How do we get out of this.

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    How do we get out of this.

    We want out, this is the story so far and I would like to know whether we have any case:

    We are living in London and signed the lease on Wednesday. During the signing I queried a term in the lease saying that we had to notify the landlord if we switched suppliers for any of the utilities. The agent said this would be no problem and that gas and hot water was included in the rent but the rest was ours to sort out.
    On Friday we were told that the landlord would replace the carpet and we would be contacted next week about getting this done (great, so far so good).
    We were given the keys on Saturday by the inventory lady and we moved our belongings into the bedroom.
    The house smelt of mold and damp (it did not smell like this when we first inspected the property).
    We can't get cold water to come out of the bath/shower (other taps work fine).
    The lounge room ceiling started leaking through the electric smoke detector.
    We discovered that the electricity is via a pre-paid pound coin meter that is just under the ceiling and we can't reach it without a ladder (my boyfriend can just reach it by standing on a chair; he is quite tall).
    We have not slept in the property as the smell was giving us a headache.
    We have not yet received a copy of the lease, gas safety certificate nor energy performance certificate.
    We understand the the maintenance issues can be fixed and the agent is currently working at doing so, but has been unable to contact the landlord (who is in Greece?). The agent has told us that the landlords builder has had a look at the leak and said that it is not dangerous.
    We do not know what the rates are on the electric meter as it is to high to see the dials. I have diabetes and can't have the electric going off with my insulin supplies being kept in the fridge. I also have epilepsy and should not be climbing ladders to keep the electricity on. We also would like to pay the electric by direct debit and receive discounted rates.
    The agent has said the the electic meter can not be changed and that when we were talking about changing suppliers that was just in general and not specific to the electricity in our property and in any case we should have seen it at inspection and that they are common! When the meter is full of coins we are supposed to contact the agent and they will have the landlords brother collect them.
    Is there anyway we can leave without paying up to the six month break clause? We have asked the agent this but they are ignoring this part of our emails.

    Thanks.

    #2
    You could apply to the courts citing all your evidence and see if they will discharge the contract. I think it is unlikely. Contact environmental health to discuss the issues.
    [I]The opinions I give are simply my opinions and interpretations of what I have learnt, in numerous years as a property professional, I would not rely upon them without consulting with a paid advisor and providing them with all the relevant facts[I]

    Comment


      #3
      Thanks, will see what environmental health say.
      So, the lack of a gas safety certificate does not make the contract void then? (this is what some of my friends seem to think but I haven't been able to confirm).

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by Newtenants View Post
        Thanks, will see what environmental health say.
        So, the lack of a gas safety certificate does not make the contract void then? (this is what some of my friends seem to think but I haven't been able to confirm).
        Unfortunately not. Without an expressly conveyed clause it would be up to the court to decide whether the contract was to be terminated or not (more often than not they will require specific performance by the landlord rather than termination).

        You're right there is a legal requirement for a gas safety certificate, however, it is something which can be easily remedied. If you're concerned with the lack of Gas certificate I would contact the HSE who may in turn attempt to prosecute your landlord.
        [I]The opinions I give are simply my opinions and interpretations of what I have learnt, in numerous years as a property professional, I would not rely upon them without consulting with a paid advisor and providing them with all the relevant facts[I]

        Comment


          #5
          The OFT says:

          The tenant should have the choice of supplier although he may be required to keep the landlord informed of any change and to return the account to the original supplier at the end of the tenancy.

          See here page 64

          Comment


            #6
            There are about 8 flats in the house. I don't think that the landlord has it wired up as separate flats as far as electric is concerned. The landlord gets one bill and he collects payment from us via the pound coin meters. We have checked with npower and they only have the house number as 20.. and not flat 1, 20...

            Is this legal or common (as the agent says). I've not seen it before so this kind of set up didn't occur to us before signing.

            Comment


              #7
              This may be of interest;

              http://www.ofgem.gov.uk/Consumers/Pa...ectricity.aspx
              I also post as Moderator2 when moderating

              Comment


                #8
                Could I require the landlord to move the meter to a place where I can reach it without a ladder?

                Comment


                  #9
                  FWIW. I would say that such are the problems you are experiencing the contract is being "frustrated" by the inadequacy of the premises. As having no Gas Safety Certificate is a criminal offence, the agent should not have allowed you entry so I would definitely say if you were to leave the premises and obtain alternative accommodation elsewhere, the landlord would be most unlikely to take action through the courts for the remaining rent for the fixed terms as there are so many issues for which there is no justification in your being made to stay the course.

                  Other advice appears to say you cannot walk away but I would if I were in your situation if at all possible.
                  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


                    #10
                    Originally posted by Paul_f View Post
                    FWIW. I would say that such are the problems you are experiencing the contract is being "frustrated" by the inadequacy of the premises. As having no Gas Safety Certificate is a criminal offence, the agent should not have allowed you entry so I would definitely say if you were to leave the premises and obtain alternative accommodation elsewhere, the landlord would be most unlikely to take action through the courts for the remaining rent for the fixed terms as there are so many issues for which there is no justification in your being made to stay the course.

                    Other advice appears to say you cannot walk away but I would if I were in your situation if at all possible.
                    You misunderstand frustration in contract law in my opinion. It refers to an event where the contract is unable to be performed by a party through no fault - a building burning down which is due to be hired etc. In this instance the issues can be resolved easily.
                    [I]The opinions I give are simply my opinions and interpretations of what I have learnt, in numerous years as a property professional, I would not rely upon them without consulting with a paid advisor and providing them with all the relevant facts[I]

                    Comment


                      #11
                      1. Contact the electricity supplier and enquire about the set up in the block. See whether they will change the pre-pay meter. If they will, then go right ahead. Inform the LL if the contract requires you to.

                      2. Contact the Environmental Health Officer at the local council re the damp/mould, leak, lack of cold water in the bath/shower and lack of gas safety certificate. There is, in addition, a procedure whereby you can arrange for repairs to be carried out and deduct the cost from the rent - you can find it in this link.

                      3. Go to the flat upstairs and tell the occupier that there's a leak. (I'd also ask them about the utilities set up in the block).

                      4. Note that, if you have not been given, in writing, an address for serving notices in England/Wales, (which you probably haven't if you haven't been given a copy of the tenancy contract), then no rent is payable until this provided (under s.48 Landlord and Tenant Act 1987). N.B. as soon as it is provided, all/any arrears immediately become owing.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Many electricity companies will not provide tenants with credit meters (ie payment by DD as OP wants) unless they have previously been a customer and have a clear credit history.

                        With regard to insulin and refrigeration. If we were in Africa, that may be a valid point, but a fridge will stay perfectly cold enough for insulin for many hours. In hospital recently I was expected to keep my insulin in a bedside locker for a week. This did not strike me as either unusual or unreasonable.

                        Landlord would not be obligated to move meter due to your epilepsy. Obviously certain changes are covered by DDA, but the location of an electric meter is not something that you could not have checked before agreeing to move in and you are not the sole person in the property who could access the meter.

                        If these are 'flats' not 'rooms' then I do agree that the arrangements for charging electricity are both strange and have the potential to be unfair. It is also possible that the landlord is making a secret (unlawful) profit.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          I've called the electricity company, the credit meter is not theirs. This is imposed by the landlord.
                          My diabetes and epilepsy are newly diagnosed, I am going on doctors orders that it needs to be stored in the fridge and am not currently injecting but have it there for when I need it which could be tomorrow or in two years.
                          Environmental health has said that we could make a complaint regarding the location but not the meter itself.
                          I don't think it is right that my partner be the only one that can access the meter. What do I do when he is away and it needs topping up, call the agency everytime? Ha, this might work to make them move it.
                          We are currently working with the agency to get the flat up to standard.
                          It is a one bedroom flat, and not a room.
                          Can we demand that the landlord show us his bill to check the rates? Or is there not really anyway to check that the landlord isn't making a profit.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            You maynot want to hear this but there's no liability for a Private Landlord to adapt the rental property to suit you specific medical requirements.

                            Unless you signed the tenancy without first seeing the property then - ultimately and reasonably - you're stuck with it.

                            It doesn't sound like the property is very nice, well thought out and robustly converted but that doesn't usually translate into substantive legal cause to surrender the lease.

                            Now you can decide to tackle this from a legal point of view and make a moral stand - which will bear a personal cost in your time. Additionally, it may take the length of the tenancy to ressolve.

                            Or, you could try negociating an early surrender with the LL which could see you out of the flat.

                            Or you could see out the tenancy and make sure you vacate the property and hand the keys back prior to the end date.
                            There is always scope for misinterpretation.

                            If my posts can be interpreted in two ways, one that makes you feel angry and one that doesn't, I meant the latter.

                            Everyday is an opportunity to learn something new.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by MrJohnnyB View Post
                              You misunderstand frustration in contract law in my opinion. It refers to an event where the contract is unable to be performed by a party through no fault - a building burning down which is due to be hired etc. In this instance the issues can be resolved easily.
                              Yes, you're right from that point of view and that is why I put the word in parentheses so as not to use the legal term. I agree it was a poor choice though.
                              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

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