To start withholding rent?

(37 Posts)
BeetlebumShesAGun Tue 08-Jul-14 22:56:17

We moved in to our house just over a year ago. It was intended to be our family home for at least the next 3 years. I was pregnant with DD, and we rented the house through an agency, and we were under the impression it was "fully managed" by them. It soon turned out that wasn't the case. The landlady came round to meet us, she was very friendly and all was well. It was in our rental agreement that she had access to the garage, and when she came to pick up stuff she often called into the house to However, we soon noticed that the hot water in the shower didn't work. We let the estate agents and landlady know, and she phoned me personally to let me know she would sort it. This was around September last year.

BeetlebumShesAGun Tue 08-Jul-14 23:00:32

Bugger on phone!

Basically she still has not fixed the shower. Her idea of fixing it has been to send her dodgy handyman mate around to look at it. She also now regularly comes to the house with no notice to pick up post, and claims she has redirected her post. I am going back to work in August and need to be able to shower, DP has time for a bath in the morning but I won't.

In short, the shower hasn't worked for almost a year, she has no respect for our privacy and is useless. I have tried speaking to the agents who say they can't send one of their plumbers round unless she gives consent, and she doesn't answer the phone to them.

I feel like it's time to play hardball. AIBU?

DoJo Tue 08-Jul-14 23:00:52

I really wouldn't withhold rent - AFAIK there are REALLY few situations where this is considered reasonable. The Shelter website has loads of advice on your rights and the options available to you, CAB could help or even a solicitor's free half hour consultation if you need some legal backing to help you get things organised, but don't just act rashly as it could really bite you on the arse.

SavoyCabbage Tue 08-Jul-14 23:01:05

Yes because you would be breaking your tenancy agreement and you could be evicted.

Obviously you need to get the water sorted out but in a different way. It's outrageous that she hasn't fixed it since September!I take it you have rung her lots of times since then.

Have you been to the CAB for advice?

SavoyCabbage Tue 08-Jul-14 23:04:50

I missed your second post.

So she has sent a man to fix it but it isn't fixed? What does she say about that.

She can't come round all the time for her post. I wonder if she knows that. She might be a first time LL who is inexperienced. I would tell her. And I wouldn't answer the door when she came.

When she comes for the things in the garage can she access the garage without you?

BeetlebumShesAGun Tue 08-Jul-14 23:07:01

Yep I have rang, texted and spoken to her in person. What makes it difficult is she is so friendly and when we do speak she will say "oh isn't it annoying I just don't know what's wrong with it!" Admittedly I am a bit of a pushover but it's like she thinks it will fix itself!

I'll check out Shelter and CAB. DP's opinion is that she doesn't have the money to sort it, which is a shame but not really our problem tbh. It's getting to the point where DP is wanting to move and I am leaning towards that as the shower thing, coupled with the way she treats the house, is making me feel very conscious this is HER house, not ours. Which I know is true but when we first moved in she was very insistent on this being "our home" she even let us decorate DD's room. So I don't really want to upset her but I get the impression she is using that against us.

BeetlebumShesAGun Tue 08-Jul-14 23:10:03

When she came around after the handyman had fixed it, she said he had told his plumber mate to come. That was a month ago! She isn't a first time LL, she has around 4 properties.

She can get to the garage without me, as the garage is separate from the house at the bottom of the garden, next to the gate, but she comes in and knocks at the back door. This week I have had enough and have started to lock the gate unless I am expecting visitors.

fairlytiredtonight Tue 08-Jul-14 23:12:43

My advice would be to put everything in writing. I would write stating that the facts about the shower not working. Give her the option of you getting a plumber and paying him personally and then with holding that amount from your rent. Give her a reasonable time limit of two weeks to get the job sorted or tell her you will have no option but to go down that route. That should concentrate her mind.

Once the shower issue is sorted, I think you then need to tackle the post issue. That is completely unacceptable and you have right to quiet enjoyment of your home. She's probably not got a buy to let mortgage or something and doesn't want to change her address.

needaholidaynow Tue 08-Jul-14 23:13:36

She doesn't have the rights to keep waltzing in and out when you are living there. Yes she might own the house, but whilst you are occupying it you have the right to privacy.
As for the shower, that should have been sorted by now.

She obviously doesn't really care about her tenants does she? I mean, putting up without a working shower and having someone constantly coming in and out of the house sounds terrible. You're paying to live there after all.

Withholding rent is a bad idea though. Morally you should do it, but unfortunately legally it would make you look like the bad guy and not only would she get away with not sorting the shower out, you would also be "in the shit". There must be something you can do that can force her to sort the shower out and to make sure she doesn't just carry in walking in and out as she pleases.

Bardette Tue 08-Jul-14 23:15:36

You could email her with a summary of what's happened so far, ie. I told you in Sept, still not working etc. Then put that you need a working shower and you're happy to book a plumber yourself and then deduct the cost from the next month's rent. Ask if she has a preference for which firm she'd like you to use. Add that if you don 't hear from her within a week you'll assume it's okay to go ahead.
I'd then text her to say you've emailed.

BeetlebumShesAGun Tue 08-Jul-14 23:16:14

I think you're right fairlytired. When the washing machine broke she have me the details to get it fixed but said "don't let on you're renting as I haven't changed the insurance".

Meh. I love this house but it seems so much hard work! That said we have always had crap landlords, bar once, so I'm not sure why I am surprised.

I think I will send her an email and copy in the agents.

SavoyCabbage Tue 08-Jul-14 23:17:09

I would ring her and ring her until she gets it fixed. And I would ask the CAB what the next step is.

And I would lock the gate and ask her to text if she wants to access the garage. And don't let her in for the post. Maybe return to sender till it stops. How often is all of this happening?

I thought she was so done who was renting out her own house and therefore didn't know what she was doing.

Bardette Tue 08-Jul-14 23:17:40

X-post with fairly

needaholidaynow Tue 08-Jul-14 23:17:41

Also, does she have a spare key for the house? Meaning she could just enter the house while you are not in?

writtenguarantee Tue 08-Jul-14 23:27:11

I don't know what the law is here, but in a previous jurisdiction I lived in if the landlord didn't make an essential repair after X time, then you were allowed to hire someone to do it and knock it off the next months rent, while providing a receipt. They could contest it if the charge was outrageous, but not if it wasn't.

likely different here though. I wouldn't try that without looking into it. I also wouldn't withhold rent. I doubt that is legal.

Wantsunshine Tue 08-Jul-14 23:49:51

Sounds like she doesn't want to change her post so she can claim she is living there if she has not told her insurance. I would bet she isn't paying tax on the income she is making from your rent and maybe has not told her mortgage company she is renting it out. Email and demand that the shower is fixed and stop being nice to her. You are the customer and she is treating you terribly.
I bet she wouldn't think twice about harassing you for late rent.

inabeautifulplace Wed 09-Jul-14 00:32:59

Just start binning her post.

wheresthelight Wed 09-Jul-14 08:55:47

I would have a thorough read of your contract to be honest as most rental contracts state that for entry to the property they must give a minimum of 24hrs notice.

Also from my time renting repairs have to be carried out within a given time frame and there is usually a clause about what constitutes essential repairs and allows a withholding of rent.

I would send her a registered letter that states that you expect the shower to be fixed or replaced with 7 working days or you will find someone to do it yourself and will deduct the cost from your next rental payment. Make sure the agents get a copy too

notapizzaeater Wed 09-Jul-14 09:01:58

I'd start returning the post -writing not at this address on them

Topaz25 Wed 09-Jul-14 09:02:23

I would look for somewhere else to live if at all possible. If she hasn't told her mortgage company she is letting the property (which is likely since I think they would have required her to change her insurance) this puts you in a vulnerable position since you would have no rights as tenants if the house was repossessed. If you add that to her ignoring necessary repairs and coming and going as she likes, she sounds like a nightmare! Contact the housing charity Shelter for advice on your rights. england.shelter.org.uk/

Charlesroi Wed 09-Jul-14 09:23:53

Yes, I'd offer (in writing) to get the shower fixed and deduct the cost from the rent. Stress the lack of shower is making life difficult for you.
I'd then buy a lockable, waterproof box to put her post in and give her a key, so she has no excuse to come in to your home ('It'll be much more convenient. What if we're not in?'). I'd probably charge her for that too.

Topaz25 Wed 09-Jul-14 10:09:48

Returning the post and writing not at this address on it would normally be fine if you are receiving mail addressed to someone else but in this case be careful as it may alert the mortgage company to the fact that your landlady is not living there but letting it out and if she doesn't have a buy to let mortgage they may take action.

specialsubject Wed 09-Jul-14 10:22:09

never mind the contract - it is your home and she is NOT ALLOWED access without reasonable notice and with your permission, except in an emergency. That's the law.

write her a letter stating this. Also state your position regarding post, that as redirects run out after 2 years she needs to change addresses.

as for the shower; also state your position in writing. A new electric shower is £100 so it is hardly a major fix for her, and unless the tenancy explicitly states that the provided shower does not work, it needs to be fixed.

and yes, others are right; if she hasn't told the mortgage company that she is letting and they find out, they can repossess and you will be evicted.

with-holding rent will get you evicted.

I have been shrieked at for saying 'don't rent from crooks' but I see I am not the only one advising you to consider your position.

Flipflops7 Wed 09-Jul-14 11:52:14

As well as having no rights you are not insured. I would not be comfortable with that.

spence24 Wed 09-Jul-14 11:56:14

Have you offered to get it fixed yourself, and then take the cost out of that months rent? I had a landlord that was a lot like your landlady sounds and it turned out he worked away from a lot and things slipped his mind. We offered to get the boiler fixed and then just subsidise the rent, giving him the invoice to prove how much it cost. He was happy with it. If she seems friendly, and you want to stay in the house, maybe pitch it to her like that?

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