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Reasonable or Unreasonable to withhold rent? (IF... the situation arises?)

(8 Posts)
PepperPigsPorkPies Fri 05-Oct-12 11:49:30

Little bit of background (i'll try and keep this short!)

my LA are complete shits waste of space. they do monthly inspections (which was in our tenancy agreement but we hate them) but turned up one day (unannounced) to 'inspect' and the girl doing it turned around to me and said "i dont want to sound like your mum but u have some dust on your stairs!" BUT as she could clearly see we were there, still with the drill in DPs hand fixing a baby gate to the wall!!!
a few months ago they turned up and said we were in arrears of £200. (housing benefit was paying part of our rent) Me and DP sat down that afternoon and worked out that actually, we had over paid them by £300!!!!!! last month again they demanded money from us an extra £250 as we were in arrears and a £40 charge because it was late. we paid it off (as housing ben was stopping we believed we might owe them more than we had already paid) but told them we wont pay the charge as we didn't know there was anything owing. had a phone call of them end of last week to say our rent was only gonna be x amount as we had already over paid them by £250! which was the money they had demanded for being late the previous month! then we recieve a phone call yesterday saying we are in arrears and they will sign court papers if we don't immediately bring our account up to date...40 pence was owing.

So....they constantly demand rent money they already have received, but i have rotten floor boards that the wheels of the sofa has actually gone through and we have to jump across 2 boards to be able to get out of the french doors they have known about this for over a year and nothing has been done.
last week whilst stripping the wall paper in DD bedroom we found water is now seeping through the wall its actually wet to touch not just a black patch but actually wet. so i ve moved her into DS room with him. our neighbor joining us has same problem and its both properties fault so it will be equal share of the bill. its not LA responsibility and i really dont think the landlord will be arsed bothered about it. if thats the case would i be right to withhold rent IF he refuses? (i havent asked him yet) i dont mean all of the rent, but just pay him the going rate for a 2 bedroom house and with hold for DDs un-usable room? who would i seek advice from?

PiedWagtail Fri 05-Oct-12 12:03:55

Well - if they know about the problems in your house then you need to chase them up. If they have known about the damp for a year and haven;t done anything, what have you done? Chased them? If so, I'd speak to the manager of the EA and make him promise to have it sorted.

Presumably they don;t know about the damp in your ds's room yet as you have only just noticed? You will need to tell them asap, and then get some quotes to have it sorted. You and your neighbour will have to agree. Did you notice a funny damp smell before you took off the wallpaper?

You could always say you will withhold rent for x time until the problems are sorted out, but I don;t know how the EA will take it.

Go to the CAB for some advice.

Toughasoldboots Fri 05-Oct-12 12:05:47

No way would I put up with monthly inspections. That is not a 'reasonable' clause in your contract.

You don't have to put up with this. Speak to CAB or shelter. Get a letter sent and start asserting yourself against the shiny suit brigade.

PepperPigsPorkPies Fri 05-Oct-12 12:11:48

thanks smile there's a few things that they know about and have done nothing about (we've just put up with it) but i havent told them about the damp yet as we havent long noticed we thought we would continue to strip the wall paper but have now noticed its in our bedroom aswell, but livable,as its nowhere near as bad as DDs room.

tbh we been looking at moving for a while as there's little problems all the time with the house and we are paying enough money to deserve the work to be done. but the expense of moving this side of christmas is daunting sad sorry to moan and thanks for the reply x

LadyMercy Fri 05-Oct-12 14:47:55

Pepper I really would not reduce your rent, that will loose you the moral high ground and more importantly, give the landlord grounds to ask you to leave. I second everyone that has recommended CAB and Shelter. I would definately ask about whether the monthly inspections clause is reasonable and enforceable.

Is the letting agent registered with any professional bodies, such as ARLA, because they are not coming across very well at all. I would consider a formal complaint to the company, or to any professional body. However you may want to leave this until you have found somewhere new!

HorraceTheOtter Fri 05-Oct-12 16:58:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

holidaysarenice Fri 05-Oct-12 17:33:14

a little known fact on here that most people dont realise is that if the landlord is breaching the contract that DOES NOT allow you to breach yours by not paying. you could still end up in court for not paying, even if they have broken it.

my suggestions,

1) suck up the monthly inspections, as you said you knew about it when you moved in. but do insist on your 24hrs notice. do not allow them in if they are not giving that notice. have a written record book for the LA, basically a folder with the date of the inspection and a column for comments from you, and one for comments from landlord and a place to sign. Write in all your problems prior to each inspection, and they can write things like the dust - obvs u can add that u were fitting a gate. make sure it is signed.

2) re damp - contact the agent, very polite, point out previous emails, give a date say one week in which u want an action taken for example come out to see it.

3) remain on their case about chasing problems, always give a date when u would expect this done. and recontact after that date.

hope that helps.

p.s i have been both, landlord and tenant in my time.

NathanDetroit Fri 05-Oct-12 19:30:46

Please don't withhold your rent! I support a housing solicitor and it's not a good idea - like, a really bad idea. Sounds like they have automatic letters that get sent out when your rent account is in arrears, regardless of by how much. Not good but not personal either.

Definitely seek help from CAB and if there is a law centre near you see if you can get some housing advice. It sounds like there is a disrepair issue with the flooring, although these cases are hard to prove.

Best of luck.

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