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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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Hi, this concerns an issue regarding my rights as a tenant.

Customer Question

Hi, this concerns an issue regarding my rights as a tenant. I have rented a property from end of October 2010. As soon as I moved in, it transpired that the property had severe plumbing issues. I have been told by the property management company this was a first, but have heard since from other people living in the building and the previous tenant that the issues are long standing. The main issue turned out to be the stack pipe. I have waste water from other apartments coming up in my sink. For more than a year now I have been promised teh issue would be solved. It transpired that the whole stack pipe needs to be replaced. Since this affecteds the other orperties as well, I appreciated that it would take some time. More than a year on, they seem to have given the go ahead for the job to a company that is not an expert in these matters. For the past 6 months I have been given a small rebate in rent, but this was under the agreement that they would get the issue solved as soon as possible. However, the work still has not started despite several promises to the contrary and the problem is getting worse. When the year lease was over, I could opt to renew the lease. I informed them by letter that I wanted to stay in the property because I was promised the problem would be solved soon. They asked for more rent. In a telephone conversation with the property manager, I told him that while I was willing to renew the lease, I did not feel a higher reht was in order, given the problems and the lack of action. He understood and said he would get back to me, after having looked at all maintenance issues that had to be done, and after speaking to the owner. I have since not heard anything from them on this matter and they say I am now on a periodic tenancy. I have never formally agreed to that and was waiting for an answer on the renewal of the contract. They have now sent me an email implying that maybe I should decide to move out, or maybe the landlord would decide I should move out. I have alsways paid my rent and I am wondering now what my rights are, as I do not have the money to put a deposit down on another place, without getting the deposit on this one back. To me it seems that the landlord should legally be obliged to fix a problem with waste water asap, which they have not done and they should not be able to say that they want me to move out. For the record, I do not want to move out. I don not want to threaten the property manager with any legal ramifications, especially as I do not know what my rights are and what theirs are. I hope you can give me some initial tips here on where I stand and what I should do. Kind regards, Martine
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: UK Property Law
Expert:  Thomas replied 2 years ago.
Hi Martine,


Thanks for yourquesiton.

The position with respect to repair is that where the property is in disrepair as is the case here you would normally write to the landlord formally detailing the repair and request that remedial works are carried out within a reasonable time (ie. 7-14days) specifying that if they do not carry out the repair then you will pay yourself for the repair to be carried out and then sue the landlord for the rent. If they did not carry out the repair you could pay to have the repair carried out and recover the money from the landlord at Court.

Withholding rent for repair is generally not advisable because this can entitle the landlord to get possession of the property and evict you if the rent you withhold is greater than two months rent. There is a very specific procedure to follow if you were to consider withholding rent:-
http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/repairs_and_bad_conditions/disrepair_in_rented_accommodation/repairs_in_social_housing/withholding_rent_over_repairs

Your case is complicated by the fact that your previous tenancy has expired and therefore you are now occupying the property under a Statutory Periodic Tenancy as they have indicated. This means that the tenancy continues on the same terms but from one month to the next. In these circumstances the landlord can evict you without giving you a reason provided they serve you with a s21 Notice. This notice must give you two months notice and must expire at the end of a rent period.
Because of this if you formally attempt to enforce the landlord’s repair obligations they will doubtless simply serve the notice to get you out.
You will have to balance your requirements in respect of the repair issue in the knowledge that they will probably serve the notice if you do seek to enforce. If you sign a new tenancy agreement then they landlord cannot evict you in this way and you will be able to enforce repair in the way described above.
As the deposit you will be able to recover the deposit as this will be deposited in a tenancy deposit scheme (ask for details of this if you do not know). If it has not been deposited in such a scheme then you will be able to recover the whole of the deposit without deduction. If there is a dispute over any deductions there is a dispute resolution process run by the scheme which you can use but I appreciate that this will not get the deposit to you in time for you to use under a new tenancy.
If this has been useful please kindly click accept so that I may be rewarded for my time. If you do not click accept your money stays with the site and I do not receive any credit for the time I have taken to answer your question. You will not be charged any further money for clicking accept.


Kind regards,


Tom
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Tom, thank you very much for your answer. Just for my clarification: Does it not count that I have todl them I wanted to renew the contract and that they promised to get back to me with an answer and they have not done so so far? Are they not required to do that?

I have not withheld rent as we agreed I would pay the full rent and get a rebate each month. I will continue to do that of course. I have a whole pack of correspondence on this, als me chasing them about the rental contract. I never agreed to this periodic rental. In my country, stalling giving me a new contract, and everything else, and after all that was endured, I would be in my right to envoke general rule of law which means as much as that it would not be reasonable nor fair to kick me out. Is there no such thing here in the UK? I feel they are trying their hardest to make me act in a way they can profit from. Kind regards, Martine

Expert:  Thomas replied 2 years ago.
Hi Martine,

It's their prerogative whether or not to grant you a new tenancy, they are no under any legal obligation to get back to you within a specific time.

The tenancy turns in to an periodic tenancy automatically when your original tenancy expired. It's not an option.

I'm afraid there isn't a corresponding law to the one you have in the Netherlands unfortunately. I appreciate that must be frustrating for you.

Kind regards,


Tom
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Ok, thanks anyway Tom. I see very clearly what their strategy was. It is just that in my original contract I hade an option to renew and they sent me an email the owner was willing to do this provided I pay an icrease. I then discussed with them that I did not think that was fair, since the problems have not been solved. The property Manager understood and said he would contact teh landlord and get back to him.

Kind regards, Martine

Expert:  Thomas replied 2 years ago.

Hi Martine,

 

I would expect the option to renew as being qualified by saying something along the lines of ".. if the landlord and tenant agree" - in which case it's basically worthless.


You have not clicked accept. Please click accept otherwise I do not receive any credit for my time.


Kind regards,


Tom

Thomas, Lawyer
Category: UK Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 6522
Experience: BA (Hons), PgDip, Practising Solicitor
Thomas and 2 other UK Property Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Sorry Tom, I just wanted to be sure. I will accept your answer now, Many thanks for your help. Martine
Expert:  Thomas replied 2 years ago.
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