Tenant suffers scabies/fungus/asthma due to property

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  • Tenant suffers scabies/fungus/asthma due to property

    Hi,

    I would like to thank you first for taking time to read my thread.

    I rented a 1 bed flat on £600pm in November 2003. Everything was in order when I hired the property and there were no explicit faults. However, after almost 7-8 months I started to notice that our leather stuff was getting some fungul spots and it started growing. All our leather jackets, leather shoes, leather purses etc got ruined and had to be washed and cleaned. A big gap appeared under one of the large windows (enough to insert your index finger) and in the corners large patches of fungus started to appear. I cleaned everything and painted the parts but after a month it all started again. I informed my landlord but he did not take any action. I reminded him a few times and requested him to have it checked but no action from his side. I really did not want to cause any incovenience to my landlord and kept my rent payments on time.

    However, about 8 months ago myself and my wife both were diagnosed with scabies (skin parasites) and since in a lot of agony. My wife also got asthma because of this. We had been having constant check-ups by doctors and I have recently been referred to the specialist. Every single cloth piece in our flat stinks of fungus and we haven't been able to move quickly to somewhere else. My landlord still did not give a damn and has never been around to check this. I have taken pictures and made video of the flat and every corner. Doctors will also provide me the report on this.

    I am now angry and have now decided to take legal action against him but have no knowledge on the procedure or the likely outcome of this. I would really want my 1 year rent back and some compensation (mainly rent).

    Can anyone of you please recommend any government department to contact and/or housing association lawyers etc. I cannot afford to pay huge lawyers fees so please bear this in mind.

    Many many thanks for taking time to read this. Your help will be very much appreciated.

  • #2
    Contact the Environmental Health department of your local council and they will come and take a look at what you have. They will then decide to take action.

    However, you have to ensure the flat is adequatly aired. If you dry washing inside ensure you have windows open. Make sure you keep the flat well ventilated.
    GOVERNMENT HEALTH WARNING: I am a woman and am therefore prone to episodes of PMT... if you don't like what I have to say you can jolly well put it in your pipe and SMOKE IT!!

    Oh and on a serious note... I am NOT a Legal person and therefore anything I post could be complete and utter drivel... but its what I have learned in the University called Life!

    Comment


    • #3
      Agree with Justaboutsame. Really important to get good ventilation and not dry washing on radiators etc- but you must decide what outcome you want before you go too far, as follows:
      1)do you wish to remain in property under the circumstances when Landlord has not responded in a professional way
      2)what will be the effect of contacting the Environmental Health and what will/can Landlord do i.e. give you notice? - may be best to give him/her last chance in a letter finishing by saying you intend to take action (recorded delivery) if you really feel you want to stay in the property

      The Citizens Advice Bureau can be very helpful in taking you through your options and the consequences

      Comment


      • #4
        The mould growth you have mentioned is probably due to condensation.

        Is there any sign of structural dampness to the property. Are the walls damp at low level indicating rising dampness. Are the floors concrete, stone or suspended timber floors? Are there any damp stains on walls or ceilings that might be from penetrating dampness.

        How old is the property and can you see a damp proof course from the outside?

        What heating methods are provided for the flat and are you able to provide adequate heating and ventilation to minimise risk of condensation and mould growth?

        Scabies is more likely to be a personal infection picked up by either yourself or your partner and transferred between each other rather than by contact with objects left within the flat.

        The Environmental Health Department will determine whether the condensation you are experiencing is due to structural problems that are the Landlord's responsibility or your neglect of the property in providing adequate heating and ventilation.
        Vic - wicked landlord
        Any advice or suggestions given in my posts are intended for guidance only and not a substitute for completing full searches on this forum, having regard to the advice of others, or seeking appropriate professional opinion.
        Without Plain English Codes of Practice and easy to complete Prescribed Forms the current law is too complex and is thus neither fair to good tenants nor good landlords.

        Comment


        • #5
          Learn a bit more about scabies from the NHS Direct website http://www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk/en.aspx?articleID=328.

          Sorry bliz but the NHS Direct website seems to be saying scabies is passed from human to human.

          Sure, you may be unhappy with the condition of the dwelling, but I think that is not the root of the problem. Unless you have been hugging your landlord, I doubt if it is their fault.

          Comment


          • #6
            Give your landlord one last chance by writing to him and mention at the end of the letter that unless he responds in the next ten days then you will issue a S80 notice under the EPA(1990) in the magestrates court as from what you say it is a statutory nuscinuce under S79 of the act.

            Provided that you have kept a balance of heat and ventilation then mould should not form. As for the point made about rising dampness this is a myth. Any dampness caused is by virtue of external influences i.e leaking overflows,leaking pipes etc.Alternativly you could use S11 of the L&T Act(1985) and sue you landlord for disrepair especally if he has been given notice and is aware of the problem.

            Obviously your landlord doesn't give a damm and in common law as well as Housing Law as a duty of care to his/her tenant.

            Hope this is of help
            Disclaimer:I have over 30 years experience in housing(both social and private) as an EHO and Building Surveyor.I am also a certified expert witness having spent the last 15years working in housing litigation.The advice I give is from experience in working for various Local Authorities and how the law is interpretated.Housing Law is a minefield and is continually being amended if in any doubt you should consult a solicitor or someone of equal legal standing.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by pms
              Provided that you have kept a balance of heat and ventilation then mould should not form.
              But we don't know whether the tenant's kept a balance of heat and ventilation because we haven't been told, although my bet is that condensation, caused by poor ventilation, is very likely to be the cause. The landlord may or may not have some responsibility there; but for example, if the property is full of drying racks loaded with wet clothes 24/7, and no windows are opened, then that would be down to the tenant.

              Originally posted by pms
              As for the point made about rising dampness this is a myth. Any dampness caused is by virtue of external influences i.e leaking overflows,leaking pipes etc.
              Well let's not get into the old "Rising damp does not exist" debate! Either way, one of the commonest causes of dampness is condensation, and the tenant should rule that out - and any culpability of his own - before wheeling out the big guns as you are suggesting. For example, it appears that the scabies incident is what has misguidedly prompted the tenant to consider legal action, when clearly that has nothing to do with the landlord.

              Comment


              • #8
                Eric you may be a senior member but some of your comments are a little bit misconceived.Rising damp is a myth and has been proved beyond reasonable doubt that it doesn't exist.Secondly mould will not form if there is a balance of heat and ventilation, I would however agree that drying clothes inside is not ideal and will increase the realitive humidity that mould needs to strive in. You go on to say that the big guns shouldn't be brought out.Why!. If the landlord has been given notice then it is up to him to at least inspect the property wither it's the tenant's fault or not it's called "duty of care" perhaps it's about time some landlords had this embossed on their foreheads.
                Disclaimer:I have over 30 years experience in housing(both social and private) as an EHO and Building Surveyor.I am also a certified expert witness having spent the last 15years working in housing litigation.The advice I give is from experience in working for various Local Authorities and how the law is interpretated.Housing Law is a minefield and is continually being amended if in any doubt you should consult a solicitor or someone of equal legal standing.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I dry my washing inside, before my new window went into my bedroom the condensation was appaling in both the bedroom and the lounge.. no matter where I dried washing... and I live in a maisonette. Once my new uPVC window went into the bedroom the condensation stopped! I ensure that the windows are open a fraction when drying washing and I do not have a problem anymore!
                  GOVERNMENT HEALTH WARNING: I am a woman and am therefore prone to episodes of PMT... if you don't like what I have to say you can jolly well put it in your pipe and SMOKE IT!!

                  Oh and on a serious note... I am NOT a Legal person and therefore anything I post could be complete and utter drivel... but its what I have learned in the University called Life!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I cannot see there can be a debate the existence of rising dampness!!!

                    We have damp proof courses installed in walls and floors to prevent rising dampness. An Environmental Health Officer would easily establish whether or not there was rising dampness (or penetrating dampness due to other structural defects).

                    I feel from the history here - the flat was OK when taken over by the current tenant- that the problem is most likely to be condensation. In fairness to the tenant it is important to exclude the possibility of structural problems and establish beyond reasonable doubt that the dampness and mould growth are due to the tenant's use (or misuse!) of the property.

                    In view of the nonsense about scabies I would as a landlord have serious doubts about the allegations being made by this tenant. Wonder if there may be a string of other false complaints that the landlord might focus on.

                    Don't forget the Landlord may demand to see the report of the Environmental Health Officer and that report may not favour the tenant.

                    The only issue I can see here that could affect condensation issues is the gap under the window and whether or not this is of sufficient size to accentuate the risk of condensation or reflects merely the need for minor repair. It's not clear whether the tenant is referring to movement of the window frame (and if so the cause of this needs investigation ) or if the gap is between the sash and the frame
                    Vic - wicked landlord
                    Any advice or suggestions given in my posts are intended for guidance only and not a substitute for completing full searches on this forum, having regard to the advice of others, or seeking appropriate professional opinion.
                    Without Plain English Codes of Practice and easy to complete Prescribed Forms the current law is too complex and is thus neither fair to good tenants nor good landlords.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by pms
                      Rising damp is a myth and has been proved beyond reasonable doubt that it doesn't exist.
                      What, are you Jeff Howell? Anyway I didn't actually disagree with you, I said it wasn't relevant to this situation.

                      Originally posted by pms
                      Secondly mould will not form if there is a balance of heat and ventilation
                      I didn't disagree with that.

                      Originally posted by pms
                      You go on to say that the big guns shouldn't be brought out.
                      I said no such thing. I pointed out that obviously tenant-culpable condensation, for want of a better phrase, should be ruled out first. If bilz comes back here and, for example, confirms that he never dries washing in the property and keeps it well ventilated, then damn right, the LL should investigate and if he can't be bothered, then of course the tenant has every right to complain to the authorities.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Worldlife
                        I cannot see there can be a debate the existence of rising dampness!!!
                        Oh, that comes from here: http://www.askjeff.co.uk/content.php?id=3!

                        Jeff Howell is regarded as something of a maverick in the building trade; whether you believe him or not he is certainly dead right in that gazillions of £££ are spent on unneccesary damp-proof treatments, diagnosed by companies with a vested interest in finding 'damp', and perpetuated because building societies won't lend mortgage money without the totally worthless bit of paper which they provide with the word "guarantee" written on it...

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by justaboutsane
                          I dry my washing inside, before my new window went into my bedroom the condensation was appaling in both the bedroom and the lounge.. no matter where I dried washing... and I live in a maisonette. Once my new uPVC window went into the bedroom the condensation stopped! I ensure that the windows are open a fraction when drying washing and I do not have a problem anymore!
                          If an existing single glazed window were replaced by a double glazed unit then one would expect that condensation on the glass would be reduced. Furthermore the improved insulation offered by the double glazed window would help keep wall temperatures higher and thus reduce condensation risks. Central heating systems will obviously assist a tenant to maintain adequate heating levels throughout the house at a reasonable expense.

                          It's not mandatory for a landlord to provide double glazing or central heating and so both owner occupiers and tenants will, in colder weather, need to provide background heating to prevent the walls of the room becoming unduly cold and thus giving rise to severe condensation.
                          Vic - wicked landlord
                          Any advice or suggestions given in my posts are intended for guidance only and not a substitute for completing full searches on this forum, having regard to the advice of others, or seeking appropriate professional opinion.
                          Without Plain English Codes of Practice and easy to complete Prescribed Forms the current law is too complex and is thus neither fair to good tenants nor good landlords.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Ericthelobster
                            Oh, that comes from here: http://www.askjeff.co.uk/content.php?id=3!

                            Jeff Howell is regarded as something of a maverick in the building trade; whether you believe him or not he is certainly dead right in that gazillions of £££ are spent on unneccesary damp-proof treatments, diagnosed by companies with a vested interest in finding 'damp', and perpetuated because building societies won't lend mortgage money without the totally worthless bit of paper which they provide with the word "guarantee" written on it...
                            Well I've inspected many properties where walls have been badly stained suggestive of rising dampness. An intelligent surveyor will use a correctly set damp meter and in my experience the meter will indicate very high levels of brick moisture content in the stained areas and these will gradually reduce the higher one gets up the wall. In all but the worst circumstances the meter will return to a zero reading between after about two metres.

                            In approving Housing Grants I have found the findings of most reputable damp proof contractors accord with my independant findings and I have not experienced a reputable contractor suggesting the installation of a damp course in part of a property where it is not necessary.

                            In many cases we have both agreed that dampness has been due to bridging of an effective damp proof course by garden earth above it or by the outside rendering.

                            Sometimes the damp course will not be faulty and the problem of dampness is due to efflorescent salts left in the wall and plaster from a period before and effective damp proof course was installed or a faulty one repaired.

                            I agree there is an area of difficulty when the rising dampness is only beginning to show - maybe as marks or wallpaper breaking away near skirting board level. Again careful examination of the extent and height along all of the walls will determine whether or not repairs are essential at this particular point of time.

                            A Building Society have the perfect right to feel that the situation can only worsen and to require the works to be carried out sooner rather than later.
                            Vic - wicked landlord
                            Any advice or suggestions given in my posts are intended for guidance only and not a substitute for completing full searches on this forum, having regard to the advice of others, or seeking appropriate professional opinion.
                            Without Plain English Codes of Practice and easy to complete Prescribed Forms the current law is too complex and is thus neither fair to good tenants nor good landlords.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Poppy
                              Learn a bit more about scabies from the NHS Direct website http://www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk/en.aspx?articleID=328.

                              Sorry bliz but the NHS Direct website seems to be saying scabies is passed from human to human.

                              Sure, you may be unhappy with the condition of the dwelling, but I think that is not the root of the problem. Unless you have been hugging your landlord, I doubt if it is their fault.
                              If I recall correctly there was a wartime scabies experiment where an attempt was made to infect people by causing them to sleep on sheets previously used by a scabies victim. Scabies was not passed on in this experiment.

                              One of the web pages I looked at listed Scabies as a sexually transmitted disease!!


                              Edit - found more information
                              Human Guinea Pigs
                              Mellanby Kenneth:

                              Book Description: London: Golancz, 1945, 1945. Hardcover. Book Condition: Very Good. Dust Jacket Included. The Story of an Experiment during the war to discover the cause of scabies and how the disease can be overcome. The investigator was an army doctor, his 'victims' who were all volunteers were Conscientious Objectors. Slightly discoloured dw protected by clear film wrapper. Internally a very clean book in vg+ condition. Slight browning to page fore edges. Bookseller Inventory # 6869
                              Vic - wicked landlord
                              Any advice or suggestions given in my posts are intended for guidance only and not a substitute for completing full searches on this forum, having regard to the advice of others, or seeking appropriate professional opinion.
                              Without Plain English Codes of Practice and easy to complete Prescribed Forms the current law is too complex and is thus neither fair to good tenants nor good landlords.

                              Comment

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