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loona
04-03-2010, 20:15 PM
Please excuse a long email but I have never had to deal with rented property or landlords before now I need advice and thoughts on the present situation as I am nervous about dealing with the landlord.

On the advice of my daughters health visitor we need the landlord to take steps to remove & cure mould that is spreading throughout the kitchen in her flat. I have niggles that he may not be very happy to fix things. He does not seem to take women seriously yet if my son says repeats what I have said he says how intelligent my son is. It infuriates my son who is just 20 & at Uni. I feel intimidated by the landlord because of the his choice of words when he has told me about how he has had to deal with some previous tenants. He has also sent an SMS message to my daughter before 4 am in the morning to be at the flat, which was before she moved in, for her to be there at 9 am that particular morning to let a carpenter in to fix a window. Of course she did not pick the message up in time to be there.

The mould is noted on an inventory and I have photos taken at the time the inventory & was done by myself & my son, the landlord and I have a copy signed and dated by myself and him. We made the inventory ourselves because I thought that it was important as landlord had many problems with previous tenants. He had told us it was not necessary as he trusted us as we are local & I own my house. The inventory went further than just listing items but gave a clear indication of the state of everything in detail as there were things I did not want in dispute later.

The mould was getting worse before my daughter actually moved in and is progressing at a rate that worries me. The damp in the kitchen is very bad and the tiles in the window recess fell down on her first full night in the flat which seems to me to be caused by the damp getting behind the tiles. The windows get saturated & drip onto the sill & on to the floor in front. She cannot keep sugar or anything else in packets any where in the kitchen because they get ruined by damp. One of the cupboards was showing mould on the day she moved in.

I am concerned that the open cold water tank in the kitchen cupboard (large cupboard like an airing cupboard) is getting contaminated by mould spores as that cupboard is where the mould was initially discovered & the cupboard drips with water, the tank is on an inside wall. The door to that cupboard does not close properly as the facing board is coming away from the main part of the door which is also noted on the inventory & photographed. The landlord knows of the photos but has not seen them. My daughter has a toddler & the health visitor & I are concerned about the health aspect.

We were not aware that there was a mould problem until after the tenancy agreement was signed but on first sight of it I thought that I and my daughter could deal with a small area that appeared to be confined to the cupboard but this is now not feasible. There were various problems with gas & electric & other things because of the previous tenants.

We did not realise that there was no electric socket in the small bedroom until my daughter moved in. The landlord said we could see to this ourselves but I would prefer that this was dealt with by the landlord. He said that there was no socket because it was intended as a nursery but she could not do this as my granddaughter is inquisitive at 2 ½ & we would worry that she might have an accident with the mirror doors on the wardrobes. The bedroom is very draughty anyway because the backs to the wardrobes are not the original & there are gaps there which face on to a window behind them which is causing the draught as it is in poor condition.

The gas certificate is another problem. Although he said he had one it was necessary, when pressed, for him to get an inspection done & I was present for that. The certificate duly arrived stamped with the agents stamp as the landlord but as I understand from the conversation I overheard that between the gas person & the landlord that our “landlord” was only managing the property. The agent is supposedly not acting for the landlord. I thought that our agreement was with him as the landlord. I say “our agreement” as I am a guarantor. The certificate has no Gas Safe registration number & no date and I cannot trace the gas man on the Gas Safe site. I know the gas fire is condemned but that the boiler behind which operates the central heating is supposed to be ok. The button for the pilot light does not work well though. I understand that the property is rented from the council as part of the property from which his business is carried on in the premises below the flat.

A couple of minor problems are the sink which leaks water a bit when it is emptied & the hob has only two rings out of four which work. We had thought that there were no drawers in the kitchen units but have discovered one which is broken & screwed at the front so is not useable.

Another major problem is that there is no mention of where the £500 bond that was given in cash is held. This came out of my savings & I am only on a pension. Until my daughter & I found this flat she and my granddaughter were sleeping & living in my 11 x 14 living room for the last year as she needed to return to England & there is a long waiting list for social housing. The situation was getting impossible and it is a good thing we get on well. The rent is 455 pounds per calendar month and we were charged 350 for the time from the date of signing on 13 January to end of January. The property was advertised as furnished but we were asked if we wanted the furniture & we said yes so he said he would take an extra 5 pounds a week for the furniture bringing up to the above amount per month. Every thing was agreed in just over an hour as he said he was very busy and had other property to deal with. My daughter was not able to move in until the 12 February.

Although the flat is singled glazed & mostly with plastic which is very scratched in most parts instead of glass, it is nicely carpeted, decorated & part furnished with adequate furniture. A reasonable first home for my daughter if the problems could be sorted.

I am bothered by the fact that there is a second lock on the front door which the landlord says he has the key for. He says he has it because he needed to lock out previous tenants who were a problem when he threw them & their belongs out. He said they left the place a mess & he had to completely renovate. He says it saves breaking down the door as the door there is already a replacement because of the last tenant he had to throw out. He says that the rent must not be even a day late as he has a mortgage to pay, that is ok as the standing order is dated so that it allows a few days for processing.

There is a lot of post delivered for at least 5 different previous tenants which range from utilities demands to debt collectors for other things & some to the “occupier“, some threatening court action. I find it strange that there have been so many tenants over less than half a year.

justaboutsane
04-03-2010, 21:38 PM
If the Health Visitor is concerned she should be supporting your daughter in contacting the Environmental Health Team at the local council.

I would call the team first thing tomorrow and ask for a visit asap.

Contact the three tenancy deposit schemes and if they have no record of the deposit write to the LL and advise him that you are able to sue for 3 times the deposit AND the deposit BY LAW!

karenlisam
04-03-2010, 22:29 PM
Hello Loona ,
I offer my own experience not as a LL but as a tenant who joined here a week or so ago ( see my other posts) with some queries in common so ****anything I say should be double checked ***** but from the folk on here and elsewhere I think the following is relevant

Before I start - don't be scared or nervous about dealing with LL or if you are don't let it stop you getting in touch formally - I was backing away from confrontation and being too leniant and it resulted in 9 months of awful accomodation

Mould - is there any black mold ??? I had the beejesus scared out of me last week when a contractor I paid to fix a leak ( long story) casually mentioned " you do know the black mold in the kitchen is dangerous ". Googled it and nearly cried as I have a young daughter . We also culd not keep any powder goods in the cupboard ( any kitchen cupboard!) as they clogged due to the damp

Also with you on the woman thing experience - my LL won't listen to a word I say and I have had to resort to bringing an asian male friend around on the rare occasion when LL had visited over problems and its been frustrating to say the least, With hind sight I should have started putting things in writing a long time ago as that cannot be ignored legally.

To avoid rambling on then from my own personal experience then its not worth getting someone like this to try and fix things. What I would do if were were your daughter based on advice on here nd your description of events is the following ( again check with those in the know)

1) Plan to move. Don't even bother giving thought to staying with some someone renting in this way - no-one should have to fight to have reasonable living conditions. Its a bad sign if you have to fight and why would your daughter want to pay someone when everything will be a battle when it just shoudn't be.

2) The gas cert - write to the address on the tenancy and ask for a copy of the gas cert. Mention this is a legal requirement and should be sent within 14 days of your letter. Send two copies - one recorded and one from a different post office next day delivery incase he refuses to sign for the document and mention in the letter you are doing this on legal advice. You can either use the lack of this as evidence for the Environmental Health , as leverage to end the tenancy early or both

3) Deposit - phone the three government approved agencies (PM me if you need the names) and confirm there is no deposit registered then as above , letter , 14 days blah blah. Thats again a legal requirement. Personally I used the fact I knew he hadn't done this as leverage to ask for written confirmation that the deposit would be used as last months rent but your other option is to sue for 3x the deposit ( chancey in my opinion as I seem to read they can register it late and get away with just giving you the deposit back but I'm sure there will be different opinions on here which you may prefer to listen to)

4) The lock. As I understand it - you can legally remove the lock as long as you keep it intact for when your daughter leaves. Again I stand to be corrected but if I'm right then do this for peace of mind

5) Mail - open anything addressed to the occupier as this can affect you and contact any company who needs contacting and explain the situation . You are in no way responsible for previous bills. Anything else - return to sender occupant unknown. tell your daughter to keep ID in the house ( I once had police and bailiff togeher knock at a previous property of mine and had to prove I was not the person they had on their warrant thingy - scarey!!!!) From my experience then fairly much expect the companies you send the letter to marked " not at this address return to sender " to keep on sending mail ....... not your problem .

6) Contact the EHO now using the health visitor as a contact-they will be a record for you about the conditions and the LL will have to shape up rather than being able to rent this out after your daughter has gone in the same state

I know you mentioned this ***could*** be a reasonable home for your daughter but it seems that would be if it was under a different landlord. Give your/her money to some who cares !!!! I can't re-iterate enough that if things are as you say then don't carry on - there will be a battle for everything which needs fixing and there ARE good LL's out there - snare one!!!!!!!!!!!

loona
05-03-2010, 00:02 AM
Hello Karen

Thank you greatly for your input. It is really very much appreciated. Healthwise I don't know how much I can take. On the posting I have tried to stick to basic facts but I am concerned at how far this "landlord" may go.
The reason I am nervous is that I have done research at Companies House. That got me thinking. Then I did a search on the names that came up there and looked on line at local newspaper archives and found that a close member of the family & named on the company had been had for intimidating a tenant in 2008 over several months. The landlord, if he is so, knows where I live.

The mould is black mould & yes it worries the hell out of me. The problem is that she needs to be near me so that she can study at college & I can babysit then. She does not want to stay on benefits, she has three years study ahead of her to be fully qualified and although I have disabilities I want to be for her every inch of the way. If she gets emergency accomodation she has been told it could well be out of our area & neither of us would be able to get to each other easily.

I have told my daughter not to put any money into the flat, ie.Getting a washing machine as I have read about landlords putting the onus on the tenant for the damp conditions. I do all the washing & drying. I have told her to keep herself on all lists, in fact 2 days after she eventually moved in she had a call from the council, where she was classed as homeless at home, offering her a place nearer to me but they withdrew the offer because she had signed the contract on the flat.

There is no actual landlord address on the tenancy agreement to write to regarding the the gas cert. We only have the "landlords" business address for his other unrelated business address but through companies house & electoral roll I think I belive I know his home address.

The deposit went in his back pocket and he ignores any questions I ask.

Your advice on the mail we have done as you say.

If I contact the EHO I am worried about harrasment from the "landlord"

karenlisam
05-03-2010, 01:29 AM
Loona :

First of all ... hug and deep breath..............

He can only go as far as you / your daughter let him go as she has rights as a tenant

You need to totally let go of what feels uncomfortable to you and go with the rights you /she have ( my own experience again ... scary but ride with it)

Intimidation .... should it happen call the police. Don't fret about it until / if it happens. Wasted energy . TBH then if you have the EHO involved then I doubt he'll step outside the law but if he does........use the law - 999.

Now... whats missing in all this is how your daughter feels..... does she want to move because this is key as you can want her to move all you want but if she wants to stay put you are at something of a standpoint.
Should she be happy to move if it can be arranged then what we need to concentrate on is that

First step : She gets out of contract ( use gas cert and non deposit and conditions)

Do this by a ) your daughter writing to LL formally and asking for gas cert for the period she has been in the property within 14 days , deposit details within 14 days and also use health visitor to get in touch with EHO and declare the property unsafe.

b) Request in writing - I did this in the same letter as above - that if he has not complied with the LEGAL requirements above re : Gas Cert and government approved deposit you will request the tenancy being terminated on X date with the last months rent to be taken from deposit otherwise you will be forced to take the matter further "as legally advised " You must state this needs to be confirmed in writing in lets say 14 days to cover your behind

***** Private message me your phone number if you like and I'll you call you tomorrow and chat and then send you the copy of the letter which got an even worse LL to see sense over this type of thing***

To play it cute the best option if you have no money for a new place is for your daughter to move in with you when she gets out of the tenancy and the same day you send a letter to the council saying she is not welcome to stay and she applies as homeless

Given that she is up to date with the rent and you should also be able to use the deposit as last months rent then she may be in a position to just get a new place outright in which case ... I'm sure she will be more careful about mold etc when she moves in................. I know I will in future !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Once again am just a tenant so if any of the above is wrong...............some correct me !!!!!!!1