Copy of Environmental H Officers Report confirms Structural Defects

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    Copy of Environmental H Officers Report confirms Structural Defects

    Sorry this is old chestnut of damp/condensation............

    Im a Landlord but posting this for a friend who is a tenant (not of mine, I hasten to add). We have written in the first person singular for ease.......

    I am in dispute with Landlord & Letting agent over mould in the property. They say caused by tenant lifestyle despite my heating & ventilating the property (with facilities available). They were not open to my explaining my lifestyle so that they could explain to me how my lifestyle was indeed causing the problem. Indeed I was told to shut up by the LL in front of the letting agent. I also confirm that I reported the appearance of mould promptly.

    My bed/mattress is covered in mould, plus other items (soft furnishings, clothes) have been damaged ie also covered in mould, can these be cleaned effectivley or do they have to be dumped?

    Landlord has offered an immediate release without penalty which I am happy to accept as soon as I secured another flat. I am packing up and ready to go asap.

    Problem: Letting agent has refused to provide reference (rent always paid on time, including first 6 months upfront to secure the flat – its size is rare where I live, inspections all fine, no issues etc ) and I have been refused the flat I was hoping to get.

    In summary, I called in the local authority housing officer yesterday and he stated that that the mould was caused by structural issues and unquestionably not tenant lifestyle (he cited about 6 different reasons). He is sending me a report which I will email to Letting Agent.
    How do you think I should word my response to the Letting Agent, Ive already advised them that I want to exit asap and realise that the sooner Im out the sooner the LL can take the necessary actions to repair the flat.

    How does one secure another flat without previous LL reference – I feel very aggrieved that the mould was not caused by me but I am being punished.

    Is there a Letting Agents association that I can report this agency too (very well established company, with a number of offices in the local area).

    Currently Im staying with a friend on a blow up mattress and living out of a holdall. I am receiving medical care as my lung capacity (prev perfect) is now at 45% due to a reaction to the mould spores.

    I am ususally a very easy going person and would have been prepared to just exit, get my deposit back and move on BUT their refusal of a reference has made me think about taking legal action against the LL for not providing a habitable environment. (All 12 of the flats in the block suffer from mould and managing agent has fitted at least one blower and air vent to one flat) Do I have a realistic chance of success or is it more trouble than its worth?

    Thank you in advance for your advice/opinions.

    #2
    Have you had a visit from Environmental Health Officer to fully survey and investigate the causes of the mould? They are the only ones who can tell you categorically what is causing the issue and enforce the LL to repair the problem, if indeed it is structural and not tenant-lifestyle generated!

    Reporting the Letting Agent will not get you anywhere, as they work for the LL and if LL refused to acknowledge the problem and/or authorise the work necessary, their hands are tied.

    Wait until you have the promised report, as no-one will take any further notice of you until the official version of events is available.

    Comment


      #3
      Sadly a letting agent (or landlord..) does not have to give a reference - any more than a tenant has to give a landlord or letting agent references (now there's a thought..).

      I agree with LesleyAnne: Get EH involved. You have my sympathy, I had to clear up a house with mould (wasn't even sleeping there..) & was surprised & shocked how doing that left me breathless walking up a gentle slope.. (in that case tenant had leak under the bath, mushrooms growing on floor-boards but did not bother to let me know...).

      Hope it works out .. see
      http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_ad...nmental_health

      &

      http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_ad..._for_disrepair

      & maybe 'phone Shelter's **free** helpline for advice 0808 800 4444

      Best regards
      I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

      Comment


        #4
        Has your friend asked the LL directly for a reference? Is there a previous LL or LA who could provide one?

        Comment


          #5
          Indeed, as daveg says:

          Perhaps showing prospective LL proof of always paying rent in full on-time (eg bank statements..) might help...

          Hope it works out..
          I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

          Comment


            #6
            Here is the report from the Environmental Officer. I have forwarded a copy to the Managing Partner of the Letting Agents. He has emailed me stating that he will look into my complaint after Christmas. He is refusing to understand that I have been made homeless by the flat being structurally defective and is still refusing to provide a reference.

            Address of Flat

            Tenant: xxxxx

            Without prejudice

            None of the dampness in this property is the result of lifestyle of tenant.

            Reasons for this conclusion are:
            Almost no dampness in areas where it is normally prevalent such as bathroom (entirely free of all moisture), kitchen (no moisture damage), all ceilings throughout are free of dampness and mould growth, all window frames and sills clear of any mould or droplets of water.

            Front left bedroom (not used for sleeping in)
            The conspicuous black spot mould to the lower wall in the front left bedroom (as viewed from facing the front of the building) is entirely the result of structural defects. The character of the defined large black spots of mould and its locality is evidence that moisture is bridging across the cavity in the wall. This bridging could be due to a number of reasons including:
            - cracks in the wall
            - defective wall ties
            - lack of cavity wall insulation/ or missing patch causing cold spot
            - ingress of water due to weak mortar joints
            - it may be coming in from the top of the wall and bridging across at a lower level. This building has a flat roof.
            It is noted that the mould spots are only present where the outside of the wall is exposed to the elements. This is a relevant contributory factor. It should be further noted that this room is not used for sleeping in, which means even less moisture being exuded into the air. This negates any argument about lifestyle being the cause of the problem.

            To investigate the exact reason, a brick could be carefully removed from the inside of the room from where the mould is most excessive and the cavity void examined to determine why the affected area of the wall is receiving the moisture. If there is water penetrating from somewhere a distance from the mould then a moisture content survey should be carried out to determine the source and course of the ingressing water.


            Front right bedroom
            There is slight mould beginning to appear on the lower part of the wall. There is no mould anywhere else in the room that is indicative of high levels of human moisture producing activity. The windows, other parts of the wall and ceiling have no mould or dampness.
            The mould is where the floor is above the staircase in the common area, and has been caused by the cold area caused in this location as a result of the recent inclement weather.
            Kitchen
            No mould at all.

            Bathroom
            No mould at all.

            Lounge
            There is a negligible mould on external wall. If this was due to tenant behaviour, the mould would definitely be more widespread. This mould is almost certainly caused by a defect in the cavity wall leading to a cold area on the wall.

            I have been informed that a lady representing XXXXX Letting Agents in insisting that the dampness and subsequent mould problems within this dwelling are entirely the result of the lifestyle of the tenant. I would be most interested in seeing the evidence upon which this conclusion has been reached.

            Surveyed 19 December 2012 by

            XXXXXX M.Sc., MCIEH
            Chartered Environmental Health Practitioner
            Stratford on Avon District Council

            Comment


              #7
              Copy of Environmental H Officers Report confirms Structural Defects

              (Now that I have received hardcopy of report, below, I did not know whether I should continue with original thread or start a new one).

              I am the tenant of 15 months, always paid rent on time, no issues following inspections by letting agents etc.

              I discovered mould in early Oct 2012, letting asst stated it was condensation cuased by my lifestyle. I disagreed but agreed to spray with her bleach solution suggestion and continued to vent/heat property appropriately.

              8 Dec, mould back with vengeance, I reported immediately, letting agent & LL attended property and it was again stated to me that it was tenant lifestyle. On trying to explain/discuss how my lifestyle could not be creating the problem,my representative was told to shut up by LL.

              I have been offered immediate exit without penalty by LL and I am happy to agree to this but now I am being refused a reference & have already been refused another flat.

              I have forwarded EHO's report to Letting Agent this morning, asking (in light of the report would they now be agreeable to providing a reference as I was now homeless and living in a friend's floor) his email back said he would look in to the matter when he returns from Christmas holidays!!!!

              I am in the process of applying for a new flat and hope that bank statements etc will be sufficient.

              Question - who do I pursue LL and/or Letting agent for legal redress? Am I allowed to ask if any legal expert here would be interested in taking up the cause professionally?


              Thank you Mnh for Tenant



              __________________________________________________ ____________
              Address of Flat

              Tenant: xxxxx

              Without prejudice

              None of the dampness in this property is the result of lifestyle of tenant.

              Reasons for this conclusion are:
              Almost no dampness in areas where it is normally prevalent such as bathroom (entirely free of all moisture), kitchen (no moisture damage), all ceilings throughout are free of dampness and mould growth, all window frames and sills clear of any mould or droplets of water.

              Front left bedroom (not used for sleeping in)
              The conspicuous black spot mould to the lower wall in the front left bedroom (as viewed from facing the front of the building) is entirely the result of structural defects. The character of the defined large black spots of mould and its locality is evidence that moisture is bridging across the cavity in the wall. This bridging could be due to a number of reasons including:
              - cracks in the wall
              - defective wall ties
              - lack of cavity wall insulation/ or missing patch causing cold spot
              - ingress of water due to weak mortar joints
              - it may be coming in from the top of the wall and bridging across at a lower level. This building has a flat roof.
              It is noted that the mould spots are only present where the outside of the wall is exposed to the elements. This is a relevant contributory factor. It should be further noted that this room is not used for sleeping in, which means even less moisture being exuded into the air. This negates any argument about lifestyle being the cause of the problem.

              To investigate the exact reason, a brick could be carefully removed from the inside of the room from where the mould is most excessive and the cavity void examined to determine why the affected area of the wall is receiving the moisture. If there is water penetrating from somewhere a distance from the mould then a moisture content survey should be carried out to determine the source and course of the ingressing water.


              Front right bedroom
              There is slight mould beginning to appear on the lower part of the wall. There is no mould anywhere else in the room that is indicative of high levels of human moisture producing activity. The windows, other parts of the wall and ceiling have no mould or dampness.
              The mould is where the floor is above the staircase in the common area, and has been caused by the cold area caused in this location as a result of the recent inclement weather.
              Kitchen
              No mould at all.

              Bathroom
              No mould at all.

              Lounge
              There is a negligible mould on external wall. If this was due to tenant behaviour, the mould would definitely be more widespread. This mould is almost certainly caused by a defect in the cavity wall leading to a cold area on the wall.

              I have been informed that a lady representing XXXXX Letting Agents in insisting that the dampness and subsequent mould problems within this dwelling are entirely the result of the lifestyle of the tenant. I would be most interested in seeing the evidence upon which this conclusion has been reached.

              Surveyed 19 December 2012 by

              XXXXXX M.Sc., MCIEH
              Chartered Environmental Health Practitioner
              Stratford on Avon District Council

              Comment


                #8
                The EHO report, whilst totally vindicating your statement that it is not tenant lifestyle, does not state that the property is uninhabitable which weakens your statement; "He is refusing to understand that I have been made homeless by the flat being structurally defective" - you haven't.

                I am not, for one minute saying that this situation is right, but if you have written evidence that the mould actually is causing your health issues then maybe another avenue you could consider is getting a contractor in yourself and deducting the cost from rent. There are specific processes you must follow but tbh if all is as you say then a court is likely to allow a little lee-way if the landlord were to argue about the deductions.

                If that is a risk-too-far you could make the situation better for yourself by mitigating the mould problem - there are products available that could dramatically reduce the problem.

                Comment


                  #9
                  I would advise both landlord and agent of this report and make sure they see copy immediately.

                  Get in touch with the 'tenant relations' officer of you local council for ideas on what to do next.



                  Freedom at the point of zero............

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Two related threads have been merged.
                    I also post as Mars_Mug when not moderating

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Given that the black mould is present in both of the only bedrooms to the property and my GP has stated that she believes my breathing probs have been caused by the mould (I will also be seeing a specialist for a written report)ergo the property is uninhabitable by me.

                      What legal avenues are open to me for damage to health/property, emergency storage costs, temporary accommodation etc.

                      Thank you

                      Comment


                        #12
                        You can sue the landlord for any 'consequential loss' that their failure has caused you. You have to mitigate that loss (keep it as small as possible) and ultimately a judge has to decide if your claim is valid. Your EHO report would help with that as would a report from a medical specialist confirming that the mould caused your health problems. With regards to £££s for health, the courts only compensate for financial loss. It is possible to put a monetary value on ill health but you'd need to employ a specialist solicitor.

                        Comment

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