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Old 06 May 2009, 12:56   #1
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Long question about renting property

I rent a flat in Portsmouth with a friend. We first looked round at the beginning of Jan this year, when the place was being renovated. The renovations were in their final stages (decorating etc) and we were told that if we decided to go for it, everything would be finished by the time we moved in (at the beginning of Feb). We signed the contract and handed over a bag full of notes for a deposit and then sat back and waited for moving in day.

When we moved it, it became apparent there were quite a few issues with the place, and several things that hadn't been finished. We made our letting agents aware. Amoungst the issues were: the TV socket in the sitting room didn't work, my bedroom door didn't close (brand new door was far too big for the frame), keys kept getting stuck in the front door, the window in the other bedroom was damaged, there were no smoke alarms, the washbasin in the bathroom appeared to drain into the bath, and the bath didn't really drain at all. Oh yes and the oven wasn't attached to the wall so when you opened it you ran the risk of it falling on top of you. All in all less than ideal.

The builder came and sorted a few of the issues, but some remained. He was far more interested in renovating the flat above ours, which was also owned by our landlady.

Several months, a break-in, a stolen life raft, a flooded bathroom (as a result of a blocked waste pipe that we had to sort out selves) and two punctures on my car (as a result of the builder leaving nails and screws on the driveway) and a DIY tv ariel installation in order to be able to watch television, we have our latest disaster. We both came home on Monday afternoon to find my house mates room flooded. There was water literally pouring out of the ceiling and running down the light fitting. You could see the newly put up ceiling was totally saturated, with water running down the wall and all over his stuff. Neither of us were impressed! We called the "emergency" number given to us by our letting agents only to be told there was nothing the chap could do on a bank holiday Monday as he wasn't a plummer. Taking matters into our own hands we found stopcock for upstairs and turned it off, although it later turned out the leak was coming from a pipe that seemingly bypassed the stop cock (a result of yet another bodge by the trusty builder).

Him room is totally inhabitable at the moment. The builder has removed all the carpet, and the room is still very damp. The ceiling is sagging in the middle and is cracked. In our opinion it needs ripping out and replacing, not to mention the wiring for the lights which must also be saturated.

He has moved into his parents place for the time being. We have been pondering on what our rights in this situation actually are, and as far as we can see, if the the place isn't habitable for longer than 14 days we can end the contract immediately. I personally don't think it will be sorted before then, as the builder is incapable of doing anything quickly.

In terms of other rights, what do people think. We don't think we should be paying full rent as there are lots of issues which, despite us moaning repeatedly, haven't been sorted. I understand having smoke alarms is actually a legal requirement for a rental property. Does anyone who rents property out have any thoughts on all of this?
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Old 06 May 2009, 13:32   #2
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Give the letting agent notice that you're going to stop paying rent until the problems are sorted-and stop paying them 'til the problems are sorted to your satisfaction.
Don't give them any leeway on this or they'll take the mick even more. Smoke alarms are a legal requirement.
Oh, and withhold rent to the value of the damage caused to yours/your flatmate's kit-unless details are given so you can claim directly from the landlord's insurance.

Letting contracts work both ways.
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Old 06 May 2009, 13:49   #3
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Tennacy

You should have an ASST Assured Short Hold Tennacy 6 months?

Write to the land lord and inform them of all the problems, and set a date to ask them to fix it.

You dont need to renew at the end of your AST an can exend with no contract for a couple of months if you need to. If the stuff isnt sorted, drop the landlord in at and move out when it suits you after the end of the AST agreement.

They will loose money as the palce will be empty while they then need to sort all the problems.

If they hold a deposit it by law should be help by an agent, not usually the landlord due to a chage on the law in April I thinnk last year.

I dont think you can withhold rent legally............

Have a look at these

http://www.arla.co.uk

http://www.tenancyagreementservice.co.uk/ This one is very good..........

http://www.tenancyagreementservice.c...bligations.htm The landlords obligations are clear in this one.

Hope its useful.......

Rib-x450
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Old 06 May 2009, 14:10   #4
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Not sure about the tennancy stuff - but the comments already sound good. If you have any contents insurance it might pay for alternative accomodation until its all fixed ( assuming its deemed uninhabitable - which it does sound like) . Or you may have legal cover for something like 50k worth - or at least a free legal helpline.
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Old 06 May 2009, 14:54   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rib-x450 View Post
You should have an ASST Assured Short Hold Tennacy 6 months?

Write to the land lord and inform them of all the problems, and set a date to ask them to fix it.

You dont need to renew at the end of your AST an can exend with no contract for a couple of months if you need to. If the stuff isnt sorted, drop the landlord in at and move out when it suits you after the end of the AST agreement.

They will loose money as the palce will be empty while they then need to sort all the problems.

If they hold a deposit it by law should be help by an agent, not usually the landlord due to a chage on the law in April I thinnk last year.

I dont think you can withhold rent legally............

Have a look at these

http://www.arla.co.uk

http://www.tenancyagreementservice.co.uk/ This one is very good..........

http://www.tenancyagreementservice.c...bligations.htm The landlords obligations are clear in this one.

Hope its useful.......

Rib-x450
You can't be legally rented a property which is uninhabitable and doesn't pass the fire regulations-therefore by accepting rent on it the landlord is breaking the law.

The landlord can't re-let it in the current state and if it's already got tenants with a contract who are willing to pay as soon as repairs are completed, it'll save them a lot of money.

It's catch 22-but as the inhabitant you hold more cards than the landlord.
However, given the record of thefts and bad maintenance I'd move out as soon as you can. Crap landlords don't improve.
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Old 06 May 2009, 15:28   #6
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I'm a commercial property landlord, we jump through hoops to keep our tenants happy and the buildings in good order.
We don't have or require lengthy, complicated tenancy agreements, we've only had one issue in 11yrs.
The way to gain the advantage over a dodgy landlord is to give notice and tell them to take the deposit as the final months rent. This might contravine your agreement, but I doubt very much if he/she will persue you via a court. If this is the way that your landlord chooses to operate their business, you'd be better off out of the place.
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Old 06 May 2009, 16:25   #7
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Tim,

Myself and a group of friends viewed a property whilst at university which was under renovation. As you well know, most student lets run from June till June so it was agreed that the house would be finished by the beginning of the summer.

It wasn't ready in time and was essentially uninhabitable (no beds, painting unfinished etc.) for 3-4 months over the summer. We sent the landlord a letter asking for our rent back for those summer months and suggested we would take legal action if he refused. He promptly shat his pants and refunded us. As far as I can remember when we looked into it, if you are paying the full agreed rent, the house must be have adequate facilities and be in a suitable condition to live in. Yours obviously isn't...the lack of smoke alarms makes that so straight away!

This is all fairly obvious and I'm sure you know it all already but thought I'd share.

Tim
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Old 06 May 2009, 16:27   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rib-x450 View Post
If they hold a deposit it by law should be help by an agent, not usually the landlord due to a chage on the law in April I thinnk last year.
Rib-x450
That's true but it's not a formal escrow. The agent effectively works for the landlord so you're still unlikely to see your deposit back.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mollers
The way to gain the advantage over a dodgy landlord is to give notice and tell them to take the deposit as the final months rent.
Agreed - I've did that a couple of times on rentals in London. I actually think it's the best way to terminate any rental agreement as you're assured of getting your deposit back! (unless it's 6 weeks deposit you've paid)
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Old 09 May 2009, 10:23   #9
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How you getting on with this Tim?
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Old 10 May 2009, 07:33   #10
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Thanks for all the advice.

The latest is, well, there isn't really any latest. The builder has been in to have a look at the damage: "yer you've had a leak in there". Typical. We've moaned to the landlady, and the agents, and no-one seems that bothered. They were more worried about the RIB I had parked on the drive - they went out of their way last week to contact both of us to moan about that but when it came to the leak we had to profusely pester them!

Having read through the contract again, we believe now that if there is an issue with the property which makes it uninhabitable for longer than 14 days we have the right to end the contract. It's been a week today, and I really can't see them having it sorted by this time next week.

It's a very irritating situation. My house mate currently has a reasonable commute to work from his parents house, which he intends to charge someone for. The agents refused to give us details of the insurer who's going to cough up for this, so at the moment we are literally in their hands. I think the way we have been treated is totally outrageous; my mother rents out property and if theres a problem the agent is straight on the phone telling her, as well as arranging repairs same day.
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