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mizzie
01-10-2006, 14:18 PM
We rented an unfurnished property on a years AST in March of this year through a letting agent. I arrived to sign the lease and saw only the letting agent although he said the landlord had been there earlier but couldn't hang around to meet us as she was busy. There were a few things needed doing i.e.the outside painting, a new toilet seat and she would pop back with this in the next few days when we would meet her. There were also keys for the back door of the property to deliver as we had none and she would do this at the same time. All seemed fine but after two weeks we still didn't have a loo seat or keys to the back door so I rang the landlord and she said she would pop them in. She duly arrived and handed us the loo seat, presumably for us to fit ourselves, I invited her in and my little Bichon Frise dog (agreed to in the tenancy) jumped up to greet her. She accused the dog of biting her which was blatantly untrue and impossible as she had jeans and wellies on and told us that the dog may well get shot if she found it out of the (unfenced) garden. I assured her that the dog never went outside unless on a lead and made great efforts to reassure her that we were not only responsible tenants but also very responsible dog owners particularly as we live in a rural farming community.

We had been assured that the outside painting would be carried out during the summer months and when this had not taken place by the beginning of September we were about to contact the landlord to ask when it would happen when she arrived at our front door unannounced. She was obviously not in a good mood and accused us of having "moved someone into the house". I told her this was absolutely untrue, we had a friend staying but he was only an invited, non paying guest. I had checked our lease to make sure there was no clause limiting the time guests could stay and there was none. She then told me that I should not forget she lived in the village and could "keep an eye on what we got up to". This upset us greatly as we felt our right to quiet enjoyment was being breached. This was further breached a few days later when she again arrived unannounced with a painter and began walking around the outside of the house without even knocking on the door. When I went out and asked what was going on she waved her hand at me dismissively and said she was just getting the painter to give her a quote.

This resulted in us writing to her and telling her that we were unhappy with the situation and intended to look for another more suitable property. She asked if she could come in and take photos so that she could begin marketing it for a new tenant, we said it was no problem but the days she wanted to come in (less than 24 hours notice) were not convenient as we were away visiting family on those days. She then left a message on our answer phone stating that she intended to use her retained keys to the property and enter while we were away. This message was followed by another saying on reflection she would wait until we returned. All of this has made us feel very insecure and we are now reluctant to leave the property unattended. She seems to think that she is allowed to do this as and when she wants. I have checked my AST agreement and can't find anything that says she can but if you had met her that wouldn't make you feel any more secure than we do.

We have also been told by the agent that as he doesn't manage the property all references for our next home will have to come from her, and that we can be held liable for the remainder of the lease term. Is this right as we are only leaving because in our opinion the landlord has broken the terms of the lease by not allowing us "quiet enjoyment".

Can she enter willy nilly? Can she refuse us a reference (we have always paid our rent on time and maintained the property well)? What do we do if she insists on coming in, can we refuse to let her in to take her photos?

There is one final point that may be of interest and makes us more worried, our landlord, we have found out, is a Queens Counsel in London and appears to think she is above the law.

Worldlife
01-10-2006, 15:35 PM
Alas things got off to a bad start here and we need to separate the issues that are clearly in your favour as tenant and those that may be open to dispute. I'll put a few comments in red - others may agree or disagree with my suggestions!



We rented an unfurnished property on a years AST in March of this year through a letting agent. I arrived to sign the lease and saw only the letting agent although he said the landlord had been there earlier but couldn't hang around to meet us as she was busy.

Was the AST signed by the landlord with the landlord's name an address on it? No problem the landlord could also instruct an agent to hand you the signed agreement on her behalf. Does the AST state the name and address of the person who should be contacted to serve notices and requests for repairs by the tenant?

There were a few things needed doing i.e.the outside painting, a new toilet seat and she would pop back with this in the next few days when we would meet her.

Was there a full inventory and condition of property report for you to check and sign at the start of the tenancy. If not that is in your favour as the landlord will have no evidence to support any case for retention of the deposit. It is not mandatory requirement for the outside of the property to be decorated - was however this mentioned in writing or on the condition report. You were not legally obliged to fit the toilet seat provided by the landlord but where there are good landlord tenant relationships I think most tenants would be prepared to do this

There were also keys for the back door of the property to deliver as we had none and she would do this at the same time. All seemed fine but after two weeks we still didn't have a loo seat or keys to the back door so I rang the landlord and she said she would pop them in. She duly arrived and handed us the loo seat, presumably for us to fit ourselves,

The back door can be an essential means of escape in case of fire and you should have the keys. If you still don't have them you should consider sending urgent letter to the landlord asking on safety grounds you are provided with a key within seven days - if not you will have to change the lock and deduct the costs of doing so from the rent

I invited her in and my little Bichon Frise dog (agreed to in the tenancy) jumped up to greet her. She accused the dog of biting her which was blatantly untrue and impossible as she had jeans and wellies on
Might it have been a wee nip over the welly. You cannot be dogmatic about these things

and told us that the dog may well get shot if she found it out of the (unfenced) garden.

That's completely out of order. In a country area the dog can only be shot if worrying livestock I assured her that the dog never went outside unless on a lead and made great efforts to reassure her that we were not only responsible tenants but also very responsible dog owners particularly as we live in a rural farming community.
A good and reasoned response

We had been assured that the outside painting would be carried out during the summer months and when this had not taken place by the beginning of September we were about to contact the landlord to ask when it would happen when she arrived at our front door unannounced. She was obviously not in a good mood and accused us of having "moved someone into the house". I told her this was absolutely untrue, we had a friend staying but he was only an invited, non paying guest. I had checked our lease to make sure there was no clause limiting the time guests could stay and there was none. She then told me that I should not forget she lived in the village and could "keep an eye on what we got up to". This upset us greatly as we felt our right to quiet enjoyment was being breached. This was further breached a few days later when she again arrived unannounced with a painter and began walking around the outside of the house without even knocking on the door. When I went out and asked what was going on she waved her hand at me dismissively and said she was just getting the painter to give her a quote.

Agree that you quiet enjoyment of your property may to some extentbeen interfered with by the false allegations. OTH the landlord might say these were just 'friendly' enquiries and not put as false allegations. Did the painter have to enter your property to view the external decorations or was he able to complete the inspection from outside the curtilage? If he entered your private garden or paved area then you should have received advance notice of the visit

This resulted in us writing to her and telling her that we were unhappy with the situation and intended to look for another more suitable property. She asked if she could come in and take photos so that she could begin marketing it for a new tenant, we said it was no problem

If you wish to breach the contract by early ending of the tenancy then the landlord has an obligation to mitigate the losses of rent you will cause be reletting the property
but the days she wanted to come in (less than 24 hours notice) were not convenient as we were away visiting family on those days. She then left a message on our answer phone stating that she intended to use her retained keys to the property and enter while we were away. This message was followed by another saying on reflection she would wait until we returned.

The landlord considered your representations and acted appropriately

All of this has made us feel very insecure and we are now reluctant to leave the property unattended. She seems to think that she is allowed to do this as and when she wants. I have checked my AST agreement and can't find anything that says she can but if you had met her that wouldn't make you feel any more secure than we do.

You are entitled to change the locks on the property and you are not obliged to provide the landlord or agent with a set. You should however make arrangements for an emergency key to be available when you are away from the property and notifiy the landlord of the holder

We have also been told by the agent that as he doesn't manage the property all references for our next home will have to come from her,

Correct and that we can be held liable for the remainder of the lease term. Normally correct Is this right as we are only leaving because in our opinion the landlord has broken the terms of the lease by not allowing us "quiet enjoyment". You would have to prove that there has been a continued or particularly serious and unresolved intrusion and that the events you have described in this thread amount to a breach justifying a major breach of the tenancy agreement by you

Can she enter willy nilly? No Can she refuse us a reference (we have always paid our rent on time and maintained the property well)? Yes What do we do if she insists on coming in, can we refuse to let her in to take her photos? Yes but if the landlord fails to relet the property promptly you might be liable for a greater amount of loss rental income

There is one final point that may be of interest and makes us more worried, our landlord, we have found out, is a Queens Counsel in London and appears to think she is above the law. ... but may lack specialist knowledge in Housing Law!!!!

I am wondering if at this stage the agent may be prepared to negotiate between yourself and the landlord. Your landlord's actions do not make business sense and the agent may wish to point out the value of a good tenant who promptly and regularly pays the rent. Get the agent to agree with you have the right to change the locks but if you can get the back door key and an undertaking that spare keys will not be used other than in a genuine emergency. Ask if the agent may be prepared to give you a reference on the basis of your regular rental payments.

mizzie
01-10-2006, 17:49 PM
Thanks for the prompt reply to my earlier message. That was only a brief outline of what has been going on here, I have had a few written communications with our landlord and have also been told she has commented on us in our local, I know this is hearsay but it is still very upsetting when you hear things like "if they choose to be friends with so and so the village would be better of without them". We are a proffessional couple in our 50's who have come to a rural community for our retirement and have made many friends here over the last 7 months. This overbearing and unpleasant behaviour from our landlord has seriously affected us to the point that my husband no longer wants to be in the village at all and spends an ever increasing time in our business in the town, definately not what we expected when we semi-retired to a sleepy village. Our landlord does give the impression that she is all powerful in this small community due to her position as a barrister and is quite frankly making our lives miserable. Can we bypass her regarding a credit check with a new agent and revert to the information that we gave when we came here, we still own a property in the south and would like to avoid our new agent and landlord being unfairly biased against us by our present landlord. In other words can we omit our tenancy of this property from the application form for the new one. For some reason unknown to us she appears to have taken against us on a very personal level, this seems very unproffesional and we are concerned she will let this unproffesional approach affect our references. As we have had no contact with her socially and only in fact met her a couple of times we are at a loss to find a reason behind her dislike of us other than our choice of friends in the community who we are informed she does not like!

Paul_f
01-10-2006, 22:12 PM
Try keeping your question short and to the point, please!

I've posted this before but if the first time you saw the tenancy agreement was on the day your aigned it to take up possession then it is in breach of the OFT unfair terms guidelines. You should have received it in advance in good time and it should have had a note attached that you should take it to the CAB or a solicitor if you need advice as to what you are signing.

Your landlord is also in potential breach the usual Protection from Eviction Act 1977, Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 S.11, and the Defective Premises Act 1972. If you know of or can afford a solicitor get them to send your landlord a letter pointing out the potential damages that you could receive should you have to take court action if she continues in this vein.

islandgirl
02-10-2006, 08:47 AM
We live in a small rural community and know exactly what it can be like. There are always those who think they "own" the place and behave like the old Lord or Lady of the Manor and heaven forbid that anyone should seek to upset the old order (which I myself have done on a few occasions and enjoyed it a lot!)
I think in your situation I would change the locks, retain the keys and write telling her you will leave at the end of the fixed term (5 months from now?). She will try to withhold deposit. However as the learned people on here have told you, she will have no chance of keeping it when you sue her in the small claims court! Someone with her position may also be reluctant to be taken to court.
With regards to references. Good suggestion about an agents ref. Also with no CCJs, bad debts etc etc your credit ref will be a good one. You have your own business and your own house - you are not "men of straw". If you can't get an agents ref you may just wish to come clean with any new potential Landlord - some of us would listen and work with you! If financially possible you may be able to offer 6 months in advance?
Be reasonable at all times but don't let anyone walk all over you. We once rented a house owned by a policemen who retained our deposit for no reason and thought he was above the law due to his job. Needless to say we got the deposit back!