Shall I file a claim against the agency? Hope that someone can advise on this

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    Shall I file a claim against the agency? Hope that someone can advise on this

    Dear Community,

    This is my first post here, I am hoping that someone can advice me on the issue that I had to face over the past 4 months.

    I am working in an company in the UK on a 1 year project contract and I really have no knowledge about how legal issues are processed in this country.

    I am currently renting a flat on a 12 month contract and started my tenancy in September.

    I have first viewed the flat in July this year, the flat was in perfect condition so I have arranged with the agency to rent it and paid 6 months upfront.

    Upon my arrival in September I found that there is a huge leak coming from upstairs that caused damage to the ceiling in the bathroom.

    The leak damage was recorded on the check-in report and I have also reported it to estate agency in an e-mail on my very first day. Estate agents then advised that this is ongoing claim with an upstairs landlord however they promised to get it resolved asap.

    I was expecting this to be resolved as promised but in reality I had to chase estate agents over the past 3 months in order to get things done. My emails were often left unanswered and there was no action taken to resolve the leak issue.

    Today the agency have finally arranged a handyman to attend to estimate the quote on the works to be completed. The handyman though said that the growing mould is hazardous and can cause health issues (which he included on his report) so I became very concerned about this matter.

    My question is what are my rights and should I escalate this issue into a small courts claim? Obviously the property is still not in condition as advertised (it's now my 4th month of tenancy) and I feel that nothing is being done by estate agents to resolve it?

    Actually I also forgot to mention that upon arrival in the flat I had noticed that there were insects all over the place, including the bathroom and kitchen drawers. I had to arrange with the agency for the insect control person to attend the flat to terminate the insects. This guy had to attend twice and before he's left he's also confirmed the insects came with the leak and they might return is the damage is not fixed asap.

    I would be very grateful if someone could please help me with this as I really don't now what I should in this case? Can I claim a partial refund for this and activate the break-clause option on the contract?

    Any advice would be much appreciated.

    Thanks for your help! - Erik


    #2
    Welcome to the United Kingdom. Welcome to landlordzone. Sorry to hear of your experiences.

    Your contract is with the landlord: That is whoever is named as landlord on your tenancy agreement. Yes I know agent organised everthing. Write (yes, WRITE! - or email..) to the landlord, copy agent, keep copy with guidance from Shelter's website here, based on their draft letter.
    https://england.shelter.org.uk/housi...ivate_landlord

    (Shelter is a housing charity expert in these matters. They also have a help-line, 0808 800 4444 open 8-8 Mon-Fri, 9-5 weekends)

    If you don't have an address for landlord ask agent: He HAS to give one within 21 days (but might not.. it's a bit like speeding laws..) If you want to spend £3 get name & address of owner (usually the landlord) from UK government website here...
    https://www.gov.uk/search-property-i...-land-registry
    I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

    Comment


      #3
      Landlord has a duty to repair within a reasonable time.
      If that involves legal action with another leaseholder, major structural repairs, section 20 notices, scaffolding, etc, etc then 4 months is not unreasonable.
      Landlords have no more power than any other leaseholder.

      Comment


        #4
        I would talk to the agent and tell them that because the problem is now dangerous (and taking too long to fix), that you will involve the local authority environmental health team - that usually causes the issue to have a higher priority.

        If they don't do anything, contact the local authority environmental health team.

        Normally, there's a risk that such actions might alienate the landlord, but if you have a 12 month fixed contract, there's not much they can do.
        When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
        Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by jpkeates View Post

          If they don't do anything, contact the local authority environmental health team.
          What are Environmental Health going to do?
          Send a SWAT team round every time upstairs has a bath? Intimidate the freeholder into circumventing the section 20 procedure? Break out the emergency scaffolding and super-builders? Force the upstairs landlord to illegally evict their ASB tenant?

          You'll be very lucky to get E.H to use the powers they do have, let alone imaginary ones.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by boletus View Post
            What are Environmental Health going to do?
            Ignoring the practical difficulty with poorly resourced local authorities...

            There are two issues being conflated here, which is causing a problem.

            The upstairs tenant isn't sorting out a problem in a timely manner and there's not a lot that the landlord or management committee can do to move things on.
            But that doesn't change the obligations of the landlord to supply a property to a tenant that is fit for use. Just because sorting the issue is difficult, doesn't change that obligation. It might require additional resources (like dehumidifiers) it might mean that the tenancy has to end or alternative accommodation be provided - but the landlord can't simply hide behind "I'm doing what I can" if what they can do isn't acceptable.

            Either the problem is serious enough to be of concern, or it isn't. A visit from a local authority might help determine that (although I think the threat to involve them might be sufficient).
            When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
            Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by jpkeates View Post
              the landlord can't simply hide behind "I'm doing what I can" if what they can do isn't acceptable.
              Where does the word "acceptable" come into it?

              A landlord has a reasonable time to repair, not a time to repair within which the tenant finds acceptable.

              Whether or not it is reasonable in this instance we don't know.

              Comment


                #8
                It started in September and it's now December (and the only action so far is someone's come round recently to give a quote).
                That doesn't feel reasonable to me.

                I wasn't suggesting the time frame has to be acceptable to the tenant, it has to be acceptable generally.
                Landlords have to act with reasonable care and skill in what they do.
                When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
                Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

                Comment


                  #9
                  LL should claim on Ins for repair and let them chase the upstairs LL for payment.
                  Any EHO enforcement Notice prob would not be enforced for 3-6 months by Council.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by jpkeates View Post
                    it has to be acceptable generally.
                    It does not, that is something you have made up, it has to be reasonable.

                    https://www.rla.org.uk/landlord/guid.../repairs.shtml

                    The landlord has a reasonable time to effect repairs once he has notice of them.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      I'm happy to replace acceptable with reasonable.

                      Three months to get someone round to raise a quote for a ceiling damaged by water coming in from upstairs isn't reasonable (in my opinion).
                      When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
                      Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by jpkeates View Post

                        Three months to get someone round to raise a quote for a ceiling damaged by water coming in from upstairs isn't reasonable (in my opinion).
                        I'd agree, but it isn't just about repairing the damaged ceiling, it is also rectifying the cause of the leak.

                        We don't know what that was but if it required major structural works (i.e costing over £250 per flat) on a leasehold property, then 3 months could have been very quick.

                        I'm guessing you don't deal much with leasehold property (I don't blame you!) so here is a guide to the section 20 procedure;

                        http://www.leaseholdadvicecentre.co.uk/Section%2020.htm
                        Key time scales here;

                        *The notice must state the reasons for the works, and invite written observations, specifying where they should be sent, over what period (30 days from the notice)

                        *The statement must be sent out with a notice, detailing where and when all of the estimates may be inspected and inviting each leaseholder and any RTA to make written observations on any of the estimates, specifying an address where they should be sent, the consultation period (30 days from the notice)

                        *Unless the chosen contractor is a leaseholder's or RTA nominee or submitted the lowest estimate, the landlord must give notice within 21 days of entering into the contract to each leaseholder and any RTA, stating his reasons for the selection, or specifying a place and hours for inspection of such a statement.

                        All of which needs to happen before scaffolding can go up and the builders can start work. There can be serious financial repercussions if this is ignored.

                        So whilst you may regard that it isn't acceptable, legally (which is what we are talking about here), 3 months could have been an entirely reasonable time to repair.


                        Comment


                          #13
                          That was actually the point I was making.
                          The landlord's responsibility conflicts with the reality of getting the job done as the owner of the property.

                          I don't think the man on the Clapham omnibus (a test for reasonableness) would think that three months is reasonable.
                          It might be the best the landlord can do, and the points raised by boletus are excellent, but reasonable and realistic aren't the same.

                          If it takes that long to effect a repair, the property isn't suitable for rent.

                          It's quite possible, for example, that this would mean the problem (which is health threatening) exists for the complete tenancy.
                          There's no possible way that that could be reasonable.
                          When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
                          Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

                          Comment


                            #14
                            How can LL repair a leak from a flat he does not own?
                            Mould is hardly life threatening in a healthy adult, but could exacerbate pre-existing conditions.
                            LL could just agree to accept T surrender.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by jpkeates View Post

                              I don't think the man on the Clapham omnibus (a test for reasonableness) would think that three months is reasonable.
                              Probably not unless he was educated and knowledgeable on the matter, those judging these cases are educated and knowledgeable. (No sniggering at the back!)
                              reasonable and realistic aren't the same.
                              It doesn't have to be realistic, only reasonable.
                              If it takes that long to effect a repair, the property isn't suitable for rent.
                              Leasehold properties make up around half(?) of the rental stock, what are you going to do?

                              (Further to my earlier post on repair timescales, I'd like to add that dispensation can be granted for emergency repairs, though I doubt a leaky bathroom ceiling alone would qualify. And of course, gaining dispensation also takes time.)

                              Comment

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