Tell me I'm not BU (landlord related)

(63 Posts)
icovetthee Sat 29-Dec-12 21:40:41

I've been living in this house with my DP and two DC's under 5 for almost two years. It's a nice house but has a lot of problems.

1. The boiler is old (around 10 years) and the control knobs that control the heat of the water no longer work. The landlord has known about this for a year and a half and has done nothing about it.

2. The back window that's 3.5ft high and opens inwards doesn't lock. The handle doesn't go all the way down to lock so while it looks closed a big shove from the outside will push it in. Landlord said it's fine as we're an end of terrace house with two 20ft walls either side of us.

3. The plaster is coming off the walls due to damp. We painted the hallway as there were some marks and every time we used the roller the roller would pick up more plaster than paint. The same in the dining room. Nothing has been done.

4. The DC's bedroom had thick, green mould on the windowsill and walls. We contacted the landlord and he said it was our fault for not properly ventilating the place. DP did it himself by cleaning, resealing, putting in a new windowsill as the old one was literally rotting etc. Yesterday we discovered huge patches of black and green mould in the alcoves we use as wardrobes in our room and on our windowsill. I have asthma and two young children and he has refused to come out until the 8th to look at it as he has his children home from university (yet lives around the corner).

We can't move privately with or without an agency as we have no money (I'm on disability and DP is on JSA) and the council have told us since we're adequately housed it could take two years bidding on the list. My dad has urged me to go in with photographic evidence on Monday and explain that the house is unsafe to see what they say. I know Enviornmental Health can get involved but I'm scared we'll end up evicted as we have nowhere to go.

There are some things we are to blame for for example the gas fire in the lounge was turned off and deemed unsafe because DC2 had messed with the coals and we haven't replaced them yet (£40 for this particular fire) and the carpet on the stairs needs replacing when we can afford to/decide to leave as the stains are our dog's fault. I don't think IABU to be pissed off with our shitty landlord. We deal directly with him as it's a private tenancy and he won't bother to fix anything if it doesn't cost him less than a tenner. What makes it worse is that we're paying £550 a month to live here when other properties similar in the area are only £475-500 and they aren't directly opposite a busy pub where glasses get smashed into our front garden during arguments every weekend.

I'm off to the council Monday morning to show them the photos etc and get all my eggs in a basket but I'm livid that he's known about all of this for so long and just refuses to do it. I'd be a bit happier if he'd just lower the rent to cover the fact that he's a bit crap and we'd do most of the cheap repairs as DP is a dab hand a DIY but we know that's very unrealistic.

I appreciate if IABU and a bit stroppy but I needed a rant sad

icovetthee Sat 29-Dec-12 21:42:50

I forgot to mention HB help cover the cost of the rent but we pay an extra £100 a month on top leaving us skint. We moved here as we had little choice a few years ago and are now bitterly regretting it. Moving again would mean changing schools as there are no council properties in this area, cost of a removal van etc...my head hurts.

RyleDup Sat 29-Dec-12 21:44:55

Is the boiler safe? As it is his legal duty to make sure it is serviced properly.
Is your deposit money in an approved scheme? Because if its not you can claim 3x back that amount from the landlord through small claims.
Could you get a temporary loan for deposit on a new place until you get your bond back from the landlord?

icovetthee Sat 29-Dec-12 21:46:48

We didn't have to pay a deposit which is why we had to move in as we had no other choice. He didn't ask for a bond or a deposit as he's a family friend.

Our credit rating is terrible so there's no loans we could get. I'm hoping the council have an answer as I've heard there's a bond scheme but I'm not sure how it works.

icovetthee Sat 29-Dec-12 21:50:31

The boiler was serviced 10 months ago...three months after it should have been after lots of nagging and him saying he'd sort it, nobody turning up etc. I presume the boiler is safe but it's in need of another service soon.

SantasHoHoHo Sat 29-Dec-12 21:51:42

As a priority as RyleDup mentioned, you must make sure the boiler is safe. Your LL is legally required to have gas and electrics checked annually and you have a right to see the certificate.
Also, check if he is a registered LL with the council. You can also get free legal advice from the Housing Dept.

Ask also which scheme your deposit is saved in.

SantasHoHoHo Sat 29-Dec-12 21:52:11

Sorry x post!

StuntGirl Sat 29-Dec-12 21:54:18

YANBU, he's seriousky slacking in his duties.

Fairyegg Sat 29-Dec-12 21:58:02

Having spent most of my life in rented houses it doesn't sound to bad to be honest. The boiler has been serviced so is 'ok' until the next service is due. You'll have problems finding another landlord willing to take jsa, a dog and 2 young kids to be honest. I do feel for you though as the council aren't likely to want to know as you are being housed, so your kind of stuck. When pregnant with ds we had no hot water other than electric shower (boiler had been permently removed) and drains that we're so blocked sewage water was coming though the back door, mould was everwhere etc etc. Environmental health came round, agreed it was not suitable yet we still didn't get rehoused.

icovetthee Sat 29-Dec-12 21:59:33

I just don't know what to do. I really don't want to move as we're very happy here, close to a good school, local amenities, town etc but at the same time I can no longer live like this, especially with the rent so high for such a debilitating property. Am I within my rights to ask him to consider the rent price or is there someone I could talk to who could evaluate what the rent should be in regards to what we're paying? DP could fix most of it himself (apart from the damp and mould) which would help LL out and we could actually afford to live here.

Like I said in the OP though I think I'm living in cuckoo land on that one. Am I?

icovetthee Sat 29-Dec-12 22:00:25

Fairyegg feeling so disheartened by your post. How did you ever live like that? I'm going insane and it's not as bad as yours!

SantasHoHoHo Sat 29-Dec-12 22:01:19

It's such a shame because as a LL myself I tend to avoid tenants in your financial situation as I've been stung too many times. Those tenants have ruined it for the likes of decent people like yourself.

SantasHoHoHo Sat 29-Dec-12 22:01:49

Where do you live OP?

1. Boiler. According to Shelter's website your landlord is responsible for "Keeping in repair and proper working order, the water, gas, electricity and heating. So YANBU (although 10 years is not overly old for an otherwise well serviced boiler.

2. Window/security. This doesn't sound good, but I'm not sure if it's your landlord's responsibility. I would recommend contacting your local police station and asking if the community policing team or crime reduction team or whatever they are called will and someone out to take a look. They should be more than happy to do this.

3 & 4. Damp. Hard to say without knowing the cause. I assume it's environmental health that you are seeing at the council and they'll be best placed to advise. All properties can develop damp/mould although some are far more prone to it than others. For example, external walls with no cavity are very prone, especially behind wardrobes where air cannot circulate. Assuming there is nothing structurally wrong with the property you may find you can manage the mould inexpensively by yourself.

I do hope you get it all sorted. Sounds like a rather depressing place to live at the moment.

icovetthee Sat 29-Dec-12 22:04:37

I live near Cardiff, SantasHoHoHo. A lot of landlords still dislike DSS tenants. While we've had issues with our rent it's always been paid in the same month just a week or two late, iyswim? Finding the extra £100 is awful some months!

icovetthee Sat 29-Dec-12 22:09:55

I don't mind managing the mould myself NeverQuiteSure but I'm a bit put out to be paying £100 on top of HB to live like this. When DP finds a job we'd have to pay the full £550 again and it seems like a lot to live in a run down house that needs a lot of work.

How does one service the boiler? The times we've had inspections on it it's been a look at it, signed a piece of paper and off he's gone. Not more than a five minute job. The boiler isn't great as we're using a lot in gas but I assume that the knobs should at least work.

I was told the window was the landlord's issue as it's their responsibility to sort out windows, doors etc. Not sure though so will have to check.

I really don't want to get EH on to this as I know if he can't afford to sort it out within the time period he'd get whacked with a fine which would piss him off and I'm obviously very scared of eviction. I was hoping that if it was deemed unfit for living then the landlord may decide to lower the rent and we could put up with it, clean it ourselves etc. I'm really clutching at straws to deal.

Fairyegg Sat 29-Dec-12 22:13:00

It was tough op, we ended up moving around a lot but we were lucky in that we were both working and our los were younger so not at school yet. Even then it was hard to find half decent rental properties in our area, and by area I mean 20 mile radius. It really is shit. Just keep your eyes open for something else. Maybe even put a 'wanted' poster in a few shops. Get on all the ha, council etc waiting lists but don't expect to get anywhere. Unfortunately if you made yourselves intentionally homeless but moving out without anywhere to go, that would mean you won't get a house either. We had a housing officer from the council come out and talk to us. He was lovely and informative but I cried as he left as I knew we were stuck (low income, no despoit for mortgage). What we found worked well with landlords is agreeing if we wanted work done, such as a shower put in they would pay for it (bog standard, cheap range) and we would fit / do all the work ourselves. We did this for carpets, laminate, bathroom suite, tiling etc. landlord was happy as it improved his property at the fraction of the expense that it would have been for the labour amd we were happy as it made living there slightly more bearable! But then we were lucky to know lots of people, plumbers, builders, carpets fitters etc who helped us out for free.

icovetthee Sat 29-Dec-12 22:17:43

Fairyegg that is the agreement with our landlord. Since DP is handy with DIY and has a lot of labour experience and contacts we've painted, laid down new laminate, fixed things like doors etc and the landlord would incur no costs. We intend to pay for the carpet and to fit it when we are able etc too. DP could fix the window, put the sink back on to the tiled wall, regrout the tiles, re-seal the bath etc but doesn't like doing it without the landlord's say so.

I'm going to keep bidding with the council list but I'm not expecting anything. I'm hoping if the council agree the house is in disrepair the landlord may give us a reduction on the rent, even if it's just £50 a month and we'd do everything we needed to. I'm just fed up of paying through the nose for what should be a top standard house for the price here and getting nothing but grief sad

PlasticHorse Sat 29-Dec-12 22:21:52

Sounds awful and I really sympathise.

Just wondering though - when you say the controls for the heat of the water are no longer working do you mean the water is set at one temperature? I am sure I read that water temps for rented housing have to be below a certain temp for scalding risks. If it's very high then enviromental health may also be interested in this as well as the damp issues.

I would speak to the council.

And you could approach your LL about a rent reduction. Just explain that it's not financially working for you. There's no harm in asking.

Also, Shelter are very helpful with things like this so give them a call.

Fairyegg Sat 29-Dec-12 22:22:49

I've told a landlord before now that we were struggling to manage the rent and were thinking about moving out as we had noticed other similar rental properties were cheaper, and gave examples. He reduced it by £50 a month as we were good tenants and I guess its hassle for him getting new ones. However it's a gamble as he may just say fine, off you go then. Realistically can you get another rental property in the area you want that accept dss and pets? I hate to say it but I doubt it, and your landlord knows it.

Fairyegg Sat 29-Dec-12 22:24:47

And a boiler check does normally take about 5 mins, at least ours always have. As long as its safe and sn't leaking fumes etc they aren't worried about anything else. Contact your council and ask to speak to their housing officer, hat should be your first port of call.

icovetthee Sat 29-Dec-12 22:26:22

The knob was set to the highest setting when it was stuck but then it broke as we tried to turn it and since it's no longer connected it could have gone to whatever setting. Within 20 seconds the water from the tap is very hot though and has to be immediately mixed with cool water for baths and washing up.

I'm thinking of speaking to the council first then speaking to LL. I'm getting the carpets professionally cleaned on Monday as a Christmas gift from my dad so while they'll be still be worn and slightly freyed they won't smell or have significant stains. The less I piss off my landlord at this point the better.

I was going to give Shelter a call too as I can't find the office local to me.

Just checked the Shelter website and it says the landlord is responsible for windows so he really needs to sort that out. I get anxiety attacks being here alone with the children at night in case someone breaks in. While it's unlikely they'll skip over a few gardens to get here it's not impossible.

DragonMamma Sat 29-Dec-12 22:26:24

What area outside Cardiff? I am in the same kind of area and my dm is a LL and I know a few others around this way that accept DSS.

The not paying rent on time will always be an issue though, 1 or 2 weeks late just isn't good enough - it will inevitably cause bad feeling if your LL is having to go short whilst he waits for you to pay your rent. Most people would be livid if their JSA or wages were 1 or 2 weeks late so the same courtesy should be applied to your landlord.

There's plenty of people this way that accept DSS etc so whilst you aren't keen to leave your area, you may have to consider a cheaper area to get a nicer house and hopefully save yourself some money each month in the process.

icovetthee Sat 29-Dec-12 22:31:26

DragonMamma The landlord says he's happy as long as the rent is paid within the month but I know it isn't good. It's one of the reasons I'm so unhappy here because I hate being late on the rent and sometimes it really is unavoidable. I hate letting people down. Trying to save so it's there for the end of the month is difficult as we have no money leftover to save and pay it directly from DP's JSA on the nearest date it comes, iyswim. Something we need to get right.

I'm in Newport. Lots of places to rent but mostly tiny flats, council and agencies.

Where are you? The problem I have with moving privately is the bond & deposit. There's no way we can afford it.

Sorry if my advice offended icovetthee, it wasn't meant to. It was written from the perspective of 'this is how it is' not 'this is how it should be'

If there is something structural or that can be 'fixed' that is causing the mould then of course your landlord is responsible for doing something about it. It sounds like he's either tight, lazy or having financial problems himself. In all cases the only thing that will get through is being polite but persistent. Getting opinions from the police & council etc will hopefully show him you mean business. Also, bear in mind that he may not be so keen to evict you as you fear. You sound like good tenants and he's currently getting over the odds for a house that he would, by the sound if it, struggle to re-rent.

I really do hope it all works out for you.

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