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To withhold rent until oven is fixed?

(14 Posts)
Preposteroushypothesis Thu 18-Apr-13 18:26:58

My landlord lives in Australia and the property I live in is managed by estate agents.

However, our estate agents are bloody useless. We have lived here for 2.5 years and have had several fairly major problems (leaking roof which caused a number of knock on problems, water tank issues that meant we couldn't get hot water in winter when we had a newborn baby). Each of these problems has taken around 6 months or so of hassling the agent before anything has been done. We know our ll is not responsible for the delays because we are in email contact with him and so know when he has approved work etc.

our tenancy was up for renewal in mid feb and the gas man came to do the gas safety certificate a couple of weeks before this, he said he couldn't pass it as the seal on the oven is broken and we are not to use it until it is fixed because it could leak gas. We can use the hobs and the grill but not the main oven.

It's now nearly the end of April and it still hasn't been fixed despite numerous phone calls to remind estate agent and even a visit in to the office. Last week I called and went mental at the lady who is our main contact and suddenly the part they were waiting for was conveniently available and they would come tomorrow. They came, wrong rubber seal. I had a phone call to apologise and assurance it would be sorted next week (as in this week) and she would keep me updated. It's now Thursday evening and I've not heard from her at all...

Sorry that was basically aibu to email her and Cc the boss telling them that we will not be paying rent until this has been fixed? We have been without an iven for nearly 3 bloody months!! Also I believe not having a gas safety certificate may invalid the ll's and possibly our insurance, does anyone know if this is correct so that I can point that out to them as extra leverage?

nocake Thu 18-Apr-13 18:34:49

You're not allowed to withhold rent, which is a shame as that would be a good way to force some action. Contact CAB and/or your local council for advice on what actions you can take.

abbyfromoz Thu 18-Apr-13 18:40:25

Technically you are not allowed to withhold rent - but equally you have to do so for a considerable amount of time (i believe it's 3 months?) for them to kick you out- and even still there is a court process... Hence why there are so many squatters living in mansions. My husband is a property manager and we have had tenants threaten to withhold rent over much less (one was someone stomping around in the flat upstairs... Like that's something he can fix). Anyway i can't condone it but if you have tried everything else I wouldn't blame you...

fluffyraggies Thu 18-Apr-13 18:41:41

If you are in contact with the LL, why not ask if you can arrange for a quote for the work, submit it to him, and if he approves of the cost just get the work done and take the bill to the agents.

AndMiffyWentToSleep Thu 18-Apr-13 18:46:57

I thought if something major (like ovens) wasn't working you didn't have to pay rent until it was fixed. Or maybe that is just heating etc. Or maybe I made that up.

specialsubject Thu 18-Apr-13 18:46:59

no, you can't withhold rent. Get on to the landlord (who is paying for these shysters), tell him all that has happened and ask for his help.

specialsubject Thu 18-Apr-13 18:47:38

ps you do have a gas cert for things you are using I hope? But yes, pass that on too.

LessMissAbs Thu 18-Apr-13 18:48:19

I'd say under contract law, your actions in renewing your tenancy at the time the oven issue was noted and you were made aware of it mean you have implicity accepted it anyway.

I can't see why part of an oven being out of use for two months would entail you to accommodation without payment - presumably you still have somewhere to live - in terms of a roof over your head, a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, living room, etc!

If you do withhold rent, make sure you put it in a separate account in case you are sued for its return.

Remember too you will need a reference when you leave, and it is likely to be the estate agents who will provide it - if you withhold rent, it will be factually correct for them to note just that.

I assume the gas safety certificate has still been issued, with an advisory note that the oven did not pass and is not to be used.

Preposteroushypothesis Thu 18-Apr-13 18:50:49

Bugger! Does anyone know whether it is true about the landlords insurance being invalidated by not having the gas safety certificate? If it is then I can email and say that I will be informing the landlord of this as I'm sure he doesn't know about this latest issue yet (they have just had a baby in feb so I don't want to worry him if I can get it sorted). I'm also thinking of saying that we are so fed up of them that we will also tell the landlord that we will not be renewing our tenancy again unless they ditch this estate agent we are actually moving out of the area anyway but estate agent doesn't know this yet

zoobaby Thu 18-Apr-13 18:53:02

This is unacceptable and the landlord has to fix this. Email LL reminding him/her/them that this is illegal. Gas safety is paramount. LL would probably be looking at incarceration if (heaven forbid) anything happened. Not so for the agent. Therefore LL has to take action regardless of distance.

I've heard that you can withhold rent BUT for a judge/arbitrator to look favourably on you as not breaking your lease, then you have to prove that you have the money sitting there (separate bank account) and that you could pay but are choosing not to due to outstanding issue.

zoobaby Thu 18-Apr-13 18:56:11

Ask him if he'd prefer you to contact local council and have them come declare it as inhabitable, in which case he's liable to provide alternative accommodation.

mrsminiverscharlady Thu 18-Apr-13 18:56:22

It won't invalidate the whole policy. For example if the boiler exploded and he had no gas safety certificate then his insurance might not pay out, but if a hurricane blew the roof off then he would still be covered.

LessMissAbs Thu 18-Apr-13 19:01:39

Ask him if he'd prefer you to contact local council and have them come declare it as inhabitable, in which case he's liable to provide alternative accommodation

I think that's only for HMOs, isn't it zoobaby? Otherwise it would depend on what is in the lease, but I think that having it declared uninhabitable would simply frustrate the contract with no liability on either side.

Preposteroushypothesis Thu 18-Apr-13 19:06:10

I don't really want to withhold rent obviously, I am jut so frustrated with their lack of action that I want something to threaten them with to out the wind up their arses so to speak! Although info did threaten that I would be prepared to carry it through as long as it is legal for me to do so.

If this was the first problem I would be annoyed but not thinking drastic action, but this is the straw that broke the camels back and they are unfortunate to do this at a time that I am pregnant and hormonal so prepared to be confrontational when I normally wouldn't be!

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