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baud2death
17-12-2005, 10:59 AM
I have recently moved out and have 3 outstanding disputes with my landlord
Firstly there is a small piece of laminate flooring missing from the kitchen floor but we have not done anything to cause this and suspect the weather to have caused it.. but they dont accept this

Secondly, at the top of the stairs we have a crack which grows when pressure is applied to the top step and is basicaly a case of the staircase pulling away from the wall. At the time the landlord asked us and we guessed it might have been caused when me were moving items up the stairs when we moved in, he took this to be an admission of guilt. We however believe it is a structrual problem.

Thirdly there is the bath with which a crack formed within our first week of moving in.

Let me highlight as well that we are not small people. I weigh 15 stone and my wife 24 stone.

Point 2 was resolved by the landlord at the time by adding sealant, asking us to paint it and it would "be alright".

Point 3 was resolved by the landlord fibreglassing the bottom of the bath and using sealant.

The wall has continued to crack whereas the bath which was used 1 or 2 times when it crack has been used for 6 months since and has not seen another problem occur.

The landlord also left us with his "quick repairs" on this for 6 months and did not make any effort to seek proffesional aid to resolve the problems and only seeks to dispute this now that we have moved out.

With all that said we dispute these 3 points, primarly the bath and wall. We see it through the point that for the bath, since the repair it has been used every few days for 6 months and has not seen a repeat of a problem that occured after 1 week... shouldn't this be a case of the bath not being in a fit state to support us in the first place?

Then the stairs, as we did nothing on purpose to the wall and only moved in furniture like any tenant would, can we be responsible for this fault?

I look forward to hearing back from anyone who can help us battle this as the landlord have already withheld our 700£ deposit and will be "billing us for further costs" when they get this work carried out.

Thanks

Ericthelobster
17-12-2005, 17:30 PM
Firstly there is a small piece of laminate flooring missing from the kitchen floor but we have not done anything to cause this and suspect the weather to have caused it.. but they dont accept thisAre you disputing that the piece was missing in the first place (in which case, where is it now?). Was an inventory carried out at the start of the tenancy and was this mentioned?


Secondly, at the top of the stairs we have a crack which grows when pressure is applied to the top step and is basicaly a case of the staircase pulling away from the wall. At the time the landlord asked us and we guessed it might have been caused when me were moving items up the stairs when we moved in, he took this to be an admission of guilt. We however believe it is a structrual problem.Not clear where this crack is. Between the woodwork of the staircase and the plaster? If the crack opens as pressure is applied it does sound pretty 'structural' to me and unreasonable to expect you to cover the cost. But you say you might have caused it by moving in furniture? How?


Thirdly there is the bath with which a crack formed within our first week of moving in. [...] Let me highlight as well that we are not small people. I weigh 15 stone and my wife 24 stone. [...] Point 3 was resolved by the landlord fibreglassing the bottom of the bath and using sealant.I would have thought that a properly installed, reasonably installed bath should cope with a 24-stone individual, which leads me to question whether it was fitted properly. Eg, most baths have 5 "feet", with one in the centre. A common fitting error is to omit the middle one (sometimes there are pipes in the way or holes in the floorboards) causing it to sag and break. I'd be interested to know whether the bath was properly supported before it cracked; did the LL do anything other than use the fibreglass repair kit? Eg, add any support? If so, then maybe it wasn't supported properly before. If not, then sounds like the bath itself was of poor quality.


The landlord also left us with his "quick repairs" on this for 6 months and did not make any effort to seek proffesional aid to resolve the problems and only seeks to dispute this now that we have moved out.I don't think that in itself is an issue. The problems were sorted out at the time so that they weren't causing you any difficulty; what the LL is concerned about now is the reduction in value to his property which he claims you have caused.


the landlord have already withheld our 700£ deposit and will be "billing us for further costs" when they get this work carried out.Well, cost to supply and fit a new bath and laminate floor, plus whatever repairs are necessary to the stairs will certainly be a lot more than 700 quid I'm afraid.

MrShed
17-12-2005, 22:52 PM
My thoughts:

- Laminate flooring: I'm sorry but from your description you sound at fault with this to me....the weather can cause damage, but not the disappearance of a piece of flooring, if a piece has gone missing you must know where it has gone.

- Bath: This does not to me sound like something that you should be charged for, on first glance. That said, how exactly did the crack first appear? As it is a bit unusual for such a crack to occur without an actual incident to cause it.

- Stairs. From your description certainly not something you should be charged for. And, to disagree with Eric (only slightly eric :)), I believe the fact that he has "temporarily" repaired this means he has to take on some responsibilty. The issue sounds structural, and in a very high use area of the property. His lack of proper repair has probably led the issue to be worse than it was originally, and this is his responsibility. That said, like the bath we need a better description of the actual issue - when noticed, more detail.

baud2death
18-12-2005, 08:12 AM
Thanks for your responses

Firstly with the flooring. The piece missing is not really a peice but imagine more that laminate flooring goes to all edges of a kitchen with a divider between the kitchen and the dining room. Now imagine that where the divider exists it simply looks as if someone has pulled the floor away from this divider.

We at first noticed only a small whole and then it grew to a bigger one

Secondly, we argued when we investigated the bath (and the fact that it leaked into the kitchen ceiling) and noticed that a middle strut was in fact missing exactly where the crack had occured. The landlord disputes that whilst he carried out checks before we moved in that the strut was in place. The crack is dead centre of the bath under where you would rest your bottom or upper legs. He fibreglassed it and was done with it. Mention was made about getting a new one fitted in time but nothing was ever done

With the stairs. Imagine you have a normal staircase and you have a wall that joins the staircase well to the upstairs rooms then turns on a 90degree angle to follow the stairs down. On this piece of wall directly above the skirting board a crack formed that when pressure is applied to the top step the crack juts out ever so slightly.

The instance at which the landlord thinks it occured is when 2 moving men, we and my wife were hauling something upstairs... This instance never actualy occured, in fact my wife was guessing as to a cause and tried to explain that at a time my father and mother in law were standing on the stairs (nowhere the top step) as me and my wife (not on the stairs) passed items between ourselves using them and nothing heavier than a box you a normal person could carry in their hands.

In fact it occured before this because I noticed it after the removal men left but neglected to mention it to my wife, she spotted it and we called the landlord in, she guessed as to it being that reason why and it somehow chinese whispered into that tale.

The fact is that for 6 months the landlord never made any attempt to contact us for any reason about this or anything whilst we were tennants. If we had not moved out I don't imagine we could have had another 6 month lease without this being sorted out.

Also my understanding of what we are liable for comes from 2 specific points (and please correct me)
1. Wear and Tear is not our liability and for this I could only imagine that we would have to prove that by no intentional means did we forceabley damage these things and it happened only through normal use. Just because we are larger than most people should not be an excuse..
(NOTE: That the landlord attributes the cause of the bath with inendo to be my wifes fault for being too big)
2. The Landlord resolved these problems without consulting an outside repairman and isn't it his responsibility at that point to detail how much the repairs would cost and get us to pay up then? He resolved the problems through repair which he did not charge us for but is he allowed to charge us for further repair just because at 6 months later he doesn't feel his repair was good enough.

A point i mentioned the landlord is that it falls to 1 of 2 reasons why 6 months passed and we did not get further repairs.
1. The repairs were completed and no further need was made and that asking us to pay more towards it now is an error on their part and we are no longer responsible
2. The repairs were not completed and with no further repairs taken into the landlord has allowed us to live under the impression all is safe where in fact the bath and stairs are pottential saftey hazards.

I look forward to hearing from you guys. I am also thinking about taking this matter up with my legal protection granted through my home insurance. Do you think this is the best course of action?

MrShed
18-12-2005, 08:21 AM
Your response to the bath question leads me to ask another question: upon moving in, did the landlord and you fill out an inventory, which you both signed?


Wear and tear is certainly not a valid reason to charge. However, there is definitely a difference between fair wear and tear, and accidental damage, which you seem not to recognise. For example, with the bath, IF(big if) you caused the damage, with the strut being present, I personally would not view that as fair wear and tear, it is more accidental damage.

And with regards outside repairmen, yes he is totally allowed to do this. He does not need to repair any problems immediately, as long as he does not breach his obligations by doing so. However, not repairing them immediately does not mean you lose your responsibility for paying for such damages.

With regards your specifics, with the laminate flooring do you mean it has actually shrunk in size? This would make more sense to me.

baud2death
18-12-2005, 08:49 AM
It looks like the flooring shrunk, it however looks like someone has taken a chunk out of it but looks that way..

We would argue with the bath that the strut was not supporting it (when we checked it it was laying on the floor under the bath)
in 1 week and maybe 2 uses this problem arose
in 6 months after the repair and lets say 5 uses a week, 120 in 6 months it has never reocurred. Does that not suggest that the bath was not in a fit state to begin with?

I find that as a tennant we are a bit screwed in that the landlord fixes a fault and doesn't mention at all a timeframe for when the fault is going to be fixed permenantly or ask us for money to resolve this. Instead he uses the bond to do this when we leave. Are we not entitled the right for him to say

"This fault is fixed for now, in a few weeks i will revisit and see how it sits and I am going to get someone in to quote on fixing it permenantly. I will give you the bill so you can pay it"

Instead we get

"This fault is fixed for now, I will get around to getting it fixed permenantly when I can.." - The landlord then goes on holiday for 6 weeks and we do not speak to him other than to inform that in 1 month we overpaid on the rent and to adjust it on the following month. The repairs are not mentioned for 6 months but within 1 week of us moving out he is arranging for workmen to quote on the fault being repaired.

Hasn't enough time passed without any mention of repair to assume that the repair carried out was permenant. I could understand if he kept on putting it off and delayed it from a week after the incident to a month, to 2 months etc. with it being a visible concern between us but the issue was forgotten and I feel he is using our liability as an excuse to get something fixed that should have been done at the time.

Is there anything legally that backs me up on this?

MrShed
18-12-2005, 08:52 AM
The very simple answer to your question is no the landlord does not have an obligation to do what you say....your bond is exactly for the purpose of rectifying repairs.

However, you have not answered the first question I have put....I suggest you answer, as it will have a major bearing upon your obligation to pay for repairs.

baud2death
18-12-2005, 08:54 AM
An inventory was carried out and I can imagine we signed it but I am unsure as to if we have a copy of it.

MrShed
18-12-2005, 09:02 AM
OK. This puts a slightly new light on things. Just my opinion, but here we go:

- Flooring - sounds to me as if you are not liable. There are two possible causes from the point of view of the landlord, judging by the description of the fault. Either weather conditions, causing fair wear and tear on the floor, or a spillage could cause similar. It would be virtually impossible for the landlord to even suspect a large spillage, and hence your responsibility, so you aren't IMO responsible for this.

- Bath - you could be responsible for this. For you to use the "missing strut" issue as a reason, you would, IMO, have had to mention it and have it marked down on the inventory. As you fairly obviously have not, you have basically accepted that the strut was in place, and as such the damage to the bath is your responsibility. It is quite a difficult one, but I think that is where the chips will lie.

- Stairs - I see no responsibility on your part for the stairs.

Bear in mind with regards to the bath(as I believe this to be the only area you may be responsible for), they cannot charge you for a new bath, it must be a "like for like" replacement.

baud2death
18-12-2005, 09:08 AM
Firstly, I am looking for the inventory now but the wife says we never signed it.

In reference to the bath what would a like for like replacement be if not a new bath? (the suite in question is 15+ years old)

Also does it help my case if after the fault my father in law inspected the bath and noticed the strut was lying on the floor under the bath?

The contention of the landlord is that he checked out the bath before letting it out and the strut was in place. Ours would be that for the crack to occur with no intentional force and for an inspection to reveal the strut was resting on its side not in place that either the strut was not present or it was not secured to the bath.

MrShed
18-12-2005, 09:19 AM
Firstly, I am looking for the inventory now but the wife says we never signed it.

That would make a big difference.

In reference to the bath what would a like for like replacement be if not a new bath? (the suite in question is 15+ years old)

I mean that he would have to charge for the replacement of the bath with a bath of the same type, and same age. Obviously it is difficult to do this, so it would probably end up being a percentage of a new one. If it is around 15 years old, I think it would be difficult for them to charge you more than around 15%, although I will probably be corrected here. However, you raise another point, in that they may try to charge for an entire replacement suite.

Also does it help my case if after the fault my father in law inspected the bath and noticed the strut was lying on the floor under the bath?

No. Please do not take this the wrong way, merely saying what the landlord may say. He may say the weight of one of you in the bath has dislodged the strut. It is impossible to use an examination after the event to say that an object was not present prior to the event.

The contention of the landlord is that he checked out the bath before letting it out and the strut was in place. Ours would be that for the crack to occur with no intentional force and for an inspection to reveal the strut was resting on its side not in place that either the strut was not present or it was not secured to the bath.

Just my opinion of course!

baud2death
18-12-2005, 09:33 AM
No of course and your a great help

What difference does not signing the inventory mean (i am unsure as to if we have or havent until i find the documents)

They have already agreed in writing to only charge for a replacement bath. I have also requested that they start no work until I have seen the quotes for this work.. Is that fair?

Also does proof of other defects in the house add to the weight of my argument regarding the stairs. A key one is that in the dining room there is a gap half the width of your finger between the skirting board and the wall... There is for sure some strange goings on in that house

Also i remind myself that a day prior to them inspecting the house the landlord agreed to write us out a cheque for the deposit whenafter they visited. Since they knew this problem existed before this statement is it fair to say that they are not remaining consistent with how they expect us to be liable for these repairs?

baud2death
18-12-2005, 09:38 AM
In addition after consulting my wife:

The contention of the landlord that:

He inspected the strut before letting is in doubt as the bath is covered with a wooden fitting that was screwed on, sealed with silicone and painted over. My wife says that this paintjob did not look new.

... I think i need to get legal advise on this because i can see this getting out of hand quickly :(

Thanks

MrShed
18-12-2005, 09:51 AM
No of course and your a great help

I try :) it is difficult in situations like this, as not only can the issue of repairs and state of items be quite subjective, it is difficult to comment without seeing the actual items in question.

What difference does not signing the inventory mean (i am unsure as to if we have or havent until i find the documents)

It means that, theoretically, there is no basis for deductions from the deposit. Without you signing the inventory, the landlord has nothing to show that you agreed to the condition of the property as listed, and that it is JUST his opinion, and of course he could have made it out to be better than it was.

They have already agreed in writing to only charge for a replacement bath. I have also requested that they start no work until I have seen the quotes for this work.. Is that fair?

Fair, perhaps. Him legally obligated to do so? No. He must send you receipts. But the issue is, you asking to see quotes is like saying that he needs your permission to carry out the work and deduct from the deposit, and he does not.

Also does proof of other defects in the house add to the weight of my argument regarding the stairs. A key one is that in the dining room there is a gap half the width of your finger between the skirting board and the wall... There is for sure some strange goings on in that house

Also i remind myself that a day prior to them inspecting the house the landlord agreed to write us out a cheque for the deposit whenafter they visited. Since they knew this problem existed before this statement is it fair to say that they are not remaining consistent with how they expect us to be liable for these repairs?

Well, I would say that is a very silly thing for the landlord to say. However, it is not binding in any way, and I assume that he did not say the "entire" deposit?


His inspection of the strut would have to be confirmed, realistically, by the inventory.

I would bve interested to see another persons opinion on these repairs, as I think they are all fairly grey areas to be honest.

Energise
18-12-2005, 10:36 AM
I disagree with Mr Shed about the bath, there is no way a tenant would be expected to check on whether a bath had been installed correctly, there is no way your wife is to heavy to be using a bath. If the landlords repair was not good enough then it was not good enough to be left like that for you, he decided it was good enough.

"The instance at which the landlord thinks it occurred is when 2 moving men, we and my wife were hauling something upstairs."

Then the landlord needs to provide an alternative way of getting furniture upstairs (if the property is that unsound to be damaged by 2 large people undertaking everyday activities maybe the landlord should be weighing his next prospective tenants :)

Ericthelobster
18-12-2005, 12:08 PM
In reference to the bath what would a like for like replacement be if not a new bath? (the suite in question is 15+ years old)Arguably, the bath is near the end of its useful life, and even if you were deemed to be 100% liable for the damage, you couldn't be held responsible for the full cost of a new bath; rather, the proportion of useful life which was left which is considerably less.


Also does it help my case if after the fault my father in law inspected the bath and noticed the strut was lying on the floor under the bath?

The contention of the landlord is that he checked out the bath before letting it out and the strut was in place. Ours would be that for the crack to occur with no intentional force and for an inspection to reveal the strut was resting on its side not in place that either the strut was not present or it was not secured to the bath.
As per my original post, if that strut was not in place, then that is the cause of the damage. They should be fixed so that both top and bottom are screwed in place, ie they can't become dislodged. It makes perfect sense that the bath could have survived for many years like this being used by a standard-sized person, but that it succumbed under the weight of your wife. The fact that with the strut now in place, the bath is working OK, suggests to me that the bath is perfectly OK for someone of your wife's size, if fitted properly. The LL's assertion that the strut was in place all along doesn't make too much sense to me. If he says the problem was your wife's weight, then the crack would be expected to re-occur, wouldn't it? I would guess that a judge would go along with that, if it got that far.

I don't think it matters a damn that you didn't notice and record this in the inventory, nobody is expected to have to grovel around under tha bath to check if it's fitted properly! No doubt there is a side-panel in place, hiding it? if a tradesman had come round to fix it, he would have observed the missing strut and that would have been that; as it is, it's now your word against the LLs. I don't think your father in law's word is worth too much as he's not impartial, like a tradesman would have been.

MrShed
18-12-2005, 12:18 PM
I really wasnt sure with regards the bath, and think I have misunderstood what the "strut" was to be honest. Having read Eric's and Energise's answers, I believe they are probably correct about the bath.

baud2death
18-12-2005, 12:32 PM
I have consulted legal advise through my home insurance legal protection (good idea for me to fork out the extra £10 a year for it! :)

They confirm that through normal use no matter the weight a bath should be able to support 2 grown adults standing in it let alone just 1.

They also confirm that the stairs fault seems structural and a staircase should allow support for more than one person scaling it.

They also confirm that as you guys said I would only be liable for the value of the bath not a brand new bath (they can not profit from the accident by getting a new bath or a new suite fitted just an exact version of that bath or something as close as possible)

As my legal cover in this regard only covers advice then I am following the next stage in the dispute. I have alerted my landlord by letter (please see below) and offered them 7 days to reply otherwise I shall take this to small claims court.

Oh, and the bonus as well is that she said any fault of ours must be proved by the landlord to the case not by our denial of it.

Thank you very much for your help. If anyone else has any more advise or is familiar at all with the process of small claims court, please let me know. You have helped 2 worried people out of a hole because after all, we are not people who destroy any home we come into contact with and argue at the slightest ounce of responsibility, we feel that house has acted against us and is not friendly for people like us and we are reassured that we have helpful people to combat this.


Dear Landlord:

After consulting legal advice I need to make clear the following points are would appreciate your thoughts on the matter as requested.

On the issue of the bath: The bath is not a new bath as is confirmed by the suites décor but even were it a brand new bath it should be strong enough to support the weight of more than has been used with it and still to suffer no damage. The fact that this occurred through normal use and no other act (such as dropping an item in the bath for example) then this does not fall within our responsibility and we will not be paying for any repairs for the bath.

On the issue of the stairs: A staircase should support the weight of more than one person using it even as large as ourselves. I do not dispute that this fault occurred whilst we were there but this is a structural fault as opposed to any intentional damage on our part and we should not be responsible for this and will not be paying any repairs for this.

On the issue of the floor: We believe that the cause of this can only be down to something similar to shrinkage through weather effects (damp, cold etc.) and the floor has pulled itself away from its previous position. We do not believe this to be our fault and will not be paying for any repairs for this.

On the issue of the cellar door, the dining room cable hole and the main bedroom holes we do admit to this being through our action and we would be happy to pay for reasonable repairs for this but as previously stated in an earlier letter we would appreciate notice on costs before any work is carried out.

This letter highlights our commitment to you upon leaving the home to address the concerns you raised in your previous letter. We would appreciate confirmation in writing within 7 days that you agree to the above and following agreed upon repairs for the cellar door, dining room hole and bedroom holes that you would be happy to return the remaining monies from our deposit to us.

Should we fail to hear from you or receive notice that you are not willing to commit to resolution of this issue as explained in this letter then we will be filing a case with the local courts to recover our bond minus the agreed upon costs. If you feel you need to get in touch with me via telephone.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing back from you soon

charger
21-12-2005, 17:59 PM
I could understand about the craks/bath etc.. but with of laminate floor missing....
However there could be mice in there, you never know :)

RichieP
21-12-2005, 19:14 PM
there could be mice in there

If you've got mice that can chew through laminate flooring, get out of there. QUICK!! :eek:

I've just put some laminate down and I've never known anything blunt jigsaw blades so quickly. I ran out and even used a handsaw that got blunted as well.