Unwinding Tenancy

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    Unwinding Tenancy

    Hi,

    Apologies for the long post but was just hoping to be nudged in the right direction. Myself and my partner moved into a new flat in late February (less than a month ago) as tenants and have experienced a number of issues and are keen to leave the property but are not sure how best to go about it. I've outlined the issues below.

    - The property was advertised with a picture of a TV in the garden in a waterproof TV cabinet. It was one of the reasons we picked the place because we have never had a property with a garden and wanted to find a place that we could use to entertain friends over the summer and the TV in the garden was ideal. We were later sent a video of the property by the agents which included them showing the TV in the garden and saying 'there's a TV in the garden which you can watch in the summer'. The TV was again mentioned to us by the agent in the physical viewing. Although it may sound silly it was genuinely one of the things that made the property stand out from others we had seen and swayed us to pick this property. Since moving in we've been told by the landlord that the TV hasn't worked in years and the power box for it has been taken out of service and the cabinet is now just a decoration and there is no intention to repair it.

    - During our viewing we noticed a wall with blistered paint, damp and some mould which looked a mess. The agent during the viewing assured us this would be repaired before we moved in. It wasn't repaired before we moved in and since moving in we have had 2 visits from handymen for them to give the landlord a quote for the repairs. Both of the handymen have declined to do the works as the landlord is only prepared to pay for minor repainting, whereas the handymen that have visited have said the wall needs much more than just repainting. 3 weeks on and the wall hasn't been fixed and they are trying to send another handyman round to get a quote but we were promised this would be done before we moved in. We have no physical evidence of this promise being made during the viewing other than what we were told (now aware we should have got it in writing)

    - Since moving in we have discovered that there is a problem with ants in the property. There were 5 packs of ant bait left behind by the previous tenant and when we enquired with the agent after moving in we were told there is no problem. We have had 3 'invasions' of ants in a week and the landlord has since confirmed the whole building has an issue with ants and it's just nature and nothing can be done other than leaving bait. The issue is there are many holes in the tiles and walls so they are easily able to get into the flat. I believe that as this was something the landlord was aware of it should have been disclosed because we wouldn't have moved in if we were aware of this.

    - We were rushed into making an offer for the property by the agent by telling us that there is another offer from somebody else with pets so if we put in an offer by the end of the day they would accept our offer because the landlord doesn't want pets in the flat. As a result of this there was less than 24 hours from the point of making an initial enquiry, having a viewing and making an offer on the property as we were told we would likely lose out on the property otherwise (again these conversations were over the phone). We were also told that if we made an offer for a certain amount (less than the asking price) then the landlord would accept as it is the lowest he is willing to accept... at the time we thought the agents were helping us get a good deal but its since become obvious that this was a tactic to make us believe we were getting a better deal than we actually are. We've since seen an identical flat 2 doors down being advertised for £300pcm less. We also asked for a 6 month break clause in the agreement but were told because we are getting a heavily reduced rent the landlord doesn't want a 6 month break clause so ended up conceding on this.

    We believe the above points are enough for us to unwind the tenancy under Consumer Law and we have written to the landlord and agent stating that is what we wish to do. They are going to reply this week but called us yesterday and appear to be accusing us of lying on all the points and even saying that the video doesn't specifically state that the TV actually works! We are waiting for their formal reply but it is clear they have no intention of letting us leave without making us pay quite heavily.

    In addition to the above, since we moved in we have asked for the Gas Safety certificate and haven't been given one (the landlord is stuck out of the country), the property didn't have an EICR when we moved in and the electricians have confirmed that extensive work is needed to bring the electricity in the flat up to standard (lots of plugs not working and a strong smell of burning for over a week which we had to call an emergency electrician out to) and there was no smoke alarm on one floor of the property. We've reported these to the landlord and agent too - an electrician is coming to do the works soon which will be 1 month after the tenancy start date but we've told the agent we shouldn't have been allowed to move in until this was done.

    Apologies for the long post but looking for guidance on whether the above sounds like a valid claim under consumer law and what next best steps would be if the agent and landlord refuse to allow us to leave.

    #2
    The landlord and agent can't refuse to allow you to leave.
    They can try and make you carry on paying, but the first thing to do is to find somewhere else to live and move into it.
    You need to be in control of the situation and let them chase you for what they want.
    However, you obviously might lose.

    An interim stage may be to speak to a solicitor and ask them to write to the landlord (copying the agent) confirming the legal position and telling them to end the tenancy.

    I'd say that you're right about the TV.
    If it's there and in the video as a feature, it should be provided and work.
    If it materially affected your decision to take the property it's a misleading omission not to mention it doesn't work and saying you can watch TV in the garden is a misleading action.

    That the wall hasn't been repaired is probably a breach of contract and could be the subject of compensation, but isn't enough to unwind the contract.

    Not mentioning the ants is another misleading omission.
    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


      #3
      I'd say be prepared for a fight with the landlord/agent about this as the items you mention sounds fairly minor if I'm honest and a judge may take the same view if it goes to court. Ant problems can usually be dealt with fairly readily and agents always tell tenants they will deal with minor issues like the paintwork before they move in, but rarely do. They might get around to it some-time. That really leaves the TV and I'm just not sure a court would agree to unwind your tenancy just based on that. However, I have no knowledge of any actual cases as I understand that they are quite rare.

      Comment


        #4
        On a practical level, you could point out to the agent that if they don't fix the TV and get the ants and the wall sorted, you'll be on the phone to trading standards about the lack of an EICR and GSC.

        Or offer to get the work done and deduct the cost from the rent - that can panic landlords and agents.
        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


          #5
          Thank you both for taking the time to respond. We have told the landlord and agent that it is our intention to cancel the tenancy but would first like to attempt to resolve informally and they said they were going to respond by tomorrow. I am very much hoping we will be able to reach an agreement on mutually terminating without them adding on unreasonable fees etc. but I have little faith as they called yesterday to let me know they were going to respond and appear to have already started building their excuses to wriggle out of it - they said a video of them showing the outdoor TV and saying 'there is a TV in the garden that you can watch during the summer' doesn't technically mean they are acknowledging that it works. They're also saying because we didn't put the repairs that were promised in writing they don't have any evidence of it being agreed etc. For that reason I am starting to explore next steps as I have little faith they are going to propose a solution that doesn't involve screwing us further.

          The issue with the ants doesn't appear to be one that is easily fixable - you lay bait in one room and they are gone for 24 hours and then they appear in another room. They are coming through cracks in the wall or the floor. The landlord has acknowledged it has been an ongoing issue and said 'it's just nature' but my point is that feels like something that should be disclosed because it is something that would ultimately dissuade most prospective tenants and the landlord is fully aware of it (and has offered no further solution other than to just use bait).

          In terms of the outdoor TV I am well aware that it may seem like an insignificant point but it was clearly advertised as a unique feature of the flat (like you'd advertise a jacuzzi if it had one) and was obviously used to draw people (like me) in. The landlord was fully aware that the TV hasn't worked for years and has no intention to repair it or offer any kind of solution and we can't repair it ourselves because the power to the unit is from the flat above ours and is disconnected. That is pretty much what the consumer regulations are designed to prevent but the difficulty appears to be actually having the time and money to enforce them is a different story!

          Comment


            #6
            See from the experts...
            https://england.shelter.org.uk/legal...ng_practices#7

            Right to unwind


            The right to 'unwind' the contract effectively means that a tenant (where the tenancy began on or after 1 October 2014) can terminate the contract and be released from any obligations under it where the tenancy was signed up to because of a misleading action or aggressive practice.[15] In order to claim this right, the tenant must inform the landlord (or landlord's agent) that they want to reject the contract within 90 days of the tenancy start date. There is no obligation for this to be put in writing, but it is strongly advisable to do so. There is also no requirement for the tenant to show that they have suffered any loss, nor that the landlord (or agent) acted dishonestly or negligently.

            If the tenant informs the landlord (or landlord's agent) that they want to unwind the tenancy within one month of the tenancy starting, the tenant is entitled to a full refund of the money they have paid out.

            If the tenant informs the landlord (or landlord's agent) in less than 90 days but more than one month after the tenancy start date, then a refund may still be given, but is calculated by the court.

            The tenant may still be able to claim a discount or damages if the 90-day time limit has expired.
            I agree with the above, dumb, stupid, wrong landlord/agent.

            Perhaps point them at Shelter's advice
            I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by Nicktim View Post
              they said a video of them showing the outdoor TV and saying 'there is a TV in the garden that you can watch during the summer' doesn't technically mean they are acknowledging that it works.
              If they think that is even remotely credible they're as thick as mince.


              They're also saying because we didn't put the repairs that were promised in writing they don't have any evidence of it being agreed etc.
              Less stupid, but still not credible.

              The issue with the ants doesn't appear to be one that is easily fixable - you lay bait in one room and they are gone for 24 hours and then they appear in another room.
              You can't eradicate ants like that - you need professional exterminators who will poison the nest(s).

              As above, you might want to point them at the Shelter advice or suggest that they take legal advice before it starts costing them a lot of money fighting a case they're going to lose.

              A solicitor's letter or phone call might cost a few quid, but might be effective.
              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


                #8
                A tenant that isn't happy after moving in really doesn't work for anyone, if I were your landlord I'd be looking for a reasonable compromise to bring the tenancy to an end quickly with nobody unhappy. I'd be tempted to suggest to the landlord that you'll pay for 1 month whilst you arrange alternate accommodation and see if they'll agree.

                Comment


                  #9
                  https://assets.publishing.service.go..._law_0520_.pdf
                  My views are my own - you may not agree with them. I tend say things as I see them and I don't do "political correctness". Just because we may not agree you can still buy me a pint lol

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Thank you all for the advice.

                    As expected - the agency has come back and denied all of the issues we have raised (without even addressing them) and said if we want to leave the landlord will only accept if we pay the re-letting fees and rent until a new tenant is found. We have made a counter-offer which doesn't involve paying the agency fees and will have to contact a solicitor in the meantime!

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Find somewhere to move to. Move out. Cancel direct debits. Is there a deposit in a scheme? The fact there is no gsc or EICR would heartily piss off a judge hearing a money claim from the landlord. Add to that the other issues and it's my belief you have a reasonably strong case.

                      It's a good idea to get a written report from the electrician as evidence the property is unsafe without remedial work.

                      The landlord being out of the country is irrelevant. My gas engineer emails me the gsc after doing the service and check. And anyway that's why they have an agent.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        So landlord and agent completely refuse to accept any of our complaints about misleading us and leaving out important information and are trying to scare us into accepting unreasonable terms to leave the property (leave now but pay rent until new tenant found and pay all of the agent's re-letting fees) by saying our claim will definitely fail and we will have to pay costs and arrears. I have been in touch with solicitors but they can be quite hard to get hold of and things are going a bit slow so I decided to try and see what else could be done and now have a further question in relation to deposit prescribed information, as I believe this may be something we can use as an incentive for the landlord to let us go.

                        Our deposit is protected by My Deposits and on the day of moving in the agent forgot to ask us to sign the protection certificate but sent it to us by email later that day asking for us to sign. We were busy moving and completely forgot about this so never signed but this week when they realised we were going to a solicitor about our consumer claim they sent us the protection certificate again and asked us to sign. By this point it had been well past 30 days. I have since noticed that on both occasions they only sent us the deposit protection certificate and My Deposits state that this isn't by itself enough to constitute the prescribed information as there is additional information (such as an Info for Tenants leaflet) that should also be provided.

                        Is this suitable grounds for a claim against the agent/landlord? Or is it likely that the info provided in the deposit protection certificate alone will be enough to satisfy the prescribed information?

                        I'm aware the laws around prescribed info can be quite a controversial topic amongst landlords but unfortunately it is what we are having to resort to given how unreasonable the landlord has been so far!

                        Comment


                          #13
                          TLDR ;
                          Move out.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by boletus View Post
                            TLDR ;
                            Move out.
                            Paid 6 months rent upfront to meet affordability requirements as I was between jobs. Not sure it’s as easy as just moving out without permission and asking politely for my money back, although I very much wish it was.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              If you haven't been given the prescribed information within 30 days, the landlord has't complied with the regulations.
                              But a certificate that you have to sign does sound remarkably similar to the prescribed information.

                              If the protection scheme says that you have to be supplied with a leaflet and you haven't been, that is, again, a breach of the regulations.
                              That would mean a section 21 notice would probably be invalid unless your deposit is returned first, and you could, theoretically, and at significant cost and stress try and sue the landlord for the breach.

                              You either have to move out and challenge the landlord to sue you, get legal support for your position, get trading standards to tell them the position or live with it.
                              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

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