaning my LL broke the law 2 times and was 3 days late on the third tenancy
• Can I legally ask for the £325 to be repaid as they didn’t fulfil their verbal agreement that was made pre-tenancy?
• Is it legal to have cash payments of rent and not provide receipts?
• Is it good enough that they have only now after a year have been provided a copy of the gas certificate, Energy performance or done electrical repairs? All should have been done pre-tenancy.
• Can the landlords kick us out at the end of the fix term? Even though they were late on registering the deposit?

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Administrator

Hi Leanne, firstly, well done for writing an effective letter to address the issues with your tenancy. The tone was moderate and friendly, and your landlord has responded positively which demonstrates their willingness to do the right thing.

With regards to the deposit, it is illegal for landlords not to protect your deposit in a Deposit Protection Scheme within 30 days. You say that the landlord has protected your deposit since your written request – were you given the details of the government scheme and have you contacted them to confirm that this is true? If not, please do so. Also, did you pay one deposit or several deposits? Your landlord can only charge one deposit, regardless of how many fixed term tenancy agreements you sign during your tenancy. You may be charged a small administrative fee for creating a new agreement though. Please refer to our help and advice page on deposits for more info regarding this point: http://www.thetenantsvoice.co.uk/advice_from_us/deposit-protection-schemes/

With regard to verbal agreements, they amount to very little in a legal sense as they cannot be proven. Your landlord may easily deny that they ever offered you a reduced rate. However, it can’t hurt to request a refund of the ‘overpayed’ amount and the landlord may do this as a sign of good will, but be aware that they are not obliged to do so. From now on, always get decisions and agreements down in writing. It would be worth your while asking to pay a reduced rate until the kitchen work has been completed; get this in writing if the landlord agrees to their original verbal offer.

Regarding the gas certificate, energy performance and electrical repairs, your landlord has now responded positively so the matter would be considered resolved. If they did not respond to your written requests, then you would be in a position to pursue the matter further.

We strongly recommend that you insist on receipts of any payments you make from now on. Even if you have to provide a payment slip yourself and ask the landlord to sign it before handing over your rent, you must have a record of of your rent paid to protect yourself.

Finally, when the fixed term of a tenancy agreement expires it automatically becomes a periodic tenancy. This means that your landlord is well within their rights to issue you with notice to end the tenancy. They must follow legal procedures to do this. Similarly, this allows tenants the same right to provide notice to end the tenancy. As you clearly wish to remain in the property despite the past issues, it would be in your best interest to request another fixed Shorthold Tenancy Agreement, but again, the landlord is not obliged to meet this request. For more information please see our help and advice pages on tenancy agreements and eviction and notice:
http://www.thetenantsvoice.co.uk/advice_from_us/receiving-notice/
http://www.thetenantsvoice.co.uk/advice_from_us/renewing-a-tenancy-agreement/

We sincerely wish you all the best and congratulate you on dealing with the matter in a calm and moderate manner to maintain a positive relationship with your landlord. Keep in touch and do let us know how you get on.

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