Rent charged whilst flat uninhabitable

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    Rent charged whilst flat uninhabitable

    Hi,

    I need your advice.

    We were tenants in a flat for 2 years. One day the agent running the property gives us notice we have 2 weeks to move out as construction work needs to be done in the flat (ceiling wasn’t fire proof).

    We speak to the construction company in charge directly and they say the work will take 3 weeks time. We go back to the agent and suggest instead we coordinate our holiday so we pack and vacate the flat for the duration of the 3 weeks and move back in. We had to pay for a hotel for a couple of days in London but otherwise we were on holiday.

    We assumed we wouldn’t have to pay rent for this and emailed many times asking for confirmation. The agent never confirmed but didn’t deny either. 1 year later we moved out and didn’t get our deposit back till 3 months later. They withheld rent for the 3 weeks from the deposit and said landlord never agreed to us not paying rent while the construction work was taking place. They said the landlord did us a favour.

    We have missed the deadline to dispute with the deposit scheme. Do we have a case? The flat was uninhabitable.. is it worth contacting a lawyer?

    Thanks!
    Aneliya

    #2
    How long ago did you get the deposit back? Have you tried disputing their deductions with the deposit scheme regardless of the deadline?

    Comment


      #3
      Who declared the flat as 'uninhabitable'?

      Comment


        #4
        That is very sharp practice.

        For a start, you have to be entitled to an abatement of rent if the landlord requires you to vacate the property to carry out remedial work. It is totally unreasonable that you should pay for accommodation you cannot use. No way has the landlord done you a favour. The fact you went on holiday while the work was carried out is irrelevant.

        Secondly, it was unprofessional for the agent not to have responded to your requests for confirmation that you would not be charged rent while the works were carried out.

        Thirdly, if they wanted the rent they should have demanded it when you deducted it. By not claiming it they can be argued to have waived it - not that it really needed waiving. It is wholly unreasonable to wait until after the tenancy has ended and deduct it from the deposit.

        Have you checked with the landlord what his instructions to the agent were?

        Was the deposit protected?

        Comment


          #5
          Did the landlord actually say "you cannot live in the property for three weeks" - or was that your decision. If the latter then what were the exact details. Who wanted the work done and why?

          This all sounds strange. As Lawcruncher says it would be totally unreasonable if they said you cannot live there, but insisted you pay rent.

          Something doesn't add up 100%. Did they ever send you notice with regard to unpaid rent? In whose opinion was the place uninhabitable?

          Comment


            #6
            Only EHO can determine if propety is 'unfit for human habitation'.
            LL should provide equiv alt accom at own expense, to maintain Tenancy T&Cs, or or offer to accept T's NTQ from start of renovation date. (no subs liability).

            Comment


              #7
              Hi,

              thanks for all your messages! We are still so confused and don’t know if we have a case or not. Here are my replies to all your questions:

              @DPT57: We got the deposit back a day short of the 3 month deadline to dispute deposits. We emailed the agent the same day and asked where the rest of our deposit it is (again we never had direct contact with the landlord). The agent didn’t know the reason and said i’ll get back to you on that. It took us 2 months of emailing asking for explanation/the deposit. In the end he got back to us and it was too late to start a dispute with the deposit protection scheme. They have a strickt 3 month deadline...

              @mariner: no one officially. But we have the contacts of the construction company, the construction manager was really nice to us. They had to remove the ceiling everywhere in the flat, put special fire proof material and build the ceiling up all over again - pretty sure the flat wasn’t inhabitable but don’t have an office document saying that. After this construction they had to build scaffolding that blocked all of our windows completely, not a slither of light for 9 months. The construction manager was nice to update us on how long that will take etc.

              @lawcruncher: we don’t have direct contact to the landlord unfortunately, and the deposit was protected but we were too late

              @anderwdod: they sent us an eviction notice, we had to vacate the flat because the ceiling wasn’t fire proof. we found a solution around it by moving out for 3 weeks only while the works take place. That’s why the agent is saying the landlord did us a favour. They never sent us any notice of unpaid rent, never mentioned it. We emailed a lot at the time saying we will pay 3 weeks less because of the works. We emailed the exact amount we will pay and the agent emailed ok i’ll confirm that on Monday (he never did).

              Comment


                #8
                In your option what should I do? Is there a case?
                Should I go to a lawyer (we can’t really afford to pay thousands for a lawyer) or citizen bureau or i’ve heard- a charity called Shelter? I just wanted to find out if we have the right to claim our 3 week rent back or not in your opinion?

                Thanks again

                Comment


                  #9
                  Also, regarding the “uninhabitable” status: the agent told us we need to pack our things and leave for the duration of the construction work.. maybe that helps us?

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Ahy dont you explain to the deposit scheme and tell them you want to dispute it anyway. I would be surprised if they refused to help.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      I explained to the deposit scheme. They refused to help..

                      Comment


                        #12
                        It sounds pretty uninhabitable to me. Just checking that they did not actually pay for your alternative accommodation during that three weeks - in which case you ARE liable to pay rent.

                        I think the real practical problem you have is missing that deadline. Deadlines are there for a reason, and this one is very long. Unless something emerges afterwards, you really had no excuse for missing the deadline and it is not up to the agents to teach you the law/procedure. The scheme is the scheme. If you have breached their rules, you still have the possibility of taking it to court - MCOL - you should win if what you say is correct.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          If the landlord/agent held on to the deposit until the dispute period had expired and the deposit scheme was refusing to help, I would put in a formal complaint to the scheme. The clock should start once the deposit is refunded otherwise they are making it easy for landlords to frustrate the tenants right of appeal

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by DPT57 View Post
                            If the landlord/agent held on to the deposit until the dispute period had expired and the deposit scheme was refusing to help, I would put in a formal complaint to the scheme. The clock should start once the deposit is refunded otherwise they are making it easy for landlords to frustrate the tenants right of appeal
                            But the tenant could (and should) have lodged a dispute 2 weeks or so after the non-refund. Why would anyone have waited 3 months?

                            Yes it does sound as if there was some sharp practice unless there was something else going on.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by AndrewDod View Post

                              But the tenant could (and should) have lodged a dispute 2 weeks or so after the non-refund.
                              I think that may be a different process, although I agree it should have happened. i think the OP is talking about the dispute procedure once the landlord has proposed deductions.

                              Comment

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