Landlord Not Allowing Peacful Enjoyment of the Property

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    Landlord Not Allowing Peacful Enjoyment of the Property

    Hello Folks

    I’m looking for advice on dealing with some issues with our letting agent, {Mod - name removed}.

    Myself and two friends are letting a property under a joint ‘assured shorthold tenancy agreement’. The agreement was entered in to on the 12th September 2014 for a fixed term of 12 months. The problems that we have with the agency are numerous, in-fact too numerous to break them all down here but essentially they are centred around their failure to carry out repairs, charging unspecified fees, failure to provide gas safety certificate and entry to the property for viewings and repairs.
    The issue that I seek advice for today is that of access to the property.

    Since November 2014, (only 3 months into the 12 month fixed term) {Mod - name removed} has carried out 10 group viewings of the property, the frequency of these are ramping up and currently we are having one or two viewings a week.

    Our contract states the following:
    15) When this contract ends
    1. You agree to allow us to show future tenants around the Property in the last 28 days of the tenancy, except where the Property in occupied by students, in which case we will conduct viewings starting from the first day of November and continuing until a new tenancy is secured on the Property. We will give you 24 hours’ notice if we want to do this.

    It should be noted that one of the three tenants is a student, myself and the third tenant are working professionals. No part of the contract states that this is a student let, nor were we informed so by {Mod - name removed} at any point. Also as stated we are in a joint agreement, not separate agreements as you’d expect in a shared student let.

    Up until now we have not expressed a wish to vacate the property next September, it was my understanding upon entering the agreement that after the fixed term ended we would then enter into a rolling periodic agreement.We feel that we are not being allowed ‘Peaceful Enjoyment of the Property’ and at times the behaviour of {Mod - name removed} is bordering on harassment.

    Upon challenging {Mod - name removed} they stated that is a student let and there is nothing we can do about it. We then stated that we may be interested in renewing the fixed term next year but they then asked for a sum in excess of £300 to secure this. Of course I am not paying and committing to this 7 months before my current agreement ends.
    Our agreement also states that we are entitled to 24 hours’ notice, on three occasions now, we have been given significantly less than this. We refused these viewings on that basis (but all the others were allowed). After challenging this they now consistently give us 25 hours’ notice.

    On the last viewing I has on a nightshift the previous night and again with 25 hours’ notice they sent a text telling us another viewing had been arranged, I immediately called to say it was inconvenient and I’d be in bed but they refused saying they’d let themselves in and that I was being unreasonable, citing that I already cancelled 3 other viewings; Bearing in mind they had not given us sufficient notice.
    There has also been one occasion where we were not present during a viewing, {Mod - name removed} let themselves in and failed to lock the front door when leaving, and of course they denied this.

    We have also been pushing hard for the repairs to be carried out and reported them to the local council. Since then we have had several visits a week from contractors ‘looking’ at issues with no authorisation or work order to carry out proper repairs. Jointly we have now taken around 2 weeks off work waiting on contractors, around half this time they have failed to show up. As a side note {Mod - name removed} passed my contact detailed to several contractors without my permission, for a time I was getting several call a day requesting access to the property when I was at work.

    I am now at the stage where I feel having strangers wander round my bedroom without me being present twice a week is completely unacceptable. We have tried to resolve this with {Mod - name removed} for several weeks now but they have no interest in even entertaining the conversation. We are now looking to exit the agreement on the basis that {Mod - name removed} have breached the contract not only on the viewing issues but also the repairs etc. We submitted a notice to quit last week on those grounds but {Mod - name removed} replied stating that there is no clause in the contract that allowed us to vacate before the end of the fixed term.

    Any advice on dealing with this situation would be much appreciated.

    John

    #2
    This situation must be very frustrating and annoying for you.

    First of all could you edit your post to remove the name of the agency? The mods will probably do this anyway.

    I would advise you to write to the agency to remind them that you are in a joint agreement not a HMO (House of Multiple Occupancy) - just check your tenancy agreement for this. It should say Assured Shorthold Tenancy on it. If it doesn't, and let's sayit just says Tenancy Agreement , it might still be an AST. It sounds like one. I would also say that there is no need to charge to renew the tenancy agreement as it legally becomes a Periodic Tenancy and there is no need to actually renew the agreement (they might want to charge you a small sum for reissuing paperworkk pertaining to the deposit). Say that you haven't given notice therefore there is no reason to show people round. Tell them that passing your contact details on to contractors is causing you distress as they are phoning you at work and it is a breach of confidentiality. Point out that you have taken days off work for contractors who haven't turned up and that you are no l onger prepared to this - contractors must turn up to assess the work at your convenience eg Saturday afternoons or whatever suits you within reason.

    I would then change the locks. it's easy to do. Keep the old locks in a safe place and return them to the doors when you eventually leave. You do not have to agree to anyone viewing or entering the house.

    You can vacate before the fixed term, but you will still be liable for the rent and other bills.

    Other people will also give you advice, so hang on in there

    Comment


      #3
      Your 'notice to quit' is likely not worth anything... you have signed up for a fixed term, you can't just up-and-leave. Or, you can but you'd be liable for the rent. I am guessing you don't want to do this.

      If I'm guessing correctly that you would also not want to leave if the pestering stopped, then the advice to change the locks will be both simple and effective. You are within your rights to do this, look under "Your landlord should not disturb tenants" here... http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_ad...sponsibilities

      It could cause ructions with the Agent, obviously... but you wouldn't be doing anything illegal if you feel you are being harassed and you'd have no further trouble with people entering without notice, or failing to remember to lock the door on their exit. Job done. If you're prepared for the ructions this will cause, go for it. I do read that you appear to have tried to be reasonable throughout, but - of course - we only get one side of nearly every story.

      Comment


        #4
        You don't have to let anyone view if you don't want - change the locks as suggested by Berlingogirl. Tell the agent this in writing. That seems to be your main beef.

        Ask the agent to provide evidence that was shown to you prior to renting indicating this was a 'student let'.

        What repairs needed doing?

        Is there a 'break clause' in your contract at 6 months? (The fact the AST was for 12 months suggests it is not a student let.) Your notice to quit is invalid so don't go there. You can also contact the private tenancy officer of the local council - most councils have one. Use them to re-enforce your complaints.



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

        Comment


          #5
          While I agree that the agents are acting in a most unprofessional manner - many of the answers are in your hands. However, If I may be so bold as to guess - you are all relatively young occupants? Leaping off to the council, banging on the floor about your rights etc, is not the way to get things done in this world. You do have rights, and ultimately there are authorities there to enforce your rights (like the council) but even your landlords agents are human beings and might respond better to a softer approach. Maybe.

          Now then, on to practical advice - lecture over.

          Even if the 'agreement' was a student let - a phrase that has no legal meaning - as Berlingogirl rightly says, you have the right to say no. If it is in the contract, and the landlord/agent could prove that you are breaching the contract then they would still have to go to court to enforce it. Most unlikely. However, you are uncertain whether you want to stay there. Now is the time that next years students are encouraged (by the Uni) to flat-hunt, so if you leave at the end of your tenancy, the landlord may be left with no tenant. Now if you were to write or email the agents saying that you are not willing to accommodate random viewings, but if they want to show prospective tenants round every other Saturday from 2-4 with at least 24 hours notice (or something similar) then everyone should be happy and, if they were bolshy enough to take it to court, a judge would consider your actions quite reasonable. I would include in that letter a paragraph that amounts to "we are considering not departing the property at the end of the current term, as per section 5 of the 1988 Housing Act" - that way, you have warned them if all their hard work conducting viewings comes to nothing.

          Now, with regard to repairs. Unfortunately, the law doesn't specify how many visits by tradesmen are allowed - the key word - in both s11(6) of the 1985 L&TA and s16 of the 1988 HA is "reasonable". The only person who can actually judge whether something is "reasonable" is, a judge. However, your local council may have a "Tenancy Relations Officer" or similar, whose job it is to look after private tenants 'rights'. However, before you go down that route, remember my comments above. Try to negotiate. Maybe even make an appointment with the letting agency manager and go down there en-masse with a conciliatory attitude - try and find something that works for both sides. Remember also, that there is no hard and fast rule that a tenant needs to be present - I know you mention an unlocked door, and security is obviously hugely important, but you have to decide what the right balance is for you between security and convenience.

          You will find videos on youtube how to change the most common yale or euro lock barrels - it's not expensive - screwfix will sell you the bits for around a tenner. It may be against the rules in your tenancy agreement but again, it would take a court to do anything and the cost and time would not make it worthwhile. Tell them your home insurers won't cover you if someone else has a key.

          Comment


            #6
            Evening All,

            Thanks for your prompt and informative replies.

            The tenancy agreement is indeed an AST, this is clearly specified on the agreement. I feel the best way forward will be changing the locks and not allowing the viewings until 28 days prior to the the tenancy ending. (Should I choose to vacate at that point). It's not that I am looking to move elsewhere for any other reason than what we are currently experiencing is very unpleasant and a complete hassle. Were the issues to be resolved i can so no reason why Ii'd have to move out.

            We have alreay asked the agency to provide evidence that this is a 'student let' but they failed to respond. I feel that this is grounds enough to proceed with the chaning of the locks and informing them of the above intentions.

            Snorkerz, re your point. We're not particuarly young, late twenties and early thirties. We are cetainly not jumping the gun and and screaming out about our human rights, it's not our style. The point is this has been going on for 5-6 months, we have been very reasonable throughout but the agency has failed to address any of our issues. They have done absoloutly nothing regarding the repairs despite reasonable and polite requests for 5 months, at least not until we involved the council, they are now making a 'token' effort to 'look' at the issues. It was a last resort and they only option that has delivered any results, unfortunatly still not enough though.

            Regarding the other problems the types of issues we are talking about are:

            • Electrical sockets damaged with exposed conductors (5 months to fix)
            • Gas hob with coroded and seized control knobs (still not fixed)
            • No gas safety certificate (still not provided)
            • Everytime the ensuite shower is used we have a stream of water running in to the sitting room below (still not fixed)
            • Fitted led light fittings in the ensuite don't work, its in darkness (still not fixed)
            • Sitting room fire escape window kept falling off its hinges, once it fell on me. They 'fixed' this by screwing it shut. (Only after reporting this to the council was it safely resolved last week. Again 5 months to resolve)


            To give you an idea of the agencys further contempt towards our safety when using the shower and water was again pouring through the ceiling below, the light fixture filled with water and shorted out, arcing and smoking. I immediately called the agency emergency number (its was a Friday night, out of hours) nobody initially answered but we finally got through 3 hours later. We were then told not to worry about this, it not dangerous as the circuit will trip, they'll try and get somebody to us the following afternoon. I was gobsmacked, even when I told them I was an qualified and practicing electrcian I was told that they know best and not to worry.It wasn't until i threatened to call the fire brigade that they had an electrician call me to dicuss the issue over the phone. I eventually isolated the circuit myself with no electrician attending for another 24 hours.

            Comment


              #7
              Now you have explained some of the maintenance issues, I would suggest you contact your councils environmental health officer ASAP. Well, maybe a call to the agency first, warning them, because no gas safety certificate can be a major fine for the landlord. Fix everything this week or I report you......

              Comment


                #8
                Thanks Snorkerz,

                I issued that ultimatum over a month ago to no avail. The council have been informed and the landlord has been given 10 days to rectify the issues, that was 7 days ago and still no progress. You'd think such a large agency would show a little more concern given the seriousness of the issues.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Change the locks. Use the rent money to sort out any maintenance issues. Communicate in writing and keep record of everything. Tell the agents no more viewings. Sometimes you have to play hardball when dealing with cowboys. Waiting for council to get their fingers out and do something will take forever.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    john86uk,

                    Take a look at these:

                    http://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/adv...r_tenants.aspx
                    http://www.hse.gov.uk/gas/domestic/faqtenant.htm

                    He needs reporting to the HSE, not the council (my mistake)

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by john86uk View Post
                      We have alreay asked the agency to provide evidence that this is a 'student let' but they failed to respond. I feel that this is grounds enough to proceed with the chaning of the locks and informing them of the above intentions.
                      As has been stated, there's actually no such legal entity as a "student let". Just that what happens in practice in university towns etc is that there's a massive and highly lucrative demand for 12-month slots of accommodation starting in September, and the market has simple adapted itself round this. It means for example that viewings, bizarrely really, are routinely conducted 10 months in advance as you've experienced. That would be both completely pointless and unacceptable in any other scenario.

                      I'm a (non-student) landlord myself, and the parent of a university student. Some of the stuff I've seen in student tenancy agreements, and practices of student landlords/agents has left me incredulous, the stuff they get away with, just because they can - they have a captive market of clueless youngsters away from home for the first time, in a market where demand usually exceeds supply.

                      Comment

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