How to resolve disrepair which is impacting my mental health

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    How to resolve disrepair which is impacting my mental health

    Hello

    I have lived in my home for 2 years and the landlord is ignoring disrepair which I report to him directly.

    In May 2022 I reported that every time it rains, the conservatory leaks in various places and the rainwater drips through and causes leaks on the floor.
    I also reported black mould and damp on the bathroom ceilings back in 2020 and since that time and again in May 2022.
    The front gutter is hanging off.

    The landlord visited me (he doesn't live locally) and said that he would need to increase the rent, in order to do the repairs. I didn't say anything but I am unhappy that this would happen and would oppose any rent increase on that basis.
    The landlord texted me saying he would instigate repairs, this was 3 weeks ago but nothing has happened. His message was "I will contact you over the weekend, and offer a date to come next week to fix the conservatory and other problems". No text message ever arrived. We have had a lot of rain in the past week and every time it rains, it leaks.
    The bathroom ceilings have been covered in black mould for the past 2 years, I wipe it off with bleach but it quickly reappears. The house generally has a lot of faults but the rent is low.
    I have asked the landlord to do the gas safety test which became due last month, but he's ignored that too.

    There were roof leaks in the past which he ignored and I had to beg him to fix it. Yet he claims to be a professional landlord who manages 15 separate properties. I wonder if he treats his 14 other tenants in a similar fashion? If he has 15 different properties he must be making a lot of income from that, so why can't he make these repairs?

    My tenancy became a periodic as it rolled over when the tenancy agreement expired its fixed term of 1 year, so I have one months' notice to quit either way. I phoned a housing disrepair solicitors and I was very upset to be told by them that I should not complain about the disrepair because "the landlord will simply serve a S21 notice with one months' notice and you will be homeless". They are effectively telling me to live with the disrepair.

    I have a mental health diagnosis of borderline personality disorder and complex post traumatic stress disorder and take medication. I haven't worked for 20 years because of this and I am inreceipt of disability benefits. I have looked for alternative accommodation locally but most landlords don't want benefits tenants and they certainly don't want dogs living in the house as I have two rescue dogs for companionship.

    I have nobody to talk to and feel completely abandoned and hopeless about this situation. I am not in rent arrears and have paid my rent on time, every single month, for the past 24 months. I am exempt from council tax because of my MH issues and I struggle (like everyone else) with the cost of living with regard to gas and electricity and petrol for the car.

    The house had damp and mould problems when I first rented it. I've done what I can to resolve minor issues with paint. The conservatory has structural defects with rotten wood around the windows. It feels hurtful when I receive texts from my landlord saying he's enjoying a holiday in Spain whilst I'm living here with these problems during an exceptionally rainy week this week.

    Please could you give me advice as to how to resolve this disrepair.

    Thank you

    #2
    The solicitor you contacted does sound great. Whilst a periodic tenancy doesn’t give you a lot of security as a tenant the lack of a current gas safety certificate means any section 21 issued would be invalid.

    You could report your landlord to the HSE for the lack of GSC but if your longer term plan is to remain in the property if the repairs are carried out I would caution against doing it.

    In this situation I’d stop texting your landlord and contact the council’s private renting team. If the council then issues your landlord with an improvement notice that also gives you some protection from a Section 21 for a period of time.

    If you are feeling alone then the housing charity Shelter may be able to give you some assistance.

    https://england.shelter.org.uk/housi...ont_do_repairs

    Comment


      #3
      First of all, you should ignore the conversation with the solicitor.
      Anyone giving advice about a tenancy who doesn't know that the minimum possible notice period for a section 21 notice is two months isn't qualified to give advice on the subject.

      The Shelter website has a procedure you can follow that helps you communicate with a landlord about repairs that are necessary to the point where you can get the work done and deduct the cost from your rent.

      If the Gas Safety Certificate has expired, the landlord wouldn't be able to serve notice without addressing that issue first.

      Your assessment of your position is probably correct - finding a new home while living entirely on benefits and having dogs is likely to be very difficult.
      However, given everything you have said, that is where I would focus your efforts if you want to move ahead with a better life.
      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
        A few comments

        - Almost always mould in the bathroom is caused by the tenant - do you open the windows every time you shower or bath and leave them open until all steam is cleared and surfaces dry? Is the broken gutter adjacent to the bathroom
        - Perhaps you do need to pay a higher rent to make it possible to live in a nicer place. It may be a bit of chicken and egg here. Rents have increased by up to 30% in many areas as a result of government meddling and due to legal problems recovering rents over the past 2 years - when did rent last increase for you. If you pay nothing you get nothing.
        - Not every type of conservatory is intended to be 100% dry. It depends
        - Not sure why you assume that because the L has several properties he is making a lot of money from these. It might be true, but he might be making a large loss.
        - As stated above, most landlords would not be accepting tenants without substantial income/assets or with pets these days as that can prove very expensive -- but as stated above, I would try to find a better (and perhaps more expensive place). Vote with your feet.
        - You need to focus on the serious matters caused by the landlord - of which the absent gas certificate may be the only real one from your message (the others might or might not be depending on the exact details)
        - Shelter might throw you under the bus in terms of your long-term welfare, and you might find yourself unable to find anywhere to live. Be careful.

        Comment


          #5
          Agree totally with the above, the solicitor you contacted sounds idiotic, contact the council and go from there, yes the landlord will not doubt try and evict you but in all honesty the place you are in now does not sound great, and it cannot be helping with your mental health issues. The way the market is right now landlords are choosing tenants who are in full time work, when the market is to short of properties i am afraid that tenants with your profile do not score highly, if you can i would try and get into council accomodation, in the long term this will be best for you, maybe speak with your MP and see if they can assist you, the PRS is not the place for tenants with your complex needs.

          Comment


            #6
            "The house generally has a lot of faults but the rent is low."

            This is perhaps the crux of the matter. Whilst the LL should repair faults they are also entitled to increase the rent to market levels.

            Comment


              #7
              Every landlord must have a rainy day fund surely ?

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by AndrewDod View Post
                - Not every type of conservatory is intended to be 100% dry. It depends
                Really? They're not all designed for year round living but I don't know of any designed to leak?

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by royw View Post
                  Really? They're not all designed for year round living but I don't know of any designed to leak?
                  Some so called conservatories are really just greenhouses, and greenhouses are not necessarily designed to be waterproof.
                  If it has a concrete floor, and no electrics that might be what OP has.

                  I personally have one like this: https://www.robertdyas.co.uk/mercia-...171c7b622a0e68
                  (bigger though)

                  Comment


                    #10
                    I have a particular distain for conservatories, but that aside, if one is fitted then it should NOT leak, and if it does then the LL should have it fixed, if its a bit of polycarbonate nailed to a softwood frame then fair enough, that is NOT a conservatory, but if it resembles the '' Plastic temporary structure '', (my previous surveyors words not mine), that we all know and love then it should be fit for purpose and if it leaks, it is not fit for anything other than knocking down.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Thank you for all replies.

                      The conservatory was "built" by the last occupant and is of sub-standard condition, by this I mean the landlord had stated he was going to demolish it before I moved in and I was surprised to see it there when I did move in.

                      I am the type of person who loves to have the bathroom (and all) windows open year round, so I always make sure the bathroom window is open. The 2nd bathroom does not have a window at all, only a faulty extractor fan that doesn't work.

                      The gutter hanging off is at the outside of the house, not near the bathrooms.

                      What I meant when I said about the landlord having 12 other properties, is that means he has 12 other tenants, all of whom at some point might ask for repairs to be done. If one was just a starter landlord, I could understand "teething problems", ie delays, but with a portfolio of 12 properties, that's quite an extensive bit of maintenance that could need doing.

                      I believe that in the tenancy agreement I have a right to have repairs done.

                      It's not my fault I have MH issues and can't work. I accept that I'm seen as a liability or problem tenant (benefit scrounger) by many people in this country. I'm looking forward to the possibility of the reforms which will mean landlords can't refuse tenants on benefits or tenants with dogs. Some of us benefit scroungers do cause problems, and our dogs chew furniture and destroy back doors, then again some of us are peaceable and respectful and treat the properties as if our own and only want a quiet life and a nice home to help them in their possible recovery from MH issues which began in childhood and have been ever-present, meaning I've never been able to work. I hope and like to think that I'm the latter sort of tenant. I care for this property and have done works that I shouldn't have in order to try and bring things up to standard.

                      However, I'm not capable of fixing a roof leak. The last time the roof leak was in Dec 2020 and it was not fixed until August 2021, so that eight whole months (during the wet winter) of the roof leaking and the landlord knowing about it and damaging his own property and my mental health. The roof was fixed though, so that's not an issue but it is an example of this type of landlord and his attitude.

                      There is absolutely no hope to apply to the council for rehousing. I've been there, done it, before, and it's hopeless.

                      What I would like to know is: is it lawful of the landlord to be asked to do repairs and for him to reply "I'll have to raise the rent" in response. Not raising the rent periodically because of inflation, cost of living, but raising the rent purely because I've asked for repairs. This implies that if I don't accept the rent raise then he won't do the repairs.

                      I really want to get a good reference from this landlord so I feel I am forced to walk on egg shells.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by KevinB47 View Post
                        Thank you for all replies.
                        ...
                        It's not my fault I have MH issues and can't work. I accept that I'm seen as a liability or problem tenant (benefit scrounger) by many people in this country. I'm looking forward to the possibility of the reforms which will mean landlords can't refuse tenants on benefits or tenants with dogs.
                        I don't think anyone said or meant anything detrimental about you (or people like you) personally (and I say so as a parent of a disabled child). However it is a simple fact that it is the very "reforms" you mention which have meant that tenant's like you are having such a hard time. If you think it helps anyone like you (for example to force unwilling people tom have dogs destroy high-end properties they own) you need to think again.

                        Those claiming to help you just have a political agenda, and either don't give a stuff about you (or are completely ignorant).

                        Nobody is going to take a chance on someone like you precisely because of these "helpers"

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by KevinB47 View Post
                          There is absolutely no hope to apply to the council for rehousing. I've been there, done it, before, and it's hopeless.

                          What I would like to know is: is it lawful of the landlord to be asked to do repairs and for him to reply "I'll have to raise the rent" in response. Not raising the rent periodically because of inflation, cost of living, but raising the rent purely because I've asked for repairs. This implies that if I don't accept the rent raise then he won't do the repairs.
                          I totally understand what you're saying about the council, although a lot of people understand there are not many properties i truly do not think most appreciate how bad it is, i work with them on a daily basis (as a partner agency), and it is getting worse by the month.

                          In terms of is it right to increase the rent in lieu of repairs...... yes it is, you will always pay less for a home that is more run down, in a similar way you will pay a lot more to live in 5 star comfort, so if the landlord is spending thousands of pounds on improving the place he will have to charge more rent, how else is he meant to fund it ?

                          Comment


                            #14
                            You need to move out. You like paying a low rent, even sacrificing your health. The landlord seems aware of this, and is resisting your overtures.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Unfortunately it is hard to tell the well behaved benefit tenants / dogs from the badly behaved, so many LLs avoid both. While the reforms will mean LLs can’t advertise ‘no DSS’ or ‘no pets’ in reality this does not make much difference. Affordability criteria will mean benefits claimants cannot pass the checks for many properties and LLs can either just choose a tenant without pets or give an acceptable reason to not accept them

                              I am not unsympathetic to your situation but really the blame for many of the problems in the PRS should be laid at the Govt’s door yet we LLs are constantly blamed.

                              You require social housing but the lack of investment in this area has made this impossible for you and many others. The reforms you mention are only going to make it even harder to rent in the PRS for low income or pet owners - and you are both. LLs have been warning anyone about this for sometime but no one is listening. The situation is only going to get worse I’m afraid.

                              Comment

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