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To expect a flat that is habitable after shelling out £12k to move in

(250 Posts)
orangefusion Sat 20-Sep-14 22:20:51

I have posted this in legal but for traffic I am posting here too. I am so upset...

...I have just returned from dropping my son off at his first flat as a tennant- he is in his second year at uni having had halls last year. The flat was found by his friends while he was away over the summer and he did not see it until today.
The place is unibhabitable. There is six inches of damp above all the skirting boards, one bedroom is "being treated" the floor is soaking concrete, the whole place stinks of damp- the air is so humid that nothing will dry, it is insecure and the windows need to be open to breathe but it is a basement in New Cross- there are no bars or proper window locks so the windows have to be kept shut. The b*****d landlord has taken 6 months rent off the boys, and a £2100 deposit. There was a dead rat in the bin which had clearly been a live rat when it climbed in. I had to leave him there but I wanted to bring him home again or check him into a hotel.
What rights have these poor kids got? The place is disgusting and I am at a loss to know how calling the agent is going to make any difference because they knew it was like this when they let it. They will fob me off with platitudes but they do not have to live there.
I want to cry- he was so excited about living out of halls but this is just so awful.
Any legal bods out there who can suggest the best thing for me to do to help?

MimiSunshine Sat 20-Sep-14 22:32:50

I really don't know what the answer is.
Bit I know my mum cried at some of the places I seemingly happily lived in as a student.

Unfortunately students get ripped off, I lived without heating in my final year (10yrs ago) and survived (just - did get very ill) seems ridiculous now.

Maybe try the council and tbe university. The latter usually authorise student lets.
If you're really determined, get legal advice and deal with the landlord directly.

cestlavielife Sat 20-Sep-14 22:37:41

Call local council environmental health there will be someone who deals with private lets. They can fine the landlord.... Declare it uninhabitable... But it could mean your son becomes homeless.... Is there a deposit In a scheme?

Parietal Sat 20-Sep-14 22:38:39

the uni probably has a student accommodation advice office - your son can ask there.

if you can afford it, it is often most efficient to do some work yourself (e.g. put in window bars / locks) and then deduct the cost from the rent. agents are simply to lazy / overworked to do it. if you go for that option, get 2 quotes, tell agent in writing this is what you will do if they don't object, then do it when they fail to reply.

Azquilith Sat 20-Sep-14 22:39:58

We had rats at uni. And no heating in Winter. And a guy trying to break in with a knife. And the most disgusting bathroom imaginable. And no bed when I moved in. And some great parties :D I would speak to the uni and Shelter, but also don't worry overly as teenagers are pretty resilient.

aturtlenamedmack Sat 20-Sep-14 22:47:02

I would second seeking help from his Student Union advice centre.
DP is a housing specialist in one and they see this kind of thing daily and will be able to provide help.

orangefusion Sat 20-Sep-14 22:56:35

Thanks turtle.

orangefusion Sat 20-Sep-14 22:57:30

His room, just in case you think I am exagerrating or being overly mumsy.

neolara Sat 20-Sep-14 23:02:07

Wow. That really is shocking. What were his friends thinking, agreeing to move in?

flipflopsandcottonsocks Sat 20-Sep-14 23:05:38

Bloody hell, that is vile. It is worse than a prison. That can't be legal surely? How does that landlord sleep at night subjecting people to that?

Azquilith Sat 20-Sep-14 23:06:35

Fuck me. I have no words. Uni and Shelter.

Wow! That is shocking. Is there an actual window? Or a proper fire escape? I ask this not to worry you , but because if there isn't the landlord may be renting it out illegally and that could be one way to get your money back. Have you got a copy of his contract?

Azquilith Sat 20-Sep-14 23:13:53 this says that you are entitled to legal action if somewhere breaks health and safety standards. And this talks about speaking to the council.

orangefusion Sat 20-Sep-14 23:16:31

It's a basement, they have a front and back door. There are windows but you can't open them because there are no bars or locks and it's onto the street.
I am so angry with myself for letting him get into this. But beating myself up won't help.
I need Monday to come quick so I can get some kind of action plan moving.

Alonglongway Sat 20-Sep-14 23:24:37

New Cross is in Lewisham - have a look at this page. Lots of London boroughs are cracking down on private landlords so it's worth pursuing

orangefusion Sat 20-Sep-14 23:26:57

Thanks alonglong, really helpful.

Mouthfulofquiz Sun 21-Sep-14 00:55:08

That is absolutely disgusting! And I thought the houses brother lived in at uni was bad...
I hope you can get him out of there (do the others want out too?).
Your son is probably absolutely fine but I know I would be unhappy the same as you!

AnotherStitchInTime Sun 21-Sep-14 01:04:09

Speak to student accommodation services to see if they can help with a halls place. Phone them or even better go there with photos first thing on Monday.

The council environmental health can help with the flat conditions but that may take time. Phone them first thing on Monday too.

Get a free half an hour session with a housing solicitor maybe to get advice about breaking the tenancy, they may be able to advise over the phone. Consumer helpline might also be of help in getting the money back 03454 04 05 06 as you may have to go down a legal route.

I would not move in at all, take lots of photos as evidence to support the legal case. A tenancy is a legal contract, they have broken it by not meeting minimum standards for decent accommodation.

PhaedraIsMyName Sun 21-Sep-14 02:27:05

The flat clearly doesn't meet the tolerable standard so if I were you I would report it immediately to the Environmental health officer/ private housing officer.

Check that it has an HMO licence.

I take it you're not in Scotland? Scotland has a higher set of standards which are relatively easy to enforce via the Private Rented Housing Panel.

MidniteScribbler Sun 21-Sep-14 02:29:17

Did you or your son not inspect the place before agreeing to rent it?

PiperIsOrange Sun 21-Sep-14 03:05:01

£12,000 is a lot of money. I hope you can get something sorted but why did you pay all that money without even viewing the flat.

Bulbasaur Sun 21-Sep-14 03:50:21

That's why you always tour the place before you pay your deposit. That said, it's the LL's job to fix up a place and make it livable. Not sure how it works in the UK, but here in the US you can hire a company to make a place up to code if the LL doesn't comply and send the bill to them.

We had bed bugs one year and they were being slow about the extermination process (wanted us to wait a week!). We told them we knew a place that would be here in two days, if they didn't beat that they were getting the bill. We also told them we had sealed the vents, because we saw some crawl in from there. They told us not to do that because they would spread to other rooms. We made it absolutely clear we were not getting bit for the "greater good". Lo and behold, we had the exterminators in the next day.

They are legally obligated to provide a place that is livable and up to code. So if there are laws that work like that in the UK, I'd hire a company to fix up the basement and send the bill to the LL to deal with. He'll be legally obligated to fulfill pay it. Obviously first you need to contact him and give him first chance, but that photo is just appalling. Even my first apartment in the ghetto wasn't that horrible.

Dizzywizz Sun 21-Sep-14 07:45:57

Would also add to make sure they have an inventory and your son checks it within the required timescale...make sure everything is correct on it. Dated photos will help but the written word of the inventory needs to be correct. Then call environmental health and get them to inspect asap.

prettywhiteguitar Sun 21-Sep-14 07:55:53

Do you actually have the landlords details address and contact or is it through a agency ?

Do you have the deposit in the deposit scheme with the agency as you can dispute that straight away and get it back ?

That is ridiculous I would actually report that to the police as criminal activity, the flat is not ready for habitation.

Dizzywizz Sun 21-Sep-14 08:08:48

Landlord name and address should be on the tenancy agreement

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