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View Full Version : Can I withhold a portion of my rent.



tenant44a
23-02-2010, 18:34 PM
I hope I have put this in the correct place this time:o
I will try and keep this short,
Live in a converted house (2x2bed flats + 1 studio) Shared hallway/entrance
I live on the ground floor, rest of properties on 1st floor.
Have lived here a year by the 1st of march.
Shortly after moving in I found out that I was paying for the lighting and electricity in the hall, landing and front porch. No mention of this when moving in by the letting agent. Now I dont mind paying for my share of this usage, but feel that I shouldnt have to be burden with having to pay for it all. I wouldnt mind so much if the other occupants turned off the lights when not in use but the top light which I do not need to use is left on and I am constantly turning it off thus with all the lights. I have spoken to the agency a few times about this but its like talking to some one who hasnt got their lights totally turned on! All I get is.. yes we know and we will get back to you.
What I want to do is to withhold £15.00 from my next months rent for the whole year of electricity that I have been paying for the lights and for 2 of them I dont even use.
Can any one tell me where I stand on this.
It may sound trivial I know, but I live off benefits as I am disabled and am also having to pay out for extra heating because a wall in my nieces room (she lives with me 16yrs old) has a damp problem which the land lord/agency has been made aware of and still awaiting to be repaired after them knowing about it since October. Also having to fork out for mould repellents/cleaners which has been detrimental to not only my health but now my niece is starting to suffer with chest complaints. I have been on to the EHS but they have just said if the agency is sending some one round to look at it then there is nothing much more they can do. But that is all they do is look, I have had to replace a bed because of the damp and mould and also a wardrobe where mildew got in and started to rot the fabric.
Any suggestion would be greatly received.
Edit/Delete Message

JK0
23-02-2010, 18:45 PM
Sounds fair enough providing you write a note explaining about this. Are you sure £15 for the whole year will cover it?

mind the gap
23-02-2010, 19:39 PM
Please disregard the advice above, as witholding rent without permission from your LL puts you in breach of contract and can give him a reason to serve you notice. It is something which should only be contemplated as a last resort.

I suggest that first of all, you take a good look at your tenancy agreement. What exactly does it say about liability for utility bills?

If you can quote the relevant section, we can advise as to the best course of action. I agree that it seems unfair that you should have to pay for other people's electricity, but you have to go about it the right way!

The mould, etc., is a separate matter - please do a 'search' for this on the forum as there are endless amounts of advice and info as to how to deal with it.

JK0
23-02-2010, 19:50 PM
Please disregard the advice above, as witholding rent without permission from your LL puts you in breach of contract and can give him a reason to serve you notice. It is something which should only be contemplated as a last resort.

I suggest that first of all, you take a good look at your tenancy agreement. What exactly does it say about liability for utility bills?

If you can quote the relevant section, we can advise as to the best course of action. I agree that it seems unfair that you should have to pay for other people's electricity, but you have to go about it the right way!

The mould, etc., is a separate matter - please do a 'search' for this on the forum as there are endless amounts of advice and info as to how to deal with it.

Mind the Gap is annoyed with me at present because I told her to get a life earlier tonight.

Disregard her advice regarding electricity.

chappers2341
23-02-2010, 20:00 PM
now, now children!!!

Mind the gap is right, you need to be very careful before you go witholding rent, do you want to jeopardise your tenancy for the sake of £15.
I think some sort of comprimise between you,your LL and the upstairs tenant is what is needed.

mind the gap
23-02-2010, 20:02 PM
Disregard her advice regarding electricity.

Oh dear. We've a got a right one here (as they say).:rolleyes:

[Patiently] Perhaps you would like to explain why OP should do that?

justaboutsane
23-02-2010, 20:13 PM
Mind the Gap is annoyed with me at present because I told her to get a life earlier tonight.

Disregard her advice regarding electricity.

Why? The advise is correct. Steps need to be taken first. Maybe we should disregard your advise.

JK0
23-02-2010, 20:15 PM
Oh dear. We've a got a right one here (as they say).:rolleyes:

[Patiently] Perhaps you would like to explain why OP should do that?

Patiently MTG, exactly what do you expect to find in the o/p's tenancy agreement regarding paying for electricity not consumed by her?

She has already tried to discuss this with her landlord without success. If she explains the reason for her deduction there is not a court in the land that would allow her to be kicked out for it.

As I said to you earlier: Get a life.

tenant44a
23-02-2010, 20:26 PM
My contract does not state any where that I am responsible for paying for the electricity in the communal hallway, I have asked the agency countless times whether I will be reimbursed for the electricity used. Its hopeless, What IS my alternative? OK Im only asking for £15 towards the cost, it dosnt seem like a lot for the whole year, in fact it could be far more. I have left notes by the light switches politely asking that the lights be turned off as I pay for it, and have spoken to both the other tenants but still the lights are left on and the electric is used via a socket when they rarely hoover the stairs, and once I caught some one from the studio flat using the socket for a power tool to fix his own door!!:mad: Im not saying Im going to withhold all of my rent for the sake of £15.00 but am deducting £15.00 from my next months rent for the whole years electricity that I have been paying for others to use. I just wanted to know what my rights would be if I did this.

mind the gap
23-02-2010, 20:29 PM
exactly what do you expect to find in the o/p's tenancy agreement regarding paying for electricity not consumed by her? The tenancy agreement is the obvious place to begin when trying to establish liability for utility bills. It is possible (although unlikely) that OP is actually responsible for the payment of all electricity charges for her 'floor' and any other electricity consumed on 'her' circuit/system. When houses are made into flats and extra meters installed, it often causes problems of this kind. What she has signed up to in her TA will determine the advice we should give her about negotiating a reduction.

She has already tried to discuss this with her landlord without success. If she explains the reason for her deduction there is not a court in the land that would allow her to be kicked out for it.

No, she has not. She has discussed it with the letting agent, who clearly is not very interested. And it is far too early to be talking about going to court over it. If she approaches her LL directly, armed with the correct information about her liability, then she has a much greater chance of settling it sensibly without having to withold rent or risk being asked to leave.

I am unconvinced by your conviction about every court in the land. You cannot know that.

mind the gap
23-02-2010, 20:35 PM
My contract does not state any where that I am responsible for paying for the electricity in the communal hallway, I have asked the agency countless times whether I will be reimbursed for the electricity used. Its hopeless, What IS my alternative? OK Im only asking for £15 towards the cost, it dosnt seem like a lot for the whole year, in fact it could be far more. I have left notes by the light switches politely asking that the lights be turned off as I pay for it, and have spoken to both the other tenants but still the lights are left on and the electric is used via a socket when they rarely hoover the stairs, and once I caught some one from the studio flat using the socket for a power tool to fix his own door!!:mad: Im not saying Im going to withhold all of my rent for the sake of £15.00 but am deducting £15.00 from my next months rent for the whole years electricity that I have been paying for others to use. I just wanted to know what my rights would be if I did this.

I appreciate your frustration and I do sympathise - as I have said, I do not think it is fair. However, that is not the same as advising you to withold rent, which carries its own risks. You do not have a 'right' to do so in these circumstances.

For the sake of £15, you would be better advised to write a polite letter directly to your LL, explaining that his letting agent is being unhelpful (he should want to know this), and asking whether he would allow you to keep back the £15 p.a. as you believe you are paying for other tenants' electricity usage and are unhappy about that. (He may not even know about it). If you have been good tenants I am sure he will realise it is in his interests to agree to your request. If he hears from the agent that you have unilaterally held back rent, he may feel very differently towards you, don't you think?

However it would still be helpful if you could post exactly what it does say about your liability for electricity charges.

JK0
23-02-2010, 20:39 PM
The tenancy agreement is the obvious place to begin when trying to establish liability for utility bills. It is possible (although unlikely) that OP is actually responsible for the payment of all electricity charges for her 'floor' and any other electricity consumed on 'her' circuit/system. When houses are made into flats and extra meters installed, it often causes problems of this kind. What she has signed up to in her TA will determine the advice we should give her about negotiating a reduction.
No, she has not. She has discussed it with the letting agent, who clearly is not very interested. And it is far too early to be talking about going to court over it. If she approaches her LL directly, armed with the correct information about her liability, then she has a much greater chance of settling it sensibly without having to withold rent or risk being asked to leave.

I am unconvinced by your conviction about every court in the land. You cannot know that.

Would the o/p be complaining and posting on here if her tenancy agreement said that she had to pay for communal electricity? How stupid do you think she is?

My letting agent passes on all complaints to me, so I am sure the o/p's landlord knows all about it. He has just chosen to ignore it.

Landlord cannot kick her out over withheld rent without going to court.

tenant44a
23-02-2010, 20:41 PM
Maybe I should also add that most people that have lived in these flats dont usually stay for more than the 6 months because of the lack of maintenance to the property. Both flats were empty for a period of about 6 weeks, i was on a prepayment meter at the time and during the six weeks no lights were left on at all, it worked out that i had put £4.00 less in that 6 weeks than when the flats were occupied, Sorry to say that I am a bit of an environmentalist and hate to see any electricity wasted, but out of principle I shouldnt have to pay this. I even suggested putting in a timer on the switches so they go out after a few minutes, but I was told that this would be too costly and could also be dangerous.

mind the gap
23-02-2010, 20:47 PM
Maybe I should also add that most people that have lived in these flats dont usually stay for more than the 6 months because of the lack of maintenance to the property. Both flats were empty for a period of about 6 weeks, i was on a prepayment meter at the time and during the six weeks no lights were left on at all, it worked out that i had put £4.00 less in that 6 weeks than when the flats were occupied, Sorry to say that I am a bit of an environmentalist and hate to see any electricity wasted, but out of principle I shouldnt have to pay this. I even suggested putting in a timer on the switches so they go out after a few minutes, but I was told that this would be too costly and could also be dangerous.
Don't apologise for being environmentally friendly - it's good!

Your suggestion about a timer seems perfectly sensible. Who thinks it woulod be dangerous and why?

I do urge you to approach your LL directly. Your request is very reasonable and you may find he agrees readily. If he does not, then you will need to weigh up the financial benefit of saving £15 with the risks of aggravating him to the point where he may consider serving you notice. If you are good tenants he would be mad not to agree.

tenant44a
23-02-2010, 21:05 PM
For the sake of £15, you would be better advised to write a polite letter directly to your LL, explaining that his letting agent is being unhelpful (he should want to know this), and asking whether he would allow you to keep back the £15 p.a. as you believe you are paying for other tenants' electricity usage and are unhappy about that. (He may not even know about it). If you have been good tenants I am sure he will realise it is in his interests to agree to your request. If he hears from the agent that you have unilaterally held back rent, he may feel very differently towards you, don't you think?

However it would still be helpful if you could post exactly what it does say about your liability for electricity charges.
All it states is that I am responsible for paying for my own utilities, and as for trying to get a letter to the owner of the property, is quite an impossibility unless i addressed it through the agency which I highly doubt they would send on, or unless he has allowed the agency to let his details be know to his tenants I was under the understanding that his personal details are covered by the data protection act. Also by going by the other situation I am going through at the moment with the problems with the work that needs doing to the bedroom with regards to the wet damp walls that were reported in October , from what I have been told by the agents the LL still has not got back to them for the go ahead for the work to be done.
After reading the replies I have got here I will write to the agents stating that Aprils rent will have a deduction of £15.00 to cover this last years electricity for the hallway/stairs and porch, and they should contact me if they have a problem with this. Thank you for your advice.

chappers2341
23-02-2010, 21:10 PM
The situation with regards to data protection couldn't be further from the truth. It is your right to have your LLs address, and the agents have a duty to provide it for you, if it is not on your tenancy agreement.

Could someone please throw abucket of cold water over MTG and jamesknight it's getting a bit tedious.
I am on the side of MTG here, whilst Jamesknight is correct the OP isnot going to get evicted through the courts for being £15 in arrears, but MTG is right theOPs LL may get the hump and could serve notice upon the OP.

tenant44a
23-02-2010, 21:14 PM
Don't apologise for being environmentally friendly - it's good!

Your suggestion about a timer seems perfectly sensible. Who thinks it woulod be dangerous and why?

I do urge you to approach your LL directly. Your request is very reasonable and you may find he agrees readily. If he does not, then you will need to weigh up the financial benefit of saving £15 with the risks of aggravating him to the point where he may consider serving you notice. If you are good tenants he would be mad not to agree.
The reason for not having a timer was is that if the light goes off whilst some one is going up or down and they fall in the dark the LL would be liable and the person would be in a position to sue. I have been a good tenant, I pay my rent on time I do most of my own repairs out of my own pocket and keep a very clean and tidy home. I have no complaints against me, and feel that I should not be treated this way. I have been renting privately now for over 20 years and never have I been treated this way and am quite shocked by it all to be honest. In fact Ive been the longest tenant that they have had here.

tenant44a
23-02-2010, 21:22 PM
The situation with regards to data protection couldn't be further from the truth. It is your right to have your LLs address, and the agents have a duty to provide it for you, if it is not on your tenancy agreement.

Could someone please throw abucket of cold water over MTG and jamesknight it's getting a bit tedious.
I am on the side of MTG here, whilst Jamesknight is correct the OP isnot going to get evicted through the courts for being £15 in arrears, but MTG is right theOPs LL may get the hump and could serve notice upon the OP.
The LL details are not on my agreement, and now I am quite angry that I have been told this, because I could have got this sorted a long time ago.. TBH I dont think my LL has the right to get the hump over £15.00 when I have had to fork out over £300.00 for a new bed and wardrobe, plus curtains plus extra heating to dry out the walls from the damp, plus cleaning products to clean off the mould, because since October I have been waiting for this to be fixed. When all I am asking for is to be reimbursed for electric I am not using and was not forewarned that I had to pay for in the first place.. sorry to sound angry but this is really getting to me now.

mind the gap
23-02-2010, 21:51 PM
The LL details are not on my agreement, and now I am quite angry that I have been told this, because I could have got this sorted a long time ago.. TBH I dont think my LL has the right to get the hump over £15.00 when I have had to fork out over £300.00 for a new bed and wardrobe, plus curtains plus extra heating to dry out the walls from the damp, plus cleaning products to clean off the mould, because since October I have been waiting for this to be fixed. When all I am asking for is to be reimbursed for electric I am not using and was not forewarned that I had to pay for in the first place.. sorry to sound angry but this is really getting to me now.

I am sorry to learn that it has cost you so much. I really do feel it is time to contact the EHO again and explain that neither the LL nor the agent are doing anything about the damp/mould. Explain that it is affecting your niece's health and insist that he visits the property. The EHO can require your LL to sort out the damp problem, assuming it is not of your making (drying laundry indoors, not using extractor fans in kitchen and bathroom, not keeping flat heated, not opening windows regularly).

Good luck - I hope it works out for you.

tenant44a
24-02-2010, 08:38 AM
I have an itinerary planned today on what I am going to do.
1. phone agents and demand the details of my Landlord. Whilst on phone try and find out what is happening with the wall. (*see below why I have damp)
2. Write to agents and landlord (Thats if I get his details)with regards to the electricity usage in the hallway with my proposed deduction of Aprils rent of £15.00 for usage of others in the property.
3. If no joy from the above today I will then proceed with a complaint to the EHS.

*
When I first moved into the property(1st March 2009) The flat was nicely decorated throughout,I lived here on my until the end of April, when my niece, 15 at the time, came to live with me due to family problems. Her room before that was just a storage room, so never noticed any problems with water etc in there. During the summer months no problems, but we did notice that a small wet patch under the window when ever it rained, I mentioned this to the agents and they knew what the problem was and that a seal in the window needed replacing. (no work was done). During the months of august and October we noticed that it was getting worse so told the agents again, they said they would send some one round, they did not, but when some one came round to fix another problem (kitchen window) I asked them to take a look and he told me he would report it to the agents.
At the end of October we noticed water running down the walls from the ceiling and was coming up through the floor, I called them out again. They came out and eventually found that a pipe had burst in the upstairs flat (which was empty at the time). They fixed the problem, but first drilled two 6 inch holes in the walls where the pipes came down to see where the water was coming from. This was now mid November and damp has started to form under the window and along the wall. I was told to keep the room well ventilated and they would provide a dehumidifier to help dry out the floor and walls due to the burst pipe, That never came. And thats where its been left,
every time it rains the wall gets sodden then mould forms, there is thick black mould on the ceiling which I cannot reach to clean, but I am forever cleaning mould on a weekly basis from the wall surrounding the left side of the window and under the window running the whole length of the wall. The wall paper has just peeled off and I cannot redecorate until the problem has been fixed. They have sent round 3 contractors to assess the problem but all have walked away stating they dont know what the problem is and need investigating further, but now I have been told that the job that needs doing is quite a big job and the outside wall needs attending to. But every time I call I get fobbed off with a different story, waiting for insurance assessors, waiting for landlord to commit to the job, we are dealing with it and I need to be patient, we will get back to you, blah blah blah... In the mean time I have had to replace a bed that was damaged, a wardrobe that has been damaged not to mention some clothing and curtains, Ive mentioned this and was told I should claim on my house insurance, If I did that I would have to fork out another £150.00 access before I got back the money for the replaced items and I also loose my premium. Not to mention the extra heating to try and stop the damp but also cleaning products that are not cheap at £2.99 a bottle. It all adds up. And to top it all both me and my niece have become ill with chest problems, the stress and added illness certainly has not helped with my MS.
Thanks all for your help I will keep you informed of the out come.. wish me luck.

justaboutsane
24-02-2010, 08:46 AM
Would the o/p be complaining and posting on here if her tenancy agreement said that she had to pay for communal electricity? How stupid do you think she is?

My letting agent passes on all complaints to me, so I am sure the o/p's landlord knows all about it. He has just chosen to ignore it.

Landlord cannot kick her out over withheld rent without going to court.

Not so! There are hoards of agents out there just raking the money in and not passing info on to LL's with regards to the property. This board has many comments from LL's and tenants about lazy letting agents. It is not a given that the agent has passed the information on.

OP, you are entitled to an address in the UK for your LL BY LAW! tell the agent this.. or pay a couple of quid and go onto land registry and find our who owns the building.

tenant44a
24-02-2010, 09:02 AM
Result on the £15.00 deduction on my rent for electric, the agency have agreed that I can deduct this amount on the next months rent :D I was very calm about the whole thing, as for the wall he has now PROMISED to get a dehumidifier and should be with me either today or tomorrow, and they are hoping the wall will get fixed by the end of the week.. we shall see I will keep you informed.
And because I was happy about the £15.00 I forgot to ask for the landlords details, but if nothing is done about the wall in the next 7 days I will ask.

jeffrey
24-02-2010, 09:54 AM
Serve a Notice (under s.1 of LTA 1985) on L's Letting Agent. This creates a legal obligation to reply within 21 days.

mind the gap
24-02-2010, 11:49 AM
Result on the £15.00 deduction on my rent for electric, the agency have agreed that I can deduct this amount on the next months rent :D I was very calm about the whole thing, as for the wall he has now PROMISED to get a dehumidifier and should be with me either today or tomorrow, and they are hoping the wall will get fixed by the end of the week.. we shall see I will keep you informed.
And because I was happy about the £15.00 I forgot to ask for the landlords details, but if nothing is done about the wall in the next 7 days I will ask.

That's good news. Well done for staying calm!

Good luck with the damp, too. Dehumidifiers are effective - but just check the energy usage (they too can clock up quite a lot of units. Your LL may be willing to contribute to this extra cost if the damp is not of your making).

tenant44a
24-02-2010, 12:06 PM
That's good news. Well done for staying calm!

Good luck with the damp, too. Dehumidifiers are effective - but just check the energy usage (they too can clock up quite a lot of units. Your LL may be willing to contribute to this extra cost if the damp is not of your making).
well hopefully its not going to be for long and what I will save in gas for extra heating will go towards the running cost of the dehumidifier, so hopefully wont lose out too much, once again thank you :) I feel a lot less stressed about it all today