Suing landlord for breach of contract

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  • Suing landlord for breach of contract

    Hi there,

    I want to sue my landlord for breach of contract. I've just completed an 18 month shorthold tenancy and moved out of the property. During the 18 months the property I was renting had what I consider to be an excessive amount of faults that needed correction (over 20 faults in all). This was primarily due because the landlord had not maintained the property and it was very old. The landlord's agent did eventually correct all faults during the tenancy, but we suffered additional cost and considerable inconvenience as a result of these problems and didn't get any rent reductions to compensate.

    I now want to claim a refund on part of the rent from my landlord for my costs and because we didn't receive the service we were paying for under the rental agreement. For example, there were multiple leaks in the roof over the 18 months. One of the leaks ran down into a light switch on the first floor. Apart from being extremely dangerous for our 2 young children, it meant that the power would keep short circuiting. We notified the landlords agent of the problem by email on multiple occassions and it took the landlord over 2 months to get it fixed during which time we continued to suffer inconvenience in resetting the trip switch on rainy days and nights. It also meant we had to stop our children (aged 2 and 4) from using the first floor of the house where the bedrooms were located because we didn't want them touching the water that was running down through the switch in case they electrocuted themselves. Also on one occasion during this period when we went away for the weekend and the power tripped, we lost a freezer full of food (approx £150 value) which we told the landlord about at the time but she offered us no compensation - she suggested that we claim on our contents insurance which we didn't do because it was caused by her not fixing the leak in a timely manner.

    What is a reasonable rental refund I could claim for an event like this? For example could I claim a 50% refund on the rent for 2 months because we couldn't use half of the house during that period as it was too dangerous + compensation of £150 for the wasted food?

    On another occassion during the cold winter when it was -4 outside we had to move out to my parents place on 2 separate days because the heating broke down and it was too cold for me and my family to live in the house on those days. Could we claim a rent reduction for these days when the house was unfit for habitation?

    Also, given the landlords agent asked us to arrange appointments with trades people for all of these incidents and we had to be in the property when they came to fix all of the problems which took a considerable amount of our time (we estimate a total of about 60-80 hours of our time over the 18 months to arrange and attend all of the appointments), can we charge the landlord for this time? Effectively we were providing the landlord a service by arranging and attending the appointments in our own time because we were living in the house (I was stay at home dad with the kids) and didn't want random trades people coming into our house unsupervised at any old time or when we were away from the house.

    We always paid our rent in full and on time during the tenancy but with all these incidents we don't feel we got the service we were paying for. Are these reasonable grounds now to claim for a rent refund as outlined above? We would claim a refund if we didn't receive the service we had paid for in any other aspect of life, and at £1900 per month, this was an expensive service that didn't deliver what was in the contract (ie. a habitable home for 18 months)!

  • #2
    Originally posted by ConcernedTennant View Post
    We always paid our rent in full and on time during the tenancy but with all these incidents we don't feel we got the service we were paying for. Are these reasonable grounds now to claim for a rent refund as outlined above? We would claim a refund if we didn't receive the service we had paid for in any other aspect of life, and at £1900 per month, this was an expensive service that didn't deliver what was in the contract (ie. a habitable home for 18 months)!
    Only a lawyer specialist in landlord and tenant law can advise as to whether you have good grounds for a claim, as well as sufficient evidence to support it.

    Note that the financial limit for disrepair claims by a T against a LL is £1,000 in the small claims track. A claim above this level may therefore be allocated to the fast track, where court fees are high and you are exposed to the defendant's legal costs.

    I would add that when you pay rent it is in exchange for exclusive possession of a property; the LL's statutory repairing obligations are not a 'service' included in the rent.

    Further info on repairs in private lets and LL's obligations on the following links:
    http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_ad...n_private_lets
    http://www.letlink.co.uk/letting-fac...ligations.html

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