UK Property Law
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Is this a residential tenancy?
When does the fixed term end?
What specifically did Enviro health say?Tom
Yes its a residential tenancy. We started tenancy in June, 12 months with a two month break clause.
Essentially the property has a really bad mould and condensation problem, its ruined bedding, clothing and shoes. Its so bad its coming through the wardrobes, furniture. One bedroom smells horrific and is unusable.
The landlord sent in builders who reported back, the landlord basically said we were the cause, and that we had to ventilate the property properly by leaving windows open all day, even when we're out. Its a ground floor flat. Recently our Landlord has refused communication and had her partner call us. They refuse to give me an email address to send photos, etc. Its just got really petty. They also live in Northern Ireland, so it makes it even trickier.
Enviro health attributed the cause to lack of extractor fans, air bricks, trickle vents and agreed its impossible for us to vent it properly without leaving ourselves open to burglary. He said he would write to them, again.
Its contributed to my wifes illness and we've appealed to them on a number of occasions. The last thing they did was to send us a letter asking if we wanted to activate the two month notice period. We can't stay here that long and so are moving out on Friday.
If the property is unfit for human habitation then you can terminate without notice as this is a repudiatory breach of contract by the landlord - one which is so serious that it does to the root (ie. the heart) of the contract so as to deny the whole, or substantially the whole, of the benefit of contract from you.
You can run in to difficulties proving this though. Ideally one would have a declaration of unfitness from the enviro health department so I would get on at the officer and ask him to confirm in writing to you if this is the case. Also take pictures and if your wife has suffered medically from this then see if the doctor is willing to confirm this in writing. This will help
If you consider this is the case and can prove it either by a statement from the officer/doctor and photos then you could terminate immediately which is something you might consider do (I would do this in writing to the landlord setting out specifically why). If the Court holds that it was not unfit then you may be liable to the landlord for having quit early and would have to pay him some money up until the Court decides he could have relet the property.
Even if you do decide to terminate on the grounds of unfitness and there is a break clause entitling terminate afterwards then I would avail yourself of that break clause as a fail safe option if the Court finds against you.
This assumes that the landlord will actually issue proceedings if you quite early and he contends you did not have grounds to do so, he may not - particulaly as he is in NI, but you should obviously be aware of the risk that he could.
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