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needingsomethingnow
09-10-2009, 08:47 AM
Hi all, Im not sure on where to start on this one as its a long story

well OK, here i go...
In June my partner and 3 children moved into a house that an old family friend had inherited from his mother who passed away, The house well lets say needed work, It was promised that it would be done when he has the money etc, we have an assured short hold tenancy btw.
Work needed being.
1.The boiler hasn't been serviced for god knows how long and was disconnected so no heating at all apart from an open fire that we are not allowed to use as he hasn't swept the chimneys and would be a fire hazard.
2. The floor in the bathroom has had water running through and under it for many years and has holes, rotten floorboards lino a complete mess and ripped etc basically not in a good order at all.
3. The toilet does not drain properly and needs buckets of water to flush it properly (believe me we have used a hell of a lot of bleach over the past few months)
4. The kitchen floor where the water had been running from the bathroom has completely rotten the floor, we have fallen through this many times and have had to nail boards over it just to access the kitchen safely.
5. None of the electricity has any kind of safety certificates or tests carried out.
6. this is where it gets more complicated, OK basically the house is registered as one property and is on our tenancy as one property nothing is mentioned about the "other side"
There is a part of the house that has a door between our side and "his" He has nailed plywood over it thus restricting our access too this side, this was so he could store some of his mothers possessions and sleep when he was here apparently doing the work needed! Nothing has been done needless to say, and as he has had some problems we let it slide, but now we have had enough and voiced this with him, he stormed off in a tantrum saying OK then you can get out and now refuses to answer my calls etc! As when were asking him to remove his things so we could have the heating installed etc as the surveyors would need access too that side for radiators etc.
The side where he has items stored has a kitchen toilet and shower plus one large lounge. this was supposed to be our main lounge and kitchen and using the "part kitchen" we have now as a washing room etc.
I stress that nothing at all was said about this part of the property in the tenancy and as the house is one property with this part at the same address as the other i assume this is counted as "the property".

My questions are :D if i may lol
1. We have asked on several occasions for this work to be completed that makes the house habitable with no joy he doesn't seem to care! Is there any way we can force him to do the work required?
2. The heating, does he have a legal obligation to provide a way to heat the property? There is a boiler in place and radiators but he says he cant afford to have it fixed and has turned the gas off to stop it being used. But wont sweep the chimneys either.
3. do we have a legal right too access the side of the house he has his things stored in? As we are paying rent for this would we be breaking any laws by entering this side, removing the things he has in there and placing them in a safe place for him to collect?
4. Is there anyone we can get help from legally for any of the above, as in do the council have anyone that deals with things like this just to help sort these issues out or anyone?
5. If we cant force him to have this done can we with hold his rent and pay for the above works to be done? Not that i want too take this route but i cant see any other options available.

Oh by the way We are not and have never been in any arrears with rent, and have not broken any part of the tenancy agreement.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and any response will be much appreciated,
Kindest regards
Mike

Tess
09-10-2009, 08:56 AM
IANAL as they say, but the Environmental Health Office can be a great source of help. They will inspect and can force Landlords to make the property fit for habitation & safe, but you will more than likely destroy any good relationship you had with the Landlord.

needingsomethingnow
09-10-2009, 09:13 AM
IANAL as they say, but the Environmental Health Office can be a great source of help. They will inspect and can force Landlords to make the property fit for habitation & safe, but you will more than likely destroy any good relationship you had with the Landlord.



Its certainly a bit like it, Well to be honest when he stormed towards my wife shouting and screaming i think it destroyed any good working relationship that may have been saved. He still wont answer the phone to me either and if he does the second he hears its me he hangs up!
Thank you for your advice though, i will contact the enviroment agency right away

needingsomethingnow
09-10-2009, 09:27 AM
Im still pretty stuck on the "can we gain access to our property" even though he has his things there though :-S has anyone had any other ideas pleaseee
pretty pleaseee with cherries on top too :-)

SALL
09-10-2009, 09:41 AM
Im still pretty stuck on the "can we gain access to our property" even though he has his things there though :-S has anyone had any other ideas pleaseee
pretty pleaseee with cherries on top too :-)

I would say, no.

As he restricted access to that part of the property when he let it out, I would say it’s excluded from the agreement.

needingsomethingnow
09-10-2009, 09:46 AM
I would say, no.

As he restricted access to that part of the property when he let it out, I would say it’s excluded from the agreement.


I see what u mean, nothing was written in to the aggreement about it and the aggreement was always when He had the finances he would move his things and we would have the whole house, as its supposed to be a 3 bedroom but without that it makes it a 2 bedroom if that makes any sense? As my wife and i have made the lounge a bedroom(ish)

westminster
09-10-2009, 12:20 PM
How long till the fixed term expires? If you're paying rent on time, LL would have great difficulty trying to evict you before then.

As well as the environmental health officer, there are other things you can do about disrepair (if, say, there is something not affecting health/safety which the EHO can't act on). There is a procedure for organizing repairs yourself and deducting cost from the rent (make sure that the disrepair is one of LL's obligations first). See
http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/repairs_and_bad_conditions/repairs_in_private_lets

Click on header "tenants doing repairs". N.B. Procedure must be followed to the letter, otherwise you risk being evicted for rent arrears. It is essential to keep copies of all letters and get a free certificate of posting to prove delivery.

Re shut off part of house. I'm inclined to go with SALL's view. Not the case here, but sometimes LLs have to board off parts for safety reasons, such as a loft with perilous access stairs, though this should probably be specified in the TA.

However, a few thoughts. You say you are having to use a lounge as a bedroom - does the TA state how many bedrooms in the property? If so, then arguably the property also includes the boarded-off bedroom as right now you are paying for 3 bedrooms but only have 2.

Do you have anything in writing from LL saying that you will get access as and when etc, even an email? - you might have a case if LL hasn't done as promised within a reasonable time. (In future ALWAYS get promises in writing from LL).

How does LL access this other area of the house? If, for example, he has to go through a part of the property which is included in the TA, i.e. property you have rights over, then he might be trespassing/harassing you.

needingsomethingnow
09-10-2009, 20:46 PM
How long till the fixed term expires? If you're paying rent on time, LL would have great difficulty trying to evict you before then.

As well as the environmental health officer, there are other things you can do about disrepair (if, say, there is something not affecting health/safety which the EHO can't act on). There is a procedure for organizing repairs yourself and deducting cost from the rent (make sure that the disrepair is one of LL's obligations first). See
http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/repairs_and_bad_conditions/repairs_in_private_lets

Click on header "tenants doing repairs". N.B. Procedure must be followed to the letter, otherwise you risk being evicted for rent arrears. It is essential to keep copies of all letters and get a free certificate of posting to prove delivery.

Re shut off part of house. I'm inclined to go with SALL's view. Not the case here, but sometimes LLs have to board off parts for safety reasons, such as a loft with perilous access stairs, though this should probably be specified in the TA.

However, a few thoughts. You say you are having to use a lounge as a bedroom - does the TA state how many bedrooms in the property? If so, then arguably the property also includes the boarded-off bedroom as right now you are paying for 3 bedrooms but only have 2.

Do you have anything in writing from LL saying that you will get access as and when etc, even an email? - you might have a case if LL hasn't done as promised within a reasonable time. (In future ALWAYS get promises in writing from LL).





How does LL access this other area of the house? If, for example, he has to go through a part of the property which is included in the TA, i.e. property you have rights over, then he might be trespassing/harassing you.








Hiya westminster,
Much appreciate the info there, I can definately see what yo umean so far, Well to be honest its looking like he is going to sell the house hence the making things awkward for us.
The area of the house that is boarded off has a door to enter the house, in effect a back door so it has its own entrance and exit. even though there is a door adjoining too the rest of the house that has been boarded with plywood.
There was never anything in the TA regarding his occupancy in this part of the house etc. Yet there was nothing in it about ours either so its a sticky situation. The LL has been a family friend for many years, and we both verbally aggreed that this was the case with the section of the house but nothing in writing apart from the TA so far, and letters i have drafted regarding the disrepair etc.
From what i understand the floor boards/joists come under structural repairs but this isnt something im 100% about, I do know that there was nothing in the TA regarding any repairs too these parts though so at a guess its a standard practice for it to be the LL's responsibility.
I have attemted to seek advice from local housing departments and Shelter with nobody to say "yes we will help" as yet but will continue to persue the local council as apparently they are obliged too help.
Surely im not being unreasonable by asking for a floor that doesnt collapse when walking into my kitchen or bathroom, heating that is safe and can be used, electrical tests carried out on the wiring and toilet that flushes am i?
As far as i can see £650 a month for a house with problems like this is a little extreme!
Thanks again for all your advice and help so far

quarterday
10-10-2009, 06:00 AM
You could certainly get the environmental health officer round. he will contact the landlord and draw up a schedule of what needs to be done. the landlord may well say i need vacant possession of the house for all this work to be carried out but in view of all that you say you would be very well placed for a claim in the county court for damages and I expect a worthwhile chunk of the rent that you paid would find its way back to you. CAB might well help with the case so that the taxpayer lays out for the case to be brought.
Bad landlords are no good for our industry and please let us know how you got on...

Bykergyal
10-10-2009, 06:41 AM
One of the things you may also want to think about is to commence the process of a Pre-Action Protocol.

"The Protocol, which covers claims in England and Wales, is intended to encourage the exchange of information between parties at an early stage and to provide a clear framework within which parties in a housing disrepair claim can attempt to achieve an early and appropriate resolution of the issues".
http://www.justice.gov.uk/civil/procrules_fin/contents/protocols/prot_hou.htm

If you follow this process (which is made easy, as the above page provides letter templates for you to send to the Landlord) - then you have a greater stand if you do decide to follow with legal action.

Depending if in your agreement it says a two or three bedroom you have access to the boarded room.

If you want to know what I would do, I would do the research, try and find out your chances of a win (if you were to go to court) and from your description - if true, I can't imagine ANY judge would rule against you. Then put this to your landlord to come to an agreement that he returns your deposit [I assume your landlord has placed your deposit in a scheme] and allows you to get out of your contract ASAP - find another place and take the whole saga as lesson to never do business with friends.
Court MAY seem easy - it isn't, it's a long drawn out process, that is time consuming and stressful.