PDA

View Full Version : Basis for T to withhold rent from L?



karenlisam
25-02-2010, 21:18 PM
Is there ever any just cause to with hold rent from a landlord ?? Full story below ( sorry long!!) and some questions at the end for anyone who knows about this kind of thing

We signed a 12 month contract in July 2009 and despite being really flexible with him as a lot was wrong with the house then we've basically been living a nightmare since July.

In mid July a pipe broke under the kitchen floor and he didn't get it fixed until mid august meaning we spent four weeks only being able to have the water on for an hour a day so we could bathe and had to then spend an hour after the bath mopping up

In August we reported damp walls in the kitchen and living room ( to the extent that the plaster fell off the walls , most of the low level plug sockets are usuable as they're soaked and mold is growing ). He keeps promising the work will be done each month and then never sends anyone round

The pipe under the bath cracked in December and flooded the floor everytime we empty the bath. Despite phone calls every two days then all he did was send his son round three times with gaffer tape!!

In December I also informed him the flat roof was leaking down the kitchen wall. He got someone round to replace it after eight weeks and he's so cheap he's got them to use shed felt roofing which will be leaking again within weeks as we've had a look and its not on properly. The water from this has now soaked the kitchen ceiling which in turn blew up the downstairs lighting. The light switch wasn't even turned on so there must be a live wire in the fitting. We now have no lighting downstairs and have had to bring lamps from downstairs down

Two days ago I called him and told him that I was having someone round to divert a broken waterpipe which was flowing on to the flat roof (and would just mean more leaks down the wall) and also to fix the bath pipe to my satisfaction and I was taking the money out of the rent due next week and he reluctantly agreed. I left him a message that night informing him about the emergency lighting situation and has not responded.(48 hours now)

The last straw was that the chap that came in to fix the bath pipe looked at the mold on the kitchen walls and says its black spore mold which is highly dangerous and never should have been left since August

I know theres no way the tight fisted landlord will pay for repairs and he's going to try and drag this out until our tenancy is up to avoid repairs and I don't want to keep having to use rent which isn't even due yet to fix HIS HOUSE. I also don't see why I should have to pay full rent while I wait for him to ignore legal letters about what needs to be done.

I am self employed and I simply cannot pull together the £1200 it will cost me in deposit and first months rent needed to move until July. I also know by gut instinct that he's not going to give me back my deposit when I leave (and I can't afford to wait and chase him) so I figure I need to at least not pay the last months rent to ensure my deposit return.

SO MY QUESTION IS : Realistically what action can he take if I stop paying the rent from next week.

q1) Most importantly How long would it take him to get a court order to evict me ?? I know he can evict within 14 days but how long will it take him to get into court to get the eviction order and can I contest it to get more time

q2) Would the court allow him to evict me before I can afford to move given that I'm living in awful condition ( I have photo evidence of everything and full notes on when he was informed about problems. Would any court agree I still owe the rent if he tries to take me to court after I leave for non payment.

q3) I know he should be holding my deposit in a government scheme and most likely wont be so can he even get this to court if he's not. How can I find out if he is registered?

q4) If I withold the rent next week and again on the 1st of April then I could afford to move out mid April instead of having to live like this until July. I should also mention that the non fixed leaks have ruined 2 rugs totaling £100 , a mini oven and a microwave worth £170 and I've had to have the heating on full since September all day and night to dry things out and have also been doing at least five extra loads of washing and tumbledrying every week since we moved in to keep up with the towels we have been using to stop the various leaks.

I have already paid £300 for his repairs and he will owe me £600 deposit so I'll only actually be witholding £300 in total - is that reasonable ???

If there was any way I could get the money elsewhere I would leave NOW but I can't so need to look at my options


any help so appreciated. I could cry right now!!!

froglet
25-02-2010, 21:42 PM
god I know how you feel
I am seeking advice myself for similar issues
but I can help on one issue
there are only 3 deposit protection schemes that could hold your deposit

edit - (I tried to post a link,but Im not able to as I havent got a high enough post count but I googled "3 tenant deposit schemes" and got a good link on wwwcommunitiesgovuk)

phone each one and get a search on your property, then get each one to send you a letter to confirm that your deposit isnt held in their schemes

do you qualify for legal aid, things can be a lot easier if you do, I dont so Im stuck, I did go to the CAB and their advice was ... that I need a solicitor,I know that but I cant afford one

good luck with getting everything sorted, I know exactly how you feel

karenlisam
25-02-2010, 21:46 PM
I've been reading through the deposit scheme info with interest.

How do I find out if LL has registered it? Can I do this online anywhere or do I have to write to him. He ignores most contact from us so what do I do if he ignores me??

Have I read correctly that if he hasnt I can sue him for three times the amount??

I'm not just some horrible tenant trying to fleece a decent LL. I have a post from early tonight about the hellish conditions we have been in due to his lack of morals over his responsibilities

Thank you

mind the gap
25-02-2010, 22:21 PM
I've been reading through the deposit scheme info with interest.

How do I find out if LL has registered it? Can I do this online anywhere or do I have to write to him. He ignores most contact from us so what do I do if he ignores me??

Have I read correctly that if he hasnt I can sue him for three times the amount??

I'm not just some horrible tenant trying to fleece a decent LL. I have a post from early tonight about the hellish conditions we have been in due to his lack of morals over his responsibilities

Thank you
Ring all three schemes and ask them if there is a deposit registered with them in your name.

If not, write to your LL asking him to protect it immediately or refund it. If he fails to do either, then yes, you can sue him for 3x the deposit but it is not simple. Better to try to get it protected, then it is easier to claim it back when you leave the tenancy.

karenlisam
25-02-2010, 22:31 PM
Ahhhhh I got all excited then thinking I'd be able to get a bit of revenge!!!

Are the three schemes listed on here somewhere so I can call in the morning

I saw mydeposit but haven't seen any others by name ?

Thank you

mind the gap
25-02-2010, 22:34 PM
Ahhhhh I got all excited then thinking I'd be able to get a bit of revenge!!!

Are the three schemes listed on here somewhere so I can call in the morning

I saw mydeposit but haven't seen any others by name ?

Thank you

http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/TenancyDeposit/DG_066391

karenlisam
25-02-2010, 23:04 PM
Much appreciated

matthew_henson
26-02-2010, 07:36 AM
It sound like the property is not fit habitation, you need to call your local Environmental Housing Officer who will determine that.

Eviction takes quite a long time, you would need to be 2 months in arrears before the LL could issue a section 8 notice and would have to go to court to get an eviction order which takes another 4-8 weeks.

You can legitamately use "set off" where you pay for repairs and recoup it against the rent but you need to follow due process

You should go and see your local Citizens Advice Bureau they will provide the support you need to manage the above. They will also help you with advice on getting your deposit protected, if he does not protect the deposit you may be able to apply for the 3x penalty

karenlisam
26-02-2010, 08:07 AM
Thank you

I have called all three tenancy deposit schemes and there is as expected no deposit registered with any of them

Can the LL even go to court for a possession order without proof of the deposit being held in a registered scheme.



I will look into the council and environmental health contact numbers later today and give them a call.
I didn't actually know this was an option so thank you.

karenlisam
26-02-2010, 08:12 AM
Just as an afterthought Matthew... if I can get the environmental health around and the property is deemed not fit for habitation then what would happen then ??

I'm still stuck in that if I keep paying the rent then I can't afford to leave until June and if the paperwork to order him to do the work takes a while and then the things like the damp would require walls to be dried out etc then I will be paying full rent to live in this for nearly dour months

I also have a valid concern that even if he is ordered to do the work then he will not be able to afford to have it done. I accidentally opened a letter address to him and without saying too much he is in severe financial difficulty. **NOte - when I realised the letter was not addressed to me then I resealed it and forwarded it to landlord as per tenancy agreement so he doesn't know I know**

matthew_henson
26-02-2010, 12:24 PM
Others would need to comfirm but if the EHO declares the house not fit for habitation the LL would be in serious breach of contract and therefore grounds for termination. I do not know what the procedure is though.

I am in the same position with a bankrupt LL, make sure you open every piece of mail addressed to "the occupier" lenders are obligued to send such a letter when they apply to court for a reposession. I bet he probably does not have permission to let which means you have zero right to stay if a possession order is granted.

For the deposit you should read the other threads on the board reference the 3X penalty proceedings. If you start that it should ensure your deposit is protected. Also you are right that he can not ask you to leave under a section 21 notice if he has not protected your deposit under one the schemes but at the same time, I very much doubt you want to stay so it is largely irelevant. His lender has no such restrictions and can potentially evict you with no notice hence why you need to pay attention to letters I mentioned earlier

If you have plenty of evidence (emails for example) that you had to repeatedly ask for repairs and then had to do them yourself it would be considered as "set off". The TDS would not consider this as arrears.

The formal process for set off is to make the request for urgent repairs (those covered by S11 of 1985 LTA (google it)) in writing, then again a week later and then if nothing is done after two weeks send a letter saying if the repairs are not completed in the next 7 days you will instruct a contractor to complete the repair and use you right set off to deduct the cost of the repair from the rent. If it is all in writting it is above board and LL has limitted recourse.

karenlisam
26-02-2010, 12:58 PM
The only problem is I don't want to pay any morefor his repairs and the shoddy roof is £2000 and I'm not going there nor I am forking out for the electrics to be refitted . I also want to leave asap but can't afford to until June unless I withold the rent so I will see what happens as I've stopped the rent as of 1st March ( he owes me £315 from this for repairs already)

The deposit isn't registered as I checked this morning so I'm just going to not pay the rent for two months then leave mid April. Have photo evidence and notes dating back to last July about requests for the damp and the roof incase he tries to take me to court for the rent

Will let you all know how it pans out

I know with holding rent isn't the legal route but I feel strongly in some cases its necessary and I'll let you all know if comes back to bite me on the bum!!!!

matthew_henson
26-02-2010, 13:16 PM
If the roof and the electrics are so bad you must follow the EHO route, you can not just walk from a contract with out proof of a SERIOUS breach (i.e. the house is unihabitable) by the LL. Nobody is execting you to pay thay kind of money, set off is for little stuff.

If you do walk you will be liable for the rent up to the end of the term unless you have a break clause. If you do have a break clause, call notice and yes consider not paying rent to secure your deposit.

The downside of rent arrears is future reference, most LA's will advise a LL to decline a prospective tenant who has a history of arrears for any reason. At least of the EHO chaps says it is bad you have both good reason and proof

I rented a house from a total loony four years ago, she had a reputation for never returning deposits (as we found out) and I did not pay the last two months rent to protect my deposit. We had real problems getting a new LL to accept us until we found one who knew what a total nutter our ex-land lady was, they were very sympathetic.

karenlisam
26-02-2010, 15:14 PM
I don't see anything which would be a break clause but I don't know what I am looking for within the contract. I have a copy by my desk now if anyone could let me know how it would read then I can look again

OH MY GOSH

Can't believe I forgot to mention this - I'm not even sure I have a valid contract!!!!!

This is going to sound complicated so bear with me.
The LL is acting on his own with no letting agent involved. When I met him at the house to sign the contract then he told me that his name was X and the house was owned by both him and his business partner person Y.
He told me that the rent was to be paid to his business partner Y and the tenancy agreement was already written out in "the business partners name "and both copies were signed already.

There were no witnesses so the witness section on the contract is blank.

Just to confuse things further by a bizarre twist I found outin January that the gentleman who met me with the contract is a friends ex husband and that there is no business partner and the name on the contract is his so why he pretended to me that the rent was being paid to someone else I don't know.

Does the fact that I have a copy of the contract with no witness signature change anything?
Ie can he even chase for rent arrears with the witness sig space blank

matthew_henson
26-02-2010, 16:45 PM
Clutching at straws I am afraid, if you signed the AST and it has the name and address of your LL it is and remains valid contract.

A Break Clause would say something like after 12 months either party will be permitted to terminate the contract with two month notice....

karenlisam
28-02-2010, 19:19 PM
Sorry for all the questions tonight but what exactly is a registered landlord?

How do I find out if mine is registered

I also came across this :
Gas

Annual Safety Check. Under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 all gas appliances and flues in rented accommodation must be checked for safety within 12 months of being installed, and thereafter at least every 12 months by a competent engineer (eg a CORGI registered gas installer).

Should I have a copy of this : one website mentioned I shoudl have rec'd a copy within 28 days of moving in. He won't have one but can I forced him do it ????

mind the gap
28-02-2010, 19:36 PM
Sorry for all the questions tonight but what exactly is a registered landlord?

How do I find out if mine is registered

I also came across this :
Gas

Annual Safety Check. Under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 all gas appliances and flues in rented accommodation must be checked for safety within 12 months of being installed, and thereafter at least every 12 months by a competent engineer (eg a CORGI registered gas installer).

Should I have a copy of this : one website mentioned I shoudl have rec'd a copy within 28 days of moving in. He won't have one but can I forced him do it ????

Only LLs of licensable HMOs need be registered (with the local council) in England and Wales. However, all Scottish LLs are registered, I believe.

Yes, your LL should give you a copy of a current satisfactory CP12 Gas Safety certificate for the property, ie one which has been obtained during the last 12 months. Failure to do so is a criminal offence. If LL cannot produce it, ask him to have a safety test done urgently (ie within 3 days). If he does not do so, report him to the EHO at your local council who will require him to.

karenlisam
04-03-2010, 20:43 PM
I was very nervous when I posted on here last week about my situation with a very lax landlord as I was worried all landlords may take the general rule that LL = good , tenants = bad no matter what the circumstances

Thanks to your advice then I have managed to be released from my contract early ( subject to written confirmation) and have also managed to allow for my unsecured deposit ( not in a gov approved scheme) to be used for my last months rent ( again subject to written conf).

LL also offered one free month on rent ( again subject to ......) given the circs we have been subjected to and the fact he says he is almost bankrupt and can't afford to fix anything else ( a lot needs doing)which takes me to a point when I can afford to leave.

Instead of putting the house up to let again he has sent someone round today to survey as he wants put it on the market at knock down price as he can't afford to bring it up to scratch and I have EHO involved to prevent him renting it without bringing it up to standard should this all be rubbish

I just wanted to say that without your advice I wouldn't have known my rights at all and I thought that a lot of what I was putting up with was par for the course...how wrong was I

So thank you..... may my next LL be someone like you lot

K x

jeffrey
05-03-2010, 10:15 AM
Well done!

karenlisam
09-03-2010, 00:17 AM
History from previous posts on here (for those who didn't catch my last query )in a nutshell is ....

Nightmare landlord. Won't fix anything. Let house deteriorate to the point where things are now dangerous ( flat roof leaked and by the time he got round to fixing it then lights downstairs blew due to leak and we now have no downstairs lights as fuse box breaker is off as there is a live wire to kitchen ceiling light which gave electrician a shock even when breaker turned off and he refused to work on it . Mould including black mold in kitchen , plug sockets falling out of walls and usuable due to damp. I have already paid for £300 repairs against rent and can't afford anymore given I am moving soon

Deposit not protected , no gas cert

Wrote letter to LL as advised on here asking for gas cert within 14 days , deposit scheme details within 14 days and listing times and dates when he has been contacted over important repairs and not done a thing

Asked to be released from contract early Mid May in writing ( reason being financial as would move tomorrow if I could afford it ) and also asked for confirmation in writing that the deposit would be used for last months rent as is not secured.

Of the two months rent I will owe before leaving. One month is deposit , £300 is for repairs which LL agreed I could pay for and take out of the rent , leaving £300 owed

LL called after recieving letter and verbally confirmed there is no deposit scheme , no gas cert and that deposit could be rent and that the outstanding £300 is not to be paid but refused to put this in writing

Problem is the electrics are a death trap ( electricians words) and I have twice touched the lightswitch in the kitchen absent mindedly ( even though breaker in fuse box is off and got an electric shock) Have now taped cardboard box over the switch so I can't be so silly again but LL is claiming he has no money and says he cannot repair electrics so basically I'm using my deposit and £300 of repairs as rent towards a property he won't fix

Environmental health really disappointing and keep saying they are busy and will have someone contact me but this is getting silly now ( and dangerous ) Have emailed also and cc'd in local councellors but no response yet ( 8 days)



I should add LL claimed he was going to wait until I was gone and the put the house on the market but I don't trust him as far as I can throw him and he could easily do to someone else what he did to us and repaint over the mold and put the kitchen light back on the ceiling ( hanging from a wire at the moment) , and paint over stains and someone could be killed


Next step thoughts ???

I'm not worried about him going back on his word and taking me to court for the rent as he just wouldn't dare without a gas cert / secure deposit and all the evidence I have on the dangers but I am worried about him hurting someone

westminster
09-03-2010, 00:40 AM
Next step thoughts ???

I'm not worried about him going back on his word and taking me to court for the rent as he just wouldn't dare without a gas cert / secure deposit and all the evidence I have on the dangers but I am worried about him hurting someone

You could report LL to the Health & Safety Executive. They prosecute for gas safety non-compliance.

You could make a civil claim against LL for disrepair (which ought to have the side-effect of encouraging LL to make the repairs), assuming you've enough evidence - e.g. letters reporting disrepair, electrician's report, etc. As you're still living there, there is still time to gather more. (And keep trying with the EHO).

I would seek advice from a CAB or community law centre; you may even be able to find a solicitor who would take on the case on a no-win-no-fee basis.

See these posts from a legal blog, on the general subject of damages for disrepair.
http://nearlylegal.co.uk/blog/2007/09/quantum-in-disrepair/
http://nearlylegal.co.uk/blog/2009/12/disrepair-miscellany/
http://nearlylegal.co.uk/blog/2010/01/condensed-condensation/
http://nearlylegal.co.uk/blog/2008/06/illegal-eviction-and-disrepair-damages/