HELP NEEDED PLEASE - compliance with tenancy agreements - a tenant's perspective

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    HELP NEEDED PLEASE - compliance with tenancy agreements - a tenant's perspective

    I appreciate that this forum is likely to be used by landlords more than tenants but given my predicament, I would be grateful for any advice/ assistance.

    I have been renting properties in the UK since 2005 and have rarely, if ever, had any problems with landlords or letting agents. That said, I moved into a new property 5 weeks ago and am not sure whether I need to take legal advice.

    The main issues are as follows:

    Redecoration
    The property I am renting was in need of redecorating, including numerous walls to be re-plastered. The work to be done was outlined in the "agreed terms of offer" and the tenancy agreement and in both documents it was stated that the work would be completed by the start of the tenancy agreement.

    I have been in the property for one week now and whilst the plaster is now dry, the landlady has advised that she cannot get work started on painting the walls for another week at least, and that this may slip by a a few days.

    This means that not only do we (I live with my partner) not know for sure when the work will be done, but we are expected to stay in the apartment whilst the work is being carried out. Fine for me as I work, but my partner is not currently working and is not happy and having 2 men in the property for what is likely to be the best part of a week.

    The landlady's husband has already, within the first week, failed to attend 2 scheduled meetings to discuss the colour scheme and when the painting will be done (we only received a text message from the landlady last night) so my confidence in their ability/ desire to adhere to agreed timescales is, as you might imagine, not at all high.

    Furnished/ Unfurnished
    The property was advertised as furnished but we explained to the letting agency that we only wanted the property if it was unfurnished. We accepted that one of the beds could not be removed but as far as we were concerned, everything else would go/ be removed. The issue, for me anyway, is that none of this was confirmed in writing.

    Property dressing
    The contents of the apartment have been changed since we made an offer to rent the property. The sink unit in the bathroom has been changed and in the living room what was there before - a nice 2 seater in white material along with a matching rug- has been replaced by an old 2 seater leather sofa, matching leather chairs and an old brown rug. Can landlords do this? Change the contents of the property without consulting the prospective tenants.

    Handrail
    The flat is on the first floor with it's own internal, closed, staircase. Should the landlord have fitted a handrail? From the markings on the wall and the staircase, one has been fitted in the past so not sure why it was ever removed.

    Moving in documents
    The tenancy agreement states we should have been provided with an EPC and the associated report. We have not seen this.

    It also refers to a check-in, etc. This has still not been done, we do not have an inventory, nor do we have a schedule of condition (both referred to in the tenancy agreement).

    Why did I move in with all this going on? Because the letting agency only provided us with the draft tenancy agreement the day before we moved in (and after we had paid 6 weeks deposit and 6 months rent in advance), and since I had to be out of my property the day I was moving into the new one, there seemed very little choice but to sign.


    I suspect that, if I get any replies to this thread, it will be to get legal advice, and that is fine. But what I am not sure of, and which experienced landlords could help me by providing some perspective on all of this, is just how serious is any/ all of this.

    Thanks in advance for any help/ advice.

    #2
    Painting : at least the LL is getting this done, albeit less quickly than you had hoped.

    Furnished/unfurnished : if you had no written commitment that the flat would be let unfurnished, then it's rather a grey area, I'm afraid. Were there any independent witnesses to the oral agreement? If not, can you not ask the LL to remove the offending items?

    Handrail : seems a reasonable request. Make noises about health and safety and not wanting to break your neck falling downstairs.. If LL fails to act, advise him that you'll get one fitted yourself and deduct from rent.

    EPC : you need to ask for that, and should have done so before you moved in, not after. Its purpose is to tell you how energy efficient the propergty is (or isn't) and to help you compare similar sized properties when deciding which one to rent/buy. So it's a bit late to be worrying about it now, although it would be interetsing to know what the energy efficiency rating is. If it's less than 50%, start saving for some big bills.

    Check-in inventory : this is more for the LL's benefit than yours, but if it worries you, keep nagging for one.

    Just out of interest, why did you paid 6 months' rent in advance?
    'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

    Comment


      #3
      Thanks for the quick response.

      I paid 6 months rent in advance as I am self-employed and the letting agency use a credit reference agency which only accepts tax returns which have been submitted to HMRC and since I could not provide this (it does not have to be done until the end of October), the landlady insisted on this (in fact they had asked for the full 12 months rent to be paid in advance initially). I was able to provide certified earnings information from my accountant, but this was not deemed to be acceptable.

      I am surprised that the landlady was able to ignore the agreed terms, meaning that the works will not be carried out until some time after we have moved in. Given the mess with the furnished/ unfurnished issue, and given the state of the property, we have lost the use of one room for now (it is being used for storage). The rent we are paying each month is in excess of £1,000 a month and at this rent level, I had expected more.

      The reason I want the inventory is that there are loads of things wrong/ broken in the apartment (lights not working, windows not staying open due to broken sash string, chips in walls, etc, etc) and I do not want to be held accountable for them.

      Comment


        #4
        I am surprised that the landlady was able to ignore the agreed terms, meaning that the works will not be carried out until some time after we have moved in. Given the mess with the furnished/ unfurnished issue, and given the state of the property, we have lost the use of one room for now (it is being used for storage). The rent we are paying each month is in excess of £1,000 a month and at this rent level, I had expected more.
        It is not so much that she is able to ignore them, as that you may need to be pro-active in order to enforce them - i.e., sue her for compensation for the loss of amenities. This is costly and fraught with pitfalls - it is probably best just to keep pestering her and don't stop until she does what she agreed to do.

        Why is one room being used for storage, exactly?

        The reason I want the inventory is that there are loads of things wrong/ broken in the apartment (lights not working, windows not staying open due to broken sash string, chips in walls, etc, etc) and I do not want to be held accountable for them.
        Don't worry. Without a detailed inventory agreed by you at the start, the LL will struggle to claim any deductions from your deposit at the end of your tenancy. It might make you feel better, however, to take digital photos of all the imperfections/damage and send them with a covering email to the LL and the agent so they cannot at some later stage claim you were responsible.
        'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

        Comment


          #5
          Redecoration.
          Re-plastered walls need time before painting. They may look dry but the longer the better. LL appears willing to discuss colour scheme other than magnolia walls. Okay timescales slip, LL could have waited to let until work completed meaning you could not have moved in by the time you needed to.
          Furnished/unfurnished/property dressing
          You proceeded on a furnished flat whilst telling LL you didn't want her furniture, yet complain about loss of nice sofa, rug etc present at initial viewing. LL may have replaced them to conform with 'furnished' description. Ask if LL will remove, or allow you to dispose of them.
          Many single female houseowners have to cope with re-decorators for several hours each day for duration of work. If nervous, wife could invite friends/neighbours around or go out shopping. Poss you could re-arrange your work?
          Handrail missing is a fair safety point, easily rectified along with sash windows etc.
          Documents
          You can request to see the EPC, not required to let you keep a copy.
          Pretty meaningless IMV, it can be up to 10 years old, most rented properties will only achieve mid range C/D, low energy light bulbs throughout assist achieving higher band. Suggested improvements are not binding on LL. Most Ts (& LLs) do not understand them.
          Lack of move in inventory may benefit you long term. Poss LL is waiting for completion of works. Your own photos and list compiled now is worth keeping as is notifying LL of minor repairs required.
          Overall, not very serious, there are plenty of LLs that do nothing.
          How long is your fixed term?

          Comment


            #6
            There are some inconsistencies with your position and timings.
            E.G. you have said you moved in 5 weeks ago but then said you've been there for 1 week.

            Also, I agree with Mariner that you cannot claim items being moved out/replaced when you asked for unfurnished.
            All your issues could have been contained in the "agreed terms of offer". If they weren't why not?

            Why did you agree to move to a home before seeing the tenancy agreement but after parting with lots of money and also, without insisting on a pre-move in inspection?

            I hear this type of complaint often on this forum, from tenant who put themselves into a unhappy situation and then complain about things afterwards.

            Thankfully, none of your issues are worth any aggravation or legal action, but what to do now?
            Your only recourse is to write to the landlord and agent and outline the above and request a timeframe for their rectification that is acceptable to you.
            Since you have documented all the above issues, you can lodge this info with the landlord and agent along with pictures as proof.

            Finally, don't go by anything verbal in future and if you see another home that needs work or large/expensive items, make sure you get an agreement in writing that the work will be finished etc., by a certain date but at least BEFORE going forward with that property, including what happens if the work/items are not completed/installed at the pre-move inspection which you should also demand.
            You can also have a sliding scale of actions.

            If the LL refuses to sign such an agreement, move on.

            Comment


              #7
              Just as an side, if your LL has been so lax with the "moving in" documents, have you had any confirmation that they have protected your deposit? If not, add this to the list of things you need to chase up!

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by johngloughrey View Post
                The main issues are as follows:

                Redecoration
                The property I am renting was in need of redecorating, including numerous walls to be re-plastered. The work to be done was outlined in the "agreed terms of offer" and the tenancy agreement and in both documents it was stated that the work would be completed by the start of the tenancy agreement.

                I have been in the property for one week now and whilst the plaster is now dry, the landlady has advised that she cannot get work started on painting the walls for another week at least, and that this may slip by a a few days.

                This means that not only do we (I live with my partner) not know for sure when the work will be done, but we are expected to stay in the apartment whilst the work is being carried out. Fine for me as I work, but my partner is not currently working and is not happy and having 2 men in the property for what is likely to be the best part of a week.
                Whilst the LL should have done the works before move in date, it's nevertheless perfectly reasonable now to delay painting until the plaster is dry.

                Your options are to either: 1) pester the LL until it gets done, and put up with workmen for a week, and/or 2) ask LL for 'compensation', failing which, if she refuses, you'd have to bring a claim in the county court. The award would be unlikely to amount to much.

                Furnished/ Unfurnished
                The property was advertised as furnished but we explained to the letting agency that we only wanted the property if it was unfurnished. We accepted that one of the beds could not be removed but as far as we were concerned, everything else would go/ be removed. The issue, for me anyway, is that none of this was confirmed in writing.

                Property dressing
                The contents of the apartment have been changed since we made an offer to rent the property. The sink unit in the bathroom has been changed and in the living room what was there before - a nice 2 seater in white material along with a matching rug- has been replaced by an old 2 seater leather sofa, matching leather chairs and an old brown rug. Can landlords do this? Change the contents of the property without consulting the prospective tenants.
                You seem to be saying that you didn't want any furniture so how can you also complain that you don't like the furniture that should have been removed? It's generally advisable to get confirmation of what's staying and going (especially if viewing when a T is in situ, who may have his own furniture).

                Handrail
                The flat is on the first floor with it's own internal, closed, staircase. Should the landlord have fitted a handrail? From the markings on the wall and the staircase, one has been fitted in the past so not sure why it was ever removed.
                No statutory obligation as such for the LL to fit a handrail. You'd have to get the property assessed by the Environmental Health Officer at the local council, and the absence of a rail may fall under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System, in which case the EHO could require LL to install one.
                Moving in documents
                The tenancy agreement states we should have been provided with an EPC and the associated report. We have not seen this.
                LL should provide an EPC but the worst that can happen if she doesn't, and you report her, is that she gets fined about £200. Not really much point as getting an EPC now won't change the property's energy efficiency, not to mention that reporting the LL is unlikely to promote a harmonious LL/T relationship.
                It also refers to a check-in, etc. This has still not been done, we do not have an inventory, nor do we have a schedule of condition (both referred to in the tenancy agreement).
                The inventory/condition report is what would provide the LL with evidence of original good condition should she allege damage at the end of the tenancy. You are not at any disadvantage if the LL does not have this evidence (but it puts the LL at a significant disadvantage).

                Comment

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