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robotchicken
26-03-2010, 17:17 PM
Hi,
I apologise if I am posting this in the wrong forum. I posted a while back about moving in to a flat that had no heating or hot water and how to best go about things with my landlady, after 4 months i finally have hot water if not heating but that may be due to the boiler being incredibly complicated, as it stands its just nice to have a hot shower now.
My question is this:
at the end of february ( about the 22nd ) i emailed my landlady to let her know that the boiler wasnt working and that i would be withholding rent from the next month until it was fixed, she was very cross and claimed that i knew it would be fixed in a week to 10 days and so i should just pay up, i refused and i wnot go into the long emails that ensued but basically a month later the boiler was fixed and i recieved an email and voicemail telling me to pay the rent for march, it became apparent that she meant she wanted backrent for the month i hadnt paid after i got fed up of no heating or hot water. I told her i wasnt about to do this and she said ok then if i dont reiceve the money for the remainder of march ( she claims 10 days worth ) and the money on the 28th of march for april she would take legal action against me, after telling me she was disappointed i wanted things in writing.
Thay is the basic backstory, I phoned up the CAB who said i should send her a grievence letter demanding compensation for the time i had no heating or hot water and to take it in the form of future rent. Morally I was going to do this anyways as i feel cheated and my kindness abused but id like to know what the actual legal ramifications of this are and how i should proceed. I do not intend on paying her on the 28th as it stands and i am unsure if i should put this in an email to her yet.

westminster
26-03-2010, 18:22 PM
Legally, you are not entitled to withhold rent on the basis that you feel you deserve compensation (however good the reason is).

Either the compensation/rent reduction must be agreed in writing with the landlord, or if the LL won't negotiate, you pay the rent in full and issue a county court claim against the landlord for compensation for the period when you were without heating/hot water. You would need to show evidence of this.

You would certainly not be awarded the full amount of the rent for this period by a court. I would estimate 50% maximum (but that's just a guess).

Note that, if you owe the landlord the equivalent of two months' rent, the landlord can serve a s.8 notice on you, and after 14 days start legal proceedings to gain possession. You could try to defend this on the basis of the current/former disrepair, but if you failed then you would be evicted and end up with a county court judgment for the arrears.*

Also note that, legally, the landlord must repair the boiler and that includes heating as well as hot water, so you still need to address the lack of heating function, and discover whether it is a boiler problem or over-complex controls. See this weblink for further info:
http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/repairs_and_bad_conditions/repairs_in_private_lets/landlord_refusing_to_do_repairs

*N.B. if you paid this within 30 days and obtained a certificate of satisfaction, it would not be recorded on your credit rating.

robotchicken
27-03-2010, 13:12 PM
Thats the thing, i dont really see what legal punishment there is for just not fixing the boiler, she just constantly did things cheaply and said it would be fixed and to pay when it just wouldnt be. what annoys me is it seems there are NO rammifications for her and i am out several thousand pounds which kinda annoys me really. I am surpirsed the CAB gave me advice to demand compensation if it is bogus advice. Equally i am surprised that my situation is " well tough you have to pay her and any money you were duped into paying is gone unless you start legal proceedings "

westminster
27-03-2010, 14:34 PM
Thats the thing, i dont really see what legal punishment there is for just not fixing the boiler, she just constantly did things cheaply and said it would be fixed and to pay when it just wouldnt be. what annoys me is it seems there are NO rammifications for her and i am out several thousand pounds which kinda annoys me really. I am surpirsed the CAB gave me advice to demand compensation if it is bogus advice. Equally i am surprised that my situation is " well tough you have to pay her and any money you were duped into paying is gone unless you start legal proceedings "

CAB's advice was not "bogus" as such; you're obviously entitled to seek to negotiate a rent reduction for the period during which you had no heating/hot water, and an obvious place to start would be to write to the landlord demanding compensation and setting out your reasons.

The point is, it is not for you alone to decide the level of compensation. Either you and the landlord agree on it, or a court decides what is fair. You talk as though legal action is somehow a poor option, but a claim for less than £5,000 will be allocated to the small claims track, where you don't need to use a solicitor; you can easily DIY. See
http://www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk/infoabout/claims/index.htm

What do you mean by "money you were duped into paying"? Assuming you mean rent, then that is your contractual obligation. Yes, the landlord has breached her contractual obligations but it is up to you what you do about it - whether that is reporting a broken boiler to the environmental health officer, or trying to negotiate compensation, or taking legal action. There will be no ramifications, as you put it, if you do nothing.