Court case with landlord over rent rebate

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    Court case with landlord over rent rebate

    Hi,

    My partner and I rented a 3 bedroom house from September to April which had serious problems with three leaks, water damage, black mould and damp and with the boiler and heating. We tried to start negotiations with our LL for a rent rebate but he would not discuss this and so we put in a small claims court case.

    Basically the problem with the heating was that from 10 November 09 - 11 March 2010 at no time did it work properly. Before Christmas the radiators would get no hotter than luke warm and at times the boiler broke down completely. Over Christmas and into the New Year (until February) we had to choose between heating and hot water by turning a screw on the boiler which took 20 minutes to adjust. From February 15-March 11 we had no heating at all. As the winter was so bitterly cold we thought this unacceptable.

    In all this time he only called a boiler engineer out three times and from January 4 until February 16, although we reportedly told him that the heating was not working, no engineer came. He maintained that the heating was not wokring because of a leak under the house which Thames Water had to fix though this turned out to be wrong. At other times it took him nearly two weeks to get an engineer and at other times he took three days to even reply to our emails.

    At one point he suggested that we could buy heaters but then said he thought that turning the screw was an acceptable alternative. When we finally said we needed heaters he said we could buy "one small fan heater" (his words).

    Our claim did not say that the whole house was unhabitable but that for times rooms were unusable due to cold so we worked out proportions and put in a claim which was about a month's rent in total. He has offered us a small amount of money (about a third of the amount we had asked for).

    Do you think it is worth continuing with the court case and does it sound as if we are being reasonable? Or should we just take the money?

    #2
    First, do an LZ search re section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. L is inescapably liable for maintenance/repair of the heating system.
    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


      #3
      We did actually email the LL in January saying we thought he was in breach of Section 11 since the heating had not been working properly since November, (espcially urgent since the temperatures at night by this point were down to minus 8).
      He replied with an abusive phonecall to my fiance and did not seem to think that was being unreasonable.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by katrician View Post
        Do you think it is worth continuing with the court case and does it sound as if we are being reasonable? Or should we just take the money?
        Take what money?
        Allow tenants to protect their own deposits. I want free money when they do it wrong

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by katrician View Post
          He has offered us a small amount of money (about a third of the amount we had asked for).
          He now wants to settle out of court, see above, although he initially filed a defense saying he would not admit any of our claim.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by katrician View Post
            He now wants to settle out of court, see above, although he initially filed a defense saying he would not admit any of our claim.
            I don't think you have much of a monetary claim to be honest.
            Did you buy a heater as he authorised?
            Allow tenants to protect their own deposits. I want free money when they do it wrong

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by thesaint View Post
              I don't think you have much of a monetary claim to be honest.
              Did you buy a heater as he authorised?
              Yes but one small fan heater will not heat a three bedroom house and he would not pay for more.

              Our point was that in the extreme cold of this winter without any heating, besides one small heater, for over 2 months rooms were unusable and we were therefore not getting use of the house for which we were paying for full rent. I would be interested to know why you think there is no claim (that is not intended to be at all sarcastic by the way) since I have read of other people who have received compensation in similar cases. Surely as a tenant you should be able to have full use of the house you pay for, especially if the LL has broken the tenancy agreement and not got engineers round to keep the heating in repair?

              Comment


                #8
                Yes. I don't agree with thesaint; you are due damages for the inconvenience and lack of amenity.
                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


                  #9
                  Thanks for the replies.

                  We have asked for just under £600 for damages.
                  This is worked out on the basis of 2 rooms from an 8 room house being unusuable due to cold over a 4 month period, and hot water not working, and rent calculated accordingly as a proportion of our monthly rent. Is this a reasonable way of doing it?

                  Comment


                    #10
                    It was reported here a few years ago by topic expert Paul F that in similar circumstances a couple with a very small child were forced to move out while awaiting repairs. They moved into a small local hotel, were very careful to minimise all expenses and moved back promptly their heating/hot water system was repaired and working normally. Naturally their landlord refused point blank to entertain the payment of any compensation. The county court judge disagreed and said landlord had to pay their hotel bill and all additional expenses which this family had incurred due to the inordinate time that the landlord had taken to effect satisfactory repairs.
                    It may pay you to get a solicitor to conduct your case and your landlord will have to pay his bill as well. Any chance of getting one on a no win no fee basis?

                    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

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