New tenancy - several issues already

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    New tenancy - several issues already

    North East England, 12 month AST.

    I would like to preface by saying that we are fully aware that some of the issues detailed below could have been checked when we viewed the property. However, after we viewed the landlord said another person is interested but that he really liked us, so advised he wasn't rushing us but to consider being quick if we wanted it. He texted me the next morning to say the other person who viewed wanted to put a deposit down, so we jumped in for it. I know we rushed into it, but we had been searching for a while and our other preferred flat had just been let. Additionally, the rent is £850 and reasonable for the size of the flat and city centre location. However, £850 is a lot for the North East and is about average for the city centre. What made us choose this flat over others was the size, because it's bigger than average, and the fact that the landlord is okay with us having our cat as long as we get a professional clean.

    We've been in our flat for just over 3 weeks, and are already experiencing several issues. I would like advice on how to handle the existing issues going forward, and if we're being unreasonable in not being happy with several responses.

    Issue: The previous tenant had left the kitchen cupboard filled with cleaning supplies, which disguised a large piece of damp cardboard. Turns out the kitchen tap was leaking. Landlord acted quickly and got it repaired, but we are now left with damaged chipboard and are concerned about damp etc.
    Landlord's response: He said that, as the owner, he is 'comfortable with this'. I know the leak is fixed, but the chipboard looks awful.

    Issue: Electric shower looks very old, leaks, temperature fluctuates, and head only half works.
    Landlord's response: "First I've heard of this". He will change the shower head and I imagine he will get the leak repaired. I know water pressure in old buildings can be bad, but that's not an excuse for the ancient electric shower which is probably causing the issues with temperature.

    Issue: one of the taps on the bath is so loose that you have to hold it still to be able to run it.
    Landlord's response: He didn't know about it. Will organise a repair.

    Issue: Cupboard door handle came off, we discovered it was only attached with one screw (photo attached)
    Landlord's response: He said he would take our word for it (?) and will arrange for it to be refit, but "the door doesn't close and never has, the door handle is ornamental". This was not mentioned when we viewed the flat.

    Issue: Kitchen door threshold was loose when we viewed and has now come off completely. We looked at re-gluing but it's already full of glue.
    Landlord's response: He said it's difficult to find a threshold suitable without screwing it to the floor.

    Issue: We have a total of 9 sash windows with secondary glazing. We can open a total of 4 windows , however, one needs a wooden brick to keep it open and is so heavy that it would crush our hand if the brick slipped. So we can only open 3 windows. There is a draft from several, especially the bathroom which is held closed with a ribbon (see photo).
    Landlord's response: He said we have chosen to live in a Victorian building and knew this upon viewing. He told us that not all the windows opened and that we had to prop some open, but not about the draft or the extent of how heavy the windows are. He said we can apply insulation tape providing there is no damage.

    - There are minor cosmetic issues that would have been very easy for him to sort before we moved in, for example: sealant blackened around shower and kitchen sink, broken bed knob, chips in cupboards and photo frames. The skirting boards and door frames (especially in bathroom) are chipped/stained/cracked, large water stains by stop tap and cracks in plaster etc. (see photos). The landlord said all rooms are subject to wall cracks because of the building type, did not acknowledge the standard of paint.

    - Intercom doesn't open main door half of the time. Landlord admitted this is an intermittent electrical issue with the whole block and won't be fixed any time soon. This doesn't bother us, but he didn't mention this issue when we viewed.

    - Minor things that could have been prevented if he did a proper inspection with the last tenant: there's a large lamp in the living room that we can't use because the bulb has blown, which I know is our responsibility going forward but I assumed previous tenant should have replaced it or had bulb cost deducted from rent. We have several light switches that don't work and we weren't told about this on first viewing. Also, this probably isn't a minor issue, he has not told us when the fire alarm was last checked. Does he need to produce an electrical safety certificate if we ask, or should he have done this already?

    Lastly, he has not acknowledged the state of the property when we moved in. When we viewed the flat, I asked if it would be repainted and touched up where needed and he said it would be refreshed and the tenant would pay for a professional clean. We were happy with this. He even suggested we hire a cleaner to come around every few weeks to keep up the 'expected standard'. When we moved in, we decided to do a deep clean ourselves because the place had been empty for a couple of weeks so might have gathered dust etc. Turns out the flat was 'clean' to the extent that it wasn't immediately noticeable how unclean it was. The shower drain was clogged with thick black hair and other grime, the washing machine tray and drum was mouldy and the sofas were covered in dog hair and had not been cleaned at all under the cushions. Our hoover was out of charge so we tried to use the hoover provided, but it was clogged with dog hair and dust that has actually matted to it. We are certain that the previous tenant did not hire a professional cleaner at the end of the tenancy, and instead bought a load of cleaning supplies and did a surface-level clean themselves. This would explain why the cleaning supplies left in the kitchen cupboard were almost completely full.
    We've raised the cleanliness with the landlord twice now - first when my partner texted him and said he needs to pick up his hoover because it can't be used, we attached photos and said this is one of the reasons why we suspect previous tenant didn't bother with a professional clean. He did not respond to this. The second time was at the end of the list I sent via email. He hasn't acknowledged it at all, just ignored that section. I know there's nothing he can do about it now, and unfortunately we didn't take photos of the shower or washing machine, but even an acknowledgement or apology would be better than nothing. It was a horrible way to move in.

    We were very lenient at first because it was just 'little things' our landlord seems/seemed like a genuinely nice person. This is his only rental (to our knowledge) because he used to live here and now rents it out. We believed him when he said he didn't know about the kitchen sink leak. The cleanliness made it obvious he didn't inspect properly, but we let it go because he probably was too trusting of his previous tenant. His responses to our issues now make me feel like we've misjudged him. When he requested a list of issues, he reminded us that we've been in the property for a month (untrue - less than 3 weeks at the time), and that a level of self-maintenance is required. We know things like the door handle would be our responsibility, but not after 3 weeks.

    I don't know if we're being unreasonable in being so unhappy about this. I've attached a photo of the landlord's hoover (the one he didn't respond to when we sent him) that is currently unused in our cupboard, it just shows the level of grime we had when we moved in. The other photo is from the bathroom, just to show that 'bare minimum' apparently doesn't extend to skirting boards etc. I know the term "freshened up" is subjective, but so many 'little things' could have made the flat look so much better. We even had to ask that he get the painter back out for the spare bedroom, because there was scratches/stains on the wall after moving the sofa. He said he painter was only there for an hour so mustn't have had the time to paint that room, however, the painter told us that the landlord said the spare room didn't need painting. We let that go because we thought the landlord was a lovely guy.

    Any general advice on how to respond to his replies would be great.

    Attached Files

    Generally, it sounds like this landlord is in the wrong business. He probably wants and investment and is in denial that it is a business. There are too many issues to comment individually.

    However, there is only one right answer to when the smoke alarm was last tested before your tenancy, and that is on the day you started the tenancy. If that wasn't the case, the landlord is breaking the law. You should be testing it weekly, thereafter.

    If this is a pre-1991 conversion, and communal alarms are needed, they should also be subject to be weekly tests by the person responsible for the communal areas.

    The vacuum cleaner appears to me to be a fire hazard and should not have passed a visual safety inspection.

    I'd also be concerned about the faulty light switches, being a fire safety issue.

    The light bulb isn't worth arguing, as it could have failed between when you moved in and when you tried to switch it on.

    Incidentally, appearing charming on the surface is one of the characteristics of psychopaths.


      Originally posted by leaseholder64 View Post
      Incidentally, appearing charming on the surface is one of the characteristics of psychopaths.
      And, to be fair, charming people.

      What you have there is an amateur landlord renting out their old home.
      It's pretty standard - they're used to the place's idiosyncrasies and are used to putting up / working round things.
      They're happy that the previous tenants didn't trash the place and haven't got a clue what needs doing to make a property fit to let.

      The light switches concern me, and I suspect that they need to be checked - "not working" light switches still have power potentially running through them and whatever's stopped them working might have made them less than safe (although it's also possibly just a fuse that's gone, knocking out some, but not all of the lights).

      If there are defective light switches, the place wouldn't pass an electrical test now, so any previous test is academic (if the property is in England, electrical testing isn't mandatory except for an HMO).

      I'd never trust a landlord (or previous tenant's) cleaning and would always want to get things deep cleaned as a first task.

      While any smoke alarms should have been tested, I'd test them myself just to be sure. The landlord should have done that on the day you moved in, but there's not much you can do about it (realistically) now.

      The hoover just needs a good clean out.

      The landlord isn't going to change personality and I'd expect this general low level of service to continue regardless of what you try and 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).


        Unfortunately I very much doubt that your current experience is in any way a unique one (I for one seem to experience this in every property we move to).

        I think given you're at the early stages of your tenancy you will have to grit your teeth and see what improvements you yourself can make in order to rectify some of these issues. I would start by resealing the shower and sink and obviously replacing the bulb. You can get all sorts of laminate coverings that could be easily cut to shape and applied to the cupboard in order to disguise that damaged chip board.

        I realise that you may not feel that you should be responsible for this (and I would hasten to agree) however you are where you are and so have no option but to try and make things better. I would also document all of these works and send over pictures to the landlord, it might act to build a more positive relationship if they feel you are being proactive (if it doesn't then it will certainly tell you a lot more about the type of person you're dealing with).

        Areas you should in no way tolerate are the fundamental electrical issues, it sounds like the property is in desperate need of an electrician to come round and check the wiring of the switches that don't work (initial tests wouldn't even be invasive but could help diagnose the issue and therefore a way forward).

        The windows you're probably also stuck with, unless you can demonstrate that their failing to function is impacting your health and/or presenting a safety risk (both of which are longer term issues and likely to be more contentious with a reluctant landlord).

        I would say try and carry out small remedial works ASAP and communicate these to your landlord, it might build good will and generate more willingness to engage with the other issues, keep records of works carried out and don't be afraid to be insistent with the electrical issues because the landlord is walking a bit of a tightrope should anything happen.


          Generally, you get what you pay for.
          Most of that isn't H&S, it's life.


            Did LL provide a move in Inventory for you to check,annotate and return within 7-14 days?

            Eventually, when you buy your own home, you will be responsible for all your your current problems without recourse to a LL or previous owner.


              Originally posted by OrangeTree90
              boletus I agree, which is why I expect a higher standard for paying rent that is well above average for my city.
              Sorry, I was going by your earlier statement which sounded like you were paying below average for the location and size;

              Originally posted by OrangeTree90 View Post
              Additionally, the rent is £850 and reasonable for the size of the flat and city centre location. However, £850 is a lot for the North East and is about average for the city centre. What made us choose this flat over others was the size, because it's bigger than average
              Which doesn't excuse any genuine safety issues of course.


                No inventory? Then do NOT keep those photos, as they might prove that you ARE responsible for something - which the landlord cannot do and is probably why the last tenant didn't bother too much with the niceties.

                OK, so maybe do keep the ones showing the filth, but hopefully, you see what I mean - don't do the landlords's job for him!

                You have to decide whether you want to stay, with all the issues and a landlord lacking in business sense or whether you want to discuss leaving early and asking the landlord to be reasonable about it.

                Once you have decied that you can be more specific about what you need to have happen!


                  For all his faults, this landlord at least seems willing to engage with you and get things done. I would capitalise on that keeping it very friendly.


                    you appear to be keeping the landlord busy and he seems to be addressing the problems -
                    I would say that maybe the previous tenant did not bother -


                      You were happy enough with the place to jump on it, despite the landlord pointing out it had some issues. He is allowing you a pet when many landlords would not. He is also fixing a lot of things for you - as he should. Complaining about the look of a cupboard when whatever is wrong with it can be hidden by anything in it is petty.

                      Where you have valid complaint is with anything dangerous - and windows that do not open and electric switches that do not work are in that category. The shower head you could have put in a bag with a bit of vinegar and that would probably have fixed the scale blocking the holes. He should get the leak repaired and if it's an old shower I'd probably replace it - but he doesnt have to if it is working.

                      If you want a good relationship with your landlord dont sweat the small stuff - like hidden chipboard and needing to replace a lightbulb.


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