Can I sue my landlord..?

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    Can I sue my landlord..?

    This is the first time I have rented a property. I am on housing benefit and moved in just over 3 months ago. I had to pay a deposit plus 2 months rent in advance, since then I have paid a further payment (from DSS). My landlord is an absolute nightmare;
    I rented Introduction only from a letting agency so they are not interested at all. The landlord lives in Nigeria and I am supposed to be dealing with a 3rd party who never answers his phone, calls me back or replies to my letters of complaint. There are many, many problems with the property and I have written to him 3 times and made more phone calls than I care to count.
    To keep it short my main problems are;
    1. I have still not received a copy of gas safety (I dont think he's got one)
    2. The garage is still full with previous tenants furniture and I cannot use it
    3. The burgular alarm and shower do not work
    4. There is bare electrical wires in 2 rooms
    5. The hot water is scalding hot and the cold water just trickles out

    I have 2 small children and I think this place is bloody dangerous, but if he wont do anything about it what can I do..?

    Any advice would be most welcome. Thanks.

    1. Call Health and Safety in - they will deal with the missing gas certificate and prosecute your landlord if need be
    2. Write to the landlord, the agent and any last known address of the previous tenant by recorded delivery. Advise that you will be disposing of the goods unless they are collected - send at least two warnings. If no response, keep any small items of value and dispose of the rest.
    3, 4 and 5 can be dealt with by your local authority who can serve a notice on the landlord ordering him to do the works or the council will do them in default and recover from him/her.

    As to sueing your landlord, make a reasonable deduction from your next rent payment - asking the local authority to send HB to you if they are paying direct to landlord/agent. Specify what you are deducting and why - I would have though a fifth to a third of your weekly rent would be about right - (but this is my opinion and has no accurate legal basis - a judge might decree differently). If they then sue you for the missing portions of rent, you can counterclaim the 5 points you make. Don't expect your tenancy to be renewed though - but this might be a good thing, because if you are made homeless, the council will probably have to rehouse you.


      In addition to David's post, the agent is also committing a criminal offence by not providing you with a Gas Safety Certificate before you moved in; just because he was "let only" does not absolve him from his legal responsibilitiy to do this.

      I should also point out that the agent should not have let the property with dangerous wiring as that constitutes breach of the Defective Premises Act 1972 & S.11 Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 for which the landlord is liable and the agent has vicarious liability too.

      You have every reason to rectify all the matters raised and deduct the amounts from the rent, after having served notice on the landlord of your intention to do so if he fails to respond within say 14 days as he lives abroad. The landlord also MUST by law give you an address in England or Wales where you can serve notice on him concerning repairs; you don't have to contact him in Nigeria. This should be in your tenancy agreement; no address in England or Wales - no need to refer it to the landlord!

      One point of which you should also take note; as you don't have an agent to turn to, if the landlord hasn't provided you with evidence of exemption from the Inland Revenue, you MUST deduct 22% (basic rate) tax from the net amount after any deductions for repairs, and send the tax to the IR every quarter. This is a legal requirement so don't ignore it. You can charge your landlord for your adminsitration cost of having to do this!

      This landlord appears to be one of those who doesn't know nor realise what they are doing!
      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.


        thats a great help thanks. i did write to him just over a week ago saying that i would be deducting 200 GBP per month out of the rent from now on until all matters were sorted out, and that I would also be backdating this for the last 4 months rent I have paid and also reclaiming any monies I have already paid out for repairs, removal of rubbish, locksmith (didnt provide me with any back door keys) etc etc.
        I sent the letter Recorded delivery and surpirise surprise he called me the next day after 1st post (!). I was feeding the baby and asked him to call me back but he hasnt and that was over a week ago now.
        I will keep all the rent in a safe account until its resolved in case I do have to pay it to him.
        With a small baby and a 6 yr old I really dont need all this stress and aggravation he's causing me so I will not want to renew the tenancy anyway.


          If you proceed in the manner advised by davidjohnbutton and Paul_F you will cause a lot of animosity between yourself and the LL as you will be perceived as a troublemaker.If you really want to avoid aggravation just do the essential work as inexpensively as possible.Your LL might appreciate your honest efforts and agree to fix everything else.If he does not and it bothers you a lot just move to a property which you find satisfactory.I believe you have a guarantor so it shouldn't be difficult to move.


            Wickerman. I don't think the level of rent determines whether you need to deduct BRT from it as the landlord could easily have other properties in the UK on which tax is liable so I doubt whether this is the case. And why £75?
            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.


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