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Thomas, Lawyer
Category: UK Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 7602
Experience:  BA (Hons), PgDip, Practising Solicitor
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Hi, Two of my sons have moved into a rented flat and paid

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Two of my sons have moved into a rented flat and paid a substantial deposit via and agent to do so . The younger one and I were appalled when we saw the place but the elder said it was too late as he had paid the deposit etc. After some research I have discovered that this 'flat', a basement conversion with no windows... has no planning permission and, I would guess, breaks several environmental laws. The toilet opens onto the kitchen, no fire escape, proper drainage, entry is via next door and across the garden boundry, no door bell , no rubbish collection.
My plan is to get the money back by threatening the landlord with the planning department/environmental health etc etc and asking for a full refund of every penny + allowing them to stay there rent free while they find another place. Is this wise?

Thanks for your patience.

I'm afraid they would be bound by the full term of the tenancy agreement unless there is a break clause in it entitling you terminate at a certain point during the term or the property is unfit for human habitation (which would also entitle you to terminate as it would be what is called a repudiatory breach of contract).

You have to consider whether as a result of these matters the property is unfit for human habitation and then also consider what eviendce you would rely on in order to prove this in litigation (if it occurred),

You have done the right thing by informing the environmental department of the local authority, they may make a declaration that it is not fit and then you can recover all of the monies from the landlord.

They may make an enforcement order ordering the landlord to make repair. If they do this then this can be enforced against the landlord. If the landlord made the alterations though then the property would no longer be unfit and so your right to terminate would cease in these cricumstances.

You can enforce repair issues yourself. You should formally write to the the landlord specifying the disrepair, making a list of the reasonable repair required and ask that he make those repairs within a reasonable time (eg. 14 days). State that if the landlord does not make the repair within that time you will pay to have the repairs made and will seek to claim the expense from him and are prepared to make an application to court if necessary.

If the landlord does not make the repair you can pay to have it done and then write formally to him requesting the payment of the cost, again within a reasonable time). If he does not pay you can issue a claim for the money yourself through Her Majesty Courts Service's online service:

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Kind regards,

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Does he have the right to enforce a contract even if the flat has no planning permission to be there?


Planning permission is a separate issue to the contract. It does not neccessariy mean that your sons have a right to terminate, because planning permission is a matter of local authority policy. The key is safety and planning permission does not relate to that, building regulations do.

So, if the property was no compliant with building regulations then they could terminate on the basis that it may be unsafe (and therefore unfit for habitation).

If the the building control department of the local authority declare that it does not comply with buiding regulations then you could confidently regard it as being unfit and entitling yoru sons to termiante and recover monies from the landlord.

Of course, if the planning dept. issued and enforcement notice then your sons could also terminate on the basis, but if the planning department do nothing about the breach then your sons would not be placed in any better position than they are already.

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Do the agent they paid all the money via have no duty to ensure the compliance of the property to planning and safety legislation? Can my sons ask them to refund monies paid to them? If he refuses to refund any monies can they just remain living there and refuse to pay rent, challenging him to take them to court, at which they would bring up the illegalities of the property?

My main plan however is simply to threaten to report him unless we get our money back.


The landlord has the responsibility to comply with safety legislation. If the agents are instructed on a full management basis rather than a find-tenants-only basis then they would also have responsibility.

The problem with refusing to pay rent is if that they can entitle the landlord/agent to issue an eviction notice and apply for possession. I generally don't recommend withholding rent, but some people have sucess with this procedure:-

Their defence would be based on the problems that you have refferred to but it's better to be pro-active and attempt to terminate on the basis of a repudiatory breach than it is to be reactive and fight in litigation.

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