View Full Version : Can I get out of AST?

Stu C
05-11-2005, 20:29 PM
Hi, new member here. I'm hoping that you can give me some advice.

I've just entered into a 6 month AST, but have found loads of issues for concern in the first 24 hours. The property looks really nice on the surface, but not when you get into detail (and yes, I'm kicking myself for not checking it thoroughly at the start).

The landlord and myself signed the agreements and looked around the house. He has not produced an inventory.

I quickly realised that the glass in the front of the gas cooker door was broken, so I raised this, and he said that he would not fix it because the property is unfurnished. I pointed out that the house was supplied with a cooker, and he presented it with a cooker, and that we would not have taken the house otherwise. He advised us to use the top hobs and grill, and we should be grateful that we have that.

Despite my request, he failed to bring the Gas Safety Certificate, which he presented a copy of 4 days later, and it is unclear if the cooker was tested. "Cooker in kitchen" is listed on the certificate, but it is not ticked off as being safe. I have spoken to the engineer who serviced it in January (the door was not broken then) and he thinks that when he looked at it, it was not connected, hence the lack of enteries on the certificate. Also, the boiler listed on the certificate is different to the one now installed.

After me calling him repeatedly about the cooker, and pointing out his obligations as stated in the contract, he has finally offered to replace it.

A number of plug sockets are cracked and loose, and the on/off switches do not all work. I then examined the CU to find it has wired fuses, one of which had blown, and there are burn marks behind and above this fuse, and the ceramic block is broken.

After threatening legal action, he has now said that he will get an electrician in.

Furthermore, there are ceiling lights that do not work, there is an open light in the bathroom, and the boiler installation has lead water pipes within 10mm of electrical wiring boxes.

The bottom line is, I don't trust this landlord, and I do not want to continue in this house and arrangement. Are there grounds for his having broken the AST or any other regulation (eg safety grounds) that will allow me to get out of the contract and get my deposit back?

Sorry for the essay :)

05-11-2005, 21:30 PM
My advice in the first instance is to contact environmental health and raise your concerns there, they will be able to tell you if the property is habitable and you can then lean heavily on your LL. Once you have some ammunitiion, you may contact your tenant / LL relationship officer who will assist you in getting things done.

If you have had enough and want out, you can leave at any time, but you must pay rent until a replacement tenant is found, which the LL must show he is actively takings steps to do. You may of course risk not paying rent and walk and see if the LL wants to take you to court, in which case you can argue to the judge about your concerns for your own safety.

Stu C
05-11-2005, 23:42 PM
tenant / LL relationship officer - who's that and where do I find him/her?

06-11-2005, 00:38 AM
Hun take a look at your local council website and call your local council office .. they wil be able to point you in the right direction. I found the EHO in my area to be a star, he has left the case open as when he came out I had ppl working on my property but things still left to do! He has told me if anything remians outstanding he will enforce the issue :D ... they will calso call or write to the landlord informing them of their obligactions. Re the Corgi certificate, call Corgi out and explain the situation! The new Boiler should have its own Gas Cert... and the cooker should be the same! The landlord is breaking the law by not having the correct certificates. As the cooker was in the property when you moved in it should be in working order... maybe some of the regulars will be able to point you in the direction of some threads where this has been discussed.

06-11-2005, 02:09 AM
Just to kind of clarify the original question. I suspect it will be very difficult for you to justify to a court that the property is uninhabitable and hence be able to break the AST. However, you are absolutely entitled to the property problems being fixed. I suggest you force the issue with the repairs, if the LL does not fix them after written notice of them, fix them yourself and deduct from the rent, and move out after the 6 months.

Stu C
06-11-2005, 10:19 AM
I will seek additional advice tomorrow. I really don't want to be here for the next 6 months.

It seems that getting out of an AST is near impossible no matter what a LL does. This place has clear safety concerns... it is amazing to think that a LL should be allowed to expose a tenant to this and get away with it. Even if he fixes things, I've totally lost trust in the LL and the house, and am genuinely uncomfortable here.

I'm also a new landlord for the propery we own and have just left, and if I had left it in this state, I would expect to be found in the wrong without any real excuses.

06-11-2005, 10:34 AM
Well, seek additional advice as you wish Stu, but as I say I suspect you will find it very difficult to force the ending of the AST.

Just a specific point, the landlord must repair the cooker, as if an appliance is supplied the landlord is responsible for it, furnished or not.

My plan of action would be as follows.

- Write a letter to the landlord, listing all the problems, and stating that they must be fixed within the next 5 days, or you will take the matter further.

- If they are not fixed within said time period, then get them repaired yourself and deduct the costs from the rent. Get at LEAST two estimates for each repair, use the cheapest, and send COPIES of the estimates and receipts to the landlord. You are legally entitled to do this!

- At the end of your tenancy, tell the landlord to use your deposit as the last months rent, to prevent a come back on the repairs. Then the landlord would have to take you to small claims for any damages, which is fair enough, but he wont be able to withhold the deposit to reimburse him for these repairs. ONLY do this if your tenancy agreement does not state that the deposit cannot be used for rent etc.

Good luck in trying to find a "get out clause", but I suspect you won't. Just be prepared to follow the above steps in case you don't!

susan 2
06-11-2005, 14:31 PM
Dear Stu - LL relationship officer is known in some councils as the tenancy liason officer. All of the answers have given good advice. However if you really, really want to leave, how you do it will depend on how much money you are prepared to give up, and on the character of your landlord. As Dazalock states you can leave at any time. Before everyone shouts at me I know that technically you should not. I presume as you have just moved in he has your bond plus the first months rent. I think it highly likely in the real world if you sent him by registered post, his keys plus a letter saying that you think you are not the right tenant for him (Don't blame him, even if you do!) and that of course you expect him to retain the bond etc, that rather than have the hassle of chasing you, he will relet to another unfortunate tenant at a higher rent. Of course he may be the difficult type. But most experianced landlords would be glad not to have lost money and have the keys. Otherwise Mr. Shed's advice is very good. Susan

06-11-2005, 21:16 PM
What nobody has yet stated is the landlord is in breach of:

The Protection from Eviction Act 1977
The Defective Premises Act 1972
S.11 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985
Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations 1988
Of couse the tenant can leave at anytime as the landlord would be extemely embarrassed should he decide to do anything about it!

Please would posters consider if landlords have committed serious breaches in order to "frustrate" a tenant before giving opinions. The tenant has considerable rights to end a tenancy as a result without all the requirements of staying to the end of a fixed term when landlords get it completely wrong! The tenant's has a common law right to go at anytime if the landlord cannot get it right in the first isntance!

06-11-2005, 21:23 PM
Whilst I can understand your reasoning for 2,3 and 4 paul, where is the reasoning for number 1?!?

06-11-2005, 21:39 PM
It's all to do with frustration in denying the tenant his legal rights, as the landlord is in effect harrassing the tenant by not comforming with legal requirements. Harrassment is a breach of the said Act. Don't you read things like this on the internet as it's all there?

07-11-2005, 08:43 AM
I would not have thought that this LL's behaviour, atrocious and illegal though it might be, could be construed as harrassment or a breach of the Protection from Eviction Act.

"Reading things on the internet" is one thing, but understanding them is another.

07-11-2005, 09:58 AM
The Landlord forcing a tenant to leave would be breaching the act, and by the same token, a Landlord behaving in such a manner as to leave the tenant with no choice but to leave would also be a breach.

The lettings version of contructive dismissal.

07-11-2005, 10:23 AM
Surely that would be true only IF the LL wanted the tenants out and was making life difficult for them to stay. This seems to be a case of the LL not meeting his resposibilities but wanting the tenants to stay and giving him rent.

07-11-2005, 12:42 PM
Thank you, mjpl, for stating the obvious. Now do you have anything relevant to say?

07-11-2005, 12:45 PM
now now, lawstudent, mjpl is simply engaging in the debate. Toys need to kept in the pram.

07-11-2005, 13:17 PM
sorry daza - i'll get nanny to pick them up for me :D

07-11-2005, 19:54 PM
I think lawstudent is correct on this one. As for frustration, I cannot see how an argument that the contract has been frustrated could hope to succeed.

The doctrine of frustration can only apply where due to a change in circumtsances the contract is rendered impossible to perform, or when its whole purpose is lost becuase of an event not due to the act or default of either party. The doctrine is not invoked lightly by the courts and is used in very narrow circumstances.

Frustration is sometimes confused with initial impossibility, which may render a contract void ab initio, but again that cannot apply in these circumstances.

I'd agree with everything else Paul has said though.