View Full Version : court proceedings
22-04-2006, 12:03 PM
Have received approx 25% of my budget back but still disputing the remaining amount.
Couple of quick questions:
1. I had the carpet cleaned professionally however they said it wasn't good enough and had it cleaned again. Have two arguments firstly, they should supply a list of approved contractors if they expect it cleaned to a certain standard. Secondly Landlords get tax relief on the rent they receive specifically to pay for cleaning of carpets, are they then not making material gain from my deposit as they have already received tax relief to cover this.
2. I had a faulty immersion heater, it was heating the water to 80 degrees centrigrade despite being set on the lowest setting. Over a period of two years I complained about this and nothing was done, despite four phone calls and four letters.
I want to claim for the excessive electric bills that resulted from this as well as the cost for heating the flat via heaters running on a normal tariff as the storage heaters were not working properly. Quaterly bills for the smallish two bedroom flat were avering £450.
Any thoughts on the above points?
22-04-2006, 13:15 PM
1. I had the carpet cleaned professionally however they said it wasn't good enough and had it cleaned again. Have two arguments firstly, they should supply a list of approved contractors if they expect it cleaned to a certain standard. Well, if it wasn't cleaned properly by the first contractors - which you don't seem to be arguing about, then why didn't get you just get them to come back and do the job properly at no extra charge? If the second company has indeed cleaned the carpet properly, then I'm not sure what your argument is.
Secondly Landlords get tax relief on the rent they receive specifically to pay for cleaning of carpets, are they then not making material gain from my deposit as they have already received tax relief to cover this.Not so. LLs of furnished properties usually claim an allowance of 10% of rents received for wear and tear - not cleaning. If a LL wanted to claim tax relief specifically (your word) for the cost of cleaning a carpet, then they would need to be able to provide the Inland Revenue with a receipt from the cleaning company.
22-04-2006, 14:24 PM
My argument is that the carpets were cleaned to a professional standard using a reptuable company as required. We had been in the flat three years and given that the carpet was a very light colour it was unlikely to be returned to the same condition as when we moved in.
No comment on the second part then? I feel the managing company were negligent in failing to remedy the problem with the immersion heater.
22-04-2006, 18:27 PM
My argument is that the carpets were cleaned to a professional standard using a reptuable company as required. We had been in the flat three years and given that the carpet was a very light colour it was unlikely to be returned to the same condition as when we moved in.Well, taken in isolation the above sounds reasonable, but takes no account of whether the cleaning was done properly by the first company. You didn't answer: did the second company clean the carpet properly?
No comment on the second part then? I feel the managing company were negligent in failing to remedy the problem with the immersion heater.I didn't comment on that cos I don't know the answer! But just from a common sense point of view I'd have thought you had a valid case. But there are many others here more knowledgable than I, who may tell you otherwise.
22-04-2006, 18:43 PM
Answering only the second part about the immersion heater.
You reported a repair requirement to the landlord or agent who failed to effect a repair.
You now have three choices:-
1. Fit a new immersion heater and/or thermostat yourself (usually its the thermostat that fails to cut out when correct temp reached) and deduct it from next rent payment. Though this is not the legally proper way to do it (see 2 below) it would probably be accepted by the landlord/agent as being a reasonable action.
2. Send the landlord/agent a letter by recorded delivery pointing out that you will use your right to obtain three quotations and take the cheapest one, execute the repair and deduct cost from rent if the repair is not done within say 7 days.
3. Report the matter to the Environmental Health Department as a defect prejudicial to your health (i.e. risk of scalding).
However, you chose to put up with it and not to take any of these three above actions which one way or another would have secured a remedy within the space of immediately to 14 days. You continued to use the immersion heater knowing it to be faulty and knowing that it would result in higher bills. I do not consider that a court would award you any damages at all, or at best, only a small amount because of your own contribution to your own downfall as it were.
As to the storage radiators on the normal tariff. These normally work on a time switch to operate during the night using Economy 7 electricity - if they were not on this tariff - it is only a case of contacting the electricity supplier and changing the meter UNLESS they were wired into the normal ring mains (they are usually on a separate circuit unless they have individual timers fitted). In the former case, if you did not bother to get the tariff changed, then you again have contributed as before - but in the latter case, then you may have a potential claim for compensation IF the storage heaters are not wired in accordance with the regulations.
22-04-2006, 19:09 PM
So you are saying that the landlords agents were not negligent? I reported the fault on numerous occasions boith verbally and via four letters. I made it clear that I would take action in the county court to recover monies for the excessive electric bills if it was not remedied, this was ignored.
Are you saying that I ignored it despite sending so many letters? Hardly ignoring it.
I am not saying the storage heaters were on a normal tarrif, I was saying that only 50% of the storage heaters were working, these were working on Economy 7, however to keep the flat warm I had to purchase and plug into the normal ring main additional heaters to sufficiently heat the flat.
I don't see that my ignorance of the law in respect to me reporting them to the Environmental Health Department is any defence by them to a county court case.
22-04-2006, 20:38 PM
Nobody said you ignored it. You didn't take the correct action. Trying to take action after the event makes it difficult for a judge to award compensation. What monetary value do you put on it? How do you work it out? It's much easier if action was taken at the time.
Unfortunately, ignorance may help their defence.
Why do people get angry when they don't get the answer they want?
22-04-2006, 22:39 PM
I think I would feel angry and frustrated if I were Granthar, not because I didn't get the answer I wanted, but because it appears that the Landlord's agents are able to get away with behaving unfairly.
22-04-2006, 22:43 PM
Granthar it sounds more to me like you are trying to get back at the landlord because they are witholding some of your deposit.
If you don't agree with what money the landlord is witholding and believe you have a case just write a letter to him asking him to repay your deposit within seven days or you will take him to small claims court. And then do it.
For the landlord to be able to withold money he must:
1. Have an inventory signed by you when you first moved in proving that the property was in a good state
2. Be able to prove that the property was left in a "bad" state and he had to fix it by employing a cleaning company (he must show receipts).
When I say bad state I mean damaged beyond wear and tear. A landlord can't expect a light carpet to be prestine after 3 years of living and has to allow for this before retaining any money.
As regards to the electricity bill, you can try to claim for it but as other members have stated, it's a bit late now as you've moved out.
The fact that you warned them of court action is on your side as they can't say they didn't know, but only a judge will tell you for sure if you're entitled to compensation or not. Again it's up to you to go to court or not.
22-04-2006, 22:46 PM
I never said that the agents were not negligent at all - but what I am saying is that YOU contributed to your own downfall by not taking the proper action at the relevant time.
If you did not know what to do, there were plenty of sources you could ask such as the CAB, housing advice, the local council, a solicitor or even come to a board or forum like this one - but you didn't - you let the situation go on for two years and that will be the basis of the defence and believe me, a judge in court will ask you the same questions - why did you not do one of the three things I stated in my previous post re. the immersion heater, and as for the storage radiators - again, you did not actively pursue the resolution.
Personally - and bear in mind I could be wrong - it all depends on the judge on the day - I don't think you will get any compensation awarded you and if you do, it will be very minor and probably not worth the time and trouble of a court summons and appearance.
I wish I could tell you differently - I wish you could go do these agents for £ thousands - but looking at it like a judge - you are bound to be criticised for failing to take appropriate action and your ignorance of the law will not count - you are expected to know it!
23-04-2006, 09:20 AM
When the immersion heater was the only means of heating the water, not using it was not an option, neither was waiting to get quotes and write to the landlord etc.
This is only one of many issues, the fridge stopped working and it too them nearly a week to replace it.
It is easy to calculate the additional cost of running appliances and how much extra it cost to heat the water an additional twenty degrees, the energy companies have these figures.
have just noticed another issue, have copies of invoices for re-decoration, haver been charged 40% of total for items that were deemed beyond reasonable wear and tear, which is fair enough, however there is another invoice for decoration for a room where there were no issues other than normal wear and tear, I shouldn't be payng this as they claim paint should last five years. If the landlord wants to paint the whole flat after 3 years that should be at their expense.
I will start court proceedings next week and let you all know the outcome
23-04-2006, 14:12 PM
I would heartily recommend you see a solicitor for a bit of free legal advice under the green form scheme or whatever before you issue proceedings.
1. The judge will want to know why you put up with a faulty immersion heater and faulty storage radiators for two years when there was a remedy provided at law which I have already outlined to you. At best, you will not get two years worth of compensation - I think the judge will possibly allow you two weeks of excess electricity minus your "normal" useage as a yardstick - thats if he allows you anything at all - the judge may take the view that you are trying to maximise your compensation award!
2. Replacing a fridge within a week is NOT unreasonable.
3. I doubt any manufacturer will guarantee his paint for five years under conditions which he the manf. cannot control. This is a weak argument.
4. If you left the premises and were subsequently charged for excess over fair wear and tear, then it is almost prima facie that you would probably have left the walls with excess over fwt and the judge will find the landlord within his reasonable rights to repaint after three years and for you to bear the cost.
By all means issue your summons if you wish - I personally wouldn't - you run the risk of landing a huge legal bill if your claim raises complications or is put on the county court track (rather than small claims) - and you have left the premises now - so your evidence will be in the form of meter readings and photographs perhaps together with copies of your letters and maybe proof by itemised bill of your calls - I think you stand less than 10% chance of winning anything and the judge may regard your claims as frivolous and award as I say, quite substantial costs to the defendants, paricularly if they employ a barrister!!!
Have it your way - I will be very interested to see the outcome!
23-04-2006, 17:26 PM
They are saying the emulsion and gloss would last five years, I have advice that it should be around three years. in anycase I don't see why I am getting money deducted for painting a room where there were no issues.
Re: court proceedings, in a small claims court they won't be able to use a barrister and costs for a solicitor will be frowned upon, it is meant to be a simple procedure.
By the way it is not the money, it is the principle, I had a contract with them, they were supossed to remedy any faults and they failed to do so. The tenancy agreement is a legal document.
23-04-2006, 19:06 PM
A barrister has the right of audience in a county court case be it small claims or the normal tracks.
If you judge thinks you brought the case frivolously or maliciously, he/she does have the discretion to award costs on the fixed scale or on an indemnity basis.
Many people more cleverer then you have been caught out by this and landed themselves with a large legal costs bill for the defence where they have turned up with a barrister or solicitor and witnesses. The defence may argue that the claim is unsuitable for the small claims track - so it gets put into the ordinary track where costs are pertainable as a right.
The county court will not frown upon a solicitor being used at all - they will expect it.
I hope your pockets are potentially as deep as your principles. I think you will lose - if you win, I wil eat all my dinner up!!!!!!
23-04-2006, 19:19 PM
Anyone who goes to court on a principle is a fool and had better have very deep pockets.
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