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lauralillee
26-11-2005, 19:42 PM
I live in an ast with two other girls and we've had an ongoing saga of problems with our landlord. We're all young, late teens, and this is our first rental so we're on a steep learning curve.
Our landlord is a private landlord and this is the first time he's rented a property. Over the last year we've had a series of problems which have now come to a head. These include:
- entering the house and our rooms without permission or notice - sometimes he's just come in when we're out, other times he'll phone and say I'm coming round at such and such a time whether you're there or not. (we thought he was meant to give 24 hrs notice preferably in writing?)
-failing to fix problems in a reasonable time - our shower broke and we went for a period of two + months without it working properly, despite us having informed him.
Basically we've put up with these problems as we're all easygoing, busy and didn't know better. Then earlier this year the landlord decided that he was going to redo the kitchen and make the downstairs loo into a shower room. We were perfectly happy with things as they were but saw no problem with him carrying out work. He told us that when the builders were in we'd receive half rent - which we thought was fair enough.
Needless to say the building work was a nightmare....we continued to live in the flat with builders coming and going and at various stages no kitchen and no bathroom. Obviously the flat was in a state of chaos for several weeks. Eventually things slowed down with the builders coming every once in a while to finish things off, but for over six weeks we didn't have a working downstairs toilet. Furthermore we then found out that the builders had discovered asbestos cement...which was left hanging around in the house. (NB the landlord didn't tell us we only found out it was asbestos via the landlords several weeks later and then had to really pressure the landlord to dispose of it) We were also concerned by the fact that the landlord gave keys to the builders and the builders were not supervised...as three young women we were worried about the possible security implications. Nevertheless we put up with things. Then a couple of weeks ago the landlord sent us each a letter telling us we'd get 14 days at half rent. Now the work was ongoing for over 6 weeks, yes the builder's weren't in every day but the house was still a tip. Furthermore there are still fixtures and fittings in the new shower room and kitchen which have been put up.
Obviously we were upset by this letter and so we wrote to him outlining the fact that building work was ongoing for 6 weeks.
We have since received a very aggressive letter which says we were only offered recompense for the individual days the builders were there...of which we have no record as we are out of the house between 8 and 6, which the landlord says was 14 days. He's also said we're lucky to have had the improvements carried out without an automatic rent hike (he implies this may soon happen).
There's a further complication as two of our rents expired last month. Now the landlord had not prior to our letter about the building work brought up the matter of the contract being renewed (our rent is by standing order so he's continued to receive it) but now he's pointed out that we don't technically have any rights. - we're were under the impression that once he accepts our rent, even though the initial contract has expired, he is essentially renewing the contract.
I know this is a lot to go through but we'd really appreciate some advice, we don't know where we stand, can't afford lawyers and our landlord keep phoning us and hammering on our door. He even reduced one of the girls to tears as he told her off and said zsshe was lucky to live in his house when she complained about him going into her room without telling her.
What can we do?

MrWoof
26-11-2005, 20:03 PM
There is so much going wrong here that you need legal advice. You are entitled to 'quiet enjoyment' of the property which means that regardless of anything in your tenancy agreement, no one (except HM Customs & Excise or police with a warrant) can enter the property without your permission. Recompense for disruption is a matter to be settled privately but for future reference, if essential work is not done, you can, after warning the landlord, get it done yourself and withhold the cost from the rent. When the AST finishes, it automatically goes into a statutory periodic tenancy with the same conditions as the AST. Next time the landlord tries to call or enter, if you don't want him there. tell him to go away, if he doesn't, don't warn him, just dial 999, call the police. Three girls with a bullying man causing trouble, they'll be there with blues and twos. They may well arrest him for causing a breach of the peace but you have a strong case for harassment. There are legal eagles who subscribe to this forum who will better inform you as to the laws broken here. Just in case this sounds all in your favour, remember he can always serve notice on you but given his present behaviour he'll get it wrong. Don't worry, he can't get you out in under two months, up to six months if you are awkward and longer if he gets the paperwork wrong. In this instance, the law is on your side.

lucid
26-11-2005, 20:24 PM
Firstly keep a note of everything that has happened so far with dates and times etc and a diary.

From your post it would appear that your landlord is harassing you. The phonecalls, hammering on the door, telling off your housemate etc.

In addition the unauthorised access, time lag on repairs and inconvenience of building work are all unacceptable. You are entitled to quiet enjoyment of the property by law. In addition relating to the visits. Outside the paramaters of repair he is only allowed to enter to inspect the state of property with your permission in advance. 24 hours notice in writing must be given and can he enter only 3 or 4 times a year max. This is balanced against your statutory right to quiet enjoyment which is an implied term in all tenancies from the landlord and tenant act.

These all pale into insignificance after you mentioned the asbestos. How was this dealt with? How do you know if there are remnants left in the property. I'm sure that you have to have a special licence to remove this and it is a notifiable substance. Obviously very dangerous. I would immediately contact the local Health and Safety Executive about this and ask to speak to a factory inspector in the Asbestos national industries group, if your local HSE doesn't have an asbestos group they'll tell you which deals with your area.

They may then also refer the matter to the local authority to see if the builders had appropriate licences if this was necessary and may depend on the type of asbestos. Initially my thoughts are that if its in the concrete it could be dangerous because of the dust generated by the extensive bulding work. As opposed to if it were bonded as found whn replacing some roof or old garages.

If there is still dust or particles in the property they could be inhaled causing a degree of future ilness, lung damage or cancer.

If the contract has run out the tenancy continues on a what is called a periodic basis say month to month if that's how often you pay your rent. The terms are the same as during the fixed term.

If you wish to leave you need to give a months written notice (maybe ending at the end of a period-day before next rent payment).

And if he wishes you to leave he must issue you with a valid section 21 notice giving you at least 2 months notice set to expire at the end of a rental period.This must be seved correctly depending on what it says in your contract.

If you need legal advice go to your local housing aid or advice centre run by the council or a local lawcentre where its free.

ps in future posts please try to put breaks in your text to make it easier to read.

Energise
26-11-2005, 20:37 PM
no one (except HM Customs & Excise or police with a warrant) can enter the property without your permission.

This appears to be a HMO MrWoof so exclusive use of their own room but just 'use' of the rest.

MrWoof
26-11-2005, 21:08 PM
This appears to be a HMO MrWoof so exclusive use of their own room but just 'use' of the rest.Debatable but I see why you say that. Can the poster confirm whether this is an HMO or simply three people on the same AST? By the way, since you are one of the few on this forum who can spell, why the signature?

mole
26-11-2005, 21:20 PM
i suggest that you ring shelter they offer free housing advice. they will fill you in on all your rights and options. the number is 0808 8004444. give them a try.

Energise
26-11-2005, 21:23 PM
Debatable but I see why you say that.

I did check with a specialist solicitor because I wondered how I would be able to let out any rooms that became vacant if I could not get access in to the house.


Can the poster confirm whether this is an HMO or simply three people on the same AST? By the way, since you are one of the few on this forum who can spell, why the signature?

She said 2 of the "rents" had run out, I assumed she meant fixed terms.

I have since installed Google toolbar which has a spellchecker for web forms :)

lauralillee
27-11-2005, 13:18 PM
Thanks MrWoof for your advice. Do you have any suggestions about what should be done about us being paid half rent?
Nobody I know seems to have had major building works, and disruption, carried out whilst they've been living in a rental property - is this common?


There is so much going wrong here that you need legal advice. You are entitled to 'quiet enjoyment' of the property which means that regardless of anything in your tenancy agreement, no one (except HM Customs & Excise or police with a warrant) can enter the property without your permission. Recompense for disruption is a matter to be settled privately but for future reference, if essential work is not done, you can, after warning the landlord, get it done yourself and withhold the cost from the rent. When the AST finishes, it automatically goes into a statutory periodic tenancy with the same conditions as the AST. Next time the landlord tries to call or enter, if you don't want him there. tell him to go away, if he doesn't, don't warn him, just dial 999, call the police. Three girls with a bullying man causing trouble, they'll be there with blues and twos. They may well arrest him for causing a breach of the peace but you have a strong case for harassment. There are legal eagles who subscribe to this forum who will better inform you as to the laws broken here. Just in case this sounds all in your favour, remember he can always serve notice on you but given his present behaviour he'll get it wrong. Don't worry, he can't get you out in under two months, up to six months if you are awkward and longer if he gets the paperwork wrong. In this instance, the law is on your side.

lauralillee
27-11-2005, 13:26 PM
RE asts and rents running out...each of us have separate contracts and rent individual rooms within the house. Two of these contracts were for a year which expired last month, although we have both continued to pay.

RE asbestos - we were only informed about the asbestos after it had been left in the house for several days. The LL said it was asbestos cement and therefore not dangerous as apparently there is v limited chance of fibres/dust being inhaled.
We phoned the council's hazardous waste department and they said it was up to the landlord to arrange disposal - he took several days to do this.
No checks on the property have been carried out since the removal of the asbestos - the LL says that many properties of this era (60s) have asbestos and it's no big deal.

Meanwhile we are still not sure where we stand on repairs - what is a reasonable time scale to wait?

Also where do we stand regarding the building work that has been carried out - our landlord says we have 'received many improvbements to the property during our time of rental' - this is debatable, yes he's carried out building work but no we didn't ask for it, meanwhile things we have asked to have fixed have not been fixed.

MrWoof
27-11-2005, 18:47 PM
Much as I'd like to help, I have no knowledge or experience of HMOs, sorry. As for the building work, its not uncommon, the level of disruption and compensation for this is a matter for agreement between landlord and tenant.