Basement damp; alarm noise; I almost want to be evicted

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  • Basement damp; alarm noise; I almost want to be evicted

    Hello all,

    Id really appreciate some advice with this problem.

    We have a 12 month contract in a basement flat. We moved in 1 month ago.
    The following areas need resolving, and i informed the letting agent with 2 days of moving in:

    1. Window in bedroom does not open (appears locked without a key).
    2. Ceiling in lounge dripping (discovered minutes after moving in)
    3. Extractor fan in bathroom not working (its windowless)

    2 days later, the lounge window FELL into the flat whilst we were sitting relaxing in the garden - the little plastic things that hold the whole window into the frame crumbled, leaving the window to fall into the room ~(it didnt break) we managed to put it back in so its now held in by just one small latch.
    Since then, the other window has done the same. The electric oven thermostat doesnt work and thus burns all food within 2 minutes and leaves the middle frozen.

    We are now into the second month of renting here - we have informed the letting agent 7 times via phonecalls, and once in person with a list. To date, they have managed 3 weeks later to get the extractor fixed. But nothing else. The drip upstairs we have negotiated with the landlord above. OUR landlord came to measure up for new windows, 3 weeks ago - still no contact from him.

    Since this also, we have discovered a sudden and ever growing wealth of mould and damp throught the flat. Especially the bedroom where ive found many of our shoes, clothes, items - even the chest of drawers COVERED in mould. The walls are wet, as they are in the lounge.

    What can we do??
    My plan is : Tomorrow put all of this in writing, send recorded delivery to the letting agent (we dont have the landlords address), stating all the problems that are unresolved, with a date on which these are expected to be sorted - maybe 2/3 weeks? I realise the damp is a BIG issue, and is going to take lots of work and time - but surely a property shouldnt be let in this condition?
    I am then going to withold the rent if all things arent seen to in the 3 weeks...

    Any help would be really appreciated.
    Thanks

    Rattypuff

    SORRY, THIS IS EDITED: we cant open any windows in the building currently, only the front and back door - this means the mould and damp is getting worse - is this a health and safety issue as well as environmental health??
    We actually want to leave this property now, as its depressing as well as unhealthy, but our contract is 12 months.

  • #2
    I can't help with most of that, but you should be able to get a windows key for a couple of quid or less at any glaziers or double glazing shop, they are pretty universal.
    I offer no guarantee that anything I say is correct. wysiwyg

    Comment


    • #3
      Hi JTa - thanks..i never thought of that! Im a bit concerned that the window may be broken which is why its not opening - ill try and get a key - good point.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by rattypuff View Post

        My plan is : Tomorrow put all of this in writing, send recorded delivery to the letting agent (we dont have the landlords address), stating all the problems that are unresolved, with a date on which these are expected to be sorted - maybe 2/3 weeks? I realise the damp is a BIG issue, and is going to take lots of work and time - but surely a property shouldnt be let in this condition?
        I am then going to withold the rent if all things arent seen to in the 3 weeks...
        The following link gives info on the landlord's legal repairing obligations.
        http://www.letlink.co.uk/letting-fac...ligations.html

        And this link tells you the options for dealing with disrepair.
        http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_ad...n_private_lets

        It's inadvisable to withhold rent. However, if you follow a certain procedure, you are legally allowed to carry out the repairs yourself and then deduct the cost from the rent. You must follow the procedure to the letter; which is:

        A case (Lee-Parker v Izzet (1971) 1 WLR 1688) has established that, to use rent to pay for repairs, or to offset the cost of repairs against arrears, the tenant must carefully follow (in order) the steps below:-
        • give the landlord notice of the disrepair and a reasonable time to remedy it; then
        • inform the landlord (preferably in writing) that s/he will do the repair her/himself unless the landlord complies with her/his obligations; then
        • allow a further reasonable period for the landlord to do the work; then
        • obtain three estimates for the cost of the work from reputable builders; then
        • write to the landlord again, enclosing copies of the estimates and reminding her/him of her/his obligation to do the work, giving a further reasonable period to carry it out. The letter should warn that, otherwise, the tenant will do the work her/himself and deduct the cost from rent; then, if there is no response
        • arrange for the contractor who gave the lowest estimate to do the work, and obtain (and send to the landlord) receipts, with a request for payment; then
        • if the landlord does not pay, the tenant may deduct the cost from the rent (but not other charges such as service charges), then send the landlord a breakdown of the amount and period of the rent to be withheld.
        Also see the following link regarding your right to know the landlord's address
        http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/landlord's_address.htm

        Comment


        • #5
          Thanks for that advice, its really appreciated.

          I actually typed and sent the letter today, and ive now seen your post..I have gone ahead and suggested 21 days to address the issues that need addressing (obviously the damp issue will take longer than 21 days!)...
          and then told the letting agent that if nothings done before then, I will stop the direct debit.

          But having come home from work tonight, ive found more damp, walls with streaks running down them in the paintwork - seems to be that the more it rains, the more streaks we get. And found more mouldy furniture.

          We both feel really unhappy here and to be honest, betrayed.

          My question is, what is a "reasonable amount of time" for a landlord to action the problems?? I keep feeling mean only giving 21 days, but by the time thats up it would have been 2 months...

          Comment


          • #6
            Hi, sorry to re-iterate, but what is classed as "a reasonable amount of time" for a landlord to fix things, and to "fix" damp problems - possible rising damp, as im in a basement and things are going mouldy from bottom upwards?

            Im a reasonable and patient person, and i tend to give more time that i should....but this time round, im not standing for a landlord to take ages...

            any ideas?

            Thanks all

            Comment


            • #7
              What is a reasonable time?

              Well probably the time it would take you to organise things to be done yourself - plus maybe a few days.

              Comment


              • #8
                I guess, its just based on common sense then as opposed to a set amount of time?
                Thanks

                Comment


                • #9
                  6 month break clause - what is it?

                  6 month break clause - what is it? And would it say in my contract if we had a break clause? We've signed for 12 months, but are having various problems, including damp and mould.
                  Thanks all

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by rattypuff View Post
                    6 month break clause - what is it? And would it say in my contract if we had a break clause? We've signed for 12 months, but are having various problems, including damp and mould.
                    Thanks all
                    I'm sorry to hear you are damp and mouldy.

                    A break clause is a clause (or sentence) in your 12 month tenancy agreement which allows you (and probably your landlord as well) to end your tenancy, either at the end of the sixth month, or at some defined point(s) subsequent to that.

                    If your agreement contains no such clause, then you will find it hard to get out of the tenancy early, I'm afraid. Search 'mould' and 'damp' on these forums - there are lots of threads about it.
                    'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      A break clause is inserted in some AST's which enable a landlord or tenant to terminate the agrement early provided that certain conditions of notice are fulfilled. This usually applies to AST's granted for twelve months and permit the landlord or tenant to terminate the agreement after six months have elapsed.
                      Some agents seem to like to do it this way, possibly as it enables them to make more money out of their landlord clients. Such break clauses can be difficult to enforce unless the terms are correctly written and most landlords grant an AST for six months and then either renew it or do nothing (as I do) and let the AST continue indefinitely on a staturoty periodic basis. Much simpler - no hassle and no expensive, unnecessary paper generation!

                      P.P.
                      Any information given in this post is based on my personal experience as a landlord, what I have learned from this and other boards and elsewhere. It is not to be relied on. Definitive advice is only available from a Solicitor or other appropriately qualified person.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Thanks for the quick reply Mind The Gap and P Pilcher
                        Ive read through our tenancy agreement and can find no clause unfortunately

                        Ive had a look through the damp and mouldy section on here and found them helpful.

                        Thanks again

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Hi Wickerman,
                          Im really not sure whats causing the damp - but some walls, i.e in the bedroom and lounge more prominently are wet. mainly at the bottom and middle. I suspect that the guttering is not good - we are in the basement, so it could be rising damp? Ive stared up at the gutters (4 flats above) and there seems to be some sort of greenage, suggesting blockages.

                          Ive just taken some of the carpet up in the lounge, just at the corner, where the wall is wet, and the carpet lining is WET! Mind you, there is a drip in that corner from the ceiling too The landlord above is sorting it out, its coming from the shower in the flat above. So the wet around the ceiling and down that side of the chimney breast can be partially explained. But the rest of that flat - i dont know?

                          Found a rucksack in our bedroom, which has been on the floor for 3 weeks - mouldy this morning.

                          Also, as we cannot open any of the windows in the whole flat (all broken and been mentioned to the letting agent 7 times in 5 weeks), you can imagine that whenever we put the heating on, we are unable to air the flat at the same time, so the damp is getting worse.

                          I dont expect it to be a quick fix at all, in fact, i suspect its going to have to be stripped back. But this certainly hasnt happened since we moved in, and im presuming isnt a new and unkown entity. im just gutted that its been let out by a letting agent, with these problems.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by rattypuff View Post
                            I guess, its just based on common sense then as opposed to a set amount of time?
                            Thanks
                            Yes. Just imagine the scenario where you had to explain to a judge what steps you'd taken to allow the LL the opportunity to fix the problem, before you took action to do the works yourself. If you said you'd given the LL a couple of days before calling in builders, that wouldn't be "reasonable". Whereas if you'd written two letters over a couple of weeks and had no response at all, it'd be reasonable to start getting quotes.

                            BTW, I'm always saying this, but it's essential to get and keep proof of postage of all such letters to LL, and keep copies of the letters. You never know, you might need this as evidence that you made all reasonable efforts etc. A (free) certificate of posting from the PO is enough proof of delivery - doesn't need to be a signed for service.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              p.s. conditions sound really grim. I would consider adding on to demands to LL that he supplies a dehumidifier pending repair. And assuming LL doesn't provide it, add on to the rent deductions (if you go down that route).

                              It'd also be a good idea generally to keep a detailed diary of day to day conditions, communications with agent, etc. Again, you never know when this might be useful as evidence.

                              Comment

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