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Need advice - landlord inspections

(34 Posts)
champagnecyclist Wed 07-Jun-17 19:45:44

I know there are plenty of landlords on here and hoping for a reasonable take on this. Will try not to drip feed but also trying to be brief.

I've been living in a property for years, have always paid rent on time, looked after it. It is not decorated to a very high standard - in fact to a minimum, cheapest carpets etc. But I haven't minded that really, and have kept it clean and tidy.

Since the beginning of this year there has been a problem with the heating, this has been going on for nearly 6 months. The landlord always refused to send out an emergency repair person and made me usually wait a week to have it fixed, so I've had a freezing cold house with no hot water several times, in the winter. I have a small child and was quite worried a couple of times, but it made no difference. The boiler or whatever was wrong does seem to be fixed now in June, but a second related problem has occurred.

A problem with the electrics seemed to develop alongside this - the programmer for the boiler kept just turning off, even after being replaced. A couple of weeks ago, i was electrocuted when trying to touch the switch to a small downstairs unit/boiler in our hall cupboard (blue bolt shot out and hit my hand). As well as this 3 of my appliances blew in 2 weeks in 2 different upstairs sockets, totalling £150 to be replaced.

It is also worth saying the workmen that have been sent have caused mess, also some damage to my property (bled a radiator, black water all over one of my cupboards and wall/carpet which stained for example).

The landlord was rather unapologetic about any of this. A couple of times, workmen have been in the house without my permission (I returned home to find all the lights on, thought someone was inside, entered to find no they were not). The landlord turned up hammering on my door last Friday and again on Saturday morning at 8.30am, both without notice - just to tell me that he wanted access to look at the garden fence that evening (i.e. it was not an emergency).

After all of this, I have exchanged some heated messages with the landlord's agents. They just back up the landlord, and basically accuse me of lying (in a subtle way) no matter what point I make.

They sent someone round today - but still haven't told me whether the boiler/sockets/electrics are checked and are safe.

Before the visit, they put in a letter that my 3 appliances must have been faulty, not the house electrics, and it is not the landlord's responsibility to replace these, and they say their electrician (i.e. this was without looking at the electrics or appliances) has made this assessment.

Now they are also saying they will begin visiting my home to inspect it on a 3-monthly basis, including when I am not here. When this has never happened in my tenancy before.

It is especially the last bit that is bothering me - it feels like I'm being punished for daring to say I'm not happy with what has been happening - as a response they are going to intrude, and control a part of my life. I'm a reasonable person, I recognise that landlord's have a right to inspect - but is every 3 months reasonable, when they have never felt the need to do this before? Do I have to give them access so frequently?

As far as I can see, the only real solution at the moment is to move, but this means uprooting my child, this is the only home they have known.

Would appreciate any thoughts on the above.

champagnecyclist Wed 07-Jun-17 20:23:48

Have I posted on the wrong board?

FeckTheMagicDragon Wed 07-Jun-17 20:26:08

Hi - you might want to move this to chat to get more traffic. Or legal.

TooLazyForDrama Wed 07-Jun-17 20:34:29

Honestly, I would move. The way they are treating you is awful.
Alternatively, when we had a problem with a gas leak and the agents were insisting it was fine, I sent them a very carefully worded email asking them to clarify that they denied my belief that the gas was leaking and that by refusing to have it inspected by an engineer of my choice then they were accepting full responsibility and liability should there turn out to be a problem which resulted in damage to possessions, personal injury, or loss of life.
We had an engineer out within an hour of sending the email. Funnily enough, the gas was leaking. hmm

champagnecyclist Wed 07-Jun-17 20:59:04

Thank you for the reply toolazy, I am finding it so stressful. Yesterday I spent all my break at work trying to reply to their emails. I didn't want to move just now, as that will be expensive and stressful too.

Thanks for the wording, that sounds like a good idea.

SaS2014 Wed 07-Jun-17 21:18:05

The only bit i can be of help on is the 3 monthly inspection. we have rented long term. our current house has 3 monthly inspections. But they give us 2 weeks notice (minimum) of what date it will be on and give us the choice to be present or not. They cannot legally just turn up at your home and let themselves in willynilly. they must give you notice. if anyone just turns up you have the right to refuse them entry.
The only time in 10 years of renting i've had a landlord turn up at the door with no warning etc was when we had a flood from bathroom done to kitchen and he came round to see if he could do anything there and then to help prevent more damage etc.
with regard to refusing to send out emergency plumber/boiler repair etc, with ours if its say evening or weekend and we cannot contact the agent and we deem it emergent we call someone out ourself and as long as its not on a silly thing, if its legit then we are simply reimbursed for cost we paid out.
You are paying not just to rent the property but for a service, which includes safe functioning electrics hot&cold running water etc etc.
you can also ask for copies of the gas etc safety checks certificates.

sorry you're stuck in such a rotten position!

champagnecyclist Wed 07-Jun-17 21:38:05

They say if I call out an emergency person they won't reimburse me.
And if I take it off the rent this will violate my contract.
I've asked several times for the rent to be reduced, but they won't.
Landlord actually put the rent up the month the boiler first broke, and when I questioned that was told if I didn't pay it, would be in breach of contract.
They say that because the landlord does a gas/electric check once per year that's enough and he doesn't have to do any more than that.

My house was so cold you could see your breath, and we were having trouble sleeping, back in the winter. On the phone the landlord told me that because we had a gas fire in the downstairs living room (away from bedrooms though) we had a source of heating in the house. I told him I couldn't have a small child sleeping in a room with a live fire but he said that was my choice.

I feel like I'm going mad, I've been told I'm in the wrong so many times when I feel like I'm saying reasonable things. Because the agent is backing up the landlord and saying things like 'oh I'm sure he meant well' or becomes quite aggressive about the rent bits. They keep telling me what a good landlord he is, and how it must be me, etc. But I've done nothing wrong or to cause these things to break.

The landlord owns multiple properties by the way, and richest man in the area, so not just a one-off landlord.

monsieurpoirot Wed 07-Jun-17 22:24:06

I have been/am a tenant and a landlord. My initial reaction would be to move. But as you don't want to, I'd start by reading through your contract. If you breach that they will probably look to evict you. they will soon get fed up with costly and time consuming 3 monthly inspections. Just ensure you are getting notice and grit your teeth... flowers

TooLazyForDrama Wed 07-Jun-17 22:48:24

God, the more I read, the angrier I'm getting on your behalf! Please report him to the council!

champagnecyclist Wed 07-Jun-17 23:14:09

Thanks, it's reassuring to know it's not just me.

Looking at other properties in the area, all seem to be more money for same space, but I hope I would gain peace of mind.

What do the Council do, can they advise about whether I can refuse some (not all) of the inspection visits?

Not wishing to make you angrier but - the landlord has for example told me over and over how much it is costing him to send out repair men, whereas I've tried to tell him that using the kettle/shower for hot water (on a metered house) is a really high cost for me as a tenant. He will try to suggest he is a poor old man when I know he is very rich. The other things he will do is try to fob me off by saying he is ill, has been in hospital, on one occasion to a funeral as a reason why he didn't sort out the repairs. It's always about him. If I complain about the workmen not doing something or entering the property without permission, he blames it on them or the agency and says it's not his fault. The agency etc do the same in reverse, so none of them apologise.

My worry is they (agency) want to use the new 3 monthly inspections to then harass me, for example can they say I'm not cleaning enough and give me orders or things like that? I feel like they could be quite controlling of me. As they have never needed to inspect once in years, why would they need to do it every 3 months from now on? I could understand it if they had suddenly discovered I was living like a slob or damaging the property, but I'm not.

NoSquirrels Wed 07-Jun-17 23:25:54

Honestly, I would move. It will be short term hassle, inconvenience and expense now for a better future.

You simply will not get them to behave ethically (& what you are saying is borderline illegal, I would suggest, not just morally wrong) and it will be an ongoing source of stress and upset.

Start looking for a new place. Give notice (read your contract & do it to the letter, usually you need to serve notice on a rent due date or be liable for a whole extra month), be nice and then as soon as you are out and have your deposit back please report them with a log of incidents to your local Housing dept.

champagnecyclist Thu 08-Jun-17 05:13:07

Thank you

travelingthew0rldbeforeim40 Thu 08-Jun-17 05:30:14

This is far too complicated and they are obviously taking the piss. Make an effort ( I understand you said it would be financially hard atm) but move. She's cut you off BASIC commodities when you have a baby!

jobrum Thu 08-Jun-17 05:54:08

Take a lo9k through this. You shouldn't sleep in the same room as a gas appliance, your landlord and agent should not be suggesting this at all.

Needmoresleep Thu 08-Jun-17 09:49:43

I am a landlord, and can confirm this is unacceptable.

There is a problem magicking plumbers at short notice, especially during a cold spell, and then, inevitably, an obscure part is needed. However when faced with a demanding tenant, unhappy I was not fixing a problem instantly, a sensible agent suggested that a good rule of thumb was the same speed as I would do things in my own home. So no heating and a baby and I would be making every effort to get things fixed. And if/when the part does not arrive, I would put in a storage heater or two, to help ensure that there was a minimum acceptable temperature, plus a contribution towards the cost of running it (and for trips to the leisure centre for showers).

These people are unreasonable. You could suggest to the agent that they tell the landlord that it will be well nigh impossible for him to rent the property in its current state to a reliable tenant, so retaining you is in his interest. You could use the first inspection to show the agent all the problems. But you probably need to move.

First though look on Right Move at the price of similar properties. If you are paying considerably less you might work out whether it is in fact better to simply pay the cost of running repairs yourself. (Not unknown if a landlord is elderly.)

Then, if you have decided you will probably leave,:

1. check whether your property has a current Gas Safe certificate. The tenant should be given a copy. Not providing one is illegal.

2. Have a look through this and see if he is contravening anything.

3. Get confirmation of where your deposit is held. and double check that an (ideally independent) inventory was taken when you moved in. (Normally you should be given a certificate.)

Then speak to the agent if you feel the landlord is in breach of legal safety requirements. Could he intervene (the gas at least is also a legal requirement on the agent). Similarly if your deposit is not held (or insured by) a recognised scheme, either the agent or landlord is breaking the law.

If it is clear that the landlord is not complying with legislation and the agent is not helpful, I would speak first to the Council's private housing person. (If he is a major local landlord, who has a track record for letting poor quality accommodation, they will know him.) Or speak to Shelter.

If you decide to move and it becomes clear that they may play hardball with your deposit, look them in the eye and say you will raise a dispute. (If your deposit is not protected, take advice from Shelter or the Council and then demand that it goes in a protection scheme Read through the inventory. Document damage by workmen. Take photos when you leave, ideally with a witness.

specialsubject Thu 08-Jun-17 10:06:55

In short ... Move. This place sounds a dangerous shithole. Moving house won't kill your kid. This place might.

In more detail -
- inspections are only when agreed with tenant. That can mean never if tenant does not agree, but a normal compromise is six monthly, one to coincide with the gas cert. Don't sign a new contract.
- access is also only when prearranged with tenant and at a minimum 24 hours. Hammering on the door is harassment and landlord can be prosecuted.
- landlord is indeed not responsible for your appliances but what do your contents insurers say?

Make sure you are up to speed on rights - deposit, gas safe, epc, smoke alarms , signed inventory on check in, how to rent guide. If your deposit is not protected it is too late for the landlord to avoid you suing him for that.

All responsibility is with landlord. Age and finances utterly irrelevant.

You could also report the agency to their trade association. Won't do much by worth a go.

scaryteacher Thu 08-Jun-17 19:21:08

I must admit to being very naughty and going to meet my new tenants without notice last week as we were in the UK. I took a box of Belgian chocolates for them to say hallo and welcome.

champagnecyclist Thu 08-Jun-17 19:53:13

Thank you everyone. I have spent the day considering properties online. Not much available in my area and budget, but some in nearby areas. Which is ok as my child is not yet at school age, it would be harder if they were and I felt guilty about moving them.

Am a bit worried about a new landlord not liking me because I am a single parent, I have a £30k salary, permanent job and hope that will be enough and I won't be seen as a risk. Also hope the current landlord/ agency give a reference if I need one, or that could damage my prospects?

Am going to try to take a break from it all over the weekend. I feel so stressed, woke at 5 this morning and the first thing I thought of was this situation, straight away it started going round and round in my head. My chest felt/feels like someone is sitting on it. Haven't even dared read my emails as pretty sure they will have sent more through today and I don't think I can handle more stress just at the minute.

Coneheadmum Sat 10-Jun-17 03:30:50

I feel really sorry for you. You have a steady job (How long at the job), a respectable 30k income, a child and no pets, correct? I think you will find somewhere else, and love it, and be happy about not having to deal with this multitude of unacceptable behaviour from landlord and agent. Most landlords/agents are like the person who just posted, decent people who ask themselves how it would be to have a baby and no heat/hot water. You might find it empowering if you find a new place and change. You sound timid, and set in your ways, but I really think things won't change here - 3 monthly inspections are an insulting and stressful condition you should not have to deal with.

NoSquirrels Sat 10-Jun-17 07:30:30

Landlords won't worry about you being a single parent in my experience - I used to be a LL and would have happily rented to you.
You have a good salary, and as long as you pass the credit checks and have a reference (a factual "lived here from x to x and paid rent on time" is fine) then don't worry.

If I were you I'd tell your current horrible LL that you're moving areas to be nearer DC school options/closer to family etc & just make sure you do all your side of things by the book. It's quite unlikely they'll care about you moving enough to give a bad reference- these unscrupulous sorts are in it for the money, so no doubt as soon as you're gone they'll put the rent up and get someone else in who doesn't know yet all the things that are wrong. I suspect you might find the 3-monthly inspections are a tactic to get you to move on as you keep finding them things to fix. They'll stay just on the right side of the law by giving a factual reference and no more.

Good luck, OP. It's awful to be stressed about where you're living.

sleepingdragon Sat 10-Jun-17 07:48:05

I also think you should move, you sound like a great tenant. In relation to the electical safety, the landlord has a duty to ensure that the electic wiring is safe- your applianced may have been faulty but you should not have recieved a shock from a socket and this is evidence the wiring is faulty.

Where do you live? In Scotland landlords need to provide an electical safety certificate to landlords, but not in the rest of the UK. In the rest of the UK you report to the local council who will come out and test the electrics.

specialsubject Sat 10-Jun-17 12:37:16

If you can afford the rent, have run a house ( so will report things that need fixing, and will work with the landlord to allow access to fix) and don't terrorise the neighbours that's all I ask from a tenant.

References are best from the last landlord but one. And although england and wales does not mandate electrical tests in non HMO properties, there is still a duty to provide somewhere reasonably safe. Switches that give shocks do not meet that.

Sunnyshores Sat 10-Jun-17 19:43:26

Im a landlord and you certainly have my sympathies hes behaving really badly. I think tenant/landlord laws are pretty good and with decent people (on both sides) it all works fairly well. However when things go wrong, on either side, theres little that can really be done without the hassle and cost of going to court.

What Im saying in a long winded way, is unfortunately you cant/wont change him or the agents and it will cause you no end of stress trying to - you will have to move. Short term pain, long term gain

champagnecyclist Mon 12-Jun-17 12:43:41

Thank you, again.

After the letting agency announcing they are taking over contact and beginning 3 monthly inspections, I wrote back to say I'm not happy with that, also asking them to confirm the electrics are safe and asking for details of the agency scheme they are registered with.

That was last Thursday first thing. They haven't replied at all.

I have no idea whether the electrics in the house are safe or not. Only thing I can do is hire an electrician at my own expense - which I will do, but don't feel I should have to.

We are in England, so no mandated electrical tests. The landlord does do one once a year, but these problems (the electrocution, appliances going dead) happened recently. The agency's response is that as an electrical test was done last autumn the landlord has fulfilled his duty, actually done more than he legally has to hmm

Have decided to move somewhere bigger as I probably can afford it, also looking for somewhere nicely decorated. Hoping if I find a landlord who has made an effort to make a place look nice for tenants, that might be a good sign they care more in general too.

whataboutbob Mon 12-Jun-17 13:31:05

Landlords need to do electrical safety checks every 5 years in england is my understanding ( I'm landlord and I do).

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