Dangerous electricals and hostile letting agents

(16 Posts)
Fauchelevent Thu 18-Feb-16 22:52:01

Currently huddled up in the corner of my room! I rent from a letting agency, and the hanging light fixture is currently sizzling, flickering and half disconnected from the ceiling.

I just called the emergency line to be told it's not her problem and if I'm really so worred I can disconnect it myself. Surely a dangerous fixture in a rented property is not my responsibility? They will certainly try and charge me for any repairs, but tomorrow I leave the country for two weeks and I'm worried about leaving the light like this. It's happened before and they claimed I broke it myself whilst cleaning? Which is a lie. What can I do?

ftm123 Fri 19-Feb-16 08:46:53

Hi. I can't help,but wanted to clarify a few points. You say you rent a room. Is this an HMO? Stricter rules apply if it is. Is the letting agent a high street chain, an single office or an individual? From your description is your concern the electrics are dangerous?

This all sounds very concerning to me, and I would have hoped it is in the letting agents interest the house doesn't burn down, so they would be keen to fix. Is there a landlord you can contact?

ftm123 Fri 19-Feb-16 08:52:18

I cannot believe they told you to disconnect electrics yourself. Maybe contact citizens advice if they try and pass the bill on? I cannot believe a safe light fitting could be damaged by cleaning.

LemonShizzleCake Fri 19-Feb-16 09:09:21

If you're in the UK, call Shelter - they have a free helpline and will be able to tell you exactly what your rights are and how to proceed. www.shelter.org.uk They give advice to anyone under any circumstances so should be able to help.

It sounds like you have an extremely crappy letting agent - if there is an issue that puts you or the property at any kind of risk, they should fix it! Shelter should be able to tell you the right bit of legislation to wave under their noses and get them moving - in my experience, just saying that you've been in touch with Shelter tends to do the trick! Good luck smile

In the meantime, do you have access to your fuse box? You could switch off your lighting circuit safely from there (it should be labelled) - would also mean you have no lighting in the rest of the house, but safer than a fizzing fitting!

KondosSecretJunkRoom Fri 19-Feb-16 09:14:54

Phone an electrician and ask them for a free quote for fixing the light and then give this to your letting agent so they cannot deny that this is a problem or requires fixing.

NotCitrus Fri 19-Feb-16 09:22:40

Call your council's Environmental Health dept if you can't get through to Shelter - they always need more evidence to be able to prosecute dodgy agents and landlords.

LIZS Fri 19-Feb-16 09:26:51

Go to the main switch board and turn off the circuit which includes that light. It may limit what other lights work on that level but will at least be safe. What caused it to fall?

lalalonglegs Fri 19-Feb-16 13:00:16

If it is half hanging from the ceiling, could it be that the wires have come loose aren't connecting properly? If so, it would take an electrician less than five minutes to sort out. In the meantime, switch the light off and use a plug-in lamp.

Sunnyshores Fri 19-Feb-16 13:28:52

Your title is perpetuating this mass hysteria anti-landlord bullshit - you're dealing with a shit agent, the landlord (probably) knows nothing about it and youre even being offerd advice by non-related landlords.

Fauchelevent Fri 26-Feb-16 07:00:04

Sorry I didn't come back to this - it disappeared off my thread. Sunny I certainly don't think all LLs are bad, and I have only just moved into this kind of property (previously student flats - I'm a baby!) so I didn't realise the distinction between agents and LLs until after posting. I'll try and get the title changed. They are an agent, yes. Sorry for this.

Yesterday I sent a photo which I know doesn't clearly demonstrate the problem but frankly it was late and I was leaving the country before morning so didn't have time to use my artistic skills. I've also just lost my Mum so I'm a bit volatile, and they replied with a harsh email saying they're not concerned with the "gap", they will check it but hope I am not wasting their time. Is it REALLY likely that I would call them out, knowing the likelihood they will try to charge me and act with hostility, just for fun?

They are so hostile and reluctant to help, I asked for them to politely ask another tenant to stop singing so loudly at all hours and they replied "Just put a note by her door?" when she is breaking the contract by shouting Beyonce songs into the main corridors at 3AM.

I really want to leave, but have no break clause. The problem is my Mum, who passed two weeks ago today, is my guarantor. I've not been in the same country as my family since they acquired the death certificate and I'm not emotionally equipped to tell them about the passing of my mum (guarantor) but does her passing effectively void my contract? How soon must I tell them? Will I get into trouble for delaying? What will happen?

Sorry for the qs, as I said it's my first time renting with a private agent

Fauchelevent Fri 26-Feb-16 07:02:20

Just to clarify the picture was taken last week, but sent yesterday once they replied and told me to send a photo.

I did say I would return on tuesday, if they were so worried I was calling them to help for fun, they can wait until then so I can tell them the state of the fixture and give a better photo, then take it from there. Am awaiting a reply.

specialsubject Fri 26-Feb-16 11:06:44

sorry for your loss.

you need to get informed about your rights, and those depend on the kind of rental you live in. First, read this:

www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-to-rent

if you are a lodger (landlord shares common parts with you), you've very few rights, but you can get out at zero notice.

if this is a house in multiple occupation (HMO) it is VERY heavily regulated.

if it is 'standard' rental (you don't share any parts - doesn't sound like it it this) then it is a little less regulated but this kind of danger is still illegal.

you don't rent from an agency, you rent from a landlord who uses an agency. The landlord may be dodgy, or may not know what is going on.

unfortunately shrieky madam is not something that can be immediately solved. Anti-social tenants can be evicted (eventually) or not have their lease renewed (eventually) but meantime there is NOTHING landlord or agent can do to shut her up.

first:
contact environmental health at the council about the electrics.

second: you need to get out of this place. You say there's no break clause; how long is the signed tenancy? Is there a signed tenancy? If the tenancy was conditional on a guarantor, and you no longer have one, you could well be able to get out earlier.

Fauchelevent Fri 26-Feb-16 12:08:36

It's an assured shorthold, signed tenancy expires in August. Which is an exceptionally long time to be unhappy. I need to reread my tenancy agreement to see the conditionality based on a guarantor. I think it is a standard rental, it's one large house converted into several small studio flats. Nothing but laundry and corridor spaces are shared.

They replied this morning fauxpologising if I mistook their scare quotes and scepticism as rudeness, and they will wait to sort it when I return. One issue is I don't return until close of office, which is a risk that there'll be a whole night with the dodgy lights but I don't trust them to inspect them without my presence without trying to make false claims.

specialsubject Fri 26-Feb-16 12:47:02

ok. Next thing is to contact the landlord. If you don't have his/her details demand them.

PigletJohn Fri 26-Feb-16 13:51:31

If you don't already have table lamps/reading lamps/inspection lamp, I would get at least one from a DIY shed. You can plug it into an ordinary socket, to have light even when you have turned off the lighting circuit at your consumer unit.

LemonShizzleCake Mon 29-Feb-16 21:02:45

I'm really sorry to hear about your mum flowers Please please call Shelter if you haven't already - without outing myself, I used to work for them and they help to deal with the kind of issues you're describing all the time. They will be able to tell you exactly what your rights are and how to deal with all of the issues you're facing - not just the immediate issue with the electrics, but going forward with your contract too. Their helpline advisors are very friendly and helpful, and will be more than happy to chat things through with you and help you to find a way forward.

The number is 0808 8004444 - it's free to call, and they're open every day.

Good luck x

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