Do we have a right to compensation?

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    Do we have a right to compensation?

    Hi all

    I will try to keep this as brief as possible. I am renting a flat under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (3 year contract with 18 month break clause) and I have been trying to have a problem with our boiler fixed for the past 9 months! The problem was reported June 2010, the Landlady acknowledged the fault and said a new 3 port valve would be fitted the following friday. However, the part was never fitted, so the problem persisted. We were told again in September that a new valve would be fitted and we were given a firm date as to when this would happen. Yet, the same problem persisted, and we continued to chase a solution (at no point did the Landlady inform us that none of the repairs had actually taken place as promised).

    The same issue with the boiler persisted until this month. Following on from 2 emails I sent the Landlady (this month) suggesting she was in breach of contract and I would be seeking compensation, the boiler was actually finally fixed. However, it turned out the work was done inbetween the 2 emails and she had failed to inform me that the work was being done (she didn't give any notice that someone would need to be in the flat to do the work).

    So what I would like to know is:

    1 - Am I entitled to compensation for the 9 months of inconvenience/lies and the excess charges on our heating bills? If so, how much is reasonable? - I was offered a weeks rent back as compensation but I feel that is far too low!
    2 - Where do I stand legally on the lack of notice given by the Landlady regarding work being done in the flat? - I feel it is a breach of contract (and the law) but she is disputing this on the grounds that I had asked for repairs to be made??
    3 - Would this give me the right to end the tenancy early?

    Also, is there any government authority I can contact to get legal advice on this or should I just speak to a solicitor?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Many Thanks.

    #2
    1) Only a judge can decide if you are 'entitled' to compensation. If you can not agree something by negotiation, then you will have to use your legal right to sue. It is not possible to comment on the fairness of the landlords offer, without knowing the effects it had on you, but if it involved no heating/hot water fo 9 months, then I would be asking for 50% of rent paid, and expecting to get around 25%. However, if it was that severe, what actions have you taken to mitigate the problem?

    2) You can refuse access, but you may find it difficult to then complain that the fault hasn't been repaired.

    3) No

    There is no regulation of landlords or agents. However, you may want to discuss this with the environmental health officer at the local council. Also, the council's tenancy relations officer may be able to help you negotiate appropriate compensation if the effects have been severe.

    Comment


      #3
      Your opportunity to exercise (3) has passed now the boiler has been fixed. You might have been able to walk away as the landlord was clearly in breach of S.11 L & T Act 1985 but no longer appears to be.

      P.S.I can't stop the two "away" words appearing side-by-side even though only one has been typed. It's a system fault!!!
      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


        #4
        Thanks for your input guys, sorry for not posting back sooner.

        The question of compensation is more a case of reimbursement of the extra costs we've incurred due to running the faulty boiler (which we estimate to be around £250).

        Regarding point 2 from my original post, we were never going to refuse entry. Our complaint is that she entered the property without letting us know in advance, the terms of our agreement state that she has to give 24 hours notice. Surely this is illegal?

        On a positive note, our Landlady has agreed to break the tenancy early. However, she has refused compensation on the grounds that she cannot claim back the agency fees she has paid up until October implying that she will have to pay them again for new tenants.

        Is this correct? Are estate agents allowed to charge fees twice for the same letting period?

        Also, if we move out before the 2 months notice is up and she gets new tenants in straight away are we able to claim back the rent we've paid for the remainder of the notice period?

        Thanks again

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by TheAtheist View Post
          The question of compensation is more a case of reimbursement of the extra costs we've incurred due to running the faulty boiler (which we estimate to be around £250).
          Then it is not 'compensation' you are after, it's recovery of your financial loss. If LL won't pay, then you'll have to bring a county court claim (which you can DIY via Money Claim Online).

          Regarding point 2 from my original post, we were never going to refuse entry. Our complaint is that she entered the property without letting us know in advance, the terms of our agreement state that she has to give 24 hours notice. Surely this is illegal?
          It may be a breach of quiet enjoyment, but unless the LL acted with the intent to harass you or cause you to give up occupation, then it is unlikely to be unlawful (esp. when LL was entering to carry out repairs).

          On a positive note, our Landlady has agreed to break the tenancy early. However, she has refused compensation on the grounds that she cannot claim back the agency fees she has paid up until October implying that she will have to pay them again for new tenants.
          It is usually T who pays LL to agree to an early surrender. Why do you think LL should pay you, when it's you who wants to end the contract early? You say there is a break clause; when did the fixed term commence and what is the exact wording of the break clause?

          Also, if we move out before the 2 months notice is up and she gets new tenants in straight away are we able to claim back the rent we've paid for the remainder of the notice period?
          What two months' notice?

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by westminster View Post
            Then it is not 'compensation' you are after, it's recovery of your financial loss. If LL won't pay, then you'll have to bring a county court claim (which you can DIY via Money Claim Online).
            Thanks, I'll look into that.

            [QUOTE]It may be a breach of quiet enjoyment, but unless the LL acted with the intent to harass you or cause you to give up occupation, then it is unlikely to be unlawful (esp. when LL was entering to carry out repairs).[QUOTE]
            But the terms of the agreement state that the landlord can only enter the property without notice in case of an emergency. As the agreement is a legal document does this not make it unlawful entry and a breach of the agreement? - just trying to get a bit of clarity on this as I have been given contradicting advise.

            It is usually T who pays LL to agree to an early surrender. Why do you think LL should pay you, when it's you who wants to end the contract early? You say there is a break clause; when did the fixed term commence and what is the exact wording of the break clause?
            I didn't say anything about the landlord paying me fees. She's stating that because she cannot recover the fees paid up until October (the break clause in the agreement) she won't provide us any compensation. What I am wondering is whether or not the estate agent used by the landlady can legally claim further letting fees for a period that she has already paid for in advance? I have a friend who rents out her property and she believes such fees can't be charged twice for the same period, again I'm just seeking clarity as this may simply differ according to the agent's policies rather than it being a legal thing.

            On top of costs incurred by the faulty boiler I have invested a lot of time and energy into chasing a solution (9 months is a long time to be banging your head against a brick wall!!) so I feel we're owed some compensation.

            Please also keep in mind that we've been dealing with a faulty boiler - and all the frustrations, costs and inconvenience involved - for 9 months (A truly unreasonable amount of time) so we feel pretty hard done by to be honest. So while it is us that have requested to end the tenancy early, it is as a result of the landlady's actions (or lack thereof). We agreed to a 3 year contract as we didn't want the hassle/stress of moving again so soon (we've been in the property for 11months) but the landlady has made the situation untenable for us!

            What two months' notice?
            As a condition of breaking early we agreed to a 2 month notice period allowing plenty of time for her to find new tenants before we move out.

            I feel we've been more than reasonable throughout and all I'm asking is that our landlady act in a reasonable manner also, and take responsibility for what's happened.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by TheAtheist View Post
              But the terms of the agreement state that the landlord can only enter the property without notice in case of an emergency. As the agreement is a legal document does this not make it unlawful entry and a breach of the agreement? - just trying to get a bit of clarity on this as I have been given contradicting advise.
              As I said, it may be a breach of quiet enjoyment. But as you have apparently suffered no loss or other adverse consequence, what remedy is it you are after?


              I didn't say anything about the landlord paying me fees. She's stating that because she cannot recover the fees paid up until October (the break clause in the agreement) she won't provide us any compensation.
              Do you mean she is refusing to pay for the heating bills, giving agent fees as a reason? If so, this has no bearing on whether she is liable or not for the additional heating cost.

              What I am wondering is whether or not the estate agent used by the landlady can legally claim further letting fees for a period that she has already paid for in advance? I have a friend who rents out her property and she believes such fees can't be charged twice for the same period, again I'm just seeking clarity as this may simply differ according to the agent's policies rather than it being a legal thing.
              The LL's fee arrangement with the agent is between LL and agent, and essentially irrelevant to the situation. It has no bearing on LL's liability for additional heating cost etc, nor on what LL may ask in terms of agreeing an early surrender (because LL has no obligation to agree an early surrender, and is free to negotiate whatever terms she likes).

              You haven't answered my question about fixed term commencement and wording of the break clause.

              On top of costs incurred by the faulty boiler I have invested a lot of time and energy into chasing a solution (9 months is a long time to be banging your head against a brick wall!!) so I feel we're owed some compensation.
              You have the option to add to your claim a sum you consider reasonable damages for inconvenience. However, as this would stray into the (more complex) realm of a disrepair claim, note that the limit in the small claims track for such claims is £1,000. Above that figure, it is essential to seek legal advice. Either way, you will need good evidence to support your claim.

              As a condition of breaking early we agreed to a 2 month notice period allowing plenty of time for her to find new tenants before we move out.
              The terms of the early surrender are whatever you negotiate with LL. So, if you sign a Deed of Surrender agreeing to end the tenancy in two months, and to pay rent for that period, but it so happens that you move out earlier, you can't afterwards vary the terms of the surrender.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by westminster View Post
                Do you mean she is refusing to pay for the heating bills, giving agent fees as a reason? If so, this has no bearing on whether she is liable or not for the additional heating cost.
                Effectively, yes.

                You haven't answered my question about fixed term commencement and wording of the break clause.
                Sorry, I thought I had. It was a 3 year term starting April 2010 with an 18 month break clause. The clause effectively states that a minimum of 2 months notice and this cannot expire within the first 18 months of the agreement. This clause is now irrelevant though as we have agreed terms to end the tenancy with the landlady separate to this, though we still disagree on the terms of compensation.

                The terms of the early surrender are whatever you negotiate with LL. So, if you sign a Deed of Surrender agreeing to end the tenancy in two months, and to pay rent for that period, but it so happens that you move out earlier, you can't afterwards vary the terms of the surrender.
                We wouldn't be looking to vary the terms, we're free to move out whenever we want but will have to pay rent until the end of May. However, my understanding is that if we were to move out early and the landlady gets new tenants in over a period we've paid rent for then we'd be able to claim back our rent for that period, as landlords can't charge rent twice for the same period. Is this correct?

                Comment

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