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AIBU to ask for advice on this complaint by the neighbours?

(65 Posts)
Smythe77 Fri 28-Nov-14 04:03:27

I've been renting my present flat for almost a year now and been loving it. The only blemish in this experience has been some complaints by the downstairs neighbours about a leak into their flat from my bathroom.

They have claimed that the leak has damaged the walls and roof of their bedroom. I've seen the pictures they've shown me and from what I could see they were very minor stains. Nonetheless, as soon as they complained to me I got in touch with my landlord and requested him to send someone overt to address the issue. I also gave the neighbours his contact details in case they needed to speak to him directly. I did everything I could to help.

The landlord sent someone over to seal around my bathtub and he said this should fix the issue. Apparently it didn't fix the problem for my neighbours. Instead of coming back to say that issue wasn't fixed, the neighbours went straight to the environmental health council and filed a complaint. I was given no warning about this.

Just as I was leaving for work one morning, a person from the council knocked at my door and demanded to be let in. I asked what this was for and explained that I was on my way to a meeting that I couldn't afford to be late for. I had been given no prior notice about this visit and no efforts had been made to arrange a mutually convenient time. I was told I didn't have a choice but to let him in and allow him to inspect the property. I was subsequently 45 minutes late to work that day. I missed the meeting and had to face an extremely unhappy boss. Should clarify that I live alone and don't have anyone living in the flats adjacent to mine so couldn't have asked a flat mate or neighbour to let the council representative in and stay through the visit.

A legal notice was served on my landlord to conduct the repairs necessary within 21 days. So he sent a plumber over who replaced the plumbing in the bathroom. Again, as I live alone with no family in the city and all my friends working full time, I had to take time off work to supervise the repairs. The repairs also meant I couldn't take a shower for 3 days.

After these repairs there were no more complaints for a while so we assumed that the issue was fixed.

However, a letter was delivered few days back stating that the council wanted to come back and check if everything was actually fixed. I immediately contacted the person on the letter to arrange a mutually convenient time. I explained that I live alone, work from 9 to about 6:30 or 7 ( yes, I know these are long hours ) and don't have family in the city to let them in in my absence. So I said that they could come on a weekday before 9 (with notice so that I could make sure I wasn't late to work) or on any weekend that I was in town. I was happy for them to come after 6 as well, but I realise they don't work those hours.

The gentleman I spoke to was very rude to me and not understanding at all. I'm new to this city and I can't help my work hours or the fact that I don't know anybody else who could let them in.
My landlord lives in a different city and not particularly helpful so he isn't going to be coming to town just to let them in.

Anyway, the next day I got a call from the council to say that they weren't going to come for an inspection. Instead they issued a new warning over the phone. They said that the neighbours had now advised that the issue still wasn't fixed so he wouldn't come over to confirm repairs. And this is when things got so horrible that I was literally in tears. He said he didn't care about my problems and threatened to force entry into the flat and send his repairmen over to conduct repairs. This made me especially stressed because I'm going to be away for Christmas holidays and I don't want strangers in my house while I'm gone. I also don't want to be in a situation where I have to take time off work to have this resolved. I completely understand my neighbours have a problem and I want to fix it too, but I am feeling stressed and anxious as a result of this constant chasing and these threats. I get calls during work hours and they last for half an hour because it's hard to communicate with the people who are assigned this case. It's interfering with my ability to concentrate at work. And when they call, They don't let me speak or explain at all, they keep talking over me.

As things stand, I'm stressed and extremely panicked. I don't have much legal knowledge so would appreciate any advice that I can get.

Can they actually force entry and send strangers into my flat without my consent to conduct repairs? What would my recourse be? And am I entitled to notice before they do this?

I'm also very concerned about the repairs taking long. It's obviously terrible to not be able to take a shower or use the bathroom for a prolonged period of time. The three days I couldn't shower or use my bathroom last time were miserable. It appears that this time the repairs will take even longer and this is really not good news because it means I won't have a functional bathroom for possibly a week or more.

I'm also not in a position to cancel my holiday plans but I'm very hesitant to leave my flat alone and go away for fear of what might happen in my absence.

Any advice or guidance on what I can do is appreciated.

Smythe77 Fri 28-Nov-14 04:04:10

I know this is long but please take the time to read and give any advice that you can

Thank you!

Homebird8 Fri 28-Nov-14 05:35:18

No facts to give you unfortunately but try the CAB. They might be able to help.

wowfudge Fri 28-Nov-14 05:46:57

Never mind where your landlord lives - get him to get off his backside and sort things out as the council only want to do a final inspection and now you are obstructing them from doing so. If that means he is the person who lets the environmental health officers in, then so be it. Chances are the work carried out has fixed things but it is taking time for everything to dry out in the flat below. This will be taking longer in a bathroom which is in use because of the moisture levels from showering in there, etc. Without the work being checked, how will anyone know.

Unfortunately having to take time off work if you insist on being present when emergency work is carried out is one of those facts of life. If you owned the place yourself you would be in the same position. If you can't use the bathroom - and you don't say which bits of it you couldn't use - then go to the local leisure centre and use the showers there for a couple of days or wash your hair over the kitchen sink and have a strip wash in there too.

Yes you don't want someone in your flat, but you don't want to take time off work to be there either. There has to be a compromise as you are being unreasonable otherwise.

I don't really understand how things have escalated with the council, but it seems to be largely down to you being obstructive. I'm sorry to say this, but you don't seem to have any empathy with your neighbours - your post is all about the effect it is having on you. Presumably they own their flat and they can see it being damaged by something they cannot fix themselves. Stressful for them too. You are dismissive of the 'minor stains' on the photos - so you didn't actually go into their flat with them to see what they were experiencing? How odd of you - they had to show you photos. How would you feel if their ceiling came down due to the water damage?

You shouldn't be dealing with any of this, every time they contact you point them in the direction of the landlord. Simply say "this is a rented property, please discuss this with the landlord" repeat as necessary.

That being said I think you are being a bit U taking three days off work to supervise the plumber is a bit bonkers.

wowfudge Fri 28-Nov-14 06:01:54

I realise my post sounds quite harsh - but somehow things have escalated to this point and it needs sorting out. It appears that the neighbours and the council don't believe repairs have been carried out. I don't know how the letters you've received are worded, but perhaps you don't have the right to an appointment time within limited parameters? Perhaps takes place when they say because it's an enforcement matter.

But please, get your landlord to deal with this. It's his property that is the issue, not the way you are using it.

t3rr3gl35 Fri 28-Nov-14 06:04:47

Your neighbour's situation sounds similar to the situation that one of my tenants recently found himself in, and although the staining appeared minor, the leaking was soil waste and the hidden damage meant that after I resorted (having followed legal advice when unable to gain access by contacting upstairs neighbour, by phone, letter, recorded letter) to Environmental Health to forcibly gain access to the upstairs property to have the leak repaired, the "minor staining" involved tearing down internal walls to replace all the studwork and plaster, ripping up the floor in 3 rooms to replace the contaminated areas, replacing ceilings in 2 rooms and refurbishing all rooms afterwards. The work took 7 weeks.

Had we been able to gain access immediately to repair the minor leak, a coat of paint in one corner of one ceiling would have been enough. You are being completely and utterly unreasonable in this instance.

Smythe77 Fri 28-Nov-14 08:23:27

It's not my flat. I can't compel my landlord to have repairs done. As soon as the situation was raised to me, I escalated it further to him and made sure he had someone fix it. What else could I have done?

I cannot take time off work because this is we busiest time of the year for us and I don't have any holidays left apart from the ones I have booked. Obviously I shouldn't have to take unpaid leave for something like this! My job isn't the kind at can really be done from home either. Secondly, my boss is not understanding at all, and Its always a struggle to get holidays/time off.

What more am I expected to do?

And can you explain how I have been "obstructive"? The first time they barged into my flat without even a warning or a phone call. So there was no question of my being obstructive, it was out of my hands.

And at present, I am prepared to have them come over first thing in the morning, on weekends or after my work hours when I am back home. Can I help it if I work full time and don't have family here to help me out? Again I can't force my landlord to do this for me. I have asked him many times. So I've given all the options I could. How am I being obstructive?!

I have never stopped my landlord from Conducting repairs and I'm still not stopping either him or the council from doing. All I ask if to be given prior notice and to not have strangers barge into my house when I'm not there. How am I being obstructive?

And how can you say the situation escalated because of me being obstructive?

Smythe77 Fri 28-Nov-14 08:27:40

T3rr-

How did they gain forcible entry? Did they just break the door open? And was any prior warning given to the residents?

You've terrified me now with the story about it taking seven weeks, I don't have any place else to live while this is being done. Nor do I have a local leisure centre anywhere near by to take a shower. I also have a back injury because of which I can't bend over he sink and wash my hair etc. i

It's already freezing where I live so the idea of going somewhere far to take a shower and then walking back in the cold (don't have a car, I walk to work as well) after it for seven weeks is just horrifying.

Smythe77 Fri 28-Nov-14 08:28:04

If the repairs take that long, is my landlord obligated to put me up somewhere else?

Smythe77 Fri 28-Nov-14 08:31:29

WOWFUDGE

please stop making assumptions about me. I asked to go and see the flat many times but the neighbours refused to let me. Instead it was their choice to show me he pictures of he damage.

You're being ridiculous in the presumptions you're making about me.

I sympathise very much with my neighbours but I'm being harassed here as well. I'm facing constant chasing while at work, threats of strangers breaking into my flat and the possibility of not having a functional bathroom for several days. This isn't easy for me either. And Im still trying to do all I can to help them. But sorry, I cannot take unpaid leave. I am in no financial position to do that.

Binkybix Fri 28-Nov-14 08:32:32

It seems as though the council were unreasonable in not telling you an appointment time then demanding entry - in my experience some concils are pretty shockingly badly run so that doesn't surprise me.

It also seems as though it's the landlord's job to sort this out so you could just refer to them and advise that they will force entry if you don't comply. But I think it would just be easier to arrange a time and let them come in when you're not there, and just make sure any valuables are out of sight or take your passport etc in to work with you that day.

Smythe77 Fri 28-Nov-14 08:34:27

Please excuse ghe spelling errors, I am typing from my phone.

I also came across as more confrontational than I intended to because I'm typing in a hurry.

Kundry Fri 28-Nov-14 08:35:57

Your landlord should be doing ALL of this - all complaints forwarded to him, contacts from the council directed to him etc etc.

Also, it is quite normal to leave the plumbers to get on with things while you are at work.

Smythe77 Fri 28-Nov-14 08:36:36

How will they come in when I am not there though? The council doesn't have keys to my flat. I will have to be there to let them in anyway.

And sorry to be paranoid, but even if the valuables are out of sight, someone could still rob me. I don't know anything about the council employees or the repairmen they are threatening to send.

You ARE being obstructive.Either get your landlord to be there with them or take time off work just like everybody else has to in such circumstances!

Smythe77 Fri 28-Nov-14 08:40:19

Fine. If they give me prior notice about when they'll send the plumbers in, I'll let them in and go to work.

Smythe77 Fri 28-Nov-14 08:41:59

I can't be clearer than this

I'm in no financial position to take unpaid leave so I. Can't take time off work.

I can't force my landlord to be there. I've asked him many times. So perhaps HE is the ones being obstructive?

Make an appointment with them,don't give them out of work hours.Simple.

Thisishowyoudisappear Fri 28-Nov-14 08:42:43

Give the council your landlord's details. Tell them to deal directly with him. Also give the council the details of the plumber who did the work. The first visit when he re-sealed the bath sounds crap! Your landlord needs to take responsibility.

I also think it might help if you try to distance yourself from the situation somewhat. I know from experience that that is very hard, but you would feel better if you calmed down a bit and look at the situation pragmatically.

I can imagine your landlord is being a pain,he 'sealed the bath' claiming it would fix it,what rubbish!

One of you has to deal with it.If he won't you will have to I'm afraid.

But yes,they should be communicating with your rubbish landlord

look for another rented flat and move

Smythe77 Fri 28-Nov-14 08:47:08

I've given the council his details, they still persist in calling me.

I will just remind them again to call him instead.

bronya Fri 28-Nov-14 08:48:41

It isn't your problem, they should be liaising with your landlord, not you.

Smythe77 Fri 28-Nov-14 08:49:12

No, moving is not an option for reasons I won't get into

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