Not sure bout my Landlord

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    Not sure bout my Landlord

    Sorry, this is a long one, but thought best to give the full picture!

    Relocated to London end of August. A friend viewed the flat for me after I saw advert on Gumtree, as she lived locally. flat seemed good after seeing videos / pictures, and her viewing. knowing how quickly flats go in London majority of the time, and also how hard it can be to find a privately rented place that allow dogs and have a little patio. I took the two hour journey next day to put deposit down and take it. On the viewing day, my friend viewing was one of 6, and I nearly lost the flat to someone who could also move in quickly. At the end of the day, in my mind that usually a deal breaker to a landlord, someone ready to move as soon as it’s empty. So I snapped it up! It did cross my mind why it wasn’t advertised weeks/month in advance, like most are, when previous tenants have given notice etc. His story “he put it up for sale then chickened out and wanted to rent it again”.

    Anyways, few weeks down line and realise there’s an intimittant sewage smell that comes in from bathroom and ungulfes entire flat. Sometimes there’s nothing for a day or two, then bam! that stench that sticks in your throat! There’s no window in said bathroom. There’s no window until your two rooms away, which is the back door! It’s embarassing to entertain guests, it’s vile to sit down and eat whilst it lingers for a day. It’s not exactly acceptable.
    There was also a mouldy bathpanel and after quizzing the landlord what exactly could be this stench initially he Gave the go ahead for a plumber that replaced bathroom panel, checked for leaks around toilet and under bath. In the end he put some kind of flow cap on the, all? -which apparently stops said gasses coming up the pipe the wrong way and should have helped the situation. But he did mutter he’d need to go onto the roof and check something to do with pipe work but mentioned maybe landlord knows someone. Emailing landlord I give the workman’s contact number asking him maybe it’s best he speaks to the guy and talk through the pipe work layout and whatever it is on roof that needs seeing to. Needless to say landlord didn’t, workman was just obviously going to do the best for that moment and without direction not go any further, and him and I hoped for the best.

    I’ve since also moved into the bedroom after having used it previously as a storage room. And notice the carpet stink, either previous tenants allowed cats to urinate it or it hasn’t previously been cleaned correctly and left damp and stale underlay is causing the smell
    perhaps. I’m not sure. As it looks cleanish, but utterly stinks. Even though landlord said he steam cleaned carpet before I moved in. Tbh it was wet so I thought he had.

    Adding to this, the neighbour above. (I’m in the ground floor of a terraced house that’s previously been split into two flats). Smokes weed 24/7 which penetrates the building. It creates such an impression and everyone that visits says how they smelt it from parking their car outside. I’ve successfully hopefully after having a polite word with him calmed that down. This was alongside base music that vibrated down the building. When viewing the flat I did ask who was the neighbour out of curiosity. Landlord said a nice small family. The neighbours a single 40yr old guy who’s been here years and told me so when I asked him to try contain his music and fumes. And landlord would have known this apparently.

    Lastly, I was given one full set of keys to the flat and the buildings communal external door. And an incomplete second set that’s missing the key to the external communal door. Usually my past landlords and estate agents I’ve dealt with gave two. Landlord mentioned to go and get a copy of needed spare key of communal exterior door and muttered shouldn’t be more than a fiver and just take it off the next months rent due.
    Ive now learnt it’s a security key (needs permission from freeholder). Which I specifically asked him at the beginning and he said it wasn’t. Said freeholder took my call not knowing who I was, after obtaining his detailing from the locksmiths details written on said key. He was a little strange but said he’d act on it. Weeks later he won’t, he cancels my calls and is clearly not a fan of my landlord. So the freeholder is withholding access to get a spare key made which gives access to the communal external door. I mean, what do I give family in case of an emergency, or myself to have a spare set if I can’t even copy it?!
    Done some digging and apparently should I ever be locked out, the lock can be drilled out for a premium and I would have to pay for new lock. Which in an emergency I would obviously be forced to do. I’d obviously bill my landlord for that if it ever occurred and he can resolve his issues with his freeholder.
    He’s since said his freeholder is elusive and can’t get hold of him.
    But he would have known this obviously from day one. And that would be why he only had one set originally. and couldn’t make a copy himself.

    After seeing post coming to the flat for others when acccidentally opening their mail thinking was mine. contacted these people on social media and enquired if they were the previous tenants, needed their post forwarded, and if they had any sort of problems whilst at the flat.
    They said without me mentioning if I was, that they were due to move in a date that was. Few weeks before I’d viewed. But pulled out due to sewage smell, a smelly bedroom they couldn’t pinpoint what exact smell was. And loud neighbours. Ding Dong! This sounded familiar!
    They said don’t worry their post might keep coming and would probably be their deposit scheme return info. This is the point I rang the deposit scheme people and realised mine has never been registered, not since I handed it over to two months later, until now.
    Nor was I given a gas safety certificate.

    Initially i I was grateful because not only is it hard nowadays to find a dog friendly landlord, it’s also hard to bypass the horrific referencing checks as a freelancer and self employed. Through estate agents was always going to be tricky since I’ve turned self employed. This guy seemed very relaxed at point of taking the tenancy, and maybe now I’m realising why! But I am paying top dollar for a one bed in this SW London borough. It’s decorated to a pretty good standard and I was happy. But for all the issues I feel he should be charging less rent PCM, fix them or / and at least been honest from day one.

    I’ve made him aware of the above mentioned issues and all he came back with was casually why didn’t I tell him the plumbers visit didn’t work, I’m like I did ask you at the time to call him and to helphim do his further investigating but you didn’t. He gave up. Patched up what he could and gave up. He didn’t broach subject of neighbour, previous tenants issue, or how he’d compensate for any of the issues by reducing the rent a touch for the not so ideal living standards he misrepresented or wasn’t honest about but would offer to shampoo the carpet again.

    The guys lazy, doesn’t seem to have his business head screwed on, has a childish email address, replies emails late, isn’t proactive, and hasn’t provided a working contact number since he returned to Spain where he lives, after his temporary phone number cut off after he rented the flat to me and returned to Spain. Even after politely requesting an up to date contact number twice when plumber was around.

    He’s obviously got long standing few issues with the property, god knows what’s up with the pipe work and obviously has an awful relationship with his freeholder. I asked him to possibly consider his rental rate due to the related issues if he’s not interested to investigate fully which I imagine could incur costs or with them, and that also wasn’t acknowledged. I wouldn’t feel so cross if I walked into this flat fully aware. I feel a little conned!

    I have friends who are landlords but mostly to multiple occupancy houses and have owned my own flat previously to moving back to London’s and they or I would never be so dopey and casual and I feel dishonest as he has been to people paying someone else’s mortgage and spending money while he’s sunning himself in Spain.

    Not sure where I stand legally on the sewage smells issue, and no access to get a spare external door key. I know that legally he could be fined for not filing the deposit with a deposit scheme.

    Any advice would be appreciated. And whoever reads this deserves a medal for getting this far, thank you!


    sorry for the typos


      Sewerage smell - I'll take a guess that the soil vent pipe that should go up a metre above roof height is not doing its job. Call the council and get environmental health in - repairs need doing which they can insist on.

      Key - this is common in blocks and conversions. Cost of key can be £35-55 I find.

      Smelly carpet. If synthetic scrub with weak solution of bleach and water. Do it as much as you need to get rid of smell.

      Think about leaving. Totally understand the dog problem but start looking.

      Freedom at the point of zero............


        I'd expect communal doors to be low security.

        I'm not sure what sort of emergency you are thinking of. I can't see any reason why more than the key to the front door should be needed to get in. In fact, my purpose built flat, nearly all the back door keys have been lost, including, now, the freeholder's copies.

        If you are talking about getting out through that door, it, is probably a criminal offence even to require the use of a key on the inside, under the Regulatory Reform, (Fire Safety) Order 2005..


          The U- and P- bends on drains should stop sewer smells coming back through the drain pipes. It is likely that the fault is the responsibility of the freeholder (although it may be the result of misuse by a tenant, e.g. wet wipes).

          How old is the conversion. I'd need to check the guidance documents, but I would be surprised if some sort of ventilation wasn't required for bathrooms.

          Possession of Cannabis is an offence, even if the police are more concerned with intent to supply. You should consider informing the police, who might prosecute or use anti-social behaviour legislation.

          The cat problem may be why they were so willing to take the dogs :-(.


            I wouldn't worry too much about having his phone number. It's better you have a paper trail anyway.

            What does it say in your AST about making alterations and stuff? Could you Chuck the carpet, give underneath a good clean and put something cheap down?

            The pipes, I had a similar issue in my new house but that was easily sorted with some Mr Muscle Odour Eliminator cleaning foam. The toilet in that bathroom also had an awful smell coming from it so I used those Bloo max toilet blocks which cleaned places I couldn't get to and you could see all the dirt unattaching when it flushed. It was nasty. I also got a Unibond Aero 360 Pure Moisture absorber.
            all of the above was relatively cheap and worked perfectly. Honestly, my whole top floor stunk before, but within a day of using the above, it had all gone completely!

            I'd email him and ask him to sort everything else out, or let you sort the issues and deduct costs from rent. Tell him that if you don't get an adequate response, you'll be contacting environmental health for all of the above, and the gas safety certificate.

            Also, is he hasn't protected your deposit within 30 days of receiving it, you can use that and the fact he would owe you a penalty of between 1-3x the deposit amount for failing to protect it. Keep that up your sleeve for now though and only use that if you really have to.


              The sewage smell sound as if you have an internal soil stack vent.
              These need an 'air admittance valve' (a Durgo valve) that lets air in but not out.
              The valve is usually in the loft but may be in the bathroom (usually boxed in).
              If the valve gets broken, or sticks open, then the air/smells from the drains can get into the house.
              If the valve sticks closed then when you flush the toilet the water is sucked out of the sink/bath u-bends and smells get in from those.
              (That can also happen if an external soil stack without a valve gets blocked, say a birds nest on top).
              That is what your plumber was talking about, replacing that valve and checking the stack for blockages.

              Wet carpets smell.
              A carpet that is wet because it's recently been cleaned can smell. (Like cat pee or worse).
              The smell goes away once the carpet has dried.
              Brand new carpets often smell for the first month or so, even when dry.

              Neighoburs are not your landlords problem.
              Have a quiet chat with him.

              The locksmith should not have given you the freeholders details.
              That's a security breach, you could have found that key in the street and now know the owners address.
              It's also a breach of the data protection act.
              I'm not surprised the freeholder is peed off.

              You should not be contacting the freeholder, you have no contract/arrangement with the freeholder.
              You contact your LL, he contacts the FH.

              Non protection of deposit, you can sue him for up to 3x deposit.
              No GSC, he'll find it difficult if he wants to evict.

              Landlord living abroad, are you deducting UK tax from your rent and sending it to the tax man?
              If not (and unless he has arranged an exemption from this) then he is probably dodging tax and HMRC would be very interested to know.

              It seems to me a bit of swings and roundabouts.
              You knew that you would have problems getting a flat, being self employed and having a pet, so would probably not get an immaculate one.
              You didn't really check the place out and rented in a rush.

              The issues you have are annoying but not major.

              The landlord may have bigger issues, when you sue him for not protecting the deposit; and especially when HMRC catch up with him.


                Personally, I'd pay for a plumber to sort out the drains smell.
                It's not your responsibility, but you're suffering and that way you're not going to be fobbed off by the plumber who can't be bothered to get their hands dirty.

                Other people's advice about carpets is good.

                Landlords who aren't in the UK are good from the point of view of being left alone but terrible when you need something doing.

                While the advice about the deposit is good, suing someone who lives abroad usually doesn't result in any money changing hands. You're better off reminding the landlord that the deposit has to be protected, so they might actually do that.
                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).


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