what are my rights? what would you do?

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  • what are my rights? what would you do?

    This is a bit of an epic saga but I will try and keep it brief.

    I viewed this property and agreed to move in on the 28th november on conditions or the cracked tiles in the bathroom being fixed and a lick of paint to smarten it up along with it being in a reasonable state as it was somewhat dirty with a disgusting carper i assumed would be professionally cleaned.

    On the 28th I arrive to find the place in a terrible states, the toilet flush was off the toilet, the matress looked like something out of CSI, the carpet was even worse than i had thought and it just hadnt been cleaned. I immediatly went to the lettings agent ( foxtons ) and complained and they apologised and said it was nothing to do with them as they werent managing the property and to speak to my landlady. I did, she lives in dubai and hadnt seen the property and was horrified at the state. For personal reasons, wishing to move in asap i told her i would get a new matress, carpet and fix the toilet for under the deposit which i did but everything arrived on the 12th of december which is when the real porblems started.

    On the 12th december I move in to find the heating wasnt working and there was no hot water. I phone the landlady and tell her just in case i was being stupid and couldnt work the thermostat which was like something off the enterprise. She suggests i get a plumber out to save time and i duly do, whilst he was doing a check there was a huge spark and he informs me he has no idea what happened and i need an eletrician ( it is an electric boiler ). I let my landlady know and over the course of the next few weeks a series of plumbers come to try and fix the problem, all of whom say that the boiler is very obscure and should simply be replaced. My landlady is clearly unhappy at this prospect and insists we try and find parts which takes several weeks and the plumber who installs them tells me this really is a stop gap measure and you should just get a new boiler. This was about 2 weeks ago and this saturday it broke again. This time i asked my landlady to arrange for a plumber and she just emailed me to tell me that he might be able to get parts and fix it in about 2 weeks but it might break again and if it does we will have to get a new boiler and she feels that i am resopnsible for getting out the plumber who "broke" it i should split the cost of the new boiler.

    notable things :
    My rent is contractually due on the 28th of each month
    I paid one months rent and 6 weeks deposit up front
    I informed her i was stopping the rent for 28th decmeber to 28th jan till it was fixed.
    On the 12th of january she phones me and asks me to pay my rent for 28th december to 28th jan in full even though the boiler isnt fixed but that parts might be available in a few weeks. Stupidly I feel, I do pay this rent.

    My current thoughts are that I am in no way responsible for the boiler costs or culpable but am i right to withhold rent in light of the fact I am simply not in a suitable habitat? Do i have any right to withhold rent based on not having had any heating or hot water for 2 months?

    i do apologise for this incredibly long post and i am sure i have missed out various things but i think ive covered all the main areas, I really would appreciate some help with what is a suitable course of action to take.

  • #2
    This LL is a disgrace. I suggets you write/email her immediately, telling her:

    (i) You have not yet contacted the Environmental Health Officer who can require her to have the repair done, but she is in clear breach of her staututory obligations under the Housing Act to keep the installations for heating water and space in working order. The collective advice of several tradesmen is that the existing boiler is of scrappable quality only and you are not prepared to carry on 'making do' without hot water or heating for an indefinite period.
    (ii) it is completely unacceptable for her to demand you pay towards the cost of a new boiler and you do not intend to do so.
    (iii) given the unacceptable length of time the repair has so far taken, you feel that unless she organises a new boiler herself within the next 10 days, you will be left with no option but to obtain quotes for a replacement boiler yourself and if she still does not act at that point, you will instruct the best one to do the work. Advise that you will withold rent to pay for the boiler and installation (plus all the other things you have had to pay for including a deep clean of the property - get this done and keep the receipt).
    (iv) You will be buying some convector heaters to keep yourself warm until the new boiler is installed (and deducting cost from rent).

    Keep a copy of your letter/email and any reply.

    Then do what you have told her you will do, if necessary.

    Good luck - let us know how you get on.
    '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


    • #3

      The basic update is that she had a guy come round who said he could get some parts which should fix it in the next couple of weeks, this was a couple of days ago, I told her that i wasnt about to pay for a property that still had no working boiler until it was fixed and i was happy. She said this was unaccetpable to her and as i know it will be fixed at some point i should still pay rent. I feel I was extremelly foolish to basically not insist she did everything herself from thse start and that i paid for a totally unacceptable flat for so long simply on the notion from her that it would be fixed.
      The problem from her side i think is that i took on the responsibility of trying to see if teh plumber who first identitfed the problem actually caused it, this took time until it was ascertained that he didnt and it was an underlying fault.
      I dont really want to spend several thousand pounds i dont have spare to replace a boiler that i dont feel is my responsilbity to replace, which leaves me in an awkward position not really knowing what happens if i just dont pay any rent against her wishes?!?


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