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Shower not working and poor flush on the toilets / LL will not fix!

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423 views 5 replies latest reply: 19 October 2015
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Tenant

Hello quick question. My family and I have just recently moved into a property 2 and a half weeks ago and have already encountered problems with the property and the Landlord. I wrote to her explaining the problems such as leaks, broken stopcock, electrical certificate that has category 1 and 2 problems which is dangerous and potentially dangerous, shower does not work, toilets have very poor flush etc, etc. She replies its a 200 year old property what do you expect oh and I am not prepared to do some of the repairs as I am putting the house on the market! Right ok let me also tell you that we have paid 5 months and a deposit up front oh also she has changed the Letting agency now because we told them about the repairs. Errrr can anyone help on this one? 

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Administrator

Hi Melanie

Hmmm the age of the property makes no difference when it comes to safety or to the landlord’s legal obligation to do repairs. Unfortunately I think she’s taking advantage of the fact that the rent has been paid up front – there’s nothing you could have done about that, she’s a bad egg.

Have you been notified of where your deposit is being protected? The landlord must do that within 30 days of receiving it. After that time is up you have a right to start a claim against the landlord for the return of the deposit and 1-3 times the amount in compensation. I mention it as she sounds like the kind of landlord who will try to keep your deposit.

If you’re seriously worried about the safety then look into making a complaint to the environmental health department of the local authority and the Health & Safety Executive. Have you had the annual gas safety check certificate? Again, another non-negotiable legal requirement. Where there are serious problems these authorities can compel landlords to take action and may also prosecute and fine them.

In terms of documenting everything that is happening, it’s often a good idea to put everything in writing in a dated and signed letter/email – perhaps with photos – that includes a timeline and any other evidence you’ve gathered. This serves a dual purpose of giving you a record of what’s occurring and (hopefully) slightly intimidating a bad landlord into taking you seriously. Send this to the landlord and include bullet points of what you want done and when. I’m not a lawyer but if you read through the tenancy agreement and spot the clauses on carrying out repairs/keeping the property in a good state of repair then you can list these out as clauses that the landlord is in breach of. Usually, anything that was in the property when you arrived is the landlord’s responsibiltiy to repair (unless you’ve broken it).

As of 1 October this year landlords cannot evict tenants who complain about the condition of the property so she won’t be able to remove you for doing this – which could cause her some problems if she sells the house and wants to remove you with a section 21 notice any time soon. Which gives you a good negotiating position. (More details on revenge evictions here).

It’s not easy to get landlords to take action when it comes to repairs, unless the situation is really dangerous. It often comes down to tenants making a well informed stand that forces a landlord into realising that they’re going to lose money at some point in the future (being fined or sued for breach of contract if there is loss) unless they do this now so bear that in mind. And, importantly, keep all your correspondence and take photos etc of all the issues so you have proof.

Alex

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Tenant

Regarding how I communicated, I sent a letter to the LL requesting the important jobs to be done as we have actually done most of them ourselves such as cleaning away heavy black mould from window frames, deep cleaning carpets professionallly etc. I would like to ask you another couple of questions Alex, does the LL have to have the shower fixed even though there is a bath present?  Also, do I have a right to a copy of the remedial work that was done on the property in regards to the electrical issues that were present in the house?  Sorry to go on Alex, only we have never done this before and I feel really frustrated in regards to what we can do, our rights etc. Also I am baffled in how we are being treated as I would never behave like this if it was my property and someone was renting from me. Just to add we have many photos concerning many problems with the property to prove our issues!

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Administrator

No problem Melanie. I know what you mean, I don’t know why landlords do this but I have had some breathtakingly bad landlords who just didn’t care if I was without hot water for a month or didn’t feel safe in the property.

In terms of what your rights are, it’s basically everything that’s in your tenancy agreement- that’s the contract between you and the landlord. There are rights in law too but most of the time they are also written into your tenancy. In theory, if the landlord isn’t fulfilling her side of the contract then you have a right to make a claim against her for breach of contract and claim damges for any loss you’ve had (such as damage to possessions from mould, the cost of getting things fixed yourself etc) or get some sort of court order to sort things out. The problem with this is that to do that you’d have to take the landlord to court and that’s a bit of a process. Landlords know that’s the only option and that’s why they behave like they do. It’s only different if the problems with the property are a risk to your health or life.

I’m not a lawyer but have a look at what your tenancy says about the shower. If the landlord is responsible for maintaining and repairing all the fixtures and fittings that were there at the start and the shower is mentioned in the inventory then she should fix it yes. The issue is getting her to do it, which is often where you have to use your negotiating wiles. In the past I have threatened court action – which is why it’s good to put everything in writing – and that can someotimes be effective. Especially now that landlords can’t remove you for requesting repairs.

In terms of the remedial work I don’t know if you have a right. You could however write to her and say that you need an assurance that the property doesn’t present any danger to you or your family as a result of what took place. Maybe say that if she doesn’t respond in writing within a week then you will take that to mean that there is no danger./that the property is 100% safe. Tell her you’ll rely on that. Again, all you can really do is threaten as far as I can see, but it might hit a nerve, either fear or conscience.

Hope that helps.

Alex

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Tenant

Thank you again Alex, your information and advice really really helps. I will just have to see how I get on now, the other worrying thing that I have noticed is the crumbling asbestos on the front porch and the cooker isolation switch in a cupboard! Oh the joys of renting, thank you Alex I wish you just lived around the corner so I could pop over for a cry and advice arrrrggghhh!

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Administrator

I know, it’s a minefield. On the asbestos note, I would get someone on to that quickly as asbestos is dangerous – you can get information on that via this portal.

I really hope you have a better renting experience next time, not all are this bad. Good luck!

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