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View Full Version : Basement damp; alarm noise; I almost want to be evicted



rattypuff
09-11-2009, 19:05 PM
Hello all,

Id really appreciate some advice with this problem.

We have a 12 month contract in a basement flat. We moved in 1 month ago.
The following areas need resolving, and i informed the letting agent with 2 days of moving in:

1. Window in bedroom does not open (appears locked without a key).
2. Ceiling in lounge dripping (discovered minutes after moving in)
3. Extractor fan in bathroom not working (its windowless)

2 days later, the lounge window FELL into the flat whilst we were sitting relaxing in the garden - the little plastic things that hold the whole window into the frame crumbled, leaving the window to fall into the room ~(it didnt break) we managed to put it back in so its now held in by just one small latch.
Since then, the other window has done the same. The electric oven thermostat doesnt work and thus burns all food within 2 minutes and leaves the middle frozen.

We are now into the second month of renting here - we have informed the letting agent 7 times via phonecalls, and once in person with a list. To date, they have managed 3 weeks later to get the extractor fixed. But nothing else. The drip upstairs we have negotiated with the landlord above. OUR landlord came to measure up for new windows, 3 weeks ago - still no contact from him.

Since this also, we have discovered a sudden and ever growing wealth of mould and damp throught the flat. Especially the bedroom where ive found many of our shoes, clothes, items - even the chest of drawers COVERED in mould. The walls are wet, as they are in the lounge.

What can we do??
My plan is : Tomorrow put all of this in writing, send recorded delivery to the letting agent (we dont have the landlords address), stating all the problems that are unresolved, with a date on which these are expected to be sorted - maybe 2/3 weeks? I realise the damp is a BIG issue, and is going to take lots of work and time - but surely a property shouldnt be let in this condition?
I am then going to withold the rent if all things arent seen to in the 3 weeks...

Any help would be really appreciated.
Thanks

Rattypuff

SORRY, THIS IS EDITED: we cant open any windows in the building currently, only the front and back door - this means the mould and damp is getting worse - is this a health and safety issue as well as environmental health??
We actually want to leave this property now, as its depressing as well as unhealthy, but our contract is 12 months. :(

jta
09-11-2009, 19:20 PM
I can't help with most of that, but you should be able to get a windows key for a couple of quid or less at any glaziers or double glazing shop, they are pretty universal.

rattypuff
09-11-2009, 19:35 PM
Hi JTa - thanks..i never thought of that! Im a bit concerned that the window may be broken which is why its not opening - ill try and get a key - good point.

westminster
09-11-2009, 23:04 PM
My plan is : Tomorrow put all of this in writing, send recorded delivery to the letting agent (we dont have the landlords address), stating all the problems that are unresolved, with a date on which these are expected to be sorted - maybe 2/3 weeks? I realise the damp is a BIG issue, and is going to take lots of work and time - but surely a property shouldnt be let in this condition?
I am then going to withold the rent if all things arent seen to in the 3 weeks...


The following link gives info on the landlord's legal repairing obligations.
http://www.letlink.co.uk/letting-factsheets/factsheets/factsheet-11-landlords-repairing-obligations.html

And this link tells you the options for dealing with disrepair.
http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/repairs_and_bad_conditions/repairs_in_private_lets

It's inadvisable to withhold rent. However, if you follow a certain procedure, you are legally allowed to carry out the repairs yourself and then deduct the cost from the rent. You must follow the procedure to the letter; which is:


A case (Lee-Parker v Izzet (1971) 1 WLR 1688) has established that, to use rent to pay for repairs, or to offset the cost of repairs against arrears, the tenant must carefully follow (in order) the steps below:-


give the landlord notice of the disrepair and a reasonable time to remedy it; then
inform the landlord (preferably in writing) that s/he will do the repair her/himself unless the landlord complies with her/his obligations; then
allow a further reasonable period for the landlord to do the work; then
obtain three estimates for the cost of the work from reputable builders; then
write to the landlord again, enclosing copies of the estimates and reminding her/him of her/his obligation to do the work, giving a further reasonable period to carry it out. The letter should warn that, otherwise, the tenant will do the work her/himself and deduct the cost from rent; then, if there is no response
arrange for the contractor who gave the lowest estimate to do the work, and obtain (and send to the landlord) receipts, with a request for payment; then
if the landlord does not pay, the tenant may deduct the cost from the rent (but not other charges such as service charges), then send the landlord a breakdown of the amount and period of the rent to be withheld.


Also see the following link regarding your right to know the landlord's address
http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/landlord's_address.htm

rattypuff
10-11-2009, 23:22 PM
Thanks for that advice, its really appreciated.

I actually typed and sent the letter today, and ive now seen your post.:eek:.I have gone ahead and suggested 21 days to address the issues that need addressing (obviously the damp issue will take longer than 21 days!)...
and then told the letting agent that if nothings done before then, I will stop the direct debit.

But having come home from work tonight, ive found more damp, walls with streaks running down them in the paintwork - seems to be that the more it rains, the more streaks we get. And found more mouldy furniture.

We both feel really unhappy here and to be honest, betrayed.

My question is, what is a "reasonable amount of time" for a landlord to action the problems?? I keep feeling mean only giving 21 days, but by the time thats up it would have been 2 months...

rattypuff
12-11-2009, 13:22 PM
Hi, sorry to re-iterate, but what is classed as "a reasonable amount of time" for a landlord to fix things, and to "fix" damp problems - possible rising damp, as im in a basement and things are going mouldy from bottom upwards?

Im a reasonable and patient person, and i tend to give more time that i should....but this time round, im not standing for a landlord to take ages...

any ideas?

Thanks all

Telometer
12-11-2009, 15:31 PM
What is a reasonable time?

Well probably the time it would take you to organise things to be done yourself - plus maybe a few days.

rattypuff
13-11-2009, 11:12 AM
I guess, its just based on common sense then as opposed to a set amount of time?
Thanks

rattypuff
13-11-2009, 15:17 PM
6 month break clause - what is it? And would it say in my contract if we had a break clause? We've signed for 12 months, but are having various problems, including damp and mould.
Thanks all

mind the gap
13-11-2009, 15:26 PM
6 month break clause - what is it? And would it say in my contract if we had a break clause? We've signed for 12 months, but are having various problems, including damp and mould.
Thanks all
I'm sorry to hear you are damp and mouldy.

A break clause is a clause (or sentence) in your 12 month tenancy agreement which allows you (and probably your landlord as well) to end your tenancy, either at the end of the sixth month, or at some defined point(s) subsequent to that.

If your agreement contains no such clause, then you will find it hard to get out of the tenancy early, I'm afraid. Search 'mould' and 'damp' on these forums - there are lots of threads about it.

P.Pilcher
13-11-2009, 15:29 PM
A break clause is inserted in some AST's which enable a landlord or tenant to terminate the agrement early provided that certain conditions of notice are fulfilled. This usually applies to AST's granted for twelve months and permit the landlord or tenant to terminate the agreement after six months have elapsed.
Some agents seem to like to do it this way, possibly as it enables them to make more money out of their landlord clients. Such break clauses can be difficult to enforce unless the terms are correctly written and most landlords grant an AST for six months and then either renew it or do nothing (as I do) and let the AST continue indefinitely on a staturoty periodic basis. Much simpler - no hassle and no expensive, unnecessary paper generation!

P.P.

rattypuff
13-11-2009, 15:30 PM
Thanks for the quick reply Mind The Gap and P Pilcher
Ive read through our tenancy agreement and can find no clause unfortunately :(

Ive had a look through the damp and mouldy section on here and found them helpful.

Thanks again

rattypuff
13-11-2009, 16:21 PM
Hi Wickerman,
Im really not sure whats causing the damp - but some walls, i.e in the bedroom and lounge more prominently are wet. mainly at the bottom and middle. I suspect that the guttering is not good - we are in the basement, so it could be rising damp? Ive stared up at the gutters (4 flats above) and there seems to be some sort of greenage, suggesting blockages.

Ive just taken some of the carpet up in the lounge, just at the corner, where the wall is wet, and the carpet lining is WET! Mind you, there is a drip in that corner from the ceiling too :rolleyes: The landlord above is sorting it out, its coming from the shower in the flat above. So the wet around the ceiling and down that side of the chimney breast can be partially explained. But the rest of that flat - i dont know?

Found a rucksack in our bedroom, which has been on the floor for 3 weeks - mouldy this morning.

Also, as we cannot open any of the windows in the whole flat (all broken and been mentioned to the letting agent 7 times in 5 weeks), you can imagine that whenever we put the heating on, we are unable to air the flat at the same time, so the damp is getting worse.

I dont expect it to be a quick fix at all, in fact, i suspect its going to have to be stripped back. But this certainly hasnt happened since we moved in, and im presuming isnt a new and unkown entity. im just gutted that its been let out by a letting agent, with these problems.

westminster
13-11-2009, 17:43 PM
I guess, its just based on common sense then as opposed to a set amount of time?
Thanks
Yes. Just imagine the scenario where you had to explain to a judge what steps you'd taken to allow the LL the opportunity to fix the problem, before you took action to do the works yourself. If you said you'd given the LL a couple of days before calling in builders, that wouldn't be "reasonable". Whereas if you'd written two letters over a couple of weeks and had no response at all, it'd be reasonable to start getting quotes.

BTW, I'm always saying this, but it's essential to get and keep proof of postage of all such letters to LL, and keep copies of the letters. You never know, you might need this as evidence that you made all reasonable efforts etc. A (free) certificate of posting from the PO is enough proof of delivery - doesn't need to be a signed for service.

westminster
13-11-2009, 17:48 PM
p.s. conditions sound really grim. I would consider adding on to demands to LL that he supplies a dehumidifier pending repair. And assuming LL doesn't provide it, add on to the rent deductions (if you go down that route).

It'd also be a good idea generally to keep a detailed diary of day to day conditions, communications with agent, etc. Again, you never know when this might be useful as evidence.

rattypuff
14-11-2009, 13:16 PM
Hi Westminster,

Thank you very much for you reply.
It does sound grim - i mean the actual property, when we viewed it looked great - fresh lot of paint, newish carpets laid...you absolutely wouldnt have know that the mould and damp was lying underneath the painted walls.
Its only now the weather is wet and cold that its starting to rear its ugly head!

Ive kept a note of almost all of the phonecalls and the results we got. Ive also kept a record of the post of the letter, and a copy of the letter itself.
The letting agent would have received our letter (recorded del.) Wednesday. Its now Saturday and we've had no contact from them. We called them 3 times this morning before they close, at 12noon...but they werent picking up the phones?

:( its all very hard work and really not what we need right now. Ive also just come down with a kidney infection and am on antibiotics - ive never had one before at all - some people are saying that it could be the damp thats brought it on? i dont know, but am really fed up of trying to chase landlord/letting agent grrr!

Thanks again

rattypuff
16-11-2009, 12:18 PM
Called Environmental Health this morning and explained the situation. When i told her which agency we were renting from she said "ohhh, >>>> (letting agents name)...i see, and she kind of made lots of noises and comments in other words, "not them again!!" sort of thing..say no more.

She said it could take up to a month for someone to come and give an assessment, they are apparently inundated with requests for assessments!

Just thought id give an update.

Should i now write to letting agetn again, to tell them that we will be having an inspection?? Im not sure just to hang tight until agent calls me (they have 14 days left, out of the 21 that i gave them to sort things out)...?

Not sure where to go from here - but weve found several mouldy items in the front room now too. Im taking pictures of all things mouldy!

tom999
16-11-2009, 13:06 PM
Should i now write to letting agetn again, to tell them that we will be having an inspection?? Im not sure just to hang tight until agent calls me (they have 14 days left, out of the 21 that i gave them to sort things out)...?As agents seem to be incompetent, and agents in any case act for LL; contact LL directly, in writing, giving him/her a deadline to get repairs done, keeping proof of postage.

rattypuff
18-11-2009, 10:41 AM
Since we moved in 5 weeks ago an alarm has been constantly sounding..it was sporadic to start with but the last say 3 weeks its been constant.
It sounds distant, but we can hear it through our windows (shut windows).
We recently spoke to the lady that rents the top floor flat and she said its coming from the empty property below her (and 2 flats above us).
She said she hears it constantly and loudly but she cant get in contact with her landlord as he lives in France and wont answer the phone.

So, we are in the basement, there is a tenant above us, then the offending empty flat and the poor lady at the top.

Whos responsible? We are with a letting agent and we have a feeling the above flat is also with the same letting agent, although this isnt confirmed.
Ive no idea who is responsible for the empty flat.

We were sent a letter last week from our (quite frankly useless) letting agent telling us that a routine fire alarm check will take place and that they will need to enter our property for this to happen (even though we are in the basement and are separate to the rest of the building and have no alarms apart from small battery operated smoke alarms in the hallway).
I took the morning off work and they didnt show up.

I guess thats a different story, but I wondered who may be responsible for the alarm or is that a bit of a long shot question?!!

Thanks all - its driving everyone insane i think!!

Emma

jeffrey
18-11-2009, 11:24 AM
Are you a long-leaseholder or a short-term tenant (e.g. on AST)?
If the latter, the chain of communication re the alarm noise may work like this:
1. You complain to your L who is [presumably] the flat's long-leaseholder.
2. Each long lease may contain a 'no noise/nuisance' covenant, binding each long-leaseholder.
3. L complains to the block's freehold reversioner F about the other flat's long-leaseholder X.
4. Each lease may oblige F (at request/cost of a complaining long-leaseholder) to enforce covenants against an offending long-leaseholder.
5. If so, L makes F complain to X.
6. X is liable for putting-right the problem.

mind the gap
18-11-2009, 13:37 PM
Or you could just take a sledgehammer to the bloody thing.

The trouble with Jeffrey's solution is that it could take months by the time all the different forms of life in the foodchain have been contacted/cajoled/pressued/into doing something. All it needs is for someone to go in and disable the alarm. It is a public nuisance and by sounding constantly, it advertises the fact that the flat is empty. So you are actually improving the security of the property by getting it switched off.

First port of call : LL of flat where alarm is sounding. If it's the same agent for that flat as it is for yours, tell them your quality of life is seriously impaired because of it and they must get themselves round there to disable it. Threaten to withold rent until they do. Mention the Noise Abatement Officer at the council and threaten to get him round.

If agent/LL does not act, pay a locksmith £50 between you to gain entry and switch it off/disconnect it. Deduct from your rent until agent/LL reimburses you.

chappers2341
18-11-2009, 14:14 PM
call the environmental health department, they will get the police and a locksmith and possibly an alarm guy round to sort it.
This happened to a friend of mine whilst he was on holiday.
His alarm developed afault and kept going off the neighbours called environmental health and they broke into his house with an alarm guy and then charged my friend when he returned from holiday.

jeffrey
18-11-2009, 14:29 PM
Threaten to withold rent until they do.
No, don't. Your L is not in breach- so you certainly have no rights to default in paying what is lawfully due.

rattypuff
20-11-2009, 10:55 AM
Ive started a few threads on here regarding problems in an AST 12 month contract myself and my partner are in.

Im starting to feel like i actually WANT the landlord to evict us!!
Can i ask him?!

Just a quick run down (sorry to those who have heard me say this a hundred times!)- been here 6 weeks, signed for 12m contract AST with letting agent.
Since moving in, dripping ceiling, ALL window catches are broken and unable to open, oven not working properly, back door leading to garden is an internal door and is getting soaked in this awful weather. LOADS of damp problems, ranging from strong smell of mould in flat, damp walls, tide marks on walls damp coming through fresh paintwork - and the ultimate - our possessions are becoming increasingly covered in mould.
All the doors are letting breezes in, so flat is really draughty - we have put large bits of material up at doors/draught excluders on floor etc. And now, the front door has buckled so much, i can no longer lock it from the outside - and find it difficult to exit the property!!

Ive taken photos of all mouldy things. Ive pulled up the corners of the carpets and witnessed that the floor is wet. Ive phoned letting agents approx 7 times. Ive written a record of everything thats not good here, recorded delivery and kept a copy - given them 21 days to sort most of problems (obviously not the whole damp issue). Ive contacted Environmental Health as we havent heard from letting agent (9 days now) - we need to wait 1 month for a phonecall from them and a phone interview.

What else can i do? I really dont think we can survive winter here. Its not even cold really yet, and the damps got bad.
Ive just got over a kidney infection which ive NEVER had before and wondering if the conditions are responsible?

I almost WANT eviction. I dont want to be here, its not nice. Im definately going to stop my next months rent - i realise this isnt the legal way to go - but at the moment i havent got anymore time to try and remedy all these problems as we both work full time. I really do resent paying a monthly rent where a property is unhealthy and not nice. I am READY to walk away - but i know i cant.

Can i get evicted??

Sorry to rant and thanks for listening!:confused:

teeps
20-11-2009, 12:49 PM
did you not notice the state of the place when you viewed it?

rattypuff
20-11-2009, 13:20 PM
Hi Teeps - god, no. Not at all.
I viewed it and noticed a small patch of something on one of the walls - and that is pictured and logged in the inventory.
But nothing else at all. It smelt OK, couldnt smell damp.

Letting agent told me it had been vacant for about a month. He told me that 3 phillopeno (sp?) nurses had lived here previously. Well, we have since found out that actually a crack dealer was living here and doors had been ram raided by police - the landlord from upstairs told us that! theres lots of evidence around the front door frame that there had been some sort of bust in. Weve had guys coming round asking for drugs! Our landlord tells us that they guy was a dealer and had paid him 6 months up front and he didnt really care what he did, as long as he pays the money.

SOrry -ooops rambling ,
Ok, keep to the point!...no, we didnt see any of this coming - it was a fresh paint job and the carpets look fairly new too. Its just all coming through the paint now.

westminster
20-11-2009, 14:23 PM
I almost WANT eviction. I dont want to be here, its not nice. Im definately going to stop my next months rent - i realise this isnt the legal way to go - but at the moment i havent got anymore time to try and remedy all these problems as we both work full time. I really do resent paying a monthly rent where a property is unhealthy and not nice. I am READY to walk away - but i know i cant.

Can i get evicted??


You've had advice on your other thread as to the procedure to follow when LL fails to carry out repairs; start getting contractors in to do quotes so they're ready to send LL. Yes, you could just sit there doing nothing and wait to get evicted, but it could take several months; not all LLs act immediately in response to rent arrears. Also bear in mind that if potential future LLs find out you've been evicted, this isn't going to be a huge plus point.

rattypuff
20-11-2009, 14:46 PM
Thanks Westminster, yes youre right, I should contact contractors.
Ive no idea how to go about this? Ive never been in this situation before - what sort of company do i look for? My landlord says he is a builder, so im guessing he would want to do the work himself? Im not sure.

I really dont want an eviction to affect my future tenancies, because ive always been a good, efficient tenant who takes care of the property.
And i guess in my heart i dont want to be evicted, but i almost feel like its the best option for my landlord and for me and my partner!

Thanks again

westminster
20-11-2009, 14:57 PM
Thanks Westminster, yes youre right, I should contact contractors.
Ive no idea how to go about this? Ive never been in this situation before - what sort of company do i look for? My landlord says he is a builder, so im guessing he would want to do the work himself? Im not sure.

Well, he is of course free to do the works himself, and you are giving him the opportunity to do so.

Also, have a read of this - I bookmarked it after someone posted on another thread on the subject of damp. Lots of useful information, and they might be able to help or advise on a local contractor.
http://www.heritage-house.org/damp.html

There is also http://www.ratedpeople.com/

rattypuff
23-12-2009, 10:11 AM
Hi,

We have a 12m AST which we are 2.5 months into.
We have several problems which have been escalated very effectively to letting agent since we moved in. 2 recorded delivery letters, emails, phonecalls and a visit to the Agency with the list of problems.

Since weve received NO communication from either letting agent or Landlord, we have witheld this months rent with a view to getting some of the problems fixed, using this money.

As predicted, we received a call from letting agent asking why our rent hasnt gone through to them this month. Even though i had warned them in advance that if problems arent addressed (and we gave them reasonable time to contact us), that our rent will be witheld, using the money to offset fixing problems.

I called today to tell them why we havent paid the rent and to have a general chat about the state of the place. Agency told us all problems have been passed on to the Landlord, but they hadnt phoned to tell us that.
The landlord apparently likes to do all the work himself as he is a "builder".
But the letting agent told us they will come and visit our property in the new year as there is no response from landlord.

So, my question is - we have withheld rent - at what point do we start paying again? I know it sounds like a silly question, but just because weve received ONE phonecall from letting agent, doesnt make me feel secure in the knowledge that anything effective will be done.
Especially as one of the main problems are wet walls, mould, damp and slugs coming into the bedroom via under the carpet!! (thats how wet it is!)..

What do i do next?

Any help appreciated - thanks
Emma

Rodent1
23-12-2009, 10:15 AM
Read this before you go any further:

http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/BlogNe...rdLOGDec09.pdf (http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/BlogNews/LandlordLOGDec09.pdf)

rattypuff
23-12-2009, 21:18 PM
Hi Rodent, thanks for that link - ive read it carefully.

I still cant work out whether or not its condensation - ive read a lot about condensation and tenants lifestyle. So far as i can make out, we are doing everything we can to suitably vent the property - windows open when the heatings on, windows open in the bedroom when we sleep - we had the letting agent fix the broken extractor fan in the bathroom (there are no windows), although it doesnt seem to do much for the bathroom.
Apart from holding our breath in the property, i cant see what else we can do!
hehe.

Anyhow, i guess we'll just have to wait and see if anyone comes round the at least assess our flat, in the New Year. Im not planning to do anything else apart from wait - and see what happens. The mention of us paying the rent we are withholding, wasnt mention by the LA in the phonecall today.

Thanks again

Emma

Rodent1
24-12-2009, 00:26 AM
It is more than possible that the problem has caused by "damp" other than condensation, and that even if you are doing all things possible that the prop needs "forced" ventilation. You really need someone who knows what they are doing to have a look at it.

I must say that this winter has brought on some of the worst condensation problems i i have ever seen - within my own portfolio.

I have one rear 1st floor room with 2 outside walls which actually has a 18" puddle on the carpet and has soaked up the sides of a wardrobe 6" high, the wardrobe was in the corner. This appeared within 6 weeks of t moving in. I have had the prop for 6 yrs no prev problems encountered.

I was convinced we had a leak, due to the sheer vol of water, but after extensive observations and spraying a hose on outside wall, checking guuters, roofline, external render for cracks/damp patches etc , we came to the conclusion that it was condensation.

The room was thermally lined, T instructed to keep windows on vent lock whenever possible (as well as trickle vents in frame) open bedroom door whenever poss and vent lock a window at front of prop to allow passage of air through the building.

1 mth later now and no problems !

It doesn't need to to be damp for slugs and snails - you just need to follow the trails and block their ent/exit !

westminster
24-12-2009, 12:18 PM
I called today to tell them why we havent paid the rent and to have a general chat about the state of the place. Agency told us all problems have been passed on to the Landlord, but they hadnt phoned to tell us that.
The landlord apparently likes to do all the work himself as he is a "builder".
But the letting agent told us they will come and visit our property in the new year as there is no response from landlord.

So, my question is - we have withheld rent - at what point do we start paying again? I know it sounds like a silly question, but just because weve received ONE phonecall from letting agent, doesnt make me feel secure in the knowledge that anything effective will be done.
Especially as one of the main problems are wet walls, mould, damp and slugs coming into the bedroom via under the carpet!! (thats how wet it is!)..


One option is to contact the Environmental Health Officer at the local council, and ask them to inspect. They can demand LL takes action.

While I understand why you have felt forced to withhold the rent, you should be aware of the risks; if you don't pay the next month you may find yourself with a s.8 notice for eviction on grounds of arrears.

The proper procedure for arranging repairs yourself and then withholding rent to pay for them is in the following link, towards the bottom of the page (you'll also find some useful general information about disrepair in private lets on the Shelter website):

http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/repairs_and_bad_conditions/repairs_in_private_lets/tenants_doing_repairs

Also, keep a diary of events/conditions. And whenever you write to the LL keep a copy of the letter, and send the letter first class with a free certificate of posting. It is important to keep careful records.

rattypuff
25-12-2009, 23:22 PM
Thanks for your replies.

Im really shocked at the amount of comments about condensation - I really didnt think it was such a problem, but it appears it is. Maybe this is condensation in the flat? Im not sure. We have trickle vents constantly open, and windows on vent lock all day and night in the bedroom.
As the window in the front room doesnt open (lock/window broken) - i suspect this is a big contributor.

I am trying to be really careful about witholding rent and do feel very tense about it. Ive followed the procedure and will be getting quotes for work that needs doing - sending them to the letting agent, who will hopefully send on to landlord!
Ive kept copies of all communication and always sent recorded delivery. Ive diarised all the times we've contacted the LA. We've photographed parts of the building and our items of clothing/furniture/instruments that have gone mouldy.
Ive phone Environmental Health almost 7 weeks ago, and chased them up twice, but they havent responded yet. Ive told LA ive done this and will be getting an assessment - but to that, they did not respond.

I told LA via email that we could not get out of our front door without using a claw hammer through the letter box and pulling like hell - no response. 4 days later i got shut in the flat and couldnt get out of the front door - having to be at work within an hour and half, the LA finally got someone round immediately! I cant believe how absolutely lapse they are being about every issue.

Anyway, the main thing is that on the phone, once i finally got to have a conversation with the maintenance dept, they said theyd come out in the new year. Ill be re-iterating this in a letter.

Weve now received a letter from the LA telling us our rent is overdue and they will be charging us if we dont pay within 7 days.

Chances are we will pay our rent and no one will come out to help us with the problems in the New Year.

Do i take the chance of just writing a letter re-iterating the conversation and verbal agreement on the phone with the maintenance dept of the LA, regarding coming out to look at the damp problem and NOT pay the rent until someone does come round? Or do i pay the rent and not risk the extra overdue charge and more than likely be back to square one, with LA not taking any notice??
Agh!

P.Pilcher
27-12-2009, 20:53 PM
The introduction of double glazing has, I think, made us forget just how bad condensation is in the winter. In my house, it was normal practice to mop up pools and pools of water from the windowsills and loads of condensation from the windows themselves in the winter in occupied rooms. 60% (I believe) of the liquid that we drink is evaporated from our skin to control our body temperature. In the winter this will condense out on the interior surfaces of cold, single glazed windows. Double glazing cures the problem but then if it were not fitted when a tenant took up his tenancy then he cannot expect it to be retrospectively fitted.

P.P.

Mrs Jones
29-12-2009, 22:14 PM
I live in a Victorian conversion flat (No cavity walls etc.) which had bad condensation problems when let in the past. I manage this in many ways and have had very few problems this winter. Whilst it is important to air and heat the property, I have discovered there is actually a lot which can be done to reduce the amount of moisture we put into the air (without stopping breathing;))

When boiling the kettle, do not always wait for it to switch itself off. Switch off manually once it is boiling - this will prevent excess steam passing into the air. (Kettles which switch themselves off do so as a result of the pressure of steam building up until a switch is operated.)

When cooking - use lids on saucepans, do not use excess water in the cooking (less water is needed when cooking electric) and do not boil vigorously but reduce heat to simmer - and use the extractor hood over the cooker (including when using the oven).

Showering puts a lot of moisture into the air - if extractor fan is not the sort which automatically carries on working after switching off the light, leave it on for 10 minutes or so after finishing in the bathroom. (Better still is if an automatic humidistat is fitted.)

Washing - drying cotton goods indoors, especially towels, puts a huge amount of moisture into the air. Use a dryer which vents to the outside, or is a condenser. I would consider taking towels and stuff to a launderette to use the drier if necessary. Where you cannot dry washing in a dryer, use a dehumidifier. I place mine next to the clothes horse and am amazed at a) the fact that the washing actually dries more quickly, and b) just how much water collects in the tank. It is cheaper to run than a dryer, too.

A lot of modern furniture has back panels made of hardboard. Mould loves hardboard!! It is porous and soaks up moisture. I have painted all such panels with clear varnish. Works a treat. No more mould!

During the recent really bitter cold weather I wiped the (fairly small amount) of moisture from the double glazed windows every morning. I also found moisture on the bottom of the walls just above the skirting and wiped this away too but only needed to do that for a couple of days. I also put the dehumidifier on for a couple of hours each of those days.

This might all sound a real pain, but it really has meant that I have not had problems this year and considering how much moisture I am putting into the atmosphere has become habit now.

Hope these hints help a bit!

rattypuff
27-01-2010, 10:30 AM
Hi,

We have AST 12 m with no break clause.
Weve been at the property for nearly 4m with one thing after another (literally!) going wrong.
Including damp and mould, (having to discard items of clothing) windows not opening, windows falling in, cooker broken, ceiling dripping and more - all of which has taken until now to get the ball rolling with each one.

Even though we knew legally this was a risky option, we stopped rent, but kept in communication with both Letting agent and landlord. Communication from letting agent to us and the landlord has been appalling and virtually non existent. We then stopped rent for another month, so when it hits 8th Feb we would have withheld 2 months rent. Risky, but we really were/are desperate.

Landlord spoke to us on phone last night, quite rightly complaining he needed to pay the mortgage on this property and cant bcos weve withheld - i can absolutely see his point of view. He has offered to give us £100 back for our inconveniences with our letting agent. Previously my partner had asked if we could come to an arrangement about rental payment deductions - which he agreed would be fine. Although he has now only offered a one off payment to us of £100. He then told us that the letting agent is planning to serve us with notice as we have withheld rent for 2 months. He THEN said to us, he would be happy if we wanted to leave.

We do want to leave. Where do we stand now?
Letting agent will probably serve us notice - do they then give us 2 months to leave? What happens then? Do we get blacklisted and get given a bad name to other agents? Or do we leave letting agent out of this, pay what we owe (2 months rent) and ask landlord to give us written notice to us so we can break the contract and leave in a civilised way?
Because so far, its all been verbal from the landlord and nothing in writing.

Im not sure what to do and where to go from here.

Thanks all x

rattypuff
27-01-2010, 10:50 AM
Wow - ok, the letting agent is now suddenly becoming really communicative and have just emailed me saying that they have spoken to our landlord this morning. Letting agent have said which date would we like to move out and that they require one months notice...
Which is fine by us.

Will this mean any comebacks? I presume it means we are breaking the agreement without consequence, as its been agreed between agent, landlord and tenants?

Thanks again

jeffrey
27-01-2010, 10:53 AM
Wow - ok, the letting agent is now suddenly becoming really communicative and have just emailed me saying that they have spoken to our landlord this morning. Letting agent have said which date would we like to move out and that they require one months notice...
Which is fine by us.
Perhaps they're LandlordZONE members and have seen:
a. your post; and
b. other members' comments (on the rest of the threads) about the legal position of tenants similar to you!

mjbfire
27-01-2010, 11:21 AM
From you post, by the time you have moved out(ie. the one month notice), you haven't paid rent for three months.

Sounds like there have been a few problems, but withholding rent, means the landlord can claim that he didn't have the money to do the repairs. And if he goes to court you may have to pay it(3months rent and/or until he finds another tennant).

Having your generous hat on, do you think £100 less a month is fair, if not how much? To most T paying nothing is fair, but normally not for the L.

Offer this, do the checkout as normal and ask the LA/LL to draw up a surrender document, ie. that no further action will be taken by either party.

The LL gets his P back and some money without having to go to court and you can get on with you life.

Unless you go to court and get a CCJ, most Landlord willn't get to hear all the dirty details, will look a bit funny only being there 5 months(If you only been there that long) but most referances only confirm the period the T was there for, that no money was owed at the end, and the condition of the P.

chappers2341
27-01-2010, 14:53 PM
If you want to stay then get your rent back up to date accept your LLs kind offer of the £100 and start negotiating the repairs there are procedures to be followed with regards to getting your LL to carry out repairs and witholding rent isn't one of them, see the shelter website.

Your LL will have to issue you with a section 8 notice to get you out and would ultimately have to get a court order to evict you, you would still owe the rent and he could go to court to get that from you.

If you want to leave then again i would get your rent up to date and then negotiate with your LL to dissolve the contract by mutual consent and get it in writing.

rattypuff
29-01-2010, 09:43 AM
Ok, have emailed the letting agent and asked for a surrender agreement so that we have something in writing.
Awaiting a reply.

Thanks all for your help on this.

rattypuff
18-02-2010, 12:23 PM
Hi there,

Been posting on here for the last few months.
Sorry to repeat but we have 12m AST with no break clause. After tons of problems and no help, including wet walls, mould, damp etc the landlord agreed we could end T early. So almost at 5months, we are moving out in 3 weeks time.
Letting agent charged us £35 for a reference to be given to our NEW letting agent, which we paid but not sure about if this is legite?

Now Letting agent are phoning us up for new prospective tenants to view the flat. The problem with the mould is very apparent, its all over the walls! Now, they wanted to view today, giving us 1half hours notice via voicemail...saying if its not possible then to ring them - however, they have a set of keys and will let themselves in.
I managed to get the messge thankfully (im at work!) and rung agency back to say basically no, we are not happy for someone to view without us there.
I suggested a suitable day, so now thats been agreed.

My question is that we are breaking the agreement because of themany problems with the flat they have taken ages to be resolved, or for most, havent been resolved at all - this includes the most major thing which is damp mould, slugs in the bedroom etc.
Can the letting agent and landlord get people to view the flat, even with the knowledge and visibility of the mould? To be honest, i am embarrased for them. I really dont want someone else to go through what weve been through since we moved in.
Is it illegal for them to let other people view?? Or is it up to me to make sure that the next people see the mould properly? I almost feel responsible for the next tenants and i shouldnt. It should be the landlord!

Thanks

mind the gap
18-02-2010, 12:31 PM
Hi there,

Been posting on here for the last few months.
Sorry to repeat but we have 12m AST with no break clause. After tons of problems and no help, including wet walls, mould, damp etc the landlord agreed we could end T early. So almost at 5months, we are moving out in 3 weeks time.
Letting agent charged us £35 for a reference to be given to our NEW letting agent, which we paid but not sure about if this is legite?

Now Letting agent are phoning us up for new prospective tenants to view the flat. The problem with the mould is very apparent, its all over the walls! Now, they wanted to view today, giving us 1half hours notice via voicemail...saying if its not possible then to ring them - however, they have a set of keys and will let themselves in.
I managed to get the messge thankfully (im at work!) and rung agency back to say basically no, we are not happy for someone to view without us there.
I suggested a suitable day, so now thats been agreed.

My question is that we are breaking the agreement because of themany problems with the flat they have taken ages to be resolved, or for most, havent been resolved at all - this includes the most major thing which is damp mould, slugs in the bedroom etc.
Can the letting agent and landlord get people to view the flat, even with the knowledge and visibility of the mould? To be honest, i am embarrased for them. I really dont want someone else to go through what weve been through since we moved in.
Is it illegal for them to let other people view?? Or is it up to me to make sure that the next people see the mould properly? I almost feel responsible for the next tenants and i shouldnt. It should be the landlord!

Thanks
I appreciate your concern for any new tenants, but to be honest, it is their responsibility to decide whether not they should take the property (having viewed it), not yours. They are grown ups. They can see the problem. Nobody is forcing them to live there, are they?

You are very fortunate to have been offered the chance to 'get out of jail free', as it were, (I hope you have this in writing -preferaby a deed of surrender?) - in your shoes, I would co-operate 100% with the LL (over viewings) and the agent (over your reference fee) before he changes his mind.

It is always difficult to establish whose fault mould is; it might be your fault. Get out while the coast is clear. If your LL had wanted to be really difficult, he could have insisted you paid all the rent for the fixed term. You would then have had to involve the EHO and that takes ages. Be glad.

rattypuff
18-02-2010, 12:38 PM
Hi Mind The Gap,

I see exactly what you are saying and appreciate your words. Youre right, they are adults and they would be pretty mad to take the flat with the mould over the walls!

I think our landlord wants hassle free tenants (i guess we all would!),
We are very glad that we have come to a "sort of" amicable agreement to end early. Our landlord has been ok, its the letting agent that appears to have been the ones not able to communicate.

Anyhow, thank again and youre right, its not my responsibility to to feel for the next tenants, I bet the last ones didnt think about that when we moved in!

Thanks again

rattypuff
20-02-2010, 13:50 PM
I have another question! hopefully this is all going to come to an end when we move into our new property!


I posted the other day about viewings from L.agent, saying they would let themselves in etc as they have a set of keys. I phoned and said that we will only allow viewings if one of us were present in the flat - i think thats quite normal? Ok, all agreed (i thought).

Agreed to be present at flat today for a viewing. Got the flat tidy and made sure all my knickers and stuff were put away last night!(sorry, but its true isnt it!!).

Had a lie in this morning as been at work all week, long hours. Phone rings this morning, L.agent leaves a voicemail saying phoning to confirm appointment (ok, fine)and that they had another couple that would like to view in 45mins. I thought "christ", dived out of bed got dressed had cuppa.
Seriously thinking - is this legal?? 45 mins warning??
So didnt phone them back, thought id just get ready.

30mins later i can see L.agent trying to let themselves in!! No one knocked on door beforehand?
Luckily i had the inside bolt on the door across, as the door is buggered and doesnt close unless we have bolts across.
Thought im not going to answer as i wasnt ready and i really thought it was unreasonable - felt really cross about it.

Sat here for next 2 hours waiting for next viewing - NOTHING. Didnt turn up. No contact from Letting Agent to let us know.

So, where do we stand legally with letting that happen again?

Theres a clause in our agreement stating that "from time to time" we need to permit landlord, l.a or authorised workmen in, upon a "minimum of 24 hours prior written notification to enter during working hours and or other reasonable times including weekends, to inspect premises, fixtures, fittings and to do work which might be required from time time"

I mean obviously they cant write to let us know as it takes too long!

rattypuff
20-02-2010, 14:09 PM
OK, just read through our contract.

Hope this helps others in a similar situation.

Re-Letting section.
During the last 6 weeks of the Tenancy the Tenant agrees to:

1. visits to the property by the landlord or the LA together with any other persons in connection with the re-letting, sale or refurbishment at dates and times MUTUALLY agreed with the Tenant.

The use of management keys:

If the landlord or l.agent hold keys to the Property then in the event of any appointment not being EASILY AGREED, the landlord or L.agent with or without workmen may gain access to the Property using the keys.

What does "not being easily agreed" warrant? One phonecall on just one of our phones and a voice message left giving us 30 minutes?

Grr - had enough of L.agents - this one in particular.

Is this the law? :)

PaulF
20-02-2010, 14:19 PM
The situation is that lawfully, you do not have to let anybody in to view even though it might say so in your contract. The agent cannot use their own key without your express permission, and you could change the locks if they attempted to do so, and even charge the cost of this to the landlord. This might be a bit extreme as co-operation is the norm, but don't think the agent or landlord can steamroller over your rights.

Kittaycat
20-02-2010, 16:26 PM
I have recently had a similar problem to yours re. landlord and access, rattypuff.

What you could do is the following:
(1) contact the L/lord and explain that any viewings have to be by mutual consent ie if agreed 11am then this does not mean 10am etc. and request that L/lord sticks to this in future. Explain this calmly and reasonably. You are entitled to the 'quiet enjoyment' of the property until you leave.

(2) If this still doesn't work ie you have unscheduled unexplained visit or L/lord attempts to let themself in without your express consent, then you should send a formal letter (registered post). In it you should reiterate that it must be by agreement, s/he cannot enter at will etc.

Change the locks as well - just change them back before you hand the keys in.

Hope this is of some use. I am at stage (2) now with my L/l, unfortunately:(.

rattypuff
20-02-2010, 16:49 PM
Cocobean! haha! Erm..no!

Thanks all, always feel like im over reacting - but so fed up of seeming to not have any rights as a tenant. Just absolutely cannot believe what L.L and L.A's can get away with and make it sound so "normal" that they can access etc. And in turn, they can make you feel like youre not the normal ones in the situation and that youre kicking up a fuss.

We are moving out in a few weeks, so it should be over soon. But its the last thing when you re trying to work full time and pack up to leave house - having people letting themselves in!!

Apart from that, the property is NOT suitable for re-letting immediately - its full of mould!

Pobinr
20-02-2010, 18:03 PM
AST's aren't worth the paper they're written on. The T can be a pain in the butt & not let the LL in unless the LL gets a court order.

I don't see why the LL can't have the right to enter at reasonable times of the day if giving 24hours notice without going to court, but there you go.
The law is biased anti LL in my view.

It doesn't help LL's maintain properties in good shape if they can't check them once in a while for problems without going to court. The law's an ass.

The only saving grace is that most tenants are reasonable cooperative people. If they weren't I'd sell all my properties because the business wouldn't be feasible.

Again that doesn't say much for the law in terms of dealing with problems that LL's have does it.

rattypuff
20-02-2010, 18:41 PM
Hi Pobin,

I dont have a problem with letting the landlord or the letting agent in, if they give reasonable notice to me
I think its important they look at the property, after all is the landlords property and it shows in a way that they care about it.
But in my case and many others, the landlord/letting agent wont come round when theres a problem, but when you go to move out, there are constant calls and viewings, measurings, photos taken etc.
Its funny how some landlords/letting agents suddenly have lots of time on their hands when its in their favour.:cool:

(im not implying thats what you do !)

Pobinr
20-02-2010, 20:15 PM
Hi Pobin,

I dont have a problem with letting the landlord or the letting agent in, if they give reasonable notice to me
I think its important they look at the property, after all is the landlords property and it shows in a way that they care about it.
But in my case and many others, the landlord/letting agent wont come round when theres a problem, but when you go to move out, there are constant calls and viewings, measurings, photos taken etc.
Its funny how some landlords/letting agents suddenly have lots of time on their hands when its in their favour.:cool:

(im not implying thats what you do !)The T LL relationship is best based on trust & respect. You sound like one of the reasonable tenants which most are. I always repair anything that goes wrong within a day or two & would never enter a flat without T permission.
I price my flats low as don't have agents fees to pay & so at end of tenancies don't have to show many people.

Moderator1
21-02-2010, 19:15 PM
Six separate threads by same member have been merged here. Do not cause problems by starting continuation threads; use the same one.

rattypuff
22-02-2010, 14:56 PM
Soorrryyyy:rolleyes: