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Thomas
Thomas, Lawyer
Category: UK Property Law
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Experience:  BA (Hons), PgDip, Practising Solicitor
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We rent a flat in London from a corporate landlord (not Council).

Customer Question

We rent a flat in London from a corporate landlord (not Council). Our lease is for 12 months and we have been here for just less than 2 months. The block of flats we live in looks like a converted office building.

After a couple of weeks we started to smell smoke in our kitchen. We can only presume that passive smoke is coming through the plumbing, or whatever, from other flats.

It is particularly bad on weekends and early mornings and evenings, which suggests that it is consistent with neighbours who work during the weekdays.

We raised the issue with the landlord. Initially there was some denial that there was a problem, but finally we were able to convince them that the problem did exist. Their building manager has been helpful. After some discussion, the landlord purchased a "Blue Air" machine that is supposed to purify the air and dispel cigarette smoke and odours etc.

We also burn candles and have purchased a plug in air freshener, but on some days the odour is still bad and my wife is asthmatic.

I raised the issue again today and the porter (who smokes himself) came to our flat around midday and said he couldn't smell anything but he had smelt smoke before. We believe that the smell of smoke pervades the kitchen and lounge areas, but with all windows open, candles alight and the Blue Air machine on, naturally the problem lessens after other tenants leave for work. The porter only works normal business hours and is therefor not here when the problem is at its worst on weekends.

Visitors to our flat have complained about the smell of smoke, so I do not think we are imagining things.

I am continuing to pursue the matter with the landlord but my question is -

Do we have any legal rights in this matter given that passive smoking has been proven to be more dangerous that actually smoking.

The local Council have said that they have no legal redress available to them to force the landlord to rectify the matter.

We are not trying to infringe on the rights of other tenants but believe that the landlord should have some obligation to provide a safe and healthy environment in return for a not inconsiderable rent.

So far they have only engaged in mitigation activity but no rectification activity.

Do we have any rights to force a satisfactory conclusion to this matter.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: UK Property Law
Expert:  Thomas replied 3 years ago.
Hi,

Thanks for your question.

I’m afraid that you have very limited rights in this regard. The landlord is obligated to provide you with accommodation which is habitable. This extends to the flat which you occupy being safe in terms of structure/exterior and also the gas, electricity and water supplies.

If there are provisions in your assured shorthold tenancy agreement which prohibit smoking then there will likely be the same obligations in the tenancy agreement relating to the other flats. The problem here is that it is the landlord’s prerogative to enforce these provision as against those persons smoking. Unless there is a provision in your tenancy agreement in which the landlord states that they will enforce the tenant’s covenants in other flats then it is entirely their decision whether to enforce or not. All you can do really is appeal to the landlord’s compassion.

Obviously as private properties there is no legislation preventing persons smoking as there are in public enclosed spaces.

Sorry it could not be better news.

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I will answer your follow up questions you may have.

Kind regards,


Tom

Thomas, Lawyer
Category: UK Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 6390
Experience: BA (Hons), PgDip, Practising Solicitor
Thomas and 6 other UK Property Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks, Tom

 

Much as I expected but it was worth seeking an external opinion

Expert:  Thomas replied 3 years ago.
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