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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 69362
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I moved into a 2 bedroom flat in Richmond on Aug 24 managed

Customer Question

I moved into a 2 bedroom flat in Richmond on Aug 24 managed by Foxtons with an overseas landlord. The property was in poor condition with issues like broken bathtub, shower, door hinge, etc. Although it was promised that all repairs will be conducted, it took 65 days to do them with multiple follow ups, reminders, threats, phone calls, etc. I also smelt gas from the heater faintly and decided to install a gas detector.

Finally, on Oct 18, the gas detectors started beeping and I called the National grid to check it out. They confirmed a constant gas leak and turned the heater off. It took 22 days to fix the heater. In this period, the ceiling started to develop mold. I informed Foxtons and told them they have breached the contract multiple times. They yielded to letting me go without penalty and I also made them agree to refund my admin fee (paid to them).

Finally, after I moved out, they decided to withhold my full deposit claiming that I caused the mold caused by lack of heating and that landlord had changed his mind my letting me off the lease. They also chose to forgo the promise to refund my admin fees.

What should I do?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Hi.

Thank you for your question. My name is Jo and I will try to help with this.

How much do they owe please?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thanks for your reply, Jo!


 


I went 65 days without repair, gas leakage from heater, 22 days without heat and 28 days with unusable bedrooms due to mold on ceiling caused by heater breakdown, fireplace that failed the gas safety check although advertised. I would like to claim 50% of my rent back, deposit, and admin fees


 


50% rent - 2532.4


Deposit - 2284


Admin fees (minus rent for last 5 days) - 154


Moving charges - 350


 


Total - 5320.4


 

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.

Whats the basis for the 50% rent reduction?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Jo, lack of basic living conditions, living in London without heat in November, unsusable bedrooms, etc. Please refer the prior email. I struggled to get anything done at all with the landlord who delayed every reponse for weeks even on emergencies such as heater.


 


I should not pay full rent for a house that was not heated with 2 kids that sufferred the bitter cold all night.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.

That is going to be a problem I'm afraid.

Did you remain in the house?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.


Yes. I tried to negotiate leaving but landlord didn't agree until a month after. I didn't abandon the home. How can I get justice?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.

Did you remain in the house please?

Also, were you actually without heating for 65 days? You say 65 and then refer to 22?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.


Ok, let me explain. As soon as I moved in, I reported several repairs such as bathtub, doors, blinds, etc. They took 65 days to be repaired.


 


The on Oct 18, the heater caused a dangerous gas leak. It was reported 30 years old and covered in dust. It was repaired after 22 days.


 


In this period, Shelter informed me that mold may occur and sure enough, it did. Mold stayed until I left the house. They refused to fix it after the heater came on claiming it's not bad for health. I could not use the bedrooms and use less than 50% of the house - living room, dining room and kitchen. I did not have use of a bathtub either due to broken showerhead.


 


Hope this is helping any.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Thanks.

So did you remain in the house?

Customer: replied 2 years ago.


yes

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Ok.

When did you leave?

Customer: replied 2 years ago.


Dec 5.


 


My lease ran until Aug 24 the following year but Foxtons had agreed to let me off the lease and sent a termination letter on Dec 1 agreeing to vacate Dec 5. They waived penalties.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Thanks.

When you say the bath tub was damage, is there a shower or bath elsewhere in this house that was working?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.


There was only one bathroom. So we basically sat down and used a bucket and mug to make sure the water did not fall outside. The side panel was broken and any water would have leaked under the tub and perhaps dripped into bathroom downstairs (which did happen on Nov 27). This was reported to Foxtons.


 


On another note -


 


The marketing brochure claimed "cozy fireplace in living room" as punch line, but the fireplace had failed the gas safety check, was disconnected and deemed unsuable, which was withheld from me by not providing a gas safety certificate. On asking they asked me to repair it at my expense although they flaunt the Ombudsman logo that condones false advertising.They finally provided the certificate after the gas leak from the heater.


 

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.

So the bath was working?

You could have a bath?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.


Yes. It was partly functional.


 


Based on how you define working. You can't take a shower but it has a sinkhole and a tap. Is that counts in a neighborhood as Richmond where I pay 1650 a month.


 


It wasn't fully functional unless you could shower safely without causing damage to neighbors.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Yes, I understand but courts have a lose definition.

I just need about 30 mins to consider this and type out an answer as you do have some claims and not others.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.


Ok. Thanks, Jo.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Thanks for the information and the time.

You do have a claim against them. It does not harm to ask for more than you are going to get because you can always negotiate down but you cannot up. However, you do need to be realistic about your position.

The gas leak is the best point that you have. A gas leak is dangerous and unacceptable and a 22 day delay is amazing. I do think that you do have a claim for a reduction of 100% to cover that period of time. Its amazing that it took that long. I suppose a court may say that it was incredible that you remained as well but they are not going to argue with a gas leak.

In relation to the other matters, they are items of disrepair but not ones that could reduce the rent I’m afraid realistically. The best complaint you have there is that the bathroom was not fully functioning. A bathroom is essential to a house. In fairness, landlords don’t have to provide much. There just has to be a shower or a bath in the house somewhere that is usable. You could try to argue that this one was not and you may get a small amount to reflect that but its not the best point.

In relation to withholding the deposit, he cannot change his mind about releasing you. Either he agreed or he didn’t. If he agreed then he cannot retreat. The mold may or may not be down to you. Sometimes mold is to do with the manner of occupation but quite a lot of time it is not and if you have only been there is August then its not something that can only be blamed upon you. It would be different if you had lived there 3 years. Personally I would argue that.

So, to breakdown your claims that you mentioned above

1 You do have a claim for a reduction in rent but its likely to amount to 100% for 22 days. You could try to include the period of the leaking bath but I wouldn’t hold your breath!

2 I do think you have a claim for the deposit. Even if they can attribute mold to you, its not going to cost £2284 to put right.

3 I’m not sure what this really accounts for anyway. If its just checking your references then this is a very high cost. I would add it to the claim and then get them to justify it. I bet it would disappear fast enough.

4 You can always claim for this. There was a gas leak so a court would understand you had to move. However, probably the court would say that you had to move at some point anyway because the tenancy agreement was never going to carry on forever and a day and therefore its not a loss caused by their breach.

I'm sorry this isn't the answer you wanted but it is the position that you face and I have a duty to inform you truthfully.

Hope this helps. Please let me know if you need more information.

Jo
Customer: replied 2 years ago.


Jo, I appreciate your fairness. I like the framework you use to up my claim for where it's strong and down where it's weak. So it's nets to close.


 


I have 2 questions -


1. For the blatant false marketing on contract, can I claim they did not honor ombudsman's contract?


2. Can I claim anything for unsuable bedrooms? I had to move my mattress into the living room to protect my infant from any mold related breathing issues? I had to keep both bedrooms shut. Can I claim a reduction as part of property was unsuable and health threat?


 


 

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
1 No. You have a claim for your actual losses.

2 Maybe. It depends on the cause of the mold. You usually get a 10% reduction for bedrooms. Obviously if the mold is attributed to you though the claim falls away.

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