Advice on leaving nightmare tenancy

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    Advice on leaving nightmare tenancy

    Hi all

    I've lived in an absolute nightmare tenancy for almost ten years with no repairs, no gas safety checks or certificates *ever* (despite repeated requests), some low-grade LL harassment and a house falling down around me. I put up with it for so long because of personal ill health. The circumstances of us living there are very complex (we were about to buy the house, renting from the vendor while arranging mortgage; a problem with a previous planning perrmission application delayed it, LL bought it from vendor for cash, in a way that was a personal betrayal, it's complicated).

    Anyway we've never had a written tenancy agreement and pay a rent which is on the cheap side of normal, but my understanding is that we have a periodic AST.

    Things came to a head in Feb 08 when the boiler set off our carbon monoxide alarm. Transco or whoever condemned the boiler immediately. I'd had no contact at all with the LL for almost a year and discovered that he had moved and all contact info I had for him was invalid.

    The council's rented standards team eventually traced him and served some sort of notice on him - on the last day, he had a new boiler fitted - that was in May, so we had no hot water or heating all that time.

    This still didn't fix the heating though because so many of the radiators were seriously leaking that the new boiler/gch system, which didn't have a pump, couldn't pressurise them (or something, dunno). So the gas guy wouldn't give a safety cert, and still no heating - not so much of a problem in summer, but...

    Anyway concurrent with getting at least some progress on this issue, we made a homelessness claim which was successful, and now finally we have a new council house to move into - by comparison, the new place is a palace and we're over the moon. We have the keys and are decorating and getting it ready to move in to.

    Question now is about quitting the tenancy and a rent issue.
    When the council were trying to trace the LL, they advised us to stop paying rent, which was on a standing order, until they found him - until that point we'd always paid on the last day of the month automatically; so we didn't make the payment at the end of Feb which we normally would have done, and we next paid him the normal monthly amount at the beginning of April. He never challenged us about March's payment.

    Since then - despite having no heating - we've paid every month in the first few days of the month. I've done this manually by calling the bank rather than the standing order, so the payment days have varied a bit but not much.

    At the end of September though, a serious family accident distracted us and with hospital trips, and signing up for the new tenancy, we've literally and honestly forgotten to make the payment we normally would at the beginning of October.

    Realistically it will be at least the end of October before we can vacate 'Hell Villas'. So I realistically ought to make the payment we would normally have made at the beginning of October and a further one at the beginning of November. Note also that we have not yet informed the LL that we're leaving.

    But... given that there's no written agreement, and we have plenty of documentary and photographic evidence of how badly we've been treated, plus the threat of HSE involvement re gas checks, would you agree that the LL's chances of success in a claim for rent after we've vacated would be very low?

    I'm also concerned though that he might try to blame us for the damage to the property (which includes enormous areas of damp and lots of water damage to a main external wall due to broken guttering - which, again, he didn't replace although we asked him to repeatedly. Unfortunately - and if I'd not been so ill I would have done - we didn't put these requests in writing, just by telephone. However he's definitely been aware of everything wrong since April, when he received the council's exhaustive report.

    What do you think? Morally, I feel that we should pay up, but we already have to use the little we'd been saving towards a mortgage deposit towards the extensive moving costs and carpets etc. But I can't see how he could be successful in a legal claim against us.

    All advice and comments welcome, thanks

    Matt

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