to think the landlady should sort this and not cut corners?

(43 Posts)
ruledbyheart Tue 23-Jul-13 08:44:52

Moved into a property last year and I love the house completely the garden however, is a nightmare the landlady has replaced a couple of fence panels but left 4 in really bad condition to the point they are just breaking away at the touch.

I have been onto the letting agent about them being replaced as they aren't secure and the landlady sent someone round for a quote... except when the bloke came round he took one look and left saying the panels need replacing and he can't prop them like asked.

Turns out instead of replacing the panels he has been asked to quote to prop the panels up to make them secure, which is ridiculous is you see the state of them.

I have had to take to patching the panels with scrap wood to block the holes in them as my next door neighbour has an unfriendly dog and keeps attacking my fence causing holes trying to get to my dogs, the neighbour refuses to take any responsibility for the damage caused.

Now there is another hole and I don't think patching it up is going to work as it is entire slats breaking away.

I'm 36weeks pregnant and have no spare money due to summer holidays and new baby otherwise I would just replace the panels myself.

AIBU to tell the letting agent/landlady this needs sorting out now and if they refuse I will pay for it out of the rent money?

LIZS Tue 23-Jul-13 08:47:25

You can't withhold rent or you put yourself on a weak legal footing . tbh they are under no obligation to maintain fences or replace (no one is) . Can you not buy a length of chicken wire, or ask her to, and secure it between posts ?

kalidanger Tue 23-Jul-13 08:48:46

Careful with doing anything 'out of the rent money'. That's not your first option. You want them to be above board, so you must be too.

Get organised. Write to the LL/LA setting out exactly what's happened and happening and that you are pregnant and would like a timetable when it will be sorted. Keep a record if everything. Repeat if they ignore you.

ruledbyheart Tue 23-Jul-13 08:49:53

I have already put in temporary fencing on part of the garden but can't afford to buy anything else to fix it as I don't have the spare funds right now, also at 36 weeks pregnant and with 3 DC on school holidays I don't know how I'll fix it myself.

KittensoftPuppydog Tue 23-Jul-13 08:50:41

Hi. I am a landlady, but a nice one, and would have sorted this for you already.
Can't you contact the agent again, and say that given the fence can't be propped up, when are they going to replace it. A landlord will often try the cheaper option first, doesn't mean they won't do what's necessary.

phantomhairpuller Tue 23-Jul-13 08:58:07

Maybe she doesn't have spare funds at the moment either. Have you thought of that one?

WeleaseWodger Tue 23-Jul-13 09:02:08

You need to stress the unsafe and liability factors. There is a hostile dog next door, you have children, the garden isn't secure. This is between your LL and neighbour and if anything happened to your kids because the dog got into the garden, they would both be liable.

Mumsyblouse Tue 23-Jul-13 09:02:46

When you rent a property, it has to be of a good standard to live in, whether your landlady is having money issues is not your problem! I would put your request in writing to the letting agent, pointing out the panels are decayed and won't be fixed by propping, and that currently, you cannot stop next-door's dog entering the property's garden as there are holes in the fence.

You don't need to fix it, your landlady does, she may not know how bad it is, she may be looking for the cheaper option, but you need to let her know that won't work and what needs to be done. Then phone them a few days later to see what the timetable is for work. Basically be a pain until it gets fixed.

It is not your concern if your landlady is hard up and there's no evidence she is anyway- same for you in her property, if you damage it, you have to pay for repairs whether you have money or not.

ComposHat Tue 23-Jul-13 09:05:37

Whatever you do, don't withhold rent, it is a short stop to finding yourself 36 weeks pregnant and evicted from the house (and probably unable to get another one, as your current landlady will give you a bad reference)

Montybojangles Tue 23-Jul-13 09:14:28

Talk to CAB to check legalities. I'm not sure if fence repair is the landlords responsibility unless its mentioned in the lease (though any decent landlord would fix it anyway). Though you could argue that as she has fixed some of it she has accepted that it is her responsibility.

Good luck. Don't withhold rent, puts you on shaky ground.

Mumsyblouse Tue 23-Jul-13 09:23:35

http://www.landlordlawblog.co.uk/2012/05/28/is-the-landlord-liable-through-not-repairing-the-fence/

This may be relevant to you, basically it says that fence repairs may not come under the things that should be repaired by landlords although a good one may do it anyway, but by having repaired it in the past, the landlord has admitted responsibility for the fence.

But surely you don't want to take her to court, just write a very polite letter to the agents/landlady outlining the situation and get them to put in writing what is happening next.

UriGeller Tue 23-Jul-13 09:23:54

If it a boundary fence, could you not talk to next door about their dog escaping? Maybe they'll replace it with something dog proof.

specialsubject Tue 23-Jul-13 09:23:58

your pregnancy is not relevant. Don't with-hold rent, two wrongs don't make a right.

lodge a complaint with the council about the out of control dog next door, which is also not your landlady's problem.

fence panels are about £40 each, the landlady should replace them if they are going to fall on you (which sounds entirely possible). Write a letter pointing out the situation, meantime fix up some chicken wire. I agree with being a (polite) pain to get something done.

ruledbyheart Tue 23-Jul-13 09:30:29

Thank you I have some photos of the fence and will take them down to the letting agents today as well as a letter stating what the guy said and take it from there.

I don't want to withhold Rent and cause trouble as I really love my house I was just thinking if the landlady is hard up then its an option so we are all happy.

Unfortunately cannot talk to next door as their dog is not meant to be living there in the first place and they deny the dog is there and there is a language barrier preventing much more of a discussion than that.

LIZS Tue 23-Jul-13 09:32:15

Are they tenants next door ? If so contact their ll or agent. A visit would easily detect the presence of a dog.

Kiriwawa Tue 23-Jul-13 09:37:56

It's in the deeds of my house that I am responsible for maintaining my fence and that if it falls down, I have to replace it within one month.

If I were renting it out, surely it would still be my responsibility to repair it on that basis?

FasterStronger Tue 23-Jul-13 09:57:33

kiri - but the tenant would not have a right to enforce that.

I may owe jane £100 but john cannot force me to pay jane as my agreement is with jane not john.

LIZS Tue 23-Jul-13 10:02:46

kiri that is very specific . Most deeds just state boundaries to be maintained , but that doesn't necessarily mean a fence or hedge. A covenant, or lease if not freehold,may dictate the type of boundary, limitations on style and height and maintenance but even that isn't easily enforceable.

Doubtfuldaphne Tue 23-Jul-13 10:08:11

I have just had to move out of my dream home because my landlady would not do any work in or outside the house despite it falling down. Short hold tenancies don't give you many rights, you always run the risk of the landlord threatening to sell if you kick up too much fuss.
The best bet is to report it to the safety department at the council. They will contact the landlord telling them that they will inspect the property. They can take away the landlords right to rent properties and its usually the kick up the bum that landlords need to act.

Doubtfuldaphne Tue 23-Jul-13 10:08:59

Also check the tenancy agreement and see if it says its the landlords responsibility to keep the outside maintained

Cravey Tue 23-Jul-13 10:55:57

She doesnt have to have the fence repaired although if she wants to keep her tenant she should consider it. Don't withhold rent op your landlord will have every right to evict you of you do that. Keep n to the letting agent but as I said be prepared for the fat you might not get a new fence. Also maybe lay off the pregnancy thing your landlord won't care shout ths fact.

LimitedEditionLady Tue 23-Jul-13 11:42:22

Surely shes got insurance to help pay for repairs???

LIZS Tue 23-Jul-13 12:06:46

Insurance would only cover limited circumstances , not wear and tear !

missrlr Tue 23-Jul-13 12:13:19

LL is right she is not liable to repair damage caused by next door dog.
But as to the fence being not fit for purpose, well it only needs to be a bit of string and a couple of posts to define a boundary so unless in the agreement is says there is a fence needed
DO NOT withhold rent you will be issued an S21 faster than you can blink.
You need to stress safety of the lack of fence but also point out to your neighbour the damage needs to be repaired, you have reported this as damage caused by their dog and the contact information for the LL / agent is as follows ......
Reiterate this to agent / LL and ask for this to be sorted ASAP
Your LL may also be taking the matter up with the neighbour.
Chicken wire stretched over your side attached to posts assuming these are sound would solve problem, but not the dog's actions I suspect suggest this to the fencer perhaps?

ComposHat Tue 23-Jul-13 12:18:59

Work on the basis that all landlords are mpney grubbing scumbags who begrudge spending money on their properties unless they see an instant return on it and you'll not go far wrong.

Bogeyface Tue 23-Jul-13 12:19:19

Maybe she doesn't have spare funds at the moment either. Have you thought of that one?

So what?! If I rented out a house and the boiler needed replacing, I wouldnt get very far in court if I said "Well I didnt have the spare funds". If you rent out properties then you accept a certain amount of money may be needed at any point for upkeep/repairs. If you cant be sure that you have that money in place then dont let!

ruledbyheart Tue 23-Jul-13 12:26:04

Been to the letting agents and explained to them about the fence and showed pictures, they agree it is the landladys responsibility and they will contact her about the work, if she does not reply in a suitable time with a reasonable resolution then they are going to instruct their maintenance to have it repaired as it is compromising the security of the property and should the dog get into my garden and hurt any of my DCs (although unlikely) then the landlady is partly responsible as maintaining the property to a suitable secure standard is her responsibility.

ComposHat Tue 23-Jul-13 12:31:39

bogey all a landlord legally has to provide is a source of heat. they could drop round a few three bar heaters and a kettle for hot water andthat would cove r them.

i know that isnt your point, but is a scandal how few rights tenants have.

Beastofburden Tue 23-Jul-13 13:42:40

This is a safety issue for your DC including new baby. The dog will get in one day and have a fight with your dog. You may well have to tell on them. Too bad if its not meant to be there, too bad if they havent learned enough English to talk with their neighbours.

I think that if the landlady has repaired the fence before AND you have put her on notice that there is a safety issue caused by a dog next door AND you have repeatedly asked in writing for it to be fixed... it would be a very brave landlady who decided she wouldn't be liable.

So I would say to the agent that if its not safe within ten working days you will have to go to the council (environmental health officers) to see about getting the other, illegal dog removed. The agent will know well enough that this would result in trouble for his client as well, you dont have to threaten anything.

Beastofburden Tue 23-Jul-13 13:43:14

ruledbyheart- cross posting- good result, well done!

FasterStronger Tue 23-Jul-13 13:48:18

I doubt the LL needs to provide a dog proof fence.

Cravey Tue 23-Jul-13 13:50:34

Dog proof fence ? Why should the ll provide that. If I was the landlord I would be saying no dogs full stop. I also would be looking hard at said fence. Poor landlord is having to fork out money for something which someone else hs caused.

Jan49 Tue 23-Jul-13 14:05:09

It sounds like the problem is the neighbour's dog, not the fence. The landlady could just remove the old fence and not replace it. A fence is not essential.

As you say the neighbour is not supposed to have a dog there, could you report this to the neighbour's landlord or talk to the council?

ruledbyheart Tue 23-Jul-13 14:17:23

Can I just clear up this issue on a dog proof fence, this isn't what I'm asking for, what I want is fence panels that aren't broken and easily damaged by weather conditions, the neighbours dog has made them worse yes but they were not in good safe condition when I moved into the property.

The landlady had replaced most of the other panels and we have no issue with these when the weather is stormy or if the neighbours dog is out but she left these 4 panels for whatever reason.

The slightest amount of pressure on these panels cause them to break and practically disintegrate causing a safety issue for my DCs.

The fence panels left are not fit for purpose and certainly once fitted don't last a lifetime all I want is them replaced which was agreed when I first moved in and pointed out they aren't fit for purpose.

LessMissAbs Tue 23-Jul-13 15:17:59

I can't see how your landlady is liable to put up a fence of any sort unless it is in your lease. The usual lease obligations are to provide a wind and waterproof property with heat, light, water and sewage disposal plus whatever extras may be specified. It sounds as though the fence was in a similar condition when you moved in so unless you bring a court case to prove that by repairing the fence once she amended the terms of the lease impliedly by her actions, I don't see how she can be compelled to do so.

I live in a development where the title deeds actually specifying that fencing must not be erected between the properties, and it works perfectly well.

The fact that the neighbour wrongly has a dog is not her fault. You might make more progress by pursuing that issue with your local authority's Environmental Health Department.

I certainly don't think this is an issue that warrants even talking about withholding rent. If you constantly talk about things that have not yet happened, ie potential liability, you risk coming across as a bit of a problem tenant.

Beastofburden Tue 23-Jul-13 15:48:37

hmmm. Disagree. Any sensible landlord will want to secure the property to a reasonable standard. But never withhold rent, it immediately puts you in the wrong.

Beastofburden Tue 23-Jul-13 15:51:33

probably LL thought the other panels would be OK just mended, she may just have got the wrong information and be fine with sorting it out once she knows otherwise.

Also if neighbours are trashing her fence she can complain to the other LL and get the dog/family out if she wants to.

Money shmunny, if she was that broke she wouldnt be paying an agent, she has your rent to spend, I am sure she can afford it.

FasterStronger Tue 23-Jul-13 16:03:14

^ she has your rent to spend^

err no. she either has to pay her mortgage or the money is her income from her capital.

either way its not free money and only a small percentage is to be spent on maintenance.

Cravey Tue 23-Jul-13 16:19:49

Beast why n earth would you presume the ll has rent to spend.

Montybojangles Tue 23-Jul-13 19:21:52

We rented our home out while we worked abroad for 12 months. The rent didn't cover the mortgage, agency fees, and insurance, never mind having rent to spend on anything!!

Bogeyface Wed 24-Jul-13 01:32:00

Compos totally agree re- rights which is why I will fight tooth and nail to keep my (mortgaged) house.

It is utterly disgusting the way that renters are treated in the UK, nowhere else is it considered standard to be prepared to move every 6 months. We need laws such as they have in Europe and the US that protects the tenants as much as the owners, especially given the fact that more people will be renting than buying from now on. We are the only country that sees a property as an investment and not a home (either our own or someone elses), another thing to thank Thatcher for.

ItsNotATest Wed 24-Jul-13 02:35:22

The landlord does have to sort it out, but be firm but pleasant about it.

I once had to pay to fix a fence that wasn't my responsibility because my tenants dog, that I had no idea existed, was running rampant through the neighbours garden. Apparently they neglected to mention said dog because it lived outside rather than in the house. Which doesn't entirely explain why all the carpets were drenched in dog piss when I eventually got them out of the house.

I was in no way an irresposible landlord but I got completely shafted twice and eventually decided it wasn't worth the hassle and sold the house. I knew some of the neighbours - they were hugely relieved. The 'tenant is always right' scenario is not always very accurate.

FasterStronger Wed 24-Jul-13 08:07:50

In Germany contracts are longer but the tenant pays for new carpets and I think decorates the whole property. I doubt many UK tenants would want that system.

Also, if successive landlords wanted me to leave their properties, I would probably be best advised to look at how I treated the houses and neighbours.

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