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to be taking my ex landlady and letting agent to court?

(36 Posts)
AnarchyAunt Tue 21-Jul-09 11:47:43

'Cos I have major cold feet.

I lived in a rented house for three years with an incompetent absentee landlady who used an equally incompetent letting agent. I moved out in March after some serious problems with disrepair.

I had a fair few threads about it at the time - we had no heating, dangerous rotting windows/frames, a shower that they'd employed some cowboy to fit that wasn't earthed shock, dodgy wiring throughout, leaky roof that fell in when we were fortunately away for a weekend and much more. Environmental Health got involved and started enforcement action against the landlady, and the disrepair was so bad we were told we were in effect homeless as it wasn't reasonable to continue living there. But suing over disrepair is difficult and you have to prove actual loss or injury, so I decided not to bother.

I was locked into a 12 month fixed term tenancy and took legal advice about breaking the agreement - I just wanted out but couldn't afford to risk losing my deposit or being made liable for rent on two houses. Found out that my deposit should have been in a protection scheme which seemed like a good thing what with my criminally negligent landlady and all that. I wrote to the letting agent who had it and asked him to put it in a scheme and heard nothing. So I started court action against the landlady and letting agent in January asking for my deposit to be put in a scheme and for the 3x deposit penalty to be paid to me. The agent just refused point blank to protect it despite the legislation requiring him to.

I managed to move out when the tenancy ended in March and the letting agent gave me my deposit back a week later. The court hearing is coming up this friday and I have cold feet and feel like I should maybe drop it. But then I think, hell, they could have killed one of us with their penny pinching and refusal to do repairs, they should bloody face some sort of consequence. But then I think, well, its past now, I had the money back in the end, I'm well out of the house and situation, why not just let it rest.

LuluMaman Tue 21-Jul-09 11:50:19

because they could have killed you or your children, or do it to someone else!!

slum landlords need dealing with

disgraceful!

you should not feel grateful your children and you are still alive despite the state of the house. safe housing should be a right

TheProvincialLady Tue 21-Jul-09 11:54:50

Do it if you can. I reported a landlord when I was a student and an enforcement order was served on him so at least no one else would have to live with 3" of water at the bottom of their bedroom. My situation was nowhere near as bad as yours. Please do it to protect others if you possibly can.

marenmj Tue 21-Jul-09 12:01:14

part of me says yes go ahead, if nothing else to teach them a lesson... part of me knows it can be good for your own sanity to put it behind you. so I can't help you make the decision but definitely wish you luck.

Our last flat had ZERO ground wiring and so the (electric!) radiators and light bulbs would frequently burn out leaving the uninsulated flat freezing cold. Eventually the regular, as you say cowboy, electrician wasn't available when the radiator in the bedroom went out and we had a newborn, so they had to send out a stand-in who reported it all and the landlady was forced to re-wire the whole place. So of course she ran the wiring under flimsy plastic along the skirting and me with an infant... hmm we got out of there fast as and took the hit on the majority of the deposit. We figured it was better than risking a crawling baby or toddler pulling at that dodgy wiring.

And all this in a VERY posh village / neighborhood!

AnarchyAunt Tue 21-Jul-09 12:17:02

Thats the thing though, I am not suing over the disrepair, it won't even get mentioned in court most likely. The case is for not protecting my deposit which is almost an irrelevance in comparison.

It was so complicated to sue over disrepair, and hard to win damages as you have to prove a tangible loss or injury which (luckily) I couldn't. So I decided to get them on the only thing I felt I could iyswim. And now it feels like that was maybe a bit unfair.

somewhathorrified Tue 21-Jul-09 12:19:18

However angry you are, you need to understand what you hope to achieve. You have your money back, so it's unlikely that you'll get financial compensation. If you want revenge/matrydom that's very noble, but court proceedings etc can be stressful and don't always go the way you want. I'm not saying that you shouldn't go through with this, just be aware.

katiestar Tue 21-Jul-09 12:22:14

But you have got your deposit back ! You will have to show some financial loss to get compensation.There is nothing to compensate you for (well,there is but you are pursuing the direpair stuff)

katiestar Tue 21-Jul-09 12:23:21

not pursuing -that should have been !

AnarchyAunt Tue 21-Jul-09 12:26:53

No, there is a penalty in law for not protecting a deposit, its 3x the sum of the deposit.

I only got it back three months after starting legal action asking for it to be protected. If the court finds that the law was not complied with, they can award the sum to the tenant (or former tenant) as compensation for not protecting the deposit.

citronella Tue 21-Jul-09 12:37:44

Go through with what you have started. There will have been costs involved in getting the case this far.

racmac Tue 21-Jul-09 12:49:28

If you pull out now they may look to you for their court costs - i would say you have to drop it with both sides keeping their own legal expenses or fight it - from what you said i would fight it.

A Judge is usually pretty good if you are representing yourself? NOt sure if you are or not

ObsidianBlackbirdMcNight Tue 21-Jul-09 12:58:01

Could you lose out financially at all? Will you have to pay costs if you lose? If not, go for it. They are cowboys and should be made to comply with the law.

AnarchyAunt Tue 21-Jul-09 13:08:43

I am representing myself but its pretty straightforward. The other side will have to prove that they did comply with the law, which they can't, because they didn't.

I don't have any costs as I qualify for full fee remission due to our income.

My DM thinks I should drop it, in fact she thought I shouldn't start it at all. She is usually very supportive of me so her opinion on this has been quite hard to handle - she thinks its pointless to make a fuss once I am out of the house unscathed. I on the other hand was incandescent at the letting agent/landlady's blatant disregard for pretty much every law for the protection/safety of tenants. Its just taken so long to get to court that the rage has faded and doubts are creeping in.

Cheepz Tue 21-Jul-09 13:08:48

I am a landlady and you are completely in the right with this. The only thing you need to check is whether your tenancy started before the govenrment deposit scheme came became legislation (6th April 2007) as if your 12 month agreement predated that there was no obligation for them to use it. However if your agreement started after that then you are 100% in the right on the scheme.

Separate from that I hate hearing about stories like yours where tenants are forced to put up with shabby or usafe conditions because a landlord is too tight to spend the money - this is exacerbated by agents who charge landlords so much for administrating repairs that it can double the cost. You can bet they would have taken you to court if you had broken your tenancy agreement despite the issues with the state of the premises so I would consider this compensation for having had to stay in a place that sounds not only dirty but unsafe.

(12 months is long by the way you should aim to only sign for 6 and then have rolling month to month agreement)

trellism Tue 21-Jul-09 15:38:54

You are not being unreasonable. DH and I took our absentee landlady to court after she kept all of our deposit and 2 months' rent that we'd paid by mistake because DH forgot to cancel the standing order. She claimed that we didn't deserve the money back because we'd left the house in such a disgusting state... it was so disgusting that she'd moved a new family in 2 days after we'd moved out!

It took a while for the case to be heard but it all went very smoothly, and the landlady was ordered to pay not only all the rent and the deposit, but interest, costs and our expenses.

We could easily have also brought a claim for her crapness during our tenancy: we spent nearly a month without central heating in the winter and four months with a blocked drain spilling sewage down our driveway, a huge leak in our bedroom ceiling and mice in the kitchen.

I think the claim would be for breach of contract rather than negligence: you pay the rent in return for a safe place to live, she fails, so she owes you.

People like this should not be allowed to get away with it. They need to be brought to justice - if you don't carry on, your landlady will just do it again to someone else, and they may not get out unscathed.

Lovesdogsandcats Tue 21-Jul-09 17:06:05

Don't drop it. Even if you don't end up with any money, why the hell should her life be made easy when she made yours hell.

Go to court, its the right thing to do.

AnarchyAunt Tue 21-Jul-09 19:36:16

Cheepz - my agreement ran from March 2008 to March 2009 so I think we're ok on that.

Posting has re-determined me (if that is a word). Fired me up again anyway. It was hell at the time, we had a house that was one big health and safety hazard and nowhere to go - we nearly ended up in a council B&B.

Thanks for reassurance.

AnarchyAunt Fri 24-Jul-09 10:32:45

Court today.

<<quivers>>

<<finds best clothes>>

weblette Fri 24-Jul-09 12:08:47

Good luck!

TheChilliMooseisPerplexed Fri 24-Jul-09 12:12:09

I'm glad you are going ahead with it. Good luck.

kormachameleon Fri 24-Jul-09 12:19:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Aussieng Fri 24-Jul-09 12:31:03

I believe that the tenancy deposit scheme protects deposits connected to AST's commencing on or after 1 April 2008. Hope I'm wrong especialy since I'm too late in posting this to be of any use to you but sounds to me like you are out of the scope of the scheme.

glasjam Fri 24-Jul-09 16:35:28

Be interested to hear how you got on - please report back - fingers crossed for you.

AnarchyAunt Fri 24-Jul-09 18:32:17

I won!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Neither landlady or letting agent bothered to turn up. Judge was fab, really sympathetic, agreed with all the points I made, and awarded me the 3x deposit sum to be paid within 14 days by the letting agent.

I am still in shock

grin grin grin

LuluMaman Fri 24-Jul-09 18:33:41

excellent news.

can't believe they did not bother turning up

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