Landlord Problem

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    Landlord Problem

    Hi Everyone,

    I am looking for some advice on tackling a difficult landlord.

    My girlfriend and I have been living in a newly finished property for 4 months now.

    When we looked around the flat it wasn't completed, just a few odd bits needing doing. We loved the flat and decided we would rent it, but we were assured by the estate agent these things would be finished before we move in, or very shortly after.
    The agreement is between us and the landlord, and we are not managed by the estate agents. But we do have written communication from the landlord confirming that all these things would be completed by September.

    The flat is part of an old house that has been converted into 3 flats, all of which are owned by the landlord.

    We have had a few of the thing completed that we were assured would be, but something’s are still outstanding and the landlord is getting increasingly more difficult to get in contact with. And he is often fobbing us off with excuses and always delaying things.
    Now he has stopped answering phone calls and is not responding to voice mails I leave. So I feel the best way to get his attention now is to start making reductions in the rent we pay him for each outstanding item.

    I'm sure most people will tell me this is not the way to go about things, but I welcome any other suggestions.
    Below is a list of outstanding things, some more important than others, and I would really value peoples opinion on how much I should reduce the rent by for each item. I am then going to take an average of all the responses and deduct this from the rent each month until resolved.

    Curtain rails - We have no way of covering the windows, and our bedroom is clearly visible from one of the main roads leaving the city. We are also losing valuable heat, which will be more relevant when you get the radiator section!

    Towel rail and Toilet paper holder - Self explanatory

    Intercom/buzzer - There is an intercom system for the front door, but the buzzer to let people in or out is not wired up. Meaning we have to come down from the top floor every time. The front door to the main property is only held in place by one chub lock, so you have to have the key to get in AND out. I am concerned this does not meet fire health and safety standards.

    Radiators - After a lot of hassle we have eventually had one electric panel heater installed in the lounge. We still have no heating in the bathroom, hallway or either of the two bedrooms. We are also getting a lot of condensation within the flat that we are struggling to get rid of. It is in our tenancy agreement to keep the flat suitable warm to prevent such issues! We were promised radiators in all rooms and we have this in writing. It is winter, we can’t dry any clothes and it is damn cold now!

    Fire alarms - We raised concerns that the fire alarms were not working in the flat. It took him 2 months to send an electrician to check. The electrician confirmed the fire alarms were not wired up. They are now wired up, but at the expense of taking working fire alarms out of the communal areas of the property (Entrance and stairs) to put in our flat.

    Electrician’s certificate - We have not yet asked him for this, but I am fully aware, by his own admission, that he does not have this as he fitted our one radiator himself (he's not an electrician)! I believe this is illegal.

    All of the above things we were promised would have been completed by September. And we have most in writing. Three months later and they are not.
    I would really value people’s opinion on how much they think is a sensible reduction factor for each item. Our rent is £600 per month.

    I look forward to, and thank in advance, for any responses.

    Thanks!

    #2
    Originally posted by Epod184 View Post
    All of the above things we were promised would have been completed by September. And we have most in writing. Three months later and they are not.
    I would really value people’s opinion on how much they think is a sensible reduction factor for each item.
    I can understand you irritation; however you're aware that if you escalate things as you suggest you're almost certainly going to end up being evicted. You might save yourself all the hassle of that and just move somewhere else instead, in your own time and without pressure?

    If you reduce the rent as compensation for the missing stuff, then you will be in arrears and in breach of your tenancy agreement, which will give your landlord grounds to seek reposession, unfair though that may seem.

    I think that what you may ba able to do, after having given the landlord due warning, is get quotes from tradesmen for sorting the issues out, getting the work done yourself using the cheapest quote, and then deducting the cost from your rent. However, expect to be evicted at the landlord's earliest opportunity, so as above - is it worth tne hassle to you?

    If you do really want to stay in the property, above all keep relationships with your landlord good. As a landlord myself I'm not excusing his behaviour - far from it - just being pragamtic.

    Comment


      #3
      I agree with Eric. The protocol for instructing repairs yourself and deducting the cost from the rent is outlined in this page from the Shelter website:

      http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_ad..._to_do_repairs
      '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


        #4
        You're not entitled to withhold rent due to disrepair; what you are entitled to do is either claim against the LL for damages/breach of contract (or you could ask for an order for the LL to do the work), or, alternatively, there is a procedure whereby you obtain quotes, carry out the repairs, and deduct the cost from the rent. The procedure must be strictly followed, and involves a lot of letter writing to the LL, (and keeping a paper trail), so that he has the opportunity to remedy the problems before you go ahead.

        See this link for further details. If you don't follow the procedure, then any rent you withhold will simply count as unpaid rent.

        Note that many of the items listed (curtain rails, towel holder, intercom, etc) do not fall under the LL's statutory repairing obligations, so you do need written evidence that there was a contractual agreement for the LL to make these improvements (the letter you mention should be sufficient evidence).

        Similarly, although the LL is legally obliged to keep an existing heating system in repair, he is not obliged to install new radiators (unless an EHO decides that there is a HHSRS health hazard due to the cold temperature), so again this would need to be a contractual agreement.

        I assume you mean smoke alarms. If this is a reasonably recent flat conversion, then I believe building regs require mains smoke alarms, but not necessarily in the communal areas.

        The LL is not obliged to provide you with an electrical safety certificate, but he is obliged to ensure that the electrics in the property are safe. If you are concerned about the radiator, (as well as the key-only operated front door) then contact the EHO at the local council.

        As Ericthelobster points out, engaging in a dispute with the LL is likely to end up with him evicting you.

        Comment

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