Burst pipe in rented property- help!(7 Posts)
So a week and a half ago a pipe burst in our rented house causing the kitchen ceiling (below the bathroom) to fall in. Water everywhere; plasterboard all fallen down, kitchen covered in rubble. Notified letting agent; pipe mended and electrician confirmed all ok so electricity turned back on.
Since then, pretty much nothing has happened with regards to fixing the kitchen! We moved out for a week as no one confirmed property was safe to live in- luckily a friend was on holiday so kindly let us stay in her house. On Saturday when friend returned (9 days since the incident), the letting agency still couldn't tell us what was happening or whether the house was habitable so they told us to get a hotel and they'd reimburse us. Sunday the electrician came back as we'd had a few problems with the electrics when we'd been back to the house to check on stuff and feed the cat. Fixed the problem (no upstairs lighting, no power in kitchen) so we moved back in.
I just wanted a bit of advice on what our rights are! I know the landlord legally has to mend the problem and we're entitled to a rent reduction (still to be confirmed) but how do we scare/threaten (lighthearted!) the letting agents/landlord to get off their arses and make our kitchen usable?! We've been ringing them daily, asking what is happening and all we ever get is "we'll get back to you" or "someone will come tomorrow" and no one ever does. The letting agents keep saying they need to speak to the landlord, the landlord is essentially uncontactable and while all this is happening, the floorboards and walls are not drying out and our house stinks of damp. We need a dehumidifier but again, they have to wait for the landlord to say yes. We paid for our hotel stay as they said they'd reimburse us but now that has to wait for the landlord too.
I'm pissed off and want my kitchen back and for people to do the work when they say they will. Not after compensation (even though this has been a massive expense for us- takeaways, ruined food in kitchen etc, and yes we have insurance but excess means there's pretty much no point in claiming), I just want to know whether I have a leg to stand on if I either demand rent reduction, demand work to be done or else (or else what?!) or whether I have to just accept that it's a shit situation and it could be worse?!
Looked at contract, nothing in there re, damage apart from landlord has to fix it. Is there anything legislation wise that says we are entitled as paying tenants to a house that is habitable (and imo, no kitchen and horrific damp smell is not very habitable!) ?
I'd send the letting agents (and the LL) a list of the expenses that you have incurred so far and tell them that you will be suing them for reimbursement through the small claims court if the problem is not resolved by [insert the date you feel would be acceptable). Send an email so that you have a paper trail.
First, however, check that the pipe didn't burst because of your "neglect" ie, was it a leaking pipe or was the leak caused by the pipe freezing because you had gone away and left the heating off? If the latter, the LL could argue that the damage was caused by you.
I'd go and sit in the agent's office until something was properly put in motion. The landlord should be insured so what's the delay? Keep your receipts and make sure you have a record of all the correspondence. Also contact environmental health at the Council for advice. They can compel the landlord to act or step in and do it for him.
By law you are entitled to the landlord's contact details - whatever the agents may tell you - so ask for them.
Take photos of the damage as evidence.
Most management agreements allow the agents to spend up to a certain amount without the landlord's explicit agreement. This is to allow them to deal with an emergency situation btw.
Lalalonglegs can I legitimately claim for all my expenses or will they laugh at me because there's nothing in the contract? And no, definitely not our neglect, we left our cat in the property over Christmas (with friend popping in to feed) so heating was left on so she didn't get cold!
This is not the first time they have taken their sweet time over repairs- the boiler broke a couple of months ago and we were left without heating/hot water for 3 weeks. In November. With a baby.
The problem is we ring and ring and pop into the office and they're always so helpful and polite and "yes, someone is coming tomorrow" and no one ever does. Or there's a "problem" that only the manager can deal with and guess what, they're out of the office.
Wowfudge we have emails/texts etc and I've written a timeline of events to hit them with in a nice long email/letter if nothing gets done. Called environmental health- they said if it's not resolved in two weeks to call back. Thanks for the useful info re landlords contact details and emergency funds.
hair-flicking agents - all too common, sadly. Yes, get in touch with the landlord, make sure he/she knows what has happened. He/she should have insurance for just this, i.e. to accommodate you if the place isn't habitable.
It doesn't matter if it's in your contract or not, it's what a judge in a county court would determine was fair. If you are substantially out of pocket because the agents/LL have dragged their feet - and leaving you without a working kitchen would of course mean expense for takeaways/ready meals - then it is only fair that you are recompensed. I have just reread your first post and seen that now they are now making you wait to receive a refund on your hotel expenses .
I would send a letter to the agency detailing how many times you have been in touch and explaining your next step will be to go through the small claims procedure. If at all possible I would send a copy to the LL - his/her address should be in your contract - you never know, s/he may be completely ignorant of the situation and sort it out immediately. In the meantime, this page from Shelter may help you.
Depending on where you are there may be problems getting things sorted due to the thousands of people who have recently been flooded. Just something to think about. If you are not in one of those areas I'd go into the agent and sit until they've got things sorted.
Also LL may need to claim through his insurance and that may be causing a delay. Its easy enough to be told that is the case though.
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