Landlord wont do repairs, use deposit as rent?

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    Landlord wont do repairs, use deposit as rent?


    Hi.

    Context + backstory
    I'd like to start by saying I know this sounds shady and dishonest, so here's the situation: For a year now our landlord has refused to fix things, but sadly we can't find any other place to move to (because we have pets and it's hard as hell around here).
    This includes (but reaaally not limited to):
    • Mold in bathroom and bedroom
    • Hanger falling off the wall in the entrance and pulling a bit of the wall with it
    • From day 1 backyard completely filled with weeds
    • Doors won't close anymore because wood bending due to temperatures
    • Water coming from roof into bedroom that we had to fix ourselves

    I might be forgetting some, but those are the biggest offenders. We've cleaned multiple times the mold in the bathroom and bedroom ourselves. I've sent about 400£ fixing our backyard and removing all weeds myself for many weekend afternoons. I've went outside my upper floor to fix our roof.
    The biggest thing left is the hanger and doors. Since those are structural things, they will be expensive, and I don't want to pay for them, especially the hanger. It has literally come off the wall and pulled cement with it (and mind you, we only ever hang 1 or 2 jackets there, because it broke after that).

    That has been like that for nearly a year now despite me sending over 50 messages and multiple emails to him (although no registered letter) which have mostly been ignored.

    Currenty situation + question
    We're not UK natives and we are leaving the country back to our home country in July. So quite literally we will have lived in this house nearly the whole rent period with those issues not fixed.

    Due to the shady landlord's actions until now, I'm nearly sure he will be putting all of these things as "damage" and try to take from the deposit (secure deposit). And because we are leaving, we won't be here to context any deposit damages and it will be a mess to do by letter.

    What I'm thinking is, and I know it's not the best way to do it, simply not pay the last month and a half of rent (1200£/month, 1800£/month and half) and let him have the full deposit (1800£) uncontested. This way he will get all of his due money but won't be able to charge me things he should fix himself and I won't even ask for compensation for the things I've spent money fixing (backyard, mold products, etc)

    And my questions are:
    1. Could I potentially get into troubles (EU)?
    2. Are there any better options than this?

    #2
    Mouldy bathrooms are generally considered a tenant fault. Unless the agreement specifically provides fro the landlord to maintain the garden, a weedy garden would also be a tenant fault.

    Doors that don't close, are likely to be considered a health and safety issue, so you should talk to the council about getting them to enforce the repairs. A sticking external door is always serious. A sticking internal door is a fire safety issue, as best practice is to close all doors at night.

    Relying on the difficulty of taking civil court action against someone who has left the country, and the lack of international credit reference services, is, in my view, dishonest.

    The presumption with deposits is that they belong to the tenant, so you can force their return anyway, by refusing to go to adjudication, so I don't see that you gain much, and going to adjudication shouldn't involve you in that much correspondence. Obviously relying on the difficulty of going to court is still being dishonest.

    I'd therefore suggest raising the doors and the water issue with the council and going to adjudication if they are charged to you at the end of the tenancy. Expect to have to either remove the mould and weed the garden yourself, or have to pay for those.

    Comment


      #3
      1 - It is very difficult to take legal action outside the UK, so the actual legal position and the practical position are quite different.

      2 - If your landlord simply ignores your reports about damage, you probably don't have much option. However what you suggest is possibly contrary to your tenancy agreement.

      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


        #4
        leaseholder64 the mould also appears in the bedroom, behind and around the heater, even though we ventilate it every day (window open during the day, every single day), and the weedy garden was there since day one but I'll accept that "I saw it and therefore accepted it".

        I know would be taking dishonest action by doing that, hence I came here to ask advice hoping there would be a better way. What do you mean with "can force their return"? From what I read it seems the deposit is held by my landlord under a secure deposit protection. Not sure what "adjudication" means.

        Comment


          #5
          There are two types of deposit scheme. An insurance backed scheme where the landlord holds the money and the more common, custodial scheme, where its held by one of the 3 national deposit schemes. Which one do you have?

          What leaseholder64 means by 'can force their return' is that the onus is on the landlord to prove that any deductions he makes are warrented. That usually means that he has to show through a detailed inventory, probably signed by the tenant that the damage was done by the tenant. In the case of the coat hooks, he probably has a case as it sounds like you ripped them off the wall by hanging coats on them. You, of course can argue to the deposit scheme adjudicator that they were not fit for purpose etc. Likewise with the mold. The adjudicator will make a decision and you will proabably get the majority of your deposit back. If you want to increase the amount you're likely to get back then get some HG Mold spray or similar and use it to clean all the mold away just before you move out.

          Comment


            #6
            @DPT75 we've been clearing the mold constantly, it's kept clean - I also don't want to live in a hous with mold. In my case, I guess it's an insurance scheme as he's holding it.

            My fear with all of this comes from the stories I've heard before, where landlords can claim "need 400£ to paint" when in fact it would cost 200£. Coupling that with the fact this guy's super shady and hasn't answered to most of my messages, it straight up feels like he's going to pull out these random schemes to take more deposit money away, and since I won't be in the country, arguing against them will be harder.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by arandomuser View Post
              the mould also appears in the bedroom, behind and around the heater
              That's the last place I'd expect to find mould, if the heater is actually being use. Is it an open flued fuel based one?

              Condensation does tend to happen behind furniture, because of stagnant air against cold walls, but not when there is a source of heat. Fuel based heaters can put a lot of moisture into the air, as well as the risk of carbon monoxide.

              Comment


                #8
                With an insurance based scheme, the scheme can force them to return the deposit (or return it themselves, and blacklist the landlord), if the tenant refuses adjudication.

                However, where landlords overcharge, they are generally relying on people not going to adjudication, as they will generally loose out when the claim is adjudicated.

                Comment


                  #9
                  leaseholder64 so what you mean is that if the landlord charges me X, and I believe it to be overcharged and then move to adjudication (with the scheme I guess?), I will most likely get the money back?

                  Or do you mean "lose out" in the way that the landlord will have to cover some extra costs therefore making him lose out? Also, it's an agency, not a landlord in this case, but it's a one man agency. Does that change anything?

                  RE: your other question, I don't know, I think it's just a hot water based heating. That heater in the bedroom is no where near furniture by the way.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Lose out means that the landlord is likely to find that adjudication is much closer to the tenant's idea of what is fair.

                    If an agent handles a deposit under an insurance based scheme, they must keep it in a client money account, and cannot use it as a loan against short term expenditure. Otherwise it is basically the same.

                    You should have been given prescribed information detailing how it is protected.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      He did provide that. It's onder a scheme protection called "myDeposits". So what you're saying is that the safest option would be to keep as is, and wait until the deposit scheme decisions and then dispute any extra fees the landlord puts in?

                      Comment


                        #12
                        The current schemes all have both insurance and deposit options.

                        Obviously just doing a runner, out of the country, may save you most money, but you had better not be planning to return. I'm not sure if deliberately intending to do so would escalate this to a criminal offence.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          "It's a civil matter, Sir"
                          Unshackled by the chains of idle vanity, A modest manatee, that's me

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Is it the landlord that is the problem, or is it the agent?

                            Comment


                              #15
                              MdeB it's the agency. I don't know the LL, never seen them, and don't even have any contact whatsoever on my contract about them (name, number, address, nothing).

                              leaseholder64 I think I'm taking the honest route.
                              My steps will be:
                              1. Call the deposit scheme and confirm if all is OK
                              2. Send him (agency) a written letter explaining all the problems and situation
                              2.1. If he answers and fixes, all is good and I can keep honest route
                              2.2. If he answers but does nothing or just ignores letter, it's more fuel to the fire I can use against him at the deposit dispute

                              Thanks for the help everyone!

                              Comment

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