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JGM
JGM, Solicitor
Category: Scots Law
Satisfied Customers: 10091
Experience:  30 years as a practising solicitor.
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Hoping someone can give some advice. I live in a rented

Customer Question

Hoping someone can give some advice.
I live in a rented property from a letting agents for around 1 year now in Scotland, UK.
Our landlord came to do an inspection in June 2015. (previous inspection was around Sept 2014) He noticed some small marks on kitchen ceiling and asked me what they were? I said I don't know and ask him what they were? He said he doesn't know, he said he would investigate them. He did not and I heard nothing more about it.
6 Weeks later while having a shower, water began pouring out kitchen ceiling where those said marks were. I moved some furniture around in the bathroom and other objects and saw water marks on bathroom wallpaper where water from shower was leaking out due to faulty shower fittings.
I called landlord immediately and he sent someone out 6 days later to repair caulking. Hes now blaming me for the damage saying if I had notified him sooner about the water mark stains outside the shower and on the kitchen ceiling then the damage would not have got worse, so therefore I am responsible and have to pay for the damage.
My defence is that
1) I had furniture in bathroom and other bathroom objects which blocked my view to seeing the water stains on bathroom wall, but as soon as I saw them I reported them.
2) The stain marks on the kitchen ceiling I hadn't noticed before the landlord saw them when he visited in June 2015 but he did not investigate them, so I presumed it must not be anything important. Now those stain marks were obviously the beginning of the water leaking from shower upstairs into kitchen below. Neighbours told me he had problems with leaking shower before he moved in, but I only have their word that it was a pre existing problem.
My questions are:
a) Am I responsible as a tenant to repair this damage? or to pay the cost of the repairs?
b) I have been given quotes to repair the damage from people I have contacted who just told me its a small job, only about £200-£300. Landlord is saying its much much more and I have to pay for the damage. Landlords getting quotes from loss adjusters who said "ohh leaks obvious and been there 6 months!" yes it is, so long as you don't have furniture in front of it. The loss adjusters are also saying more things need to be done ie extractor fans etc but the quotes I have got are saying a much smaller amount of things need to be done to fix it. So whos right?
c) Will LLs insurance pay for this to be repaired? as it was obviously a gradual leak that has been going on for a while?
d) If he makes an insurance claim, then what happens? does he make the claim before any repairs and then gets money from insurance company to make the repairs?
e) The landlord has decided to evict us now. So we have two months to leave and will be leaving soon now. Does leaving change anything in all of this? in terms of what we should or should not do?
f) Landlord said if I do not get all this repaired before I live this will be a legal matter. I don't know what to do? Should I pay for the repairs from one of the quotes I have been given before I leave?
g) Landlord also noticed mould on bathroom wallpaper which I had told the letting agents about 1 month after we moved in but they did not investigate it further. Hence mould got worse. I have been told by specialists that its the wrong type of wallpaper in a bathroom and also bathroom should have an extractor fan and opening a window is not enough. Landlord wants me to have the bathroom repainted and re-wallpapered and said that the window is enough to prevent the mould hence I am responsible for the mould.
Hope someone can help?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Scots Law
Expert:  JGM replied 1 year ago.

I am a solicitor in Scotland. The landlord is talking nonsense. The root cause of the problem was a faulty shower fitting for which he is responsible. The fact that you didn't notice the leak is irrelevant. It was a latent defect and couldn't be easily seen behind furniture. The landlord is entirely responsible for everything other than damage caused by the tenant and you didn't cause any damage. The landlord has to keep the property to the repairing standard and the faulty shower fitting would breach that standard. You can't be held responsible for the loss incurred as a consequence of his failure to keep the property to the repairing standard.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks for the reply, the LandLord is quoting the tenancy agreement which says "the tenant undertakes to immediately notify landlord of the need for any repair or emergency""The tenant will be liable for cost of repairs where the need for them is attributable to his fault of negligence"And he is saying "Failure to notify him (the LandLord) of the leak would mean, I am responsible for the damage caused by the leak by my negligence of not reporting it immediately and I can not argue that I did not notice the leak as there is water damage on the outside bottom wall of the shower which is obvious and can not be missed and he has the report from loss adjuster saying leak damage probably began 6 months ago"My argument isa) Yes the water damage is obvious and can not be missed IF there is no bathroom furniture etc. But for months we had our own bathroom furniture and an old bucket we don't use which obscured our view of the water leak. (we have pictures with the bathroom furniture etc in place which shows one can not see the affected areas)b) Landlord inspected property in June 2015 and guess what, he also did not notice the water leak on outside of shower wall either.c) Landlord did notice a small stain mark on kitchen ceiling which in retrospect was the early stage of the above bathroom shower leaking, and he did not investigate that, until 2 months later water began dripping from that kitchen ceiling stain after the leak obviously finally gave way which I reported right away. I had not noticed that stain on kitchen ceiling until the landlord saw it, guess landlord could have said I should have noticed it but then again why did he do nothing about it when he saw it?Landlord still saying "Well its your fault for having furniture in the way which obscured your view in bathroom, you should always move furniture etc regularly to check for possible leaks, you should have been more observant and had more due diligence so you are responsible for the damage the leak has caused over the months its been leaking".Anyway, how can the landlord prove we should have noticed leaks? Well he said he can prove we should have noticed the leaks as he took pictures after we noticed the leaks, showing bathroom with no furniture or objects and the water leak damage looks so obvious in the pictures you can see it a mile away but thats not how the layout of the bathroom was for months and we have pictures of how the bathroom looked with furniture etc which show that the affected area was not visible at all.Could he then still claim we had a lack of due diligence and should periodically check for leaks behind furniture? or would that argument not be viable?
Expert:  JGM replied 1 year ago.

Negligence as a legal test is characterised as doing something or omitting to do something that no reasonable person would do or not do. Would a reasonable person have noticed having regard to the furniture and layout? I would say not. Your landlord is at it!

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
LL had a company who work with his insurance company out, hes still waiting for a report. We are due to leave house soon as LL has requested he wants to move back in.The LL is saying if we want to pay for the repairs we can do, but have to use a company of his choice.There was no inventory completed before moving in. What does this mean? However, the LL has photos from before we moved in. But can those photos be used as I do not think they were dated.We don't know what to do? Should we:a) Use one of LLs preferred companies and pay for the repairs ourselves if affordable even though leak was not our fault.b) Do not make repairs and before we move out of property?c) Negotiate with LL how much it would cost for the repairs and offer to pay towards it if the costs are reasonable ?d) If landlord either gives us a too high amount for us to make the repairs or only accepts us to pay for all of the repairs which we can not afford what should we do?e) Wait for the LLs outcome from his Insurance company and before we move out do not make any repairs?
Expert:  JGM replied 1 year ago.

I think you should hold out until this insurance company prepare a report. Even then, as I have already said, I don't think that you should be held responsible for what are essential latent defects which you could not reasonably have known about.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks!UPDATELandlord/letting agents never did a check in inventory. LL said he has photographs from before we moved in, however I did not sign for those photos nor do I know when they were taken, could have been 5 years ago!Anyhow, LL said he wants me to meet him at the house to do a check out inventory with him on Sunday. I told the letting agents I would give them they keys on Monday and that was agreed with them.I don't know what to do? I really don't want to goto this check out inventory with the landlord as I do not feel comfortable around him and intimidated by him. I don't understand how they can do a check out inventory when they never did a check in inventory? Do I have to goto the check out inspection?What do you think I should do?
Expert:  JGM replied 1 year ago.

You should prepare your own inventory and provide it to the letting agents. Under no circumstances should you meet the landlord face to face after the way he has behaved. They can't charge you for items on an inventory that has never been taken to start with and the photos are irrelevant.