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View Full Version : Just moved in but there's mould, wood rot, and cockroaches



adp
16-08-2009, 21:27 PM
Hello,
I have just moved in to a Victorian terrace property and have discovered that I am infested with mould, wood rot (multiple infestation of wood lice - vaccuming up about 30 - 40 daily) and some other type of nasty roach living in the bedroom baseboards swarming up walls and droppping on me from the ceilings at night. Have spent a horrifyingg weekend and checked into a hotel tonight becuase I couldn't face it. I am going to call the agency tommorow and I do expect they will attempt to call pest control, etc. But given that, in the week I have been here the showers don't work, several of the rooms don't have functioning windows, etc. I think the problems with this property are too deep to just fix without a major retrofit. I think all of the baseboards will need to be pulled (holes too numerous to just plug) and I am worried about my furniture (and me) under the circumstances. I am on a short term (6 month) assured tenancy with no break clause. I at this point I don't think I can stick it.
Can anyone advise me as to how to approach getting out of this. In the worst case scenario I will take out a bank loan to cover dual rents for the period but would like to come to some less extreme arrangement. I am paying 950 a month in rent so this would bite for 6 months. I am from Canada where I am used to being able to give reasonable notice and not be locked in like this so would very much appreciate insight into the usual way this is handled here ...
Cheers and thanks in advance for any input.

Snorkerz
16-08-2009, 21:31 PM
I have no valuable input for you but would just like to offer my sympathy and good wishes.

Your local council 'Environmental Health' department might be able to help - in fact I think I'd visit them before seeing your agent.

I am sure you'll get lots of great advice on here. Good luck.

adp
16-08-2009, 21:35 PM
Your sympathy is appreciated. I really don't want to get the council involved as I am sure the landlord is well intentioned. He had rented it out for some years to tenats who apparently did some major damages. I am sure he is unaware of the extent of nastiness as it has been unocuppied for some time since. But thyere is a strange sickly sweet smell that hurts my throat (cable guy even noticed it and had to have a glass of water to contrinue) so I am sure there are drastic environmental things wrong ...

Snorkerz
16-08-2009, 21:45 PM
I appreciate what you say aout the landlord not knowing - but thats what (s)he employs an agent for and they SHOULD know, especially if it has been vacant for a while - ie they've had plenty of time to inspect.

If you go to the EHO they will give you advice, they'll not take action if you don't want them to, unless it is an extreme issue. A list of necessary work from the EHO might save your agent/landlord doing works that aren't necessary.

adp
16-08-2009, 21:50 PM
Thank you - I will contact both the agent and the council tomorrow and let you know how I get on :)

susanne
16-08-2009, 21:57 PM
""strange sickly sweet smell""

do you have any idea what this is ?

do you have gas in the property and if so - is there a Landlords Gas Safety Certificiate ?

is the property in England or Wales ?

adp
16-08-2009, 22:00 PM
and there is gas cental heating, stove, etc. But I don't think that is what the smell is. I think the smell is associated with the bugs, wood rot, etc.

adp
16-08-2009, 22:02 PM
I am new to the area and very unfamiliar with rental standards here ...

jeffrey
16-08-2009, 22:15 PM
I am new to the area and very unfamiliar with rental standards here ...
The law in Wales is almost the same as in England. Ask the Local Housing Authority if there are any relevant differences here.

adp
16-08-2009, 22:26 PM
As I am from Canada. I have been in the UK for about a year but have not encountered anything like this situation before so find myself quite ignorant as to how to proceed here.

Bel
16-08-2009, 23:11 PM
Hello,
I have just moved in to a Victorian terrace property and have discovered that I am infested with mould, wood rot (multiple infestation of wood lice - vaccuming up about 30 - 40 daily) and some other type of nasty roach living in the bedroom baseboards swarming up walls and droppping on me from the ceilings at night. Have spent a horrifyingg weekend and checked into a hotel tonight becuase I couldn't face it. I am going to call the agency tommorow and I do expect they will attempt to call pest control, etc. But given that, in the week I have been here the showers don't work, several of the rooms don't have functioning windows, etc. I think the problems with this property are too deep to just fix without a major retrofit. I think all of the baseboards will need to be pulled (holes too numerous to just plug) and I am worried about my furniture (and me) under the circumstances. I am on a short term (6 month) assured tenancy with no break clause. I at this point I don't think I can stick it.
Can anyone advise me as to how to approach getting out of this. In the worst case scenario I will take out a bank loan to cover dual rents for the period but would like to come to some less extreme arrangement. I am paying 950 a month in rent so this would bite for 6 months. I am from Canada where I am used to being able to give reasonable notice and not be locked in like this so would very much appreciate insight into the usual way this is handled here ...
Cheers and thanks in advance for any input.

Are you sure your not just exagerating a little? Sensitive to bugs? Try and get photographic evidence to show them how bad it really is.

The showers dont work and windows dont function? Be more precise please. I've heard that before and it turns out to be that the showers do work but not quite what the tenant is used to and that the sash windows are stiff and just need loosening.

Smells are not good. Close all doors and block gaps with a towel to see if you can isolate he problem into one area

adp
17-08-2009, 08:00 AM
Well I don't think I am more sensitive to bugs than most people but if I owned this house I would be very concerned about a high level of wood lice as they obviously are associated with rotting wood. If these critters are eating the house then there will eventually be major subsidence problems.

When I say the showers don't work I mean as in don't turn on at all. I am not trying to be nasty about anyone here. I know the owner of this house must be even more agonised than I am about the issues associated with it. After all he is the one who will ultimately have to dig deep to repair it one way or another. I at worst only have to put up with it for 6 months.

Telometer
17-08-2009, 08:42 AM
But your L has a statutory requirement to provide you with habitable accommodation.

jeffrey
17-08-2009, 09:15 AM
But your L has a statutory requirement to provide you with habitable accommodation.
If you mean under s.11 of LTA 1985 [see below], note that the Act does not imply a 'habitable accommodation' obligation on L's part.

11. Repairing obligations in short leases.

(1) In a lease to which this section applies (as to which, see sections 13 and 14) there is implied a covenant by the lessor:
(a) to keep in repair the structure and exterior of the dwelling-house (including drains, gutters and external pipes),
(b) to keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwelling-house for the supply of water, gas and electricity and for sanitation (including basins, sinks, baths and sanitary conveniences, but not other fixtures, fittings and appliances for making use of the supply of water, gas or electricity), and
(c) to keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwelling-house for space heating and heating water.

(1A) If a lease to which this section applies is a lease of a dwelling-house which forms part only of a building, then, subject to subsection (1B), the covenant implied by subsection (1) shall have effect as if:
(a) the reference in paragraph (a) of that subsection to the dwelling-house included a reference to any part of the building in which the lessor has an estate or interest; and
(b) any reference in paragraphs (b) and (c) of that subsection to an installation in the dwelling-house included a reference to an installation which, directly or indirectly, serves the dwelling-house and which either:
(i) forms part of any part of a building in which the lessor has an estate or interest; or
(ii) is owned by the lessor or under his control.

(1B) Nothing in subsection (1A) shall be construed as requiring the lessor to carry out any works or repairs unless the disrepair (or failure to maintain in working order) is such as to affect the lessee’s enjoyment of the dwelling-house or of any common parts, as defined in section 60(1) of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987, which the lessee, as such, is entitled to use.

(2) The covenant implied by subsection (1)( “the lessor’s repairing covenant”) shall not be construed as requiring the lessor:
(a) to carry out works or repairs for which the lessee is liable by virtue of his duty to use the premises in a tenant-like manner, or would be so liable but for an express covenant on his part,
(b) to rebuild or reinstate the premises in the case of destruction or damage by fire, or by tempest, flood or other inevitable accident, or
(c) to keep in repair or maintain anything which the lessee is entitled to remove from the dwelling-house.

(3) In determining the standard of repair required by the lessor’s repairing covenant, regard shall be had to the age, character and prospective life of the dwelling-house and the locality in which it is situated.

(3A) In any case where:
(a) the lessor’s repairing covenant has effect as mentioned in subsection (1A), and
(b) in order to comply with the covenant the lessor needs to carry out works or repairs otherwise than in, or to an installation in, the dwelling-house, and
(c) the lessor does not have a sufficient right in the part of the building or the installation concerned to enable him to carry out the required works or repairs,
then, in any proceedings relating to a failure to comply with the lessor’s repairing covenant, so far as it requires the lessor to carry out the works or repairs in question, it shall be a defence for the lessor to prove that he used all reasonable endeavours to obtain, but was unable to obtain, such rights as would be adequate to enable him to carry out the works or repairs.

(4) A covenant by the lessee for the repair of the premises is of no effect so far as it relates to the matters mentioned in subsection (1)(a) to (c), except so far as it imposes on the lessee any of the requirements mentioned in subsection (2)(a) or (c).

(5) The reference in subsection (4) to a convenant by the lessee for the repair of the premises includes a covenant:
(a) to put in repair or deliver up in repair,
(b) to paint, point or render,
(c) to pay money in lieu of repairs by the lessee, or
(d) to pay money on account of repairs by the lessor.

(6) In a lease in which the lessor’s repairing covenant is implied there is also implied a covenant by the lessee that the lessor, or any person authorised by him in writing, may at reasonable times of the day and on giving 24 hours’ notice in writing to the occupier, enter the premises comprised in the lease for the purpose of viewing their condition and state of repair.

westminster
17-08-2009, 12:59 PM
Can anyone advise me as to how to approach getting out of this. In the worst case scenario I will take out a bank loan to cover dual rents for the period but would like to come to some less extreme arrangement. I am paying 950 a month in rent so this would bite for 6 months. I am from Canada where I am used to being able to give reasonable notice and not be locked in like this so would very much appreciate insight into the usual way this is handled here ...
Cheers and thanks in advance for any input.

Here's a link to dealing with disrepair in private rentals. It's English law - but I think very similar to Welsh law (the Welsh Shelter websites links to the English one for online advice).
http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/repairs_and_bad_conditions/repairs_in_private_lets

As others have advised, report to the agent/LL and get the Environmental Health Officer to inspect; the latter not least because it'll provide an independent witness to the mould and infestations and, if it's bad enough to be a health hazard, that's a good basis on which to negotiate with the LL - either for an early termination of the tenancy, or a reduction/suspension in rent until the problems are remedied, etc.

Or, in the event that the LL refuses to negotiate or remedy the problems, you may be entitled to claim compensation (in which case, you'd need evidence such as EHO report, etc). See the section entitled "LL refusing to do repairs"

Takes photos of everything, and keep an ongoing record of the disrepair, events, all communications with agent/LL, phone calls etc.

Qs: 1) Has the LL provided you with a gas safety certificate?
2) Is your tenancy an Assured Shorthold tenancy and if so, is your deposit protected in a scheme?

jeffrey
17-08-2009, 13:03 PM
Is your tenancy an Assured Shorthold tenancy?
Rent @£950 per month = £11 400 per year, so it is probably an AST.

Bel
17-08-2009, 13:07 PM
Well I don't think I am more sensitive to bugs than most people but if I owned this house I would be very concerned about a high level of wood lice as they obviously are associated with rotting wood. If these critters are eating the house then there will eventually be major subsidence problems.

.

Woodlice are not like termites. They do not damage wood...the rot damages wood.

jeffrey
17-08-2009, 13:10 PM
Here's 20 000 pages containing all that anybody could reasonably want/need to know about woodlice:
http://uk.ask.com/web?q=%22woodlice%22&sm=adv&dm=all&qsrc=196&o=0&l=dir.
And here's 3780 pages about how to get rid of them:
http://uk.ask.com/web?q=How+to+Get+Rid+Woodlice+in+Houses&dm=all&qsrc=6&o=0&l=dir&siteid=
Plus 409 000 pages about cockroaches:
http://uk.ask.com/web?q=%22cockroaches%22&sm=adv&dm=all&qsrc=196&o=0&l=dir
Just what we need at lunchtime. Yum yum crunch.

Telometer
17-08-2009, 13:23 PM
If you mean under s.11 of LTA 1985 [see below], note that the Act does not imply a 'habitable accommodation' obligation on L's part.

I had in mind the hazards identified by Housing Act 2004 - which I agree does not use the term "habitable accommodation" but achieves this in a prescriptive fashion. (Which in extremis gives the Council power to order demolition of a house.)


HAZARDS ASSESSED BY THE HOUSING
HEALTH AND SAFETY RATING SYSTEM
Physiological requirements
1 Damp and mould growth
2 Excess cold
3 Excess heat
4 Asbestos (and manufactured mineral fibres)
5 Biocides
6 Carbon monoxide and fuel combustion products
7 Lead
8 Radiation
9 Uncombusted fuel gas
10 Volatile organic compounds
Psychological requirements
11 Crowding and space
12 Entry by intruders
13 Lighting
14 Noise
Protection against infection
15 Domestic hygiene, pests and refuse
16 Food safety
17 Personal hygiene, sanitation and drainage
18 Water supply for domestic purposes
Protection against accidents
19 Falls associated with baths etc
20 Falls on the level
21 Falls associated with stairs and steps
22 Falls between levels
23 Electrical hazards
24 Fire
25 Hot surfaces and materials
26 Collision and entrapment
27 Explosions
28 Ergonomics
29 Structural collapse and falling elements

jeffrey
17-08-2009, 13:34 PM
OK. The only 'human habitation' rules in LTA 1985 are the almost entirely obsolescent sections 8-10. They still apply but, bizarrely, only to a letting at a low rent: for lettings beginning on/after 6 July 1957*, if the rent is no more than £80 (London) or £52 (elsewhere)!

From the context, I guess that 'rent' might mean weekly rent.

*- the year is the clue; these sections derive, unaltered, from the Housing Act 1957 as repealed/replaced by the 1985 consolidation.

Telometer
17-08-2009, 13:49 PM
From the context, I guess that 'rent' might mean weekly rent.

Hmm. Taking the RPI numbers since then, inflation has been approx 18-fold. This would take the £80 weekly rent to £1,440 - or 75k p.a.

jeffrey
17-08-2009, 13:51 PM
But the figures have never been updated since 1957; hence the provisions are moribund.
I doubt that anyone in 1957 paid rent monthly. Few had bank accounts, fewer still had access to standing orders, most were paid in cash weekly, and s.4 applies only to weekly rent. Anyway, it's now wholly irrelevant whether those figures were for weekly or monthly rent.

Telometer
17-08-2009, 15:27 PM
I note that. I was just thinking that - based on RPI - it was a very high rent above which the provisions do not apply. Much higher than, say, the limit for an AST today.

jeffrey
17-08-2009, 15:29 PM
I note that. I was just thinking that - based on RPI - it was a very high rent above which the provisions do not apply. Much higher than, say, the limit for an AST* today.
Possibly the provision had real teeth in those days. I have no idea why it was left to wither-away.
For that matter, it's odd that the £25 000 ceiling for ASTs/SATs has not changed snce 1988. Is that also to wither-away?
*- this limit applies equally to SATs.

adp
17-08-2009, 23:13 PM
As a follow up, I contacted the agent this morning and feel much more encouraged. A bug man has sprayed and I haven't seen signs of life yet (fingers crossed) barring one or two sickly looking roaches. Both showers have been repaired by the electrician and are now working (yay). A window man is due tomorrow to install vents in the fixed shut windows and I expect that the mould will be assessed at least in due course. So I now feel that I will be able to at least settle in for the time and wait and see how it is at the end of the period. And I am looking forward to a good night's sleep without bugs dropping on my head ...

Rodent1
17-08-2009, 23:23 PM
Woodlice are a good source of protein, and if eaten with lightly toasted buttered bread and a smear of dijon mustard washed down with a good rose ..you may begin to regret calling in the "bug man". As a young child i thoroughly enjoyed eating woodlice along with worms and sand (the forerunner to space dust):D

mind the gap
18-08-2009, 07:32 AM
Woodlice are a good source of protein, and if eaten with lightly toasted buttered bread and a smear of dijon mustard washed down with a good rose ..you may begin to regret calling in the "bug man". As a young child i thoroughly enjoyed eating woodlice along with worms and sand (the forerunner to space dust):D

Centipede paste on an oven-bottom-muffin, washed down with Newcastle Brown, is even better! (An old Pontefract favourite).