Advice needed on tenant rights

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  • Advice needed on tenant rights

    So yesterday I signed a Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement with a local letting agent for a property. At the point of signing they stated that the Gas Safety Check had been carried out that morning and that everything had passed except the gas fire in the living room, this isn't a major problem for me as the property has Gas Central Heating throughout.

    On arriving at my new property I noticed the following issues:

    1. The front door has dropped and there is about a 1/2 inch gap on the one edge of the door meaning cold air is leaking in. When I viewed property letting agent let me in so I didn't notice this.
    2. Hot water tap in kitchen is defective meaning I have no hot water to clean in kitchen.
    3. Several radiators do not work. I checked for air locks, opened thermostatic valves but again they do not work.
    4. The electric shower is leaking internally in the plastic housing, I could clearly see water leaking out and could hear electrical arcing.

    So bearing in mind I only signed the agreement one day ago what recourse do I have? Can I request cancellation of agreement on the basis the house is not fit for purpose and the electrical shower is unsafe? I have emailed Letting Agents to inform them of these issues but am a little unsure of what rights I have....

    Any advice would be appreciated....

  • #2
    Originally posted by pootas View Post
    1. The front door has dropped and there is about a 1/2 inch gap on the one edge of the door meaning cold air is leaking in. When I viewed property letting agent let me in so I didn't notice this.
    Draught excluder. Less than £10.
    Originally posted by pootas View Post
    2. Hot water tap in kitchen is defective meaning I have no hot water to clean in kitchen.
    Do you have hot water from any taps in the house?
    Originally posted by pootas View Post
    3. Several radiators do not work. I checked for air locks, opened thermostatic valves but again they do not work.
    Have you checked the main thermostat, and the valves that do not have thermostats on them?
    Originally posted by pootas View Post
    4. The electric shower is leaking internally in the plastic housing, I could clearly see water leaking out
    You sure? Did you try it when you viewed the property?
    Originally posted by pootas View Post
    and could hear electrical arcing.
    What does that sound like?
    Originally posted by pootas View Post
    So bearing in mind I only signed the agreement one day ago what recourse do I have? Can I request cancellation of agreement on the basis the house is not fit for purpose and the electrical shower is unsafe? I have emailed Letting Agents to inform them of these issues but am a little unsure of what rights I have....
    Are there any other reasons for you wanting to back out of the agreement?

    You haven't given the landlord time to fix the problems, so why are you so keen to find out your rights at this point - and why do you want to back out of the whole agreement without giving the landlord have a chance?

    On what basis is the house 'not fit for purpose'? Does it lack a roof? Is it full of wild animals?

    Comment


    • #3
      8086 thank you for that ever so helpful reply...allow me to clarify.

      1. The door has been hung incorrectly. It has dropped on it's hinges and does not sit flush with the door frame. This also causes a problem when locking the door. A draught excluder will not rectify this issue.

      2. I have hot water from a bathroom tap. However considering this is a new lease I do not expect to have these issues when moving in. The letting agents/landlord should have made these basic checks.

      3. The main thermostat is fine, I have also checked ALL radiator valves. It is clear several of the thermostatic valves on the radiators are faulty.

      4. Yes I am sure the shower is leaking. No I did not try it when viewing. I don't feel you should have to check it for leaks. The letting agents/landlord should have made these basic checks.

      5. Electrical arcing sound's like a crackling sound. I suggest you look on Youtube for a few videos.

      The reason I do not want to go ahead is simple:

      These issues have delayed my moving, I work shifts and cannot possibly move next week. Nor can I get my furniture delivered next week. Therefore I could not move before Christmas. These faults are in no way my fault yet I am being penalised. The property was mis-advertised. It has several faults which are delaying my move.

      Comment


      • #4
        I suspect you have, but can you confirm whether you have been given your own set of keys to the property and moved any of your belongings in (even a bag of cleaning materials from Tesco)?

        I am confused why you sent an (easily ignorable) email to the letting agent - why did you not phone or go to the agency if it is as dire as I take it to be?

        Comment


        • #5
          let them know the problems you are having, i would give them time to fix the problems but let them know they are some urgent issues to sort out, mainly the door and shower. For the radiators, check that both valves on each radiator are open, not just the TRV's.

          Comment


          • #6
            I have been given a set of keys. I have not moved any of my possesions into the property. Quite simply because I do not feel comfortable leaving them in the property with a faulty door!!

            I emailed the letting agents so I had something in writing, I did also follow it up with a phone call.

            They state they have replaced the shower today however the other issues cannot be rectified until next week.

            Comment


            • #7
              These issues have delayed my moving, I work shifts and cannot possibly move next week. Nor can I get my furniture delivered next week. Therefore I could not move before Christmas. These faults are in no way my fault yet I am being penalised. The property was mis-advertised. It has several faults which are delaying my move.
              So, were you planning to move in today, but cancelled your arrangements/furniture delivery?

              So bearing in mind I only signed the agreement one day ago what recourse do I have? Can I request cancellation of agreement on the basis the house is not fit for purpose and the electrical shower is unsafe?
              You can request, and the LL can refuse.

              The problems you describe do not IMO give you a strong basis upon which to repudiate the contract (nor do the moving in arrangement problems). If the LL won't let you off, and you pull out and don't move in, then you risk either a claim for damages for breach of contract (tho' the LL would be obliged to mitigate his losses), or, if you've already taken possession (which is unclear) then you risk a claim by the LL for unpaid rent for the whole fixed term (albeit he can only claim for unpaid rent after it falls due). Either way, it's a reasonably big risk you'd be taking, i.e. potentially costly, and if it's a course you're seriously considering pursuing, I would advise you to first get specialist legal advice.

              The LL has statutory repairing obligations under s.11 Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. This includes the structure, heating system, shower, etc. He's also obliged to ensure that the electrics are safe. So, from the sound of it, the LL may well be in breach but it doesn't mean that the property is uninhabitable. You could have a bath instead of a shower. You could get hot water for washing up from the bathroom. You could ask the LL to provide plug in heaters whilst he sorts out the radiator problems.

              Assuming you don't pull out, then your legal remedy is claiming damages for the disrepair. But assuming the LL puts things right reasonably fast, it would be unlikely to amount to much, and you're better off negotiating some sort of agreement with the LL, whereby, for example, you both agree you'll move in in January after the problems are fixed and don't pay rent for the period before you move in. If you do arrive at an agreement, get it in writing.

              Comment


              • #8
                Thanks for a more thought out response westminster...

                I was planning to move in Thursday, however the letting agents didn't get the Gas Cert until late Thursday so by time I had the keys it was nearly 4pm on Thursday! I didn't move in today due to the fact I had cancelled a furniture delivery and was concerned regarding the issues with the property.

                I don't believe I have taken possession. I have the keys but that is it. I have not moved a single item of my possessions into the property.

                My issue is the property was not properly checked before being advertised for rent, this is clear due to the issues I have now discovered. I literally could only move in this week. I work a strict shift pattern and getting any time off now is out of the question. Especially at Christmas.

                Having weighed up my options there is no feasible way I can now move in before Christmas. Am I not right in saying the landlord has already breach s.11 by not ensuring the items were properly maintained at the point the agreement was signed?

                I should also point out at the point of signing I paid the deposit and months rent so they already have that...

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by pootas View Post
                  I don't believe I have taken possession. I have the keys but that is it. I have not moved a single item of my possessions into the property.
                  You need to understand that there is a key difference between a contract to create a tenancy, and a tenancy. Assuming the contract is for a fixed term of 3 years or less, then the tenancy will take effect in possession, i.e. by you physically taking possession.

                  If you pull out before a tenancy is created, then it's 'just' a breach of contract, and a breach of contract means that the LL would have a duty to mitigate his losses, e.g. by finding a replacement T quickly. If, however, you pull out after the tenancy arises, then the LL has no duty to mitigate, and can, if he chooses, treat the tenancy as continuing, not look for a replacement, and instead pursue you for rent.

                  IANAL, and I can't know the full facts, therefore I can't tell you whether or not a tenancy has been created (it's something that only a court could firmly decide upon), but the fact that you haven't moved in in any physical sense - e.g. not a single item of your belongings - is something in your favour, if you were intending to argue that no tenancy has been created.

                  Having weighed up my options there is no feasible way I can now move in before Christmas. Am I not right in saying the landlord has already breach s.11 by not ensuring the items were properly maintained at the point the agreement was signed?
                  Yes, the LL is in breach of s.11 if the heating/hot water system etc is in disrepair. I'm not sure that it's relevant that the heating/hot water system wasn't checked before signing the contract, though. There's no obligation on the LL's part to do pre-tenancy checks, and s.11 only kicks in at the point of entering into the contract. If the agent expressly misrepresented the property as having all systems in perfect working order, then that might be something else in your favour, but I certainly wouldn't rely on it to get you off the hook.

                  As I said before, your best bet really is to try to negotiate with the LL. You want to avoid this ending up in a legal battle.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    P.S. Keep a written diary of everything that happens, dates/events/conversations etc. If you have a phone conversation, confirm the contents of the call in an email immediately afterwards. Because, if this does end up in a legal battle, evidence like this is very useful.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I have this morning returned the keys to the letting agent. I have explained to them the following points:

                      1. They mis-represented the property. If they had informed me of the issues I would not have signed an agreement. Whilst I accept they cannot be aware of every tiny issue with a property I do feel they have not inspected this property fully before advertising for rent.
                      2. The landlord has not maintained the property. I appreciate he is now rectifying issues however these should never have occurred. He should have ensured the property was fit to let before letting it.
                      3. Due to the delays caused by the landlord/letting agents errors I am now not in a position to move in before January at the earliest. I am incurring storage charges etc which I have to pay.

                      I pointed out that I had not moved a single item of my possessions into the property and as such had not taken up physical possession and thus tenancy however the letting agent tried to say that I had taken possession etc on signing the agreement...

                      They have stated they will get the office manager to contact me on Monday. If I'm perfectly honest these issues have just put a massive strain on me over Xmas and I can't help but feel these issues should never have arisen. I accept that during a tenancy faults may arise but I don't think it's reasonable to have these issues on the day you sign the agreement...

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by pootas View Post
                        I have this morning returned the keys to the letting agent. I have explained to them the following points:

                        1. They mis-represented the property. If they had informed me of the issues I would not have signed an agreement. Whilst I accept they cannot be aware of every tiny issue with a property I do feel they have not inspected this property fully before advertising for rent.
                        2. The landlord has not maintained the property. I appreciate he is now rectifying issues however these should never have occurred. He should have ensured the property was fit to let before letting it.
                        3. Due to the delays caused by the landlord/letting agents errors I am now not in a position to move in before January at the earliest. I am incurring storage charges etc which I have to pay.

                        I pointed out that I had not moved a single item of my possessions into the property and as such had not taken up physical possession and thus tenancy however the letting agent tried to say that I had taken possession etc on signing the agreement...

                        They have stated they will get the office manager to contact me on Monday. If I'm perfectly honest these issues have just put a massive strain on me over Xmas and I can't help but feel these issues should never have arisen. I accept that during a tenancy faults may arise but I don't think it's reasonable to have these issues on the day you sign the agreement...
                        I doubt you could claim the property was misrepresented, everything you saw in the viewing was there when you signed the agreement, sure it wasn't all perfect or fixed but the landlord/agent is working on these and as long as the repairs don't take longer than say a week then they have probably done a good job getting everything rectified.

                        When one of my properties is to be let i don't go round checking absolutely everything, some things like the door is quote obvious but the central heating system could easily be overlooked, as well as the shower. There is always the odd niggle to sort out within the first week or so.

                        I think if you approach them to be re compensated for the storage fees whilst you were "unable to move in" then this might be the most you could ask for without it getting messy and expensive going down the legal route, they are unlikely to back down.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Whilst I appreciate what you're saying dazwalsh however the problems shouldn't have been there in the first place.

                          If they had arisen mid term then fair enough, however I don't think I should be faced with these issues on moving in.

                          I'm not being awkward regarding moving in, I literally would have been so happy to move in these last few days! I have now had to cancel furniture deliveries. These cannot be re-arranged before the new year. I also work shifts and it is impossible for me to get time off now! I literally could not now envisage moving in before the New Year which is no good to me.

                          If I'm honest the letting agents seem to be very unsure about what they can or cannot do! I appreciate it isn't their total fault and even the landlord may not have been aware but the only person being penalised is me.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Thread also posted at
                            http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk...-Viewing)-nbsp

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by westminster View Post
                              Yes, the LL is in breach of s.11 if the heating/hot water system etc is in disrepair. ... There's no obligation on the LL's part to do pre-tenancy checks, and s.11 only kicks in at the point of entering into the contract. If the agent expressly misrepresented the property as having all systems in perfect working order, then that might be something else in your favour, but I certainly wouldn't rely on it to get you off the hook.

                              As I said before, your best bet really is to try to negotiate with the LL. You want to avoid this ending up in a legal battle.
                              You don't appear to have taken the above on board.

                              I think you are being inadvisably hasty by taking such an uncompromising stance when the agent says he has arranged for the shower to be fixed already, and has promised to sort the other problems next week.

                              You may be lucky and the LL allows you to walk away from a binding contract without consequence (assuming that's what you're hoping), or you may be less lucky.

                              Bear in mind that, if this ends up in court, the court will consider the reasonableness of each party's behaviour. The agent is acting reasonably in responding immediately to the reported disrepair.

                              Originally posted by pootas View Post
                              the letting agents seem to be very unsure about what they can or cannot do!
                              This isn't vastly surprising. Agents aren't lawyers, and they also act entirely on instructions from the LL. It may take a few days for the LL to seek legal advice and respond to your refusal to proceed with the tenancy. I repeat, your best bet is to try to negotiate. Failing to attempt to negotiate or compromise will not work in your favour if this eventually ends up in court.

                              Comment

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