Basic legal standards for a flat

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    Basic legal standards for a flat

    Hi,

    A friend of mine is renting a flat from a well known high street chain (It's above one of their retail premises). The flat is in a VERY poor state of repair generally and It got me wondering what the basic legal standards are for rented accomodation?

    There is no heating other than a single gas fire in one of the bedrooms. There was no fridge or cooker supplied with the flat. There is no basin in the bathroom. There is another flat on the floor above, but no seperate entrance to it -i.e. the tennant in that flat literally has to walk through my friends place to enter his flat! The whole flat is very noticeably on a slant! It's like standing on a gentle slope. There appear to be a good few rats in residence as well.

    No gas safety certificate has ever been issued. I advised my friend to request one (Having lived in the flat for 5 months). A plumber came round and did some kind of inspection but didn't give any paperwork to my friend, so he still doesn't actually have a certificate. The plumber apparently said that the gas fire was illegal in a bedroom and that "If anyone asks, I've turned the gas supply off and you've turned it back on yourself" (!). My friend was advised not to use the gas fire even though it is the solitary source of heat in the property.

    Clearly the continued absence of a valid gas safety cert is illegal but is anything else here actually illegal? Are there any legal requirements in respect of heating standards? for a wash basin in a bathroom?

    The rent is probably half the level that you would expext to pay for this flat if it was in decent shape -so is it just a case of 'you get what you pay for'? Personally I was quite shocked that somebody would offer a property to rent in this state, particularly a very well known high street chain.

    #2
    Start with section 11 of Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. L is clearly in breach- criminal offence - so refer to Local Authority which has enforcement powers.
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    Comment


      #3
      Hi Jeffrey,

      Are you refering to anything other than the Gas Safety situation in terms of illegality?

      Having read section 11, clearly L is responsible for maintainence but I'm still unclear as to whether there is a legal standard for particular heating/sanitary/kitchen appliances to be in place. eg section 11 says a basin must be maintained, but is there a requirement to even have one in the first place? My suspicion is that there is no requirement but that the property is 'sold as seen'.

      Comment


        #4
        As far as I am aware there is no obligation for a property to have central heating (i.e. if a property has never had a heating system installed there is no legal requirement for a landlord to provide heating). However, if there is heating in place, the landlord is obliged to ensure the system is maintained and safe.

        The lack of a current Corgi gas safety certificate for the boiler is a breach of criminal law - they are compulsory in private rental property. Tenants are entitled to a copy of them when issued.

        http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/gas_safety.htm
        http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/general_safety.htm

        Tenants also have the right to privacy enshrined in housing law which gives them quiet enjoyment of the property. The fact that other tenants can stroll through the property could indicate that it's was poorly converted (but you will need to elaborate on what area the other tenant can access for your friends property and if it is supposed to be a self-contained property or part of a flat-share, for example).

        You can have a look at the local council's website about pest control. Some make it the responsibility of the landlord to fix, others offer free pest control services.

        Your friends local council will have a private rental relation officer or environmental health department that can inspect properties and ensure the landlord complies with his statutory obligations.

        Also, check with the local authority whether this dwelling might be classified as a HMO because some large properties, if owned by a single landlord, under some circumstnaces come under a requirement to possess a licence and must pass a health and safety inspection to be issued with it. The rules are quite complex, however, and each local authority has discretion about this scheme above the mandatory requirement for properties of 5+ tenants in 3+ habitable storeys.

        http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/hmos.htm

        Comment


          #5
          Hi Beeber,

          re: the access of the upstairs tennant -he literally could stroll around the entire flat if he wanted to. There is a single main door from the street going up a flight of stairs into my friends flat. there is a landing with the kitchen bedrooms etc off it and at the other end of the hallway, there is the reception room and a door to the flat upstairs so the tenant upstairs has full access to the entire place! I was amazed by this. They are not having any trouble with the guy upstairs but I still find it very odd that you could be sitting in your living room and a total stranger can walk through your flat at any moment. My friend has a seperate AST and this is not meant to be a flatshare.

          I am of course aware of the criminality of not issuing a gas safety certificate.

          Interesting re: the possibility that this is an HMO.

          Anyway, rather than battling the landlord forever to improve the flat, my advice was to move out and try and find somewhere of a better standard.

          Comment


            #6
            I can see your point of view in recommending that your friend doesn't battle with an incompetent landlord who is clearly ignorant of his responsibilities or knows them but is too stingy to comply.

            However, for the next tenant, it's not going to be such a bargain if they die of carbon monoxide poisoning or become vulnerable should the other tenant have criminal tendencies.

            Might be an idea to get the ball rolling in reporting its deficiencies to the local council for the benefit of its future tenants.

            Comment


              #7
              Look what I just found:

              (2) Adequate washbasins shall be provided in—
              (a) rooms containing water closets; or

              (b) rooms or spaces adjacent to rooms containing water closets.

              Any such room or space shall be separated from places where food is prepared.

              (The Building regulations 1991, part G, http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si1991/Uks...en_7.htm#sdiv1 )

              Comment


                #8
                If your friend wants to make waves; get him to call in the Local Authority Tenancy Relations Officer, or Trading Standards to give the flat an inspection.
                All posts in good faith, but do not rely on them

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                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by shhhh View Post
                  Look what I just found:

                  (2) Adequate washbasins shall be provided in—
                  (a) rooms containing water closets; or

                  (b) rooms or spaces adjacent to rooms containing water closets.

                  Any such room or space shall be separated from places where food is prepared.

                  (The Building regulations 1991, part G, http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si1991/Uks...en_7.htm#sdiv1 )
                  Yes but the building regulations only apply when a property is being built or renovated -something which clearly hasn't happened here for a very long time!

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by UKLandlord1000
                    Anyway, rather than battling the landlord forever to improve the flat, my advice was to move out and try and find somewhere of a better standard.
                    Yes, sensible advice.

                    When does the fixed term of this tenancy agreement end? What moves is your friend making to find new bigger better brighter accommodation with a competent landlord? Has your friend learned anything about checking the property before agreeing to sign anything?

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by Poppy View Post
                      Yes, sensible advice.

                      When does the fixed term of this tenancy agreement end? What moves is your friend making to find new bigger better brighter accommodation with a competent landlord? Has your friend learned anything about checking the property before agreeing to sign anything?
                      I believe the fixed term ends fairly soon so no problem there. The only problem is a lack of means for them to pay for somewhere more expensive!

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