Awful situation for the tenant

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    Awful situation for the tenant

    Hi

    I wondered if some of you experienced landlords could tell me what you would do in this situation. It's a story of a tenant's life falling apart due to a landlord. I know this forum is mostly aimed at landlords but I'm trying to figure out what to do to help the tenant, who is my friend.

    It's a complicated story so I'll try and keep it simple and brief.

    The tenant has been reporting housing disrepair, things like roof leaks, bathroom leaks, since 2013/2014. There have been a number of incidents over the years (ie waking up to rainwater coming in through ceiling in Nov 2013) and a serious bath leak reported in April 2014. However, despite all of this the landlord did not get professionals in and left the tenant to his own devices. The leaks were not fixed, what might have happened is there was futile patchup work by the tenant's friends to different parts but it never solved the inherent problem.

    Rainwater reported as dripping through ceiling from roof leaks in 2017 and 2018 yet no roofing contractor organised, tenant left to fix himself.

    There were also porch leaks where the porch would fill with rainwater when it rained, part of the front door was rotten and missing so there was an ant or termite infestation and ivy was burying in through the masonry and coming out into the bedrooms. There was lock failure on some of the doors.

    In July 2019, the plumber came to fix a leaking tap in the bath and removed bath panel to discover the underside of the bath was so extensively rotten that he said the bath was in danger of collapsing into the ground should any weight be placed on it and told tenant not to take bath/shower and he was going straight round to report it. Landlord did not remedy it, just ignored it.

    Tenant started to become unwell and goes abroad for a break to be away from the disrepair but keeps paying rent. Tenant writes to agents and landlord requesting works in summer 2019 but nothing done.

    Tenant then misses one rent payment.

    Tenant returns in November and finds the boiler won't light and that rainwater is dripping through the ceiling.

    Plumber states boiler is full of rainwater and this has entered through leak in the roof.

    Tenant sends landlord photos of dripping rainwater coming through roof. Tenant's friend emails landlord saying "your roof is leaking" but this is ignored by landlord.

    No roofing contractor brought and the roof leak is then reported by Tenant to Environmental Health Dept of the local council.

    Tenant writes letter saying he's going to stop paying rent and wishes to set-off rent against disrepair. Landlord ignores.

    Tenant does not pay December's rent and is now 2 months in arrears.

    When tenant is only in 1 months rent arrears, and the roof leak has been unfixed after eight days, Tenant instructs a housing disrepair solicitor who works on a No Win No Fee basis eight days after the roof leak is not resolved. They take on case and write to landlord ten days later.

    Landlord ignores letter and asks in January why tenant has failed to pay December's rent.

    Tenant responds that he has instructed no-win-no-fee disrepair solicitor and all correspondence must be through them and that they failed to respond to a letter of claim sent before Christmas.

    Landlord responds saying "there is no disrepair, we've actioned all your requests for repairs and maintenance. We want to terminate your tenancy as soon as possible", ie revenge eviction.

    Landlord does not address the email sent at the start of December 2019 from tenant saying the roof was leaking. Tenant takes the response "we want to terminate your tenancy as soon as possible" very seriously and starts looking for alternative accommodations.

    The tenant's housing disrepair solicitor apparently corresponds with the landlord's solicitors but the tenant becomes mentally unwell due to the housing conditions he's forced to live in, during the start of lockdown. Tenant writes to his solicitors stating he's unhappy with their service and is left in the dark as he doesn't know what is going on. His solicitors respond saying they are appointing a Surveyor to come to his home in the next 7 days to prepare a Court for report on the disrepair and tell him his claim is worth a large amount.

    Due to Covid19 lockdown, it all goes quiet and no contact from solicitor, no surveyor, nothing.

    Tenant forced to live in the property, with roof leak, no functioning bath/shower, porch leaks, ivy infestation, rats, damp and mould in hallway, defective locks, and black mould growing on inside of windows.

    Still absolutely no contact from tenant's housing disrepair solicitor and no contact from landlord.

    In June, after many months of lockdown, tenant is told by his housing disrepair solicitor he's dropping the case but will not explain why.

    The next day, an injunction arrives in the post addressed directly to the tenant, from the landlord's solicitors, claiming he has refused access to the landlord and he must pay the cost of the lawyer's fees and injunction.

    The tenant, who has severe mental health problems, becomes anxious, paranoid and suicidal, tries to kill himself and loses mental capacity. His psychiatrist writes a letter saying he no longer has mental capacity.

    Some aggressive emails arrive from the landlord's solicitors stating he has been refusing access and he should therefore pay the costs of the injunction (then at almost £9000).

    However, the tenant has never been contacted by anyone to ask him to allow access to carry out the repairs and writes this to the Court. The hearing is adjourned.

    Ten days later after receiving the injunction and statement of costs from landlord's solicitors, the tenant is so fearful that he abandons the property and moves to emergency accommodation hundreds of miles away.

    Tenant's psychiatrist writes letter saying the trigger for the tenant's breakdown was receiving the injunction directly, after his housing disrepair solicitors abandoned him, and that had he not received this and the Schedule of costs from the landlord's solicitors and requests he be made liable for the injunction, he would not have had the breakdown.

    Tenant has now lost his home of many years, landlord's solicitors injunction against the tenant was dismissed as he moved out and they went after the former housing disrepair solicitors for costs but weren't awarded all of their costs.

    Tenant now very unhappy and mentally unwell living in emergency accommodation.

    As the tenant's friend, I want to help him.

    What should I do? This is a mess. He would have paid off his rent arrears or argued to off-set them against the disrepair. His landlord has also lied repeatedly in the witness statement presented to the Court saying the tenant was asked numerous times for access to enter the property but he refused, which isn't the truth as he has never been asked once.

    The tenant's solicitor have been grossly negligent here (they didn't once tell the tenant that an injunction was being sought by the landlord and that he could be made liable for it), but there is also fault that lies with the landlord for lying in the witness statement and pursuing the tenant for the costs of the injunction. The landlord said in the injunction for access that the primary reason for the injunction was to gain access to the property to fix the roof, when the roof could have been fixed when it was first reported in December and not left for over 40 days, at which time the landlord told the tenant his tenancy was to be terminated as soon as possible.

    The tenant is worried about a claim against him by the landlord for his rent arrears. He has had trouble appointing a solicitor due to mental illness.

    I don't know how this whole terrible mess can be solved.

    To add more insult to injury, the landlord is now trying to accuse the tenant of being responsible for the longstanding disrepair, ie he should pay for the roof leak, the bath leak, the porch, and ivy, etc.

    #2
    My heart goes out to the tenant and hope his life improves.

    Sadly I suspect this has gone on top long for any satisfactory and just end.

    Hopefully more knowledgeable people than me will give helpful advice.

    He can't pay and if he can't pay tough for this despicable landlord.

    Try to find support in another area and start again.

    Apologies but this has too many complex issues for a forum to be real help.

    Comment


      #3
      I can't help much either but if doesn't have mental capacity it is unlikely the landlord can make a successful claim, I think he's just trying it on. Roof leaks etc can't be the tenant's fault though he should have kept the ivy under control. You could try contacting Shelter but moving on might be the best option.

      Comment


        #4
        Doesn't sound that this property or landlord was any great loss. I would say there is little point in you trying to take it further as you dont have the legal capacity to act for the tenant and he probably can't manage it himself.

        Help him find slmewhere better.

        Comment


          #5
          I would just caution that the OP likely only heard one side of the story so their knowledge of the ‘full facts’ might not be 100% accurate. If there were solicitors involved on both sides then it is likely that if either side acted negligently the other side could claim against those solicitors’ PI insurance. So solicitors tend to avoid acting negligently, and all may not be as clear cut as the OP makes it look.

          Comment


            #6
            "Sadly I suspect this has gone on top long for any satisfactory and just end."

            Did you mean 'too long'?

            Comment


              #7
              Whilst sorry to hear of your friends plight, I have to agree that we are only hearing one side of the story here.

              In particular if the tenant has long standing MH issues it does make me wonder if perhaps he has indeed been avoiding correspondence from the LL regarding access for repairs?
              If the landlord has stated such in his statement to the court then presumably he has evidence to back that statement up?

              It's not that unusual for MH patients to ignore letters, even from the NHS or the DWP, and then get into a messy situation because they have ignored them.
              We have one regular on a disability forum who routinely ignores all letters, and gets into a mess regularly. (Plus every six months or so she comes up with a new plan to 'sack' her court ordered appointee/POA and travel to Nepal to become a Buddhist Monk).

              Deciding to stop paying rent was probably the worst thing that your friend could have done in the circumstances, it immediately puts him in the wrong for not paying rent. (Unless done very carefully, and it doesn't sound as if it was).

              As your friend has now left the property I would suggest that he finds somewhere new to live other than emergency accommodation, and that you talk to welfare or MH organisations about getting him support for the future, perhaps you would be willing to become his appointee/POA?

              Comment


                #8
                Hi all, thanks for all your comments, each of which is greatly appreciated.

                Yes, I understand it is important to remember that "there are two sides to every story" and yes tenants with MH difficulties sometimes are reluctant to engage.

                I tried to tread carefully when I posted and just tried to write in an objective way; of course, until you hear the opponent's story, with the details dissected, you cannot know the full story, that is true of any situation and is why you see detailed cross-examination at the Court stage.

                What has happened recently is that the tenant's former housing disrepair solicitors have been fined £10,000 by the Court and the injunction against the tenant was dismissed, with no costs order against himself.

                I have read the responses about the tenant not allowing access and this may be due to MH issues, but the tenant had CCTV installed at the front of the property and it was all digitally archived and there was not one occasion when the landlord came to the property to ask for permission (as they stated in their witness statement). The tenant's carer has asked the landlord for times and dates of when they visited to ask for access, this cannot be too difficult to provide, so the CCTV can be checked to see if this really happened. What I was trying to get across is, that if the landlord is going to rely upon detailed wording in a Witness Statement placed before the Court saying he had asked the tenant "numerously" for access and the tenant had refused, he would be able to come up with details as to the times and dates, what the tenant said, etc.

                The fact is the tenant did not once refuse access and wrote to his former solicitors in February stating he would welcome builders, etc, to come and fix the disrepair.

                We've have tried to gather all the email correspondence together, because it contains dates, prior to the injunction, that show that the tenant was co-operative and would welcome repairs.

                What happened, though, was the landlord ploughed on with their injunction and accused the tenant of refusing access and on that basis tried to make the tenant legally responsible for their legal costs and costs of the injunction.

                I wanted to post to try and find out what most of you - who I think are landlords - would do about this situation. The tenant has always taken his tenancy very seriously, he paid the rent faithfully and on time, despite disrepair being reported, for almost eight years but only stopped paying when the bathroom was declared dangerous and he could not take a shower/bath. He tried to document all of the disrepair problems, every step of the way.

                Whatever you think about this situation, what are the consequences of the tenant reporting a roof leak on 1 December 2019 and this was ignored by the landlord for 41 days, and then when the tenant contacted the landlord again, the landlord writes "we wish to terminate your tenancy as soon as possible" and then comes Court action to obtain an injunction, with its primary purpose stated "to enter the property to fix the roof leak" when this could have been done with no court or legal costs when the tenant first reported.

                Thanks everyone for all your input

                Dan

                Comment


                  #9
                  I am compelled to say you are a wonderful human being. Your friend is fortunate to have you in his life.
                  Can you find any charitable institution that would provide a pro bono legal aid ?
                  However helpful people might want to be there are too many serious issues to untangle on a forum despite your clear, detailed and courteous posts.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Not every regular here is a Landlord, I'm a tenant and I know others are.

                    Yes, the LL sounds a wrong un, and was obviously trying play the legal system.
                    From what you say the court has seen through that and quashed the injunction attempt.

                    You could probably go on to try and make a case for illegal eviction.
                    But is that in the best interests of your friend?

                    I'd suggest that if he has a fragile mental state then it may be better just to put it all behind and carry on getting him resettled in a new home.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      I'm not sure what the best outcome for the tenant is, to be honest.
                      If they have issues with their mental health associating with the landlord any further probably isn't going to be a positive step.
                      Neither is continuing with court action.

                      A fresh start may simply be the best option.
                      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
                        I am very surprised that the Local Authority enforcement officer has not been involved as they can not only state what needs to be done to a property to make it habitable but also have powers to enforce . In the case of the property being uninhabitable they have contacts to re-home the tenant. I wonder whether the landlord is already known to the Local Authority.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          What a terrible story. I hope your friend is feeling better. I'd like to suggest you report this to your local council's environmental protection dept.

                          Comment

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