Let property is uninhabitable; can L cancel tenancy?

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    Let property is uninhabitable; can L cancel tenancy?

    We are renting a property from a private landlord who went throught and agent to rent the property. We were told by the agent ot deal directly with the landlord when we signed the lease agreement (12 months) at the end of February. We moved in to discover that there was a strong smell of gas. We contacted the landlord and I was asked by her to contact the gas company as she had an agreement with them, giving them her contract number. This I did. They came out and promptly disconnected the gas, leaving us without heating or a cooker. The landlady then brought round space heaters and the next day sent round "the best" gas man she could find. He fiddled around, disconnected the gas fire in the lounge and told us she would have to redo the pipes, repair the radiators and put in a new boiler. She refused to do this as she stated that there had been nothing wrong until we moved in. She was also supposed to supply a Landlord's certificate which she did not do and they only came out to do this on Wednesday last week and once again we are without heating, cooker and hot water, because the people who did the certificate cut the supply as they deemed them unsafe or not to standard. This is the second time in six weeks.

    We have now been informed by the agent that the landlady no longer wants us as tenants as we are trouble and costing her money. We paid our rent on time, we have not done anything to warrant her accusations of being troublemakers.

    I feel we are in the right reporting a gas leak and she should have seen to all of this BEFORE we moved in. The property had stood vacant for two months. We now, after a week without being able to cook or have a bath, have workmen redoing some of the pipes but the lounge gas fire is still condemned. The radiators MAY be fixed this week sometime. We now also have water leak which we think eminates from either the shower or the toilet, running down the wall in the kitchen and dripping from the kitchen ceiling, but are afraid she will evict us if we tell her about it, as we cannot afford to move again.

    What are we to do? The agent doesn't seem to want to help as he doesn't want to be 'piggy in the middle'. Can she cancel the contract because of this? Can we claim compensation for another move, if she does cancel and makes us move out? Are we right in requesting that the electrical, gas and plumbing systems are in good working order?

    #2
    Shazah, there is no such thing as cancelling an AST, and especially not on the ground that you are asking for a safe property !

    Some landlords don't have a clue what they are responsible for and try it on when it comes to spending any kind of money on the property.
    If you have been granted an AST for 12 months, this is how long the landlady will have to wait before asking you to move providing you pay your rent on time.

    Also she is responsible for keeping the property safe when it comes to gas, electricity and water. If anything breaks down, she has to respond to the problem in a reasonable delay (this depends on how serious the problem is) and get it fixed ASAP.
    If she fails to do any essential repair (anything that would put your and your family's life in danger is super urgent I would say) you are entitled to write to her giving her a deadline to get things fixed or you can actually move out to a hotel and get her to pay for it (search on the forums to find cases of people who have successfully done this because their boiler broke down) or get the essential repairs done by a professional (after you've had 3 quotes and chose the most reasonable one) and deduct the cost of the rent.

    I suggest you read these articles, they may help you understand your rights and the landlady's duties:

    What is a tenancy: http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/residential_tenancies.htm
    Repairs and maintenance: http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/repairs_&_maintenance.htm

    I hope this help. Not doubt if I said anything wrong someone with more knowledge will correct me but I do think your landlady is deep in the wrong here.

    Comment


      #3
      Thanks Jennifer

      I have been having nightmares about this. We now have to contact her about the leak in the bathroom and I just know she is going to freak. thanks for the encouragement and advice, though. Much appreciated.

      Comment


        #4
        Ask for, no! DEMAND compensation

        Shazah. What you probably don't realise is that both the agent and landlord are committing criminal offences by not furnishing you with a Gas Safety Certificate on the day you took up the tenancy.

        Your rights are so strong that virtually anything the landlord does to try to evict you is in contravention of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 until the end of the fixed term. Don't let them intimidate you.

        I would be demanding at least a month's rent form the landlord in lieu of what you have gone through and you might like to approach the agent too on their little misdemeanour. It's no good their saying you're to deal directly with the landlord if they can't deal with the lawful requirements on them!
        The advice I give should not be construed as a definitive answer, and is without prejudice or liability. You are advised to consult a specialist solicitor or other person of equal legal standing.

        Comment


          #5
          The saga continues

          The landlord has eventually done repairs to the gas pipes. A major leak was discovered and she said it cost her £657. We have suddenly been receiving bills for this amount from British Gas. We have telephoned them to say that it is not for our account but for the landlord but to no availe. Last night we received a final demand. We have sent this account to the Landlady each time we have received it and we also sent a letter to both the landlord and the agent requested them to rectify immediately.

          We now risk having a black mark against our name for non payment of bills by British Gas. What can we do? Do we go to court now with this matter or try sending the landlord the bill again? British Gas apparently are not interested in changing the bill to the landlord's name.

          By the way - we have been ignored as far as compensation for the inconvenience of having been without heating or hot water for a week is concerned.

          Comment


            #6
            You could pay the bill and then withhold this amount from the rent. you will need to put this in writting though. you should also withold a months rent in lui of compenation also.

            If they want this money off you they can take you to court but it is unlikely that they will win.

            You cannot be evicted until the end of the 12 months.

            But they might try and oull a fast one with your deposit, again you can resolve this by going to court. you are in the right.

            Zoe

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by Shazah
              The landlord has eventually done repairs to the gas pipes. A major leak was discovered and she said it cost her £657. We have suddenly been receiving bills for this amount from British Gas. We have telephoned them to say that it is not for our account but for the landlord but to no availe.
              Phone British Gas once more, take the name of the person you speak to, then write to BG, to billing queries and set out the details that you are a tenant and the landlord is responsible for the bill and has agreed this, give the landlord's address. Include in the letter that you have contacted BG several times and that in your opinion, them chasing you for payment may constitute harrassment. This will ensure that BG's legal team get involved. Post it recorded delivery. Read through all these replies again. You are holding all the cards.

              Comment


                #8
                Mr Woof. You're making the classic mistake of putting the onus on a tenant to sort out something that's none of their business! It's the landlord's problem. If I were the tenant I would not be paying any rent until the landlord sorted out this mess. I would send any withheld rent "on account" to BG, and when it had been settled, I'd probably add a little on for my trouble of having to deal with it and deduct this from the rent too! Job done!

                By the time BG got round to taking any legal action it would all be settled anyway.

                You should get into your mindset the way you should deal with duff landlords instead of offering "solutions".
                The advice I give should not be construed as a definitive answer, and is without prejudice or liability. You are advised to consult a specialist solicitor or other person of equal legal standing.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Ceiling collapse- is property uninhabitable?

                  Hi

                  Long story but I will try and keep it short as possible.

                  About 3 weeks ago 1/4 of the ceiling in our living room came down. After a week of the agent (F$%^&&) telling us as far as they where concerned it was safe, contractors came in declared it unsafe and pulled the whole ceiling down.

                  Initially the managment company, insisted that the accommodation was habitable and only after a week of fighting with them and the management company we managed to get the managment companies insurer to agree in writing to cover our accomodation costs before and during the repairs.

                  We are now living in short term accommodation arranged by us and complicated by the fact that we have a dog and live in London where short term pet friendly accomodation is not an easy thing to find.

                  We have a clause in our lease stating that if the property remains uninhabitable for a month either party can terminate the lease.

                  The insurance companies original definition of habitable was a bedroom, bathroom and kitchen which is why they ininitially refused to pay for alternative accommodation.

                  Apart from the fact that there is plaster dust everywhere now, all our belongings are now stacked in the bedroom and kitchen while there is no ceiling in the living room, which incidently comprises about 2/3 of the property.

                  The landlord has only been communicating through the agency which have not helped us in the slightest during this whole time, and we are now in a tiny studio flat awaiting the repairs to the ceiling.

                  Even though the costs of our alternative accomodation have been covered, we are certainly not getting what we paid for and all of this has been a massive inconvienience with little or no support from any other involved parties.

                  Now there is some issue with the insurance(I understand the freeholder (MGT companies) insurnace is paying) and the whole processseems to be stuck waiting for permission from the insurance company to commence repairs.

                  We have a clause in our lease stating that if the property remains "uninhabitable" for a month, either party can terminate the contract.

                  My question after my sad story is, since we are staying in alternative accomodation paid for by insurance, does this imply that the accommodation is not habitable until the repairs are made?

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Tenancy

                    AST

                    Other relevant info

                    1) 18 Month Contract, No BC(We wanted something permanent)
                    2) Rent paid biannually in 6 month blocks IE We paid 6 months upfront
                    3) We are in the second month of our tenancy

                    Basically we wanted a long term lease so we offered the 6 month to get a better monthly rate which we did as well as the long lease. It seemed like a good idea since we wanted stability and before the ceiling caved in

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by sunnysan View Post
                      Initially the managment company, insisted that the accommodation was habitable and only after a week of fighting with them and the management company we managed to get the managment companies insurer to agree in writing to cover our accomodation costs before and during the repairs....

                      We have a clause in our lease stating that if the property remains uninhabitable for a month either party can terminate the lease.

                      The insurance companies original definition of habitable was a bedroom, bathroom and kitchen which is why they ininitially refused to pay for alternative accommodation....

                      My question after my sad story is, since we are staying in alternative accomodation paid for by insurance, does this imply that the accommodation is not habitable until the repairs are made?
                      So it's a question of whether the property is habitable. Do you want to argue that it's not (with a view to ending the AST for that reason)?
                      JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
                      1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
                      2. Telephone advice: see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=34638.
                      3. For paid advice about conveyancing/leaseholds/L&T, contact me* and become a private client.
                      4. *- Contact info: click on my name (blue-highlight link).

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Habitable

                        That is what it boils down to yes

                        My temporary situation at the moment is not ideal and since the insurance company appears to be taking their time(I think there might be some kind of claim by freeholder insurance against a leaseholder, but I am being kept in the dark)

                        I would like the option to terminate the tenancy if the work has not been done in a month.

                        I would on principle not break a contract and other than that if I break contract now I would lose a lot on money.

                        Notwithstanding the legality of the situation, we have had to fight tooth and nail with the lettings agent and managment company to even get compensated and our predicament seems to be of no concern to any party in this situation.

                        The flat is filled with dust, any time anybody walks in the flat above, bits of debris fall from the exposed wood in the sitting room ceiling. I believe there is a good argument to say its not habitable, and based on photographs passed to the managment agent, which I believe he showed the insurers, we have been given permission to seek alternative accomodation for the duration of the repairs, which we have done

                        Dos that imply that the property in not habitable?

                        If they are not going to fix it up quickly I want to terminate the tenancy as I dont see why we should be inconvienienced any longer than neccessary by something which is not our fault.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Just how bad is it ?

                          Are we talking bath leaking and ceiling down which can be rectified with overboarding, plaster and paint ....or joist problems

                          The former can be sorted in a matter of days .........the latter a bit longer .....BUT neither a month or more ???


                          The Rodent
                          A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
                          W.Churchill

                          Comment


                            #14
                            How Bad

                            1) The full ceiling has been removed in the sitting room which comprises over half the dwelling

                            2) There is dust everywhere and debris falling from the exposed lath.

                            3) The Bedroom and Kitchen are currently being used as storgae fro all items from the living room and are not usable owing to that.

                            3) Elcetrics are working, water hot and cold is OK.

                            My latest update is that the insurance company want to reinspect and establish the cause.

                            My opinion is that the people in the flat above me redid their whole flat 1 month prior to us moving in and I suspect this caused the movement that ultimately led to the ceiling collapsing.

                            It looks like it might turn into a dispute between the respective leaseholders insurers which means it could take even longer.

                            All this time we are "piggy in the middle". Since I paid 6 months upfront, I am effectively paying rent for a flat I cannot use. I dont know when it will be fixed either.

                            Its about a 10 day job which has not even got the go-ahead yet.

                            If its going to turn into a catfight between the respective leaseholders insurers I want to terminate the tenancy legally on the grounds that the managent companies insurers have implied its not habitable by paying for alternative accomodation.

                            Whether its goodwill or not, I think its unreasonable to expect us to live there now and during the works. I also feel its unreasonable for us to stay in temporary accommodation for what has amounted to 3 weeks already, when the work in question could be undertaken in max 10 days

                            My question is how my point of view would stand up to legal scrutiny shoudl that be required.

                            My choice would be to sort this situation out amicably, but the LL has not even spoken to us personally since it happened and IMHO he will not take our personal circumstances into account.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              jeffrey

                              Originally posted by jeffrey
                              Didn't we decide that it's a question for the block's property insurer? See paragraph 10 of your post #1.

                              My assumption was that since the block insurers (management company) is handling the reimbursement of my accommodation that it is there insurance that is liable.

                              While the claim for the building works is being evaluated by an underwriter, the mgt co informed me that they wish to have an additional inspection of the property to establish the cause. Why would they want to do this if they felt that the liablity was theirs alone?

                              My latest sentiments stem from a telephone conversation I had this morning, so it may contradict my initial assumptions.

                              All this is basically moving away from the issue of :

                              Since there is no definition of habitable in the lease, and the insurance company are paying for alternative accomodation, in a legal sense would this be viewed as a gesture of goodwill, or as an implied admission that the accomodation is not habitable?

                              Comment

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