Joshua : Thanks for your question. Please kindly RATE my answer when you are satisfied
Joshua : Is your deposit protected in a deposit protection service please to your knowledge?
Customer: We usually deal with the Letting Agent and yes it is with the DPS.
Joshua : Thanks.
Joshua : There are two components to this. The first point to make is that you are cannot lawfully use your deposit as the last months rent. Taking this action exposes you to legal action on the part of your landlord. He will not practically be able to evict you before the end of the tenancy because he has insufficient time but he can sue you for the unpaid rent and you will have no defence to such an action unless you claim disrepair. However he has no rights to harrass you...
Joshua : The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 can be applied to landlord harassing their tenants whereby he is guilty of an offence under the act if they pursue a course of conduct that they know or ought to know amounts to harassment of another. Consider emailing or writing to the landlord asking them not to contact you again or call round to your house as you consider he actions to constitute harassment.
Joshua : If he ignores you and does so anyway then this can amount to an offence under the above Act and you can contact the local authorities housing officer who will consider a prosecution
Joshua : You can also claim damages potentially under the above act to compensate you for the harassment you suffer - damages assessed commensurate with the circumstances and extent of his actions.
Joshua : If you intend to ask the landlord not to contact you again consider doing so in writing - email or letter - so you can prove you asked him. If he ignores this it makes it easier to claim harassment. Consider also retaining the message on your answerphone particularly if it is unpleasant or threatening. If you are worried about the landlord and he does attend you can consider contacting the police to attend the premises.
Joshua : Does the above answer all your questions or is there anything I can clarify or help you with any further?
Joshua : I am about to pop out for an hour or so. I will be available again later but is there anything else I can help you with now before I go?
Customer: yes if he is able to sue us the flat we live in is very draughty that we have difficulty in sleeping at night and even though we have complained numerous times to the Agent and Landlord nothing has been done because they say its the building structure.
Joshua : Can you very very briefly summarise what you believe to be the problem? Have you complained previously in writing and if so can you prove it?
Customer: There is no insulation and the cold winds seem to blow through the walls.It disturbs our sleep and quality of life.The building structure seems to be substandard.We have to place a cardboard structure around the bed to stop the draughts but this does not have much effect.
Joshua : Thanks. The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 places an implied term in every tenancy that the landlord must keep in repair the structure, sanitary installations and exterior of the property which means he must attend to the draught - his excuse about it being the structure is no excuse at all. Landlords can also be held liable if they have failed to provide a safe and healthy environment for their tenants. you could consider using or threatening to use the HHSRS inspection system and ask the environmental department at the local council to carry out a health and safety assessment of the property. They have the power to serve improvement notices on the landlord to remedy any areas which do not come up to standard. If you can demonstrate that you have previously complained about the issue then you may be able to claim compensation for loss of amenity for the period the landlord has failed to address the issue.
Joshua : The above does not absolve you from paying rent as described above but can give you a basis to claim compensation potentially by way of set off against the rent owed should you wish to go down this route or the landlord does sue you.
Customer: We have complained in writing via the Agent who passed it to the Landlord.He came round but said he could not feel any draughts.
Joshua : Excellent. Keep evidence of your complaints - they can potentially come in very useful to show that the landlord has failed to cary out his above obligations. Also it means he cannot claim he was not made aware by you of the issues.
Joshua : Is there anything else I can help you with?
Customer: The Environmental health could not locate any draughts.Can you suggest anything else please !There are definitely draughts.
Joshua : Have you already had an HHSRS inspection then?
Customer: We had the Environmental Health round but they did not seem interested.
Customer: At night the draughts are very bad and my wife is asthmatic
Joshua : Unfortunately the service can vary from council to council as it depends on the officer involved. Do check it was an HHSRS inspection officer you had but if it was then in that case it is for you to prove on the balance of probability that there are insulation issues with the property. If you have had an HHSRS inspection and they property satisfied them on this front this is damaging to your position though not fatally. You would in such circumstances need to consider asking a specialist contractor attend to inspect the property and provide a report and quote for the work involved. Many will do so for free in the hope of winning the work but some will want a fee. If you can show on the balance of probability that there are issues as you suggest by reference to HHSRS or a specialist report then you have basis for action as above. Whetehr you decide it is worth pursuing at this stage in light of the council's position is a matter for you. You can be successful but ultimately at this stage you will be unlikely to see any practical benefit as you are moving out but rather you can only at this stage hope for some financial compensatino.
Customer: I just remembered that the landlord felt a draught from one window but rang us up and said because it was only one window his builder said it was not worth doing.
Joshua : It is unlikely the landlord say anything that is to his disadvantage. You will likely find he remembers the conversation "differently". If HHSRS has failed you an independent specialist contractor report and quote is likely to be your reserve position as above.
Customer: do you know how we could find a specialist contractor for free !
Joshua : http://www.nationalinsulationassociation.org.uk/householder/
Joshua : It is really a question of being slightly cheeky and asking them round on the basis that they are quoting to exclude the draughts you are suffering. If you ask them to prepare a report for you in any other context they likely to want to charge.
Customer: A quote for draughtproofing
Joshua : Quite
Customer: ask for a quote for draughtproofing and for it to be put in writing
Joshua : Exactly so...
Joshua : As a consequence of that you should obtain a quote and report that identifies the issues they consider require addressing.
Customer: So would they say where the draughts are coming from
Customer: it seems 'crazy' that we have to sleep in these draughts and no one can feel them
Joshua : It is really a question of you encouragin them in the right direction - remember you are not obtaining informaiton from them in an official capacity so you will very much have to play the appropriate role to get what you are after. Some people feel more comfortable with this than others. The role will be along the lines of you are not sure what the problem is or what needs to be done but the property s very draughty and you can't get to the bottom of it. Can they help? ... if you follow me.
Customer: I hope that they feel the draughts and they dont say there is no draughts like others have said.
Joshua : Well quite. If they don't think there are any either then you may feel you are fighting an increasingly uphill struggle in the circumstances but as they will specialise in the area one would hope that they will.
Joshua : I wish you well in resolving the matter and hope you are able to obtain some evidence to support your position.
Customer: We will have to try this and see what happens!Thanks very much for your help.
Joshua : A pleasure
Joshua : If you have no further questions for now I should be very grateful if you would kindly take a moment to rate my service to you today. Your feedback is important to me. If there is anything else I can help with please reply back to me.
Customer: ok thanks for your advice
Joshua : Best wishes