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Being sued! Please help

(57 Posts)
evansthebread Thu 21-Mar-13 23:21:42

Please help - I'm frantic. It's a long story, for which I apologise, but apart from wanting to post ALL the FACTS, I think I need to get this off my chest. I haven't slept for a week now and my nerves are at breaking point. I'd appreciate any help or support.

I put my house up to let last November and with that intention had the gas appliance (fire and back boiler) serviced and checked. It was issued with a safety certificate by a Gas Safe registered engineer. There was an advisory on it saying that the flue was not within current standards but was still safe to use.

Tenants moved in on 3rd January. They only wanted the property for a short time as they were waiting for their new build to be completed, but they couldn't give me a date that they would be leaving so they signed a 6 month AST.

A few days after they moved in their CO monitor went off at about 10pm so he texted me to let me know and they all went down to the hospital. They were checked out and were found to have levels of 6 and 7 in their blood (not sure who had those levels, them or their children). I freaked out and called the engineer who was there at 9am the following morning, waiting for me to let him in.

I was shocked at what I found - so was he from an engineers point of view. The place looked like one of those hoarding programs on telly. Furniture and boxes stacked up virtually to the ceilings in every room.

Anyway, the engineer carried out checks on the boiler, fire and flu and found nothing. The first thing he did was check the air to see that it was safe to enter. His "snooper" detected zero CO in the room, despite it being left with the windows closed. He pulled the whole thing to bits and could find no evidence of sooting or anything else that would indicate a CO leak. He left an hour a half later having found no fault. He did, however, point out that their furniture and carrier bags full of stuff were blocking the vent to the room and that they had also clearly been burning a large candle in the room. He said I should ask them to ensure the vent was clear.

I arranged for engineer to return in a few days to extend the flue to current regs which he did.

As he was leaving, a British Gas van pulled up. Apparently tenants assumed our engineer was "dodgy" and called them, too. They took out a plan and told me I had to pay the call out of £99 (which in panic, I agreed). BG man (and apprentice) pulled fire and boiler apart again, also checked out flue, stating that I "should" have the flue extended a few hundred mm to make it to current standards.

While he was there, the tenant's CO monitor went off so he held his "snooper against" it but it read zero. He proclaimed it to be clearly faulty and took it outside to break open to prevent further use. He did a final check of the boiler and just as he was about to close it up, having found nothing wrong, the pressure valve flickered so he said he'd change it "just in case" which he did.

Both my engineer and the BG man stated that there had been "unusual atmospheric conditions" that night which may have caused a "blow back puff" that was apparently quite common, but I think we were all satisfied that the boiler/fire was safe so they came back and carried on living there.

The next day I had a text complaining that the rooms were not getting warm. I'm not surprised as every single rad had stuff leaning against them. Tenant was adamant that rads needed bleeding and that he would do them himself. He was still complaining, but his wife told me separately that they were fine. I think she must have told him as I heard nothing else about it.

Less than a fortnight later, I had another late night text telling me they'd booked into a hotel as their new Kidde CO monitor had gone off. I freaked out again and told them I'd call my engineer out but they said they'd call BG in which they did. An engineer was promised by lunch time but he didn't turn up so I gave them oil-filled rads to use. He turned up after dark and said he was unable to do anything as it was too dark to check the smoke coming out of the chimney. He left a fan heater and tenants stayed at property.

Next day a different BG man turned up. Checked the place out, could find nothing wrong and no CO. He checked their new Kidde monitor which the wife had said was bleeping "intermittently" (her husband had previously stated it was going off continuously!)but the readings were zero. He told them it must be faulty and nailed a BG monitor to the wall for them.

Again, I just thought it was a run of bad luck with faulty monitors and thought nothing else about it. Then we had the cooker ring saga - but that's another story if any of you are interested.

So, fast forward to today and I find a solicitor's letter in the post claiming £20,000 pain and suffering! I also had a letter from tenant last night telling me that he'd reported me to HSE and the council for not having a gas certificate! I gave him a copy before he moved in along with the EPC and the electrical safety certificate. I've sent a copy by email to the council guy and spoken to him by phone. He says he's satisfied and will be taking no action. I'm waiting for HSE to call back.

Tenant is actually moving out this week and has only paid rent up to today. He's also taken out £99 from his rent for the BG call out, despite me writing to him asking him not to as I'd noticed damage to the door when I went in and would offset it against the repair cost at the end of the tenancy.

Estate agent did a viewing last Thursday and called to say that the prospective tenants had been "frightened off" by current tenant who interfered throughout the viewing, telling them the house was unsafe. He also has a CO monitor bleeping in every room which the EA said was very off-putting.

So, I am in the kind of situation I never thought I'd find myself in and am not doing very well. I suffer with severe anxiety and depression and didn't cope very well, with the cooker ring situation and all tenants nasty texts (but a BIG thank you to all those who supported me through that. It is very much appreciated). I can feel myself starting to "give up" with this already.

I am hoping for any advice I can get regarding these issues: am I liable to have to pay out? Are those CO levels high (as I have no idea where they could have been poisoned from - I'm pretty sure that all/any of the engineers would have shut the system down if it had been the cause)? They reverse their cars up against the vent and front door - could that have contributed? Can I claim the rest of the rent he owes even though he's moving out? Can I ask for the £99 back? Who is responsible for utilities if he moves out but still is within his contract date? It's too cold to leave the house without heat without risking burst pipe damage. Can I go in to make sure it's being heated? A few months rent and £99 won't go far towards £20,000, but it might help me pay my solicitor's bill!

To top it all, I asked before they signed if they had pets. They said two outdoor dogs that they were "getting rid of" (which they have). I noticed cats trying to get in when I attended the property - I have a cat and cat flea allergy that causes me to have severe asthma attacks. Tenant told me they were his cats, but they were outdoor cats and never come inside (they looked like they were pretty used to being let in when I was there!). I'd had the place professionally cleaned before they moved in and now will not be able to risk going in again until it's sanitised properly again. Can I bill them for it? They said they would leave the property clean but I'm afraid to go in and perform a check-out with them now. How do I go about this?

A BIG thank you in advance for any help/suggestions/support.

You must do a detailed check out procedure with them there and preferably an agent

Take photos of any damage, however slight

They have zero chance of suing you btw, I would laugh in their faces

You have gone above and beyond, I would have told them to fuck off re British gas

Retain the 99 pounds from their deposit if they have underpaid the rent

cumfy Fri 22-Mar-13 01:15:37

Yikes this is tough.

CO kills.

It is the problem with gas.
They have said they have significant levels measured in their blood.
This is extremely serious.

I would ask for that medical documentation.

All the issues regarding engineers giving opinions and obtaining nil readings is pretty much redundant. Unfortunately CO can reach dangerous levels and dissipate over a number of minutes.

CO alarms can give false positive and false negative readings.
Proper CO detectors cost 20x than a retail alarm, because they do the job properly.

On the other hand you appear to have done everything that can be reasonably expected of you, and outwith you being negligent they seem unlikely to have any case.

Basically, CO can be a nightmare.
I would not blame the tenants. (unless it's a scam).

I am most concerned that their children and they are safe.

Whereisthesnow Fri 22-Mar-13 01:26:19

Do you have landlords insurance? You need to notify them ASAP and they will take over handling of claim.
Smokers have a certain level of CO in their bloodstream so that may explain the apparent readings - but that is something your insurers can request.
CO alarms also seem to be quite temperamental in terms of false alarms etc due to where they are placed etc.
The solicitors letter is likely to be all bluff and bluster - please don't worry. Do send this all onto your insurers ASAP - you wouldn't want a penalty for late notification as well!

Selks Fri 22-Mar-13 01:30:25

Sounds scam-like to me. £20,000 compensation! Yeah riiiight!!

evansthebread Fri 22-Mar-13 01:51:42

Tenants have been a nightmare - really unpleasant people.

Their bullying made me self-harm a few weeks ago. One of the hob rings packed in on a Friday. At 5.45pm he was texting me asking for an emergency electrician. He was still texting me at 10.55 pm telling me to sort it by tomorrow. I live next door and offered him my stand alone induction hob but he wanted a camping gas stove (which I refused). He wanted OH to go in on the Sunday evening to take it apart which he refused as even if they'd taken it apart, there was no new ring to go in. They had their own microwave which I suggested he use to cook veggies in when he texted me telling me they were starting to wean their 3 month old that weekend. He replied that microwaving changes the water molecule so he wouldn't use it. WTF? Why have one then?

He demanded I pay for his takeaways as he couldn't possibly manage on the other 3 rings. His stirfrys were turning into "midnight feasts" and his son needed soft food as he'd had a new brace.

I eventually got it fixed - electrician couldn't come until the Tuesday and the part didn't arrive til the following week. I was having constant "update wanted" texts and after the new ring was fitted he demanded to speak to the electrician to make sure I hadn't "conned" him (have no idea what I could have conned him about).

Council guy didn't want to be quoted but told me they were obviously just after money. Their solicitor has put a letter in saying they applied for insurance in able to make the claim.

Tenants were renting as they'd sold their house and were waiting for their new one to be built. He gleefully told me (after signing!) that he'd drained every drop of heating oil from his tank in order to leave the new owners and their young children with no heating. Nice guy.

I'm convinced it IS a scam. I take CO very seriously and made sure that everything was okay before they moved in. I had a horrible letter off him telling me that he was taking action against me because he took the house on with the hob working. I was astounded. He is a very lucky guy if he's NEVER had anything break down on him before.

Thanks for the replies so far. I still can't sleep so if anyone's still up and reading, I'd appreciate any more advice/support.

SergeantSnarky Fri 22-Mar-13 01:53:13

Oh Christ - I feel for you I really do.

You sound like you have a good log of all the events: Get them typed up along with the dates and times and copies of reports and invoices along with copies of your annual gas check(s)

Asa landlord you should have landlord's house insurance which includes public liability insurance - mine covers up to a million incl death. They will need copies of all of the above to deal with it but make it clear that you have had no official medical
documentation and the blocking of vents etc

Having legal access to fix the problem on first visit I would have taken photos of the set up as it was being used as storage as well as dwelling. I would see if all the engineers who visited could make written statements/be namechecked.

Please please tell me your tenants' deposit is in the official deposit scheme...if not you are screwed (he can claim 3x the amount back if not held properly in scheme):If yes then take photos of the door, damage/probs by the cats (any proof as otherwise your word against his) and submit the cleaning invoice against the deposit.

He cannot withhold rent but nor can it come out the deposit - it is a small claims court situation I think but he was in the wrong. I personally might suck that up just to be rid of the fecker but depends how much in arrears by

SergeantSnarky Fri 22-Mar-13 02:05:46

Okay - he is moving out - hoe much notice has he given you. What contract was he on?
When is he giving you keys back?

You need utilities out the day he is moving to take the meter readings officially...and photos too by the sound of it. Plus photos of state house left in and counter signed report/inventory.

If you have allergy can DH do all this?
Alternatively I would consider using a letting agent from now onwards and asking them if they would mind doing the walk through in return for gaining you as a new client -no harm in asking.

SergeantSnarky Fri 22-Mar-13 02:11:44

Council tax people will need to know date he left - sadly I think you are liable for empty property now so if he has left without proper notice then this needs a small claim as he should still be liable.

Until he gives you the keys you have no immediate right of entry.

You need to have the heating on agreed but I would have the meter readings done and dusted before having it on ambient temp - it all depends if he has officially gone or not or if he is trying to trade off deposit he knows he might lose against rent (not on)

evansthebread Fri 22-Mar-13 02:13:40

He's left as of yesterday - keys through the door. He paid his final rent up to yesterday, less the £99 he's charged me for calling BG out after my engineer had been. The TA is signed until 2/6/13.

I didn't take a deposit as I knew they'd be leaving for their new home (so wasn't expecting hassle at them going) and, wait for it, they seemed like lovely people. I actually felt like I was doing them a favour as they were desperate to get somewhere to live or their buyer would pull out. I think that's why they were so spiteful about the heating oil.

I was so shocked I took photos of all the rooms - except the one the appliances were in - I was simply too embarrassed to take pics in front of my engineer because he was so shocked at the state of the place.

They're claiming I didn't have a safety cert even though I gave them copies of that and the electrical and EPC. He pushed the EPC back through my letterbox but kept the others.

He also claims that they opened the windows before they left. They didn't. I went outside to look at the chimney (have no idea why) after I got their text. All the windows were still closed. I thought it strange as it was the first house I'd had with gas and was a bit afraid of it at first - the first thing I did when I moved in was service the boiler and ask questions and was told with any gas incident to open windows/not flick switches. I remember a flash of annoyance as I'd explained to them that as it was an old, single wall construction, they'd need to air the house regularly and keep it warm/not dry clothes on rads etc., or mould would grow. I'd lived there for a decade with no problem, and didn't want it starting then.

The windows in that room are pretty high. I can't reach them without moving furniture and getting a stool. He's shorter than me so he either stood on his leather sofa or moved it all and then put it back before leaving.

The pics I have of the other rooms show that they're so crammed, it would be virtually impossible to open them as there was so much stuff in the way or items directly in front of the windows. He also had the cheek to complain the house wasn't warm when every rad had something leaning up against it.

The more I'm stressing, the more annoyed I am that I'm being taken for a ride like this.

Thanks for getting back so late SS.

TheFutureMrsB Fri 22-Mar-13 02:16:49

Dont loose sleep over them, he sounds like a right pain in the arse!! I bet hes the type to ask you to replace a blown bulb! X

Selks Fri 22-Mar-13 02:18:55

Can you get legal advice yourself. Might put your mind at ease - solicitor might say they have no chance.

evansthebread Fri 22-Mar-13 02:23:04

He's only returned one set of keys. I'm ringing the EA in the morning to see if she has other set, I'll also be ringing all the utilities to check if he's informed them he's leaving. He gave me a letter signed only by him and not his wife who was joint tenant stating his intention to leave yesterday. He's also informed EA he's moved into his new house. Large removals van was there most of Monday. Is this evidence enough that he's gone?

I put a 24 hour notice letter through door this evening stating EA is doing a viewing again on Saturday, but I don't think he's been back. He hasn't stayed overnight since Sunday, but every day the gas meter box has been opened.

He's left rubbish in the garden - least of my worries - and electricals in the bin that I know the council won't take. He'd left a downstairs window open on Monday so I went around and pushed it shut, but it's still clearly unlatched.

Yes, I've been naive and stupid regarding them, but I haven't been negligent or unreasonable about the safety of the property. I made sure I complied to regs and took the advice of a Gas Safe engineer. And I'm still in this nightmare. :-(

evansthebread Fri 22-Mar-13 02:25:59

Future MrsB - he's probably taken all the bulbs!

Having said that, I did a through inventory and had it witnessed as tenants were always "too busy" to attend a proper check in. Then they said they wouldn't sign photos and notes hadn't been taken in front of them!

I hate myself for getting into this!!

evansthebread Fri 22-Mar-13 02:32:46

Selks - am getting one tomorrow. I have legal insurance but they've just sent a form to see if I qualify!

I can't go another weekend in limbo.

SergeantSnarky Fri 22-Mar-13 02:35:08

Okay. I am angry on your behalf but also worried for you, as you have no leverage.

He has left without notice - three months in advance of a six month assured shorthold tenancy?

Was the agreement verbal or a legit contract even if a downloaded template?

If verbal I would have to let it go and suck it up/chalk it up to experience. If written - you have to weigh up the cost and stress of going after the b*stard. If you can now get new tenant in that solves the rent from now to June, the council tax responsibility and the cold spell - whatever insurance you do have will be void if noone living there after a certain time period.

If you have been letting without telling your own insurers or mortgage then you are not covered. If you have no liability element then you need to get lawyered up sharpish - possibly you can get a free half hour consult with someone initially.

If you have the keys then you had better get meters read asap and notify the facilities of the date tenant left so he doesn't deny or change dates.

brew flowers hugs x

SergeantSnarky Fri 22-Mar-13 02:42:00

x-posts

what do the estate agent do for you other than advertise the property?

do you have a contact no. or forwarding address for this douche?

you need wife's signature - unless you want to hold her accountable as current tenant - and her keys back straight away.

Am now angry for you - hoping the legal insurance you hae will cover you.

westcoastnortherner Fri 22-Mar-13 02:46:57

I had terrible tenants and a crap EA, I hope everything works out ok for you!

I second legal advise, take pictures of everything and make sure you have copies of all paperwork.

In future take pictures with your tenants on a walkabout before hand, and I would even put a clause in asking for the property to be professionally cleaned... And for you to be provided with a receipt as evidence.

SergeantSnarky Fri 22-Mar-13 02:50:27

Sadly btw the inventory/walk through did need them there - I also would not sign anything I hadn't been privy to but I guess being unavailable/stalling was his tactic to deny any future culpability.

Don't know what else to tell you. I use a managing agent as I am not in the UK any more but also to avoid all the hassle you appear to be going through.

Hoping it works out and some legal or agent brains will be online tomorrow - ellie? maybe...

xx

evansthebread Fri 22-Mar-13 03:08:33

EA is just a finder.

Contract was a signed AST.

They've not given a forwarding address, but EA handled their sale and has offered it along with a statement of the interference during the viewing last week.

We informed mortgage company and have LL insurance with legal cover.

Do management companies handle all this stuff? EA has offered to manage but going on local gossip, they don't do a lot.

Thanks SS.

WestCN - are you still a LL or did your experiences put you off?

I'm freaked by all this and can't believe my luck. I've tried to do everything by the book. I had 20 viewings for the property and when I explained I would be putting deposit into a DPS, was met with blank looks. I live in a rural area and apparently am the only LL who has ever heard of the DPS. Every single person said they'd have trouble getting a deposit up front as they probably wouldn't get it back from their current LL - they all seemed to accept that LL would be keeping their deposits no matter what!

I have prospective tenants who are willing to put up 6 months rent and a month's deposit but they need to move in a week Saturday. I know this seems to be a good offer and EA is as excited as a kid at Christmas as they're willing to pay all costs, too. But all I can think is it's not worth it.

DP and I have played blame game all week. I can feel myself going downhill again and need to snap out of it. But thanks All for your support/advice.

Whereisthesnow Fri 22-Mar-13 03:20:19

Hi, I'm having a crap night of sleep too!
Glad to hear you have ll insurance - please do notify them and they will most likely take over the handling of this - less stress for you!

evansthebread Fri 22-Mar-13 03:21:33

Hey Snow - just can't sleep or being kept awake?!

SergeantSnarky Fri 22-Mar-13 03:32:09

Blame game will not help you my lovely if tenant was out to exploit you.

If you have LL insurance with legal protection you can sleep safely - you should be adequately covered even if the sods manage a successful claim...annoying but you would have the excess and that should be it.

Have had 4 lots of tenants in 6 years.

Have a lovely letting agent.

He does the advertising, vetting incl guarantors/refs, contracts and deposits, walkthrough/inventories/meters and follow up visit once tenants moved in, ditto on moving out incl making claim for cleaning with one v bad tenant and one repair for another.
He is the first port of call for any problem, is emergency key holder, has his own contacts for repairs etc gets me quotes and organises annual gas check and last but not least for a % cut of whole claim he sorted out everything to do with my burst pipes insurance claim.

But he is an independent ea and la, not a chain high st one.

I would hope you have had your share of bad luck re tenants and cannot help thinking 6 months rent in advance plus deposit makes you in a safer position than no tenant and loss
of rent. Unless your spidey senses are tingling!

But like you I try to see the good in people. Good luck.

SergeantSnarky Fri 22-Mar-13 03:41:13

Out those four lots of tenants - one broke a mirror, and a back door window and changed curtains.

One left place so dirty it needed contract cleaners.

One left after burst pipes probably due to not having heating on in winter ffs

current one is a keeper - yes has asked for various things but nothing unreasonable

have made a loss every year since 2007 but am not in it for profit - simply wanted not to have to sell up so have home to come back to...

thelittlestkiwi Fri 22-Mar-13 03:46:54

OP- I'm so sorry you are going through this. You seem to have done everything correctly and with the best of intentions. Which is a lot more than most landlords IME! The cooker ring incident paints a very clear picture of the sort of people they are which may count in your favour. I agree with previous posters about keeping good records just in case.

I'm a member of the National Landlords Association - mainly as they do cheap insurance. It's 70 GBP a year to join. Might be worth giving them a call?

Also, do the prospective tenants have references? Would calling their current landlord help?

Flossbert Fri 22-Mar-13 04:43:07

I am in no way a legal type, although i do have some experience as a landlord. I can't see that they'd have grounds to sue at all. Wrt the gas cert, I'm fairly sure that it doesn't matter if he's claiming not to have seen it, so long as the inspection was done. I agree that I'd be looking for evidence of those CO readings from the hospital - he's clearly prone to embellishing the truth.

However, you may have a problem wrt entering the property before the end if the fixed term. I'm sure that with any normal tenant the return of keys and letter informing of intention to leave would be enough to make you feel comfortable going into the property before the end of the term without reproach. However, I would worry that he might be trying to set you up. Try LandlordZone website - it's a forum just like this but full of LLs and property law experts who may be able to give further advice.

Try not to let the bastards get you down. Karma will get them.

fishybits Fri 22-Mar-13 04:50:29

As someone up thread has said please don't take any tenants without full references even if it means you lose them. Offering six months rent up front and very keen to move in bypassing the need for references would be a red flag for me.

GrumpyOldWomanToo Fri 22-Mar-13 05:11:21

I don't know what the tenants mean by "levels of 6 or 7 in their blood". Can you get hold of the hospital report?

From Wiki:
Concentration and Source
0.1 ppm Natural atmosphere level
0.5 to 5 ppm Average level in homes
5 to 15 ppm Near properly adjusted gas stoves in homes
100 to 200 ppm Exhaust from automobiles in the Mexico City central area
5,000 ppm Exhaust from a home wood fire
7,000 ppm Undiluted warm car exhaust without a catalytic converter

Concentration and Symptoms
35 ppm (0.0035%) Headache and dizziness within six to eight hours of constant exposure
100 ppm (0.01%) Slight headache in two to three hours
200 ppm (0.02%) Slight headache within two to three hours; loss of judgment
400 ppm (0.04%) Frontal headache within one to two hours
800 ppm (0.08%) Dizziness, nausea, and convulsions within 45 min; insensible within 2 hours
1,600 ppm (0.16%) Headache, tachycardia, dizziness, and nausea within 20 min; death in less than 2 hours
3,200 ppm (0.32%) Headache, dizziness and nausea in five to ten minutes. Death within 30 minutes.
6,400 ppm (0.64%) Headache and dizziness in one to two minutes. Convulsions, respiratory arrest, and death in less than 20 minutes.
12,800 ppm (1.28%) Unconsciousness after 2–3 breaths. Death in less than three minutes.

Karoleann Fri 22-Mar-13 05:27:00

I would write back to the solicitors and ask for a copy of their medical records stating that they have high levels of carbon monoxide in their blood and any medical complications they have suffered as a result of the "poisoning". They have to have a specific reason for the pain and suffering.

It sounds as if they are a bit dodgy and trying it on

LIZS Fri 22-Mar-13 08:23:47

Did they pay any deposit and is it in a registered scheme ? If an EA was involved in finding them then they should have advised you about the agreement and payments and done credit checks - so ask them what came up. Legally tenants are liable for rent up to June and you could claim against them if they take legal action. it would have been wise to have the flue made up to spec before they moved in but we had similar recently with our own boiler and all it needed was a cage to prevent obstruction. £99 is neither here nor there really, as presumably you get to keep the service agreement for rest of year.

Whereisthesnow Fri 22-Mar-13 08:59:57

Op - am 9 months pregnant - sleep is not my friend!
As someone has pointed out they need an actual injury to sue you for personal injury.
Just reaching back in my memory about how CO is detected medically ... You need to be tested for it at same time as exposure as it has a half life so decays in blood stream. A hospital can do a blood test which is fairly accurate, pretty sure the results are given as a percentage - so 6 Or 7 % is nothing, under 10% is not expected to show any symptoms. Or some a&e departments have a finger pulses meter type thing to test for CO - clip type thing attached to finger, which is more rough and ready - think but not sure that's a reading out of 10.
Definitely need to see those records.
And call your insurers today! Insurers sometimes penalise for late notification of a claim as part of the policy will be that you allow then to handle the claim on your behalf

greenfolder Fri 22-Mar-13 09:20:04

sounds like a scam from scum.

strongly suggest that you pass this on to your insurers with an explanation of what you have done, and think no more of it.

this is a case without legs and i really cannot comprehend any solicitor being willing to represent them- their claim has zero chance of success. which solicitors is it?

WestieMamma Fri 22-Mar-13 11:18:37

I'm only a law student, so please keep that in mind, but I'm pretty sure that in order to sue he'd have to prove that you acted negligently. It doesn't sound to me like he'd be able to do this in a million years.

WestieMamma Fri 22-Mar-13 11:23:43

Oops, posted too soon. He'd also have to prove that he'd suffered a loss (injury). From information posted in this thread it sounds like the CO2 levels were within a normal range ie no claim. I can ask my husband to confirm this when he gets home tomorrow if you want. He's a chemistry professor, he'll be able to give a definitive answer.

kikid Fri 22-Mar-13 11:38:14

Scam from Scum. love it greenfolder!

op, I hope this is sorted quickly & fairly in your favour.smile

BoreOfWhabylon Fri 22-Mar-13 12:54:17

Sounds like a scam to me too.

You (or rather your insurers) need to request full information re the blood tests that were allegedly performed. The blood is usually tested for a compound called carboxyhaemoglobin (HbCO - usually expressed as %). This is different to tests for atmospheric carbon monoxide (CO - usually expressed as ppm)

A certain amount of HbCO is normally present in everyone's blood. The amount varies according to whether the person lives in an urban or rural environment, whether they are a smoker or not and other variables. The exact type of test performed also makes a difference, eg one source I looked at gives these HbCO levels:

Less than 1–2% for people who live away from urban areas and who do not smoke.
Up to 5% for people who smoke up to 20 cigarettes a day, people living in urban areas who do not smoke, and pregnant women.
Up to 13% for heavy smokers.

So all requires expert interpretation.

Don't worry about it any more, just hand it all over to your insurers (who, I imagine, will also be able to check whether Scammy Scummy Bloke makes a habit of this sort of thing).

BoreOfWhabylon Fri 22-Mar-13 12:59:02

Forgot to say, am not legal type but have A&E/Critical Care nursing background.

Also wondering if legal types think you could sue him for distress and suffering caused to you?

evansthebread Fri 22-Mar-13 13:47:45

Thanks All.

LIZS - they're taking the plan with them.

Tenant's wife (40+ yrs) had recently had a baby. Is claiming she has developed a heart condition from exposure.

She's also claiming that the baby was sleepy and they all were unwell. Every time I'd been in there baby was bawling (angry-type screaming as I'm sure most will KWIM). I remember coming back in and telling OH that as a nurse, she should have known better as she was continually holding baby upright under his arms, letting his head fall back. No wonder he was miserable.

As far as being unwell, she'd come in to mine several times for a cuppa and a chat - had made no mention of feeling ill/headaches etc. She was in with me while my mobile hairdresser was here and was laughing and joking the whole 2.5 hours.

It just seems so, as Greenfolder says, scammy.

Selks Fri 22-Mar-13 14:04:56

Baby has developed a heart condition from the exposure?? Scam scam scam. They must think you are a mug (you're clearly not).

I know it's easy for me to say but I'd be tempted just to totally ignore it all. I doubt they'd have a leg to stand on legally and they know it - they're just trying it on. If they don't see you bite then they might huff and puff a bit but would ultimately drop it.

Let us know how you get on when you've spoken to your legal bod.

LIZS Fri 22-Mar-13 14:09:24

If they're taking the BG plan then why should you pay for it when you had your own plumber on call hmm

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Fri 22-Mar-13 15:11:07

They probably leave a trail of havoc behind them, skip through life threatening to sue and dodging bills. Did you see any proof of hospital checks? They acted perfectly normally, their pets were fine, the baby was vocal and screaming lustily.

Are you all right? Please don't give them any more head-space.

Indygoes Fri 22-Mar-13 15:35:22

I suspect the letter from the solicitor is just because they want to leave the tenancy early and not pay the remaining months rent - they're hoping that a claim for £20k will make you think you've got a good deal if all you lose is rent!

Sounds like you have good evidence (make sure you have copies/records) of everything, and that you did what was required. Pass the letter onto your insurer and let them deal with it, and make sure the tenants know you will be pursuing the outstanding rent and counter-claim for it if they ever do issue a claim. Copies of medical records need to be requested because ultimately that is their only possible evidence of a problem.

Seems possible that they will try to frame you for illegal eviction, so to protect yourself you could call the tenancy relations officer at your LA and thereby create a record of what's happened nd the clear intention the tenant has given that they are moving out.

Indygoes Fri 22-Mar-13 15:38:56

I suspect the letter from the solicitor is just because they want to leave the tenancy early and not pay the remaining months rent - they're hoping that a claim for £20k will make you think you've got a good deal if all you lose is rent!

Sounds like you have good evidence (make sure you have copies/records) of everything, and that you did what was required. Pass the letter onto your insurer and let them deal with it, and make sure the tenants know you will be pursuing the outstanding rent and counter-claim for it if they ever do issue a claim. Copies of medical records need to be requested because ultimately that is their only possible evidence of a problem.

Seems possible that they will try to frame you for illegal eviction, so to protect yourself you could call the tenancy relations officer at your LA and thereby create a record of what's happened nd the clear intention the tenant has given that they are moving out.

LadyMercy Fri 22-Mar-13 16:52:50

Evans, please try not to worry.

Forgetting all the gas safety/carbon monoxide stuff
The tenant signed a 6 month fixed term assured shorthold tenancy agreement (correct me if I'm wrong).
The tenant is therefore liable for rent, council tax and utilities for that period.
Unless you agreed that they could leave early, they are still responsible for rent etc.

It sounds very like they are trying to take advantage of your good nature and maybe make a fast buck at the same time. They don't want to pay the rest of the rent/bills. I strongly suggest some professional advice to avoid giving this person any ammunition to use against you (e.g. illegal eviction).

evansthebread Fri 22-Mar-13 18:39:11

Thanks All.

Called HSE earlier and I have NOT been negligent. They will NOT be taking any action against me and will be sending a letter out stating that.

You would not believe the relief.

Selks - no, the mum has said she's developed a heart condition. I remember mine going "dodgy" when I was pregnant and had it blamed on me being older and pregnant.

LIZS - that's what I thought and when I looked into it, I'm not liable for any second opinions they had.

I'm not having a pity party here, but I have a really nasty scar for life from self-harming over these people when I was having hassle with them over the hob. I simply could not cope with the nastiness. I'm gutted as I've SH'd for years, but never left anything more than faint scars. I can't believe I did it over those horrible people. It's made me more determined now to take them for every penny they owe me now, though!

Lady - I'll be going the legal route all the way. I rang the council and utilities earlier and they've not closed any accounts. This will make it harder for me to prove that they've actually quit. However, EA says they're going to sign a surrender letter tomorrow (I reminded her that I can't accept new tenants until it was signed and a forwarding address supplied, and she reminded them that they're liable for rent until AST is up or I get someone in).

Again, thanks All. My struggle against depression and anxiety has been a long uphill slog. These people have made me ill, but the support I've had here has been nothing but uplifting for me.

Ev

Selks Sat 23-Mar-13 00:54:48

Glad to hear your update - that's great. A big weight off your shoulders smile

westcoastnortherner Sat 23-Mar-13 03:28:13

Good luck, I hope it all turns out ok, they sound like scammers. I'm no longer a LL it was too much stress

IneedAsockamnesty Sat 23-Mar-13 12:24:51

As you live next door,did you ever notice their car just being left engine running under a vent?

evansthebread Sat 23-Mar-13 21:39:19

Thanks again, All. I'm still worried, though :-(

Socket - Not idling for long time, but enough to defrost windows before driving off and to-ing and fro-ing trying to back into their spaces.

IneedAsockamnesty Sat 23-Mar-13 22:22:22

I was asking because its quite a common scam,raise the levels using your car by a vent or even hose through window, to frighten your ll into not chasing you for rent or other perks.

greenfolder Mon 25-Mar-13 10:14:25

I know its not easy but I would really emphasise the need to just stick this through to your insurers and forget about it. I used to work dealing with these sorts of claims and honestly you can spot the genuine ones at a thousand paces. Remember, they have to prove their case. They simply can't because there is no medical case for it. To give you an example-i has a case with a simple neck injury where she recovered in 3 weeks. The woman was utterly convinced that she had an early menopause because of the accident. Tbf, she really did believe it, but there was no medical expert who could find a link. She attributed one distressing thing with another.

evansthebread Fri 29-Mar-13 02:00:06

Thanks, Green.

What worries me, though, is that they say they have CO in their blood but after all the checks by the engineers and false CO alarms going off, I don't believe that they got it from my property - but how do I disprove it?

HSE says I'm not negligent due to having done all the legal stuff, but I can't really see that helping me.

roundtheback Fri 29-Mar-13 03:28:39

You're not getting this are you? smile

You do not need to disprove anything. The only thing you need to do is put this in the hands of your insurers.

Then just thank fuck you had the sense to get the insurance grin

It's now their job to deal with the hassle, it's what you have been paying them for. Any proving has to come from the tenants, and since its got scam written in large letters all over it, they won't be able to do that.

VivaLeBeaver Fri 29-Mar-13 06:27:09

Carbon monoxide of 6 or 7 as far as I know isn't significant. I was recently trained to use CO monitors on people, the ones that are like a breathalyser. I normally register a 7 or even a 9 when I blow into it myself and I don't smoke, my boiler is fine, etc. I think it's because I live on a main road, drive a lot......other things affect your levels such as pollution, traffic.

Your ex tenant sounds like a total knob. I don't think he has a hope in hell of suing you, it would be laughed out of court. You had all the correct certificates, got people there when you thought there was a problem and two qualified people said there wasn't a problem. He and his family have suffered no harm or injury.

The hob ring situation is total twattery, I've lived in my own home with only three working burners for twelve years and can't be arsed to fix it. Having to manage a week is perfectly acceptable.

If I were you I'd change the locks and forget about him as much as possible. Write any lost rent from him leaving early off, ditto damage to the door. It's not worth the stress to you of chasing him for the money. Rise above it and thank god you're not a knob like him. If you have legal protection on your insurance then let them sort it concerning his claims.

VivaLeBeaver Fri 29-Mar-13 06:29:12

Evans, you don't have to disprove that they didn't get CO in their blood from your house. The onus is on them to prove that they got it from your house. Which they can't do in a million years because you have two gas engineers saying there was no CO leak and the levels they have in their blood are normal background levels.

ginmakesitallok Fri 29-Mar-13 07:00:46

Evans, I know you're not believing everyone on here, but you really have nothing to worry about. If they sue you they have to prove you were negligent (which I can't see how they would) and they have to prove harm resulting from this (with co levels that low I can't see how they would do that either). Please try not to sorry, just put everything I in the hands of your insurers.

evansthebread Thu 04-Apr-13 19:07:18

Thank you All again.

I still haven't heard from the insurers - I had to send all the evidence in to a company that decides if it goes on to the insurers (I'm shocked as I just thought I pay the insurance and they sort it all out).

I rang their solicitors today as the letter snittily told me to reply in 21 days or I'd be in trouble. The secretary told me the solicitor is away til the 15th - all the stress of trying to get it sorted in the time period they wanted and he's not there anyway!

Gin - HSE told me they wouldn't look into any levels less than 10 so that was helpful. On other hand, he said he'd send me a letter confirming no action to be taken, but I haven't had it yet.

I'm not bumping this back up - I'm just thanking everyone for their help and support. I am still very worried, though, as I've ALWAYS stayed inside the law (I worry too much to not be as legal as I can with everything, then I worry about the stuff I'm not aware of!) but have ALWAYS ended up getting the sharp end of the stick when anything has happened to me generally in life.

I'm trying to put it all to the back of my mind but am getting heart-stopping moments and sleepless nights no matter how much I try. I'm making myself ill, but can't help it. I wish I could wake up and the nightmare have disappeared. But that's me - I never come up smelling of roses. Thank you All, again, though. It helps a lot knowing I've got support.

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