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I am renting via an agency and they have been really bad at

Customer Question
hi, I am renting via...
hi, I am renting via an agency and they have been really bad at repairing things like the boiler, the windows, installing a fire alarm etc.. it took them 7 months (from Oct 2008 to May 2009) and finally they fixed the issues after I stopped paying rent for 2 months. Can I still claim compensation for having to freeze in flat with 12 degrees temperature with the heating on full power?
Now the flat downstairs has complained of a leak and I can see damp on the living room floor (although they are probably unrelated issues since they say they think the leak is from the bathroom). Again I have been chasing up the agency but no luck, almost 2 week gone now. WHat can I do?
Submitted: 8 years ago.Category: UK Property Law
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Answered in 2 hours by:
10/20/2009
Solicitor: DR Lawyer, Lawyer replied 8 years ago
DR Lawyer
DR Lawyer, Lawyer
Category: UK Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 2,319
Experience: BA (Hons) Pgdl Pgdlp (LPC)
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Hi there,

I need to ask you some further questions in order to be able to advice.

How much rent in total have you withheld?

What is the monthly rent?

Please list the problems you have had and the duration they have lasted?

Please describe the layout of the house - how may rooms?

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Customer reply replied 8 years ago

Hi,

Thank you for your quick response and apologies for taking so long to reply.

I have not withheld any rent. What I did is temporarily withheld rent until they did the following:

1. The boiler is fixed or replaced

2. The windows are fixed or replaced

3. I receive a copy of a valid CORGI certificate for the boiler

4. I receive a copy of a valid CORGI certificate for the cooker

5. A carbon monoxide detecting alarm is installed near the boiler

6. A carbon monoxide detecting alarm is installed near the cooker

7. A fire alarm is properly installed

8. You accept responsibility for the excessive electricity bill due to Completion's negligence

It took them 2 months to get the boiler fixed, the windows kind of fixed, send me the certificate copies, intall the fire alarm above floor level and install a carbon monoxide alarm which broke down on the same day and had me calling a technician at 6am in the morning as it went off!

I paid both months rent after that, even though they did not accept any responsibility for the extreme conditions I had to live in for the 7 months prior to deciding to withhold rent.

Here is the letter I sent out on the 27th of April 2009:

<<Dear Noshaab Khiljee,

I have just received a letter with the above reference. This letter is in response to that and for your information, in case your colleagues have not kept you up to date. You should also have received an e-mail with the same content.

Over the past 7 months:

  • The day moved in, the flush did not work. I had been told it would have been fixed before the time came for me to move in, but instead it took two weeks for Completion to send someone over to fix the flush.
  • In October, I discovered the windows were faulty and I immediately informed the agent assigned to the property (Haroon Yusuf), as on a windy day the wind could be heard going through and into the flat. This is still the case and despite my best efforts and my trying to follow up and chase the agent, the windows are still not fixed.
  • As a result of the issue with the windows (which still remains unresolved), my electricity consumption has been much greater than it would have been normally. As I have previously informed your colleague, with the heater constantly on full power, the temperature was 12 degrees Celsius in the winter. This and the fact that Completion took no interest in rectifying the problem whilst knowing the intolerable conditions in which I was forced to live, is unacceptable. As a result of your actions, I will be deducting the difference of the actual consumption minus the estimated consumption, from the rent.
  • When I first moved in, there was an issue with the water pressure, which resulted to not having the ability to mix hot and cold water in the shower. This took two months for Completion to send someone to fix it and a lot of my time chasing up your agent.
  • After the water pressure issue was fixed, the boiler started to break. This was in November and after many complaints from me and my last resort a threat to stop paying, it was finally "fixed" just before Easter.
  • This morning I discovered there is something worst than the boiler turning itself off and having to try approx. or in excess of 100 times to turn it back on. The tiny flame is there, but when I turn the tap on, nothing happens. The boiler flame does not light up and the water is not heated.
  • I have still not received a copy of the CORGI certificate for the boiler. I assume that you do not have one, not only because the boiler is not functioning, but also because it is not safe. Failure to provide a CORGI certificate is illegal.
  • There is no CO (carbon monoxide) detection alarm installed in the flat.
  • The fire alarm is located on the side of the staircase. This means it is under the flat's floor level, i.e. if there is a fire, it will not be detected. This is both dangerous and illegal.

To answer your question, I refuse to pay any rent until:

  1. The boiler is fixed or replaced
  2. The windows are fixed or replaced
  3. I receive a copy of a valid CORGI certificate for the boiler
  4. I receive a copy of a valid CORGI certificate for the cooker
  5. A carbon monoxide detecting alarm is installed near the boiler
  6. A carbon monoxide detecting alarm is installed near the cooker
  7. A fire alarm is properly installed
  8. You accept responsibility for the excessive electricity bill due to Completion's negligence

I hope you appreciate that following 7 months of living in a flat that is not fit for purpose and with no positive response from your agency, I have been forced to come to this decision.>>

The property is a studio flat (loft conversion) with a veranda, in Walthamstow Central.

The monthly rent is £600.

To explain the current situation better, here is a copy of the letter I sent on the 12th of October:

<<Dear Sir/Madame,

I received a voicemail last week saying that there is a leak which the downstairs flat complained about. I called your agency and one of the agents arranged for a guy to come and fix the leak on Saturday morning at 10:30.

The technician arrived on time, but had no idea where the leak was. He knocked downstairs but there was no reply, so he left.

I called Completion on Saturday morning and the guy on the phone told me it would have either been Haroon or a guy called Ricky that I spoke to, and since I would have recognised Haroon's voice, I am guessing it must have been Ricky. The person on the phone said they would send an e-mail to the person dealing with the flat and I would get a call back.

I didn't get a call back.

I called earlier today, asked for Ricky and was given a mobile number which is apparently incorrect (I received a message reply saying I have the wrong number). Which means that, either I was given a completely wrong number, or it is someone else dealing with the case. I would expect Completion would have a system where you could check at any moment and see who is responsible for which property.

The reason for my call on Saturday was not only to inform you of the fact that the person who arrived had not been shown the leak in the flat downstairs and left without fixing any leaks, but also to alert you to the damp stain that has got worse on the living room / kitchen wall.

As you know, the stains were there already when I first rented the flat, but I was assured this was because there used to be damp which had been fixed, and the stains remained since the walls had not been painted. I did not ask for the walls to be painted, as I had already moved in and it would have been impractical; so, the stains have always been there.

But following recent rains, I have noticed the stains have got worse and the paint has cracked in places plus there are small round bumps on the wall. This is very serious and needs to be fixed ASAP, not only for my benefit but also for the flat owner's. I mentioned the damp on the phone on Saturday, but the person responded indifferently and insisted on saying they would leave a message and someone would call me back.

As I have formally alerted you of the situation as soon as it came to my attention, I have no liability for any delays in fixing any leaks and/or damp. The responsibility for those repairs lies solely and fully with Completion. Please call to arrange a new date/time to resolve these issues. In the case of the leak, you'll need to arrange for someone to be available on the 1st floor flat too, as the leak can only be seen from there. >>

Following that, I sent an e-mail to chase it up and I exchanged a few e-mails with one of the agents. Apparently there is no-one called Ricky at the agency (I may have misheard) and this is an issue for management staff so the agent can't help me.

One of the Managers finally replied on the 20th saying they will send someone over this week. I asked for a specific date and time and pointed out that sending someone in my absense and without my knowledge would be illegal. He said they never do that because it is "against company policy" but their agent clearly had no idea about that policy last year and early this year when he sent out contractors to fix the boiler (more than 5 people have tried to fix this boiler! -only the last one succeeded).

On Tuesday night this week, I found the bathroom heater turned on, even though I never turn it on and you have to duck to turn the dial, so I'm 99% certain that I couldn't have accidently left it on from the morning. I suspect they are lying to me, altough I can't figure out why they would turn the heater on and leave everything else untouched. to dry the leak???

Anyhow, now I am waiting for them to arrange for someone to come and find and fix the leak which they said they think is related to the damp, even though I was very clear about the location of the damp, it is coming from the roof onto the living room and kitchen wall. They should know exactly where it is as there was damp there before and they didn't even paint the wall. Now the paint on the wall is starting to chip and it is right above where the electrics and the phone-plug is!

They are very bad agents and they are essentially destroying the flat. Winter is coming and I don't want to be freezing because of the damp this time.

What do I do?

Solicitor: DR Lawyer, Lawyer replied 8 years ago

Thank you for the further detail and it is I that should now appologise for the delay. In the circumstances you describe you are entitled to compensation for disrepair. How much is difficult to say but I would suggest that you withhold two months rent as compensation for the problems with the flat that you have suffered to date. Explain to the letter agent that you will recommence rent payments in full after the two months provided that they deal with the oustanding issues otherwise you will deduct say £150 per month until such time as they have carried out the works. If the landlord takes issue with them explain that it is down to the letter agent's failures. The danger in doing the above is that the landlord could possibly try to bring possession proceedings on the basis of failure to pay rent but you would have a defence based on disrepair. Just make sure you don't withhold too much rent.

You could alternatively sue the landlord for an order requiring him to carry out remedial works to the flat but the easiest way to get his attention is to stop paying rent for the period that I suggsted.

If at the end of the tenancy the landlord tries to make a deduction from your deposit you can raise a dispute with the deposit protection scheme if in deed your deposit is protected.

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Solicitor: DR Lawyer, Lawyer replied 8 years ago
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Customer reply replied 6 years ago

Hi,

Your answer was not satisfactory, because my question was whether I could claim compensation for the length of time they had not repaired the flat, but also what to do about the new issues that they had not fixed. I think you didn't read the description in detail, although it is quite lengthy. There was a list of issues that they did fix and then the new ones that came up.

Anyway, in the end, they didn't fix either leak in October so I deducted £100 from November's rent, which they verbally agreed to over the phone and then another person called back after the fact and complained. I didn't pay for December (as I wasn't staying there in November) and left in January. So I didn't live there for the last two months but paid for one of the two. They had the audacity to say in December that they couldn't fix the roof because it was snowed on. They had two months from October, but they decided to send the guy over after it snowed.

They withheld my deposit. As far as I'm concerned, they also owe me 1 month's rent. I guess it's too late to chase it all up now since I left in Jan 2010, I just don't need the agravation and would rather lose the money than my peace of mind.

On the other hand, I feel better now after more than a year and the psychological distress they caused me does not come back in the same intensity when think about this now.

Do you think there's any chance I can get my deposit plus 1 month's rent back? Plus 2 months compensation for the first 7 months when the boiler wasn't working, windows were drafty and the flat was unsafe (due to fire alarm being installed below floor level etc)?

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