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Private Tenancy...Urgent Help Needed Please!

(40 Posts)
onlyhereonce Fri 24-Jan-14 19:09:32

Hi,

Looking for some urgent advice.

We've been renting this property for 18 months. Our current tenancy started June 2013 and was for 12 months. We rent through an estate agent. The owner of the property only wanted to do a 6 month term but we needed more stability than that. We offered to replace the toilet and sink if she made it to 12 months (the bath was damaged when we move in and she replaced it with a different colour one so we thought it would give us another 6 months stability so would repay that by replacing them items for the owner). When we signed the new contract in June 2013 we signed a document to say that if we didn't replace these items then the landlord reserved the right to end after 6 months if she so wanted to.

Well , we have had lots of things going wrong in the house, kids bedroom windows stuck and wont open (a fire risk for sure), garage roof leaking and soaking our contents, heating not working, when she had the bath fitted it was not sealed properly and now looks black and leaks. We notified the estate agent in mid November 2013 about it and now over 10wks later, still no repairs. I put it in writing to them approx 14 days ago that if they weren't done in 14 days we would get them done and deduct it from the rent. We had a phone call yesterday off a plumber (the same plumber who is a family friend, who fitted the bath , who is very slap dash and leaves the mess for us to clean up) saying that he can either come today at approx 7-8pm or its going to be at least 2wks. We said that 7-8pm is not suitable as we have young children , 2 of which would be in bed at 7pm).

We have spoken to the estate agent today and advised him that we are fed up of being messed about and by Monday we are doing the above. Also we have advised that we are NOT replacing the items in the bathroom as we are more than happy for her to terminate now and if she doesn't , come June we are looking for a different house anyway. He mentioned that she may try to withhold the deposit that's with the DPS. I advised that this is not fair as the document we signed mentioned nothing of the deposit , and only mentioned that if the bathroom wasn't sorted, that she reserves the right to terminate after 6 months.

Can somebody please help and tell me if we are within our rights to get the stuff done on Monday and deduct from the rent. Also , is there any chance that she will be able to convince the DPS to retain our deposit?

Matt

onlyhereonce Sat 25-Jan-14 09:51:20

Anybody?

LIZS Sat 25-Jan-14 09:56:12

Take advice from Shelter but it could put you in a vulnerable position if you withhold rent and lead to early eviction. Can you not just bleach the seal or renew it yourself?

onlyhereonce Sat 25-Jan-14 10:01:04

I could do but the landlors has her own people in to do the work. My previous tenancy with this estate agency was brilliant as the owner let the estate agent do the work and just bill him. Also , if I did the work, the type of person she is, she would then expect me to do all of it. Also why should I do the work? Its her house, her bodged repair and why should I fix things?

HettiePetal Sat 25-Jan-14 10:01:41

No, I don't think under these circumstances that you are entitled to do the work & deduct from the rent. They arranged a plumber but you decided you didn't like the time he could come - this would be hard to justify in court.

I strongly suggest that you call the council environmental health on Monday and get them out to have a look. They can issue a notice demanding that the LL rectifies issues within a certain time period.

It would also be a good idea to start looking for somewhere else. Sounds like the LL/tenant relationship is unlikely to recover, and that's not a great way to live.

No, they won't be able to keep your deposit for that reason. The DPS are very strict about taking money and it has to be either for nonpayment or actual damage to the property, not for failure to rectify things since that's not your legal obligation anyway.

I strongly suspect that the break clause that was put in is not actually legal, by the way. Sounds like an unfair term to me.

onlyhereonce Sat 25-Jan-14 10:03:10

Regarding early eviction, im fine with that as we have a good relationship with them and when I asked last night if we were still ok renting through them if and when we leave here he replied "of course , ive dealt with you for a number of years and never had any issues at all so no problem, im as frustrated with the owner as you are"

TheDrugsWorkABitTooWellThanks Sat 25-Jan-14 10:03:17

But you already offered to do work to her house, and had it written into your contract. hmm

onlyhereonce Sat 25-Jan-14 10:07:15

No, we offered to replace the bathroom items as it suited us. Talking about contracts, it states clearly, that if things need sorting they are sorted in a reasonable time period, 3 months isn't acceptable. Also yes she got a plumber to ring to see if he could come out but I don't think 7-8pm is acceptable? The only thing written in the contract is to say if we don't replace them , then she can revert to the original planned 6 months contract.

TheDrugsWorkABitTooWellThanks Sat 25-Jan-14 10:07:34

Court could argue bath seal is tenant's responsibility. Like lightbulbs. Personally, as a landlord I'd rather the bath seal is done correctly, than allow a tenant to do it possibly not so well. But bath seal is a regular replaceable item that frequently needs replacing in a similar manner to long life lightbulbs.

To get a plumber on a Saturday night is rare. But also, Saturday night is not a school night, so wouldn't be detrimental to children to stay up a little but late one Saturday night. Replacing a bath seal doesn't take long.

I would not recommend withholding rent for bath seal. The bath still works? You can bathe without it leaking? You could shower carefully by sitting in the bath, or covering the damaged seal area?

HettiePetal Sat 25-Jan-14 10:07:49

Doesn't actually matter if it was written into the contract - no tenancy agreement clause can trump statutory law. It's the LL's legal obligation to provide a habitable home & to attend to all repairs within a timely fashion. All this nonsense about "we'll do xyz if you give us a longer contract" is unlikely to stand up if tested in court.

DontCallMeDaughter Sat 25-Jan-14 10:09:13

What does the wording of the break clause say?!? Can you invoke it?? If it's worded sloppily, you might be able to say that as you are no longer willing to complete the contracted works that you are hereby invoking the clause and please accept this as your notice to quit the property....

TheDrugsWorkABitTooWellThanks Sat 25-Jan-14 10:09:24

Clearly you don't like the LL.

I'd give notice and find somewhere else.

If inventory is good, none of the damage you mention should be charged to you.

You want to move. Find somewhere better, don't withhold rent, it will not strengthen your position.

HettiePetal Sat 25-Jan-14 10:09:30

I agree re: the bath seal. Just do it yourself. Or if you really need a plumber, then it's hardly the end of the world if the toddlers go to bed an hour later, is it?

You need to take some responsibility here, OP.

LIZS Sat 25-Jan-14 10:10:51

Not sure I understand why him coming this evening is an issue if younger children are in bed . Resealing etc isn't a noisy job and in fact it would give overnight for it to take before it needs to get wet. I would get if she could demonstrate that you denying access caused the job to be bigger ie damage to ceiling below then she could deduct from DPS but probably difficult for her to prove.

somedayillbesaturdaynite Sat 25-Jan-14 10:11:32

Environmental health is a good call, i have had similar problems and managed to sort this way. Mention the LL likes to use friends who carry out sub-standard work and Env Health will supply LL with reputable contractors details (and insist they are used)

onlyhereonce Sat 25-Jan-14 10:12:07

The plumber didn't ask to come Saturday night , he offered to come Thursday night at 7-8pm and then the only other opportunity is in 2-3wks time. Also , it isn't just the bath seal , we have a bedroom window that is stuck shut, has been since early November, Its a fire risk, and waiting 3 months isn't acceptable in my opinion. We also have a leaking garage roof, that has SOAKED most of our stuff over xmas. Regarding the bath seal , it wasn't done right when she had this "plumber" fit it and within 2wks was black, badly shaped and leaking when showering.

onlyhereonce Sat 25-Jan-14 10:16:37

Hettiepetal, Why should I take responsibility for her getting friends to do shoddy work??? My responsibility is to keep the property in good condition and to pay the rent on time, which we do. When this plumber does work , he wakes the dead up, clanging, banging , talks at silly volume levels, I don't want my kids listening to that. I'm not being unreasonable to ask that a workman comes in normal working hours. If she got a real workman to do that, then I would have. The only reason she insists on him coming in dodgy hours is to do it for free, I'm sure. The last job he did (the bath) he made a right mess, left screws, dust, wood chippings where he had to chisel in the wall, and moaned constantly about how he was missing time with his wife whilst doing this job. I had to clean it up.

HettiePetal Sat 25-Jan-14 10:17:19

Does it matter that much that they come on Thursday night? Just once? Do you want this sorted or not?

If there are other concerns that the LL is not dealing with, then contact EH.

You are not justified in withholding rent at this stage.

HettiePetal Sat 25-Jan-14 10:18:32

I see. You came here to be told what you wanted to hear, and you're getting pissy because we don't agree with you?

Let the plumber come on Thursday night, and stop being silly.

onlyhereonce Sat 25-Jan-14 10:19:01

Also, regarding coming later at night, the last 2 jobs he has done has not been completed in 1 visit. A shower he fitted (which I had to wait 4 months for with no shower) took him 3 visits as he forgot a part one time and had problems getting it to work (it kept leaking by the pipes). I work very early (up at 3:50am and out for 4:30am so tbh don't want kids to be delayed in going sleep as it then knackers it for me then.

eurochick Sat 25-Jan-14 10:21:16

I think you're being a bit silly. A bit of noise for one night would hardly have damaged the kids and it would have got that problem sorted.

Withholding rent makes eviction easier for the LL.

TheDrugsWorkABitTooWellThanks Sat 25-Jan-14 10:21:27

Sorry, I was going by your message, which having re read said he called on Thursday to come on Friday night.

What floor is the window on that won't open?

Does the door to the same room also not open?

Were you told that the garage was completely dry and a suitable room in which to store non waterproof items other than cars?

onlyhereonce Sat 25-Jan-14 10:22:04

HettiePetal,

I've come here for advice, whether I agree or not is a different thing. Your basing your comments on no experience of dealing with this landlord. She takes months and months to sort issues out , and they never get sorted out fully. What time do you get up in the morning?? 3:50am??? Im not being unreasonable to ask for someone to come during normal working hours. Where would it stp if not, 4 in the morning having a job done?

HettiePetal Sat 25-Jan-14 10:22:24

Fine - then do it yourself. I am no DIY-er but even I can manage to put a seal around a bath. Sounds like you really want to withhold the rent for some reason, tbh.

onlyhereonce Sat 25-Jan-14 10:24:21

Your basing your whole advice on the bathroom seal. What about the window and the garage? The door opens to the room with the stuck window yes but what if a fire was on the landing?? The bath seal is the least worry of these jobs. The garage was leak free when we moved in. We had the electric go faulty in the garage 6 months after moving here and she told us that if we wanted it repairing then we would haver to pay £100 to contribute or she would rip it out. In the end the estate agent told her to do it.

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