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AIBU about my letting agency and inspections?

(32 Posts)
OrangeIsMyNewBlack Thu 18-Feb-16 17:52:23

Long post, sorry! Typing here for quick responses.

I rent a two-bedroom ground floor flat, the place was one big house turned into two flats. I pay £345 pcm, which is pretty cheap cause I have a lot of space. Trouble is, the flats condition SUCKS.

There's tiles coming away from the walls, the wallpaper is peeling away in the hallways, the external sheds are locked up; stinking and crumbling... the place is just in general disrepair.

I have been there two years. When I first moved in I kept them updated with everything going on in the flat, however quickly got sick and tired of them claiming it was my issue not theirs to deal with. Getting them to do ANYTHING is an uphill struggle. The back bedroom is my sons room when he sleeps over at weekends. It attaches to old stone outhouses which used to be small stables. There is mold going up the exposed left side wall, on the ceiling, and on the back wall. I have reported the mold twice, and both times was told I need to keep the room circulating (even though there are specific vents in the walls that look like Dalek eyestalks that are meant to "prevent mold buildup"). They have inspected it multiple times and this is the continued response I am getting.

In that two years of letting I have had inspections every 4-5 months. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. they inspect the flat, they ignore anything structural unless I specifically point them out. I have been told that the place is "stinking", a "state", "miserable to live in" and "depressingly grimy and dirty". I keep it as clean as I can with a full-time job, a four-year-old and a partner who works 16-hour days. They complain about my laundry in the baskets. The dishes in the sink, the windowsills, the "unhoovered" carpets when I've literally just hoovered them, the Lego on the floor of my sons room, the unmade bed, the wardrobes that I own not being organized enough...

I have now had to call them out for both the mold and a door-frame rotting away from the hinges. They will be arriving tomorrow morning whilst I am in work, and I am practically shaking. They have threatened eviction through one late rent payment, and make continued comments about how I am a bad tenant.

I am furious with the way I am being treated, and am looking to leave as soon as possible but for now - does anyone have any advice about what I can do or say to make them realise that as this is STRUCTURAL, they cannot possibly blame it on me? Not only that but I wish they would piss off about my "messiness". It may not be a showhome but I live there for Christs sake. Am I not allowed to make any mess?! Eat over the sink to prevent "crumbies" like in Friends?!

Any advice, any at all, would be wonderful, as this is seriously stressing me out!!

BrideOfWankenstein Thu 18-Feb-16 18:01:45

Have you spoken to council? I'm pretty sure that if the flat is in such a bad condition, council should force them to fix it.

OrangeIsMyNewBlack Thu 18-Feb-16 18:04:40

I hadn't even realised that the Council were an option - I'm through a letting agency to an elderly landlady who lives godknowswhere and is always "out of contact"

FlibbertigibbetArmadillo Thu 18-Feb-16 18:06:15

How long left on your contract? Have you moved to a rolling? Because yes there are steps you can take to try and force them to fix it, but bear in mind if you do they will probably just very quickly give you the required notice. Sad and unfair but usually true

EnoughAlready999 Thu 18-Feb-16 18:08:59

My letting agency once sent me a letter after an inspection saying I need to hoover! Cheeky f*ckers!
I would definitely get in touch with the council. Take lots of photos too.

EnoughAlready999 Thu 18-Feb-16 18:11:01

Can you not afford a better place as you are both earning?

OrangeIsMyNewBlack Thu 18-Feb-16 18:11:30

Yes, it is a rolling contract. I'll definitely be contacting the council. I'll take photos tonight after i scrub everything spotless

OrangeIsMyNewBlack Thu 18-Feb-16 18:14:02

EnoughAlready999 - we're saving up like lunatics to get a mortgage. We've had some money from DPs mum so we're almost there, but even then we still have to get a mortgage in principle, find a place we like that we can afford, get everything sorted... we could be here for another 6 months to a year minimum.

LIZS Thu 18-Feb-16 18:17:24

They have to give you the ll address by law. Council private lettings officer or environmental health are worth a try for mould. They can put pressure on ll to sort out the source of damp ie. Guttering, missing roof tiles etc.

LettingAgentNightmare Thu 18-Feb-16 18:19:46

Well I have a rental flat as as you can tell from my user name, I've not had a lot of luck with letting agents!!

Anyway, I would demand contact directly with the owner. We had terrible problems with our last tenants when the agent asked me to agree to work, I did, and then the agent never had anyone do it and I didn't realize for months as invoices would normally only be added to my account 3-4 months after the work had happened.

You can't know otherwise that the agent is actually telling the owner about the problems. I was absolutely gutted to find out things hadn't been done properly.

Also, it's your home. As long as you hadn't trashed the place or were so unclean it was attracting mice etc I wouldn't care at all about general tidiness. I'd be in no position to judge anyway

ThomasSofty Thu 18-Feb-16 18:21:30

Bloody hell they are unprofessional knobbers! It sounds like a horrible situation, and I'm not surprised you are stressed out. Do you have contact details for your landlady (might be on your contract)? I think they are supposed to be supplied if you request them. You are absolutely right that the purpose of the inspections are not so they can shit all over your housekeeping skills, they are supposed to be sorting these issues out for you.

Do you always deal with the same person at the agency? Can you speak to the manager? At the very least make sure you have a record of when you contact them, and photos of the condition of the flat, so that you have evidence for claiming your deposit back.

Good luck saving for a deposit! What utter arseholes these agents are.

OrangeIsMyNewBlack Thu 18-Feb-16 18:46:27

Deal with multiple people, have drafted letter to council, also looked up my rights and if they complain about my tidiness again I'll inform them they're infringing upon my tenancy rights to a peaceful living environment (actually a thing! Who knew?!)

EnoughAlready999 Thu 18-Feb-16 18:51:23

Oh I see. So it makes sense to rent somewhere cheap while you save up. We are finally buying our own place after 10 years and £70k of renting!

Didactylos Thu 18-Feb-16 20:45:37

its probably something you have done already but when we were having letting agent problems (eg inspections without appropriate notice, inappropriate criticism during inspections, landlady being advised she would need to end our tenancy if she wanted to change to another letting agency) we found the Shelter website was great for clear information on our rights and template letters etc

OrangeIsMyNewBlack Thu 18-Feb-16 22:07:34

I've looked on Shelter and printed off a load of stuff about rights etc. I've also spent the last two hours cleaning after a twelve-hour shift, so if they have ANY comments to make I can tell them that not only are they demonstrably wrong, but that constitutes harrassment.

rightsaidfrederickII Thu 18-Feb-16 22:48:29

In terms of getting hold of the landlord's address details, all you need to do is go to the Land Registry and pay £3 to get the details of the property owner. Last time I did it, it turned out to be an excellent return on investment!

Missrubyring Thu 18-Feb-16 22:59:04

You don't live in Suffolk/ Essex do you?? My old letting agents sound exactly like the ones you describe, they even frowned and had a problem when we put up Christmas decorations, while neglecting to fix any problems we told them about.

19lottie82 Thu 18-Feb-16 23:09:13

The LA don't have the authority to conduct any repairs or improvements. You need to get in touch with the landlord directly. There should be a contact address on your tenancy agreement, or as already mentioned, you can get their details form the Land Registry.

ABetaDad1 Thu 18-Feb-16 23:20:58

The Council will have a Housing Officer and they crack down hard on bad landlords. Especially where health and safety are concerned. You should talk to them. They will be very helpful mainly because they do not want to have to rehouse you

Also the agent has no right to make comments about dirty dishes in a sink. You are allowed to live as you wish - that is called quiet enjoyment.

Make sure you document and photograph all the issues you are talking about. The may try to blame you and claim the deposit to do long needed repairs.

This is a bad landlord of the old fashioned kind. Classically an old woman with no money living off the rent and not willing to spend any of it on repairs.

Zampa Thu 18-Feb-16 23:27:10

Remember that any contract which commenced after October 2015 confers rights against revenge evictions for disrepair. If your Landlord had not dealt with a written request for repairs, a written complaint should be lodged with the council who will then decide whether to take action against the Landlord, including enforcement notices.

meercat23 Thu 18-Feb-16 23:39:14

I provide inventory services for (reasonable and professional) letting agents so I hope that I can make some useful points for you.

Inspections are meant to make sure that you don't have more people living in the property than was agreed in the tenancy agreement, that you have not caused any damage to fixtures, fittings, carpets etc. If the carpets need a vacuum or it is a bit untidy that is no-one business but yours as long as you leave it clean at tidy at the end of the tenancy. Lego on the floor and washing in the basket is called normal living.

Mould on window frames, bathroom tiles may be due to inadequate ventilation and could be your responsibility to clean off and ensure adequate ventilation. Mould climbing up the walls sounds like damp in the walls caused either by water ingress from broken gutters, pipes etc or rising damp. Door frames rotting would not be caused by inadequate ventilation.

I second the advice to look at the information from Shelter. I can also send you some information from the organisations that cover inventory services (AiiC, Apip) about damp/condensation and the difference between them and about the difference between fair wear and tear and damage. pm me if that would be of use to you.

Your agents sound awful and more than a bit bullying.

BitterAndOnlySlightlyTwisted Thu 18-Feb-16 23:51:18

"I'll inform them they're infringing upon my tenancy rights to a peaceful living environment"

You have misunderstood: the term "quiet enjoyment" refers to your right to live undisturbed, without the landlord or their agent entering your home without your express permission.

"They complain about my laundry in the baskets. The dishes in the sink, the windowsills, the "unhoovered" carpets when I've literally just hoovered them, the Lego on the floor of my sons room, the unmade bed, the wardrobes that I own not being organized enough..."

The purpose of a periodic inspection is to determine whether there are repair and maintenance issues which the tenant may not have reported NOT to critique your bloody housekeeping! If they do it again, write back and tell them that they are impertinent in the extreme. Cheeky fuckers, who do they think they are? Your Mum?

You need to WRITE to the landlord care of the agent and state in words of one syllable all of the structural issues you need them to address. Give them a time limit or you'll contact Environmental Health at your Local Authority.

As to the mould in the bedroom, have you tried using a dehumidifier 24/7? They're about the same cost to run as a fridge as they work on the same principle. Landlords love to blame a tenant's lifestyle for condensation and consequent mould and sometime that is the reason. Also, lids on pans when cooking, bathroom door closed when showering and the window open a crack afterwards and NEVER, EVER, EVER dry laundry indoors or they will be pointing the finger at you..

HelenaDove Thu 18-Feb-16 23:54:38

You could also tell them sex discrimination was outlawed in 1975

AlwaysDancing1234 Thu 18-Feb-16 23:55:49

It's good that you are reading up on your rights. The Shelter website is good for this.

I sympathise as our agents were worse than useless. Only thing that got them moving after months of inaction was when I contacted the council Environmental Health team to come and do an inspection and make recommendations.

I also wrote to the agents and demanded the landlords address for correspondence (abroad) which they must provide by law.

I compiled a 'dossier' with notes showing dates times and copies of all emails back and forth to agents and the builder who was meant to sort out issues in the house. I posted it recorded delivery to landlord who was horrified and was not aware of most of what had been going on, finally got action.

BitterAndOnlySlightlyTwisted Thu 18-Feb-16 23:57:40

"The LA don't have the authority to conduct any repairs or improvements."

Yes, but they can enforce them. If the issues of disrepair are serious enough, in extreme cases they have been known to carry out necessary repairs and get a charge put on the property via the courts. But the property would have to be uninhabitable without them being done.

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