House from hell rented through agent

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    House from hell rented through agent

    Sorry for the long post, I have tried to keep this to the point but what I have written below is a summary of a “homes from hell” experience that I need help with. Below I have listed just the main points that I can think of but there is even more that could be added.

    My son and his fiancée rented a house through an estate agent earlier this year. They found out within three months that the house had been developed without planning consent and was the subject of planning appeals and aspects of the property were subject to concerns and recommendations by Building Control. I have attached detail from the letter from Building Control to the landlord. The house was a large three bed that was divided and altered to create two two-bed semis. building regs recommendations.doc

    When I first saw the property, shortly before they moved in, I was shocked at the condition of the house and to make it habitable I took time off work to help with the cleaning. We actually assembled a “team” and it took five full days with various people taking it in turns, day and night to make the place habitable. Superficially it was ok but once cupboards were opened and the upstairs carpets were properly looked at it was apparent that the house was in a shocking state. The cooker and washing machine (that were not included in the inventory) were not working. The oven was disgusting and contained a rancid fat filled baking tin … the washing machine didn’t drain and contained stinking water that had sat there for god knows how long, the fridge/freezer was switched off and contained rotting food. The carpets upstairs were stained and had to be shampooed before the young couple were able to move their belongings into the house. Unbelievable!

    This was their first home together and I know that they are adults and should never have agreed to take the property … I would have advised them very strongly to find somewhere else if I had been at their initial viewing, believe me!

    Anyway the point of all this is that I have a number of questions and concerns that I hope someone will be able to help me with.

    1. The cooker point wasn’t working and when C's parents bought them a new cooker the landlord wired it in himself, bypassing the switch, possibly directly into the mains as it turns out that they weren’t able to turn it off. They didn’t tell me this until they moved out … they found somewhere else to live and officially left the house on 14/12/11. The landlord finally turned up today (19/12/11) to “unwire” their cooker. He has rendered a two month old cooker unusable as he cut the wires close to the cooker in order to wire it into the mains.

    2. The estate agent is a member of RICS, yet the house even to the untrained eye (mine) was well below the standard one would expect from a rental property. I was struck instantly by the fact that the bathroom had no window or ventilation … surely an estate agent touting a property to let would have spotted this?

    3. In the period during the four weeks notice C & J gave the estate agents they again marketed the property and have shown prospective tenants around. Last Sunday the agent rang at 10am and asked if it was ok to show the house at 11am – needless to say they said no as it was not reasonable notice and they were still in bed!

    4. The water supply does not appear to have been split off … apparently our two have received a bill for approximately £400 yet the couple living in the other side of the house have not received a bill in the last year.

    5. As part of their tenancy agreement they were not allowed to drill holes in the walls or decorate. The landlord put up their curtain poles and blinds and banged in picture hooks etc. When my son attended at the final sign off inspection on 14 December with the agent she pointed out that there were holes in the walls (where the landlord had installed their curtain poles etc) and a stain on the spare room carpet – believe me it looked better than when they moved in. She informed J that they would be making a deduction from their £650 deposit for the “damage”. The deposit is registered with TDC and is likely to go through their dispute process. They received a text today (19/12/11) from the estate agent telling them that a deduction of £200 would be made and to let them know if it was ok. They sent a text back saying NO it is not ok.

    6. Does an estate agent (RICS or not) have an obligation to offer a property for rent that meets a minimum safety standard? J & C have never received a copy or had sight of electrical, gas or energy efficiency certificates. Should the agent have known about the planning dispute? Are they obliged not only to return the security deposit in full but also be rendered liable for letting a property that is clearly unfit to be let on so many levels?

    7. As C & J took the house in good faith and were rented a property that is the subject of a planning dispute and developed by what appears to be a cowboy builder have they any recourse in law or otherwise for the fact that they didn’t after all rent a house that could potentially be their home for longer than the six months they lived there. As soon as they found out that the landlord had been ordered by the planning department to restore the house to it’s original condition (ie back to one house) they felt insecure there and worried that they might be asked to leave at any time. They have endured a great deal of stress, upheaval, inconvenience and expense in having to move so soon after feeling they had settled into what they hoped would be their ”home”.

    I have advised them (in my capacity as “mum”) to just get the deposit back, to dispute the agent’s contention that the house has suffered any damage. Once they have the £650 back then they can take (any necessary) steps against the agent, landlord or both if it is justified and that is where I hope anyone here can help.

    Their new home is a different kettle of fish … I was there at their first viewing and C & J are certainly more aware of what to look for and point out to their new landlord. There was work to do and we negotiated a month rent free in order to bring the house up to scratch as the previous tenants had left it in a sorry condition and all the floor coverings had to be replaced as they had kept a number of cats in the house and it stank! The landlord was as aware as us about the amount of work and complete redecoration that would be needed and was more than generous in his offer of the rent free period and the help he has given regarding the removal of rubbish and replacement of fixtures, ie the toilet seat etc.

    What a difference they have experienced this time, armed with their new found knowledge and confidence to actually say something! C & J are settling into their new home beautifully, even after a few days they have both said how happy and settled they feel already and are looking forward to their wedding in May in the knowledge that they are renting a “real” house that they are making into their home.

    Any help or advice you can give will be gratefully received.
    Thank you
    Attached Files

    See OP update HERE
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