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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 69370
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Hi I have been in a privately rented house now for six months

Customer Question

Hi I have been in a privately rented house now for six months but I have paid 12 months in advance.
When I moved in six months ago I was promised that the carpets would be replaced as they were infested with fleas, urine stained for the previous tenants dog and frayed at the joints between rooms which we keep tripping over.
The estate agents have confirmed that they agree that the carpets need replacing. For six months now I have been ringing and chasing for new carpets but nothing.
This is causing me a great deal of stress and would like to move out as i cannot see an end to this, we cannot sit on the floor and I cannot have any visitors around as they are in such a state.
Do I have a case to leave early and reclaim my six months rent back. I have replaced the lino in the kitchen at a cost to myself as it was filthy.
I also gave the landlord an advance of £1,000 before I moved in to help him with the repairs.
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.

Is this an assured shorthold tenancy agreement?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Not sure what that means. I have a tenancy agreement but not sure what that is

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
What does it say about giving notice please?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.


To give the landlord or his agent at least two months notice in writing to terminate the tenancy, such notice not to expire earlier than the end of the fixed term of the tenancy.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Ok. Thats an AST.

When did you first move in please?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.


24 August 2013 I have been here six months now.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
And you haven't signed a new contract?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.


No I only have one contract and that is the one from August 2013


 

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

I'm afraid its bad news although there are things you can do about this.

Unfortunately ASTs are very hard to escape. You pretty much have to show that the property is gutted by fire damage or flooding and so you cannot live in it. Another acceptable reason would be that a person's life is in immediate danger like a gas leak.

I'm afraid that things like change of circumstances of the tenant or the fact that the premises is not salubrious is not sufficient.

However, on my calculations your AST would end on 22nd February anyway. You are out of time to give notice now but your contract will soon flip over onto a periodic agreement so you can give notice for any reason that you like. Your notice will only run from the 23rd February and so not expire until the 23rd March but you can get out if you want to.

In terms of what you can do about the disrepair, you do have a claim against them. I don't know why they accept £1k from you to cover the repairs. Repair of the property is for the landlord not the tenant. You could probably claim all of that back from them. You do have an addition claim for a reduction in rent to reflect the condition of the property but its not going to be 100% I'm afraid. You do probably have a claim for between 10-25%.

In terms of the lino, if you gave them notice of your intention to do that then you can reclaim that sum.

Sorry thats probably not the answer you wanted but it is the position that you have and I have a duty to give you truthful and accurate information even though its not what I want to say.

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

Customer: replied 2 years ago.


My contract is for 12 months from August 2013 not six months from August 2013


 

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Thats a problem

You could try to negotiate with the landlord. Sometimes they will agree to allow tenants to leave as its in their interests too on occasions.

If that is not possible here then I'm afraid you will be acting unlawfully if you leave early. However the landlord is under a duty to mitigate his loss by seeking a replacement tenant and he will not get forever to achieve that. Realistically, if a landlord is really trying, most properties can be let to another tenant comfortably within a month. You will only be liable up until the time that the landlord is able to replace you which will be nothing like the remaining months due under the contract.

Of course, there is a risk that the landlord will not be able to find a replacement. If so, the Court will ask him to prove that he has looked for a replacement. If he is able to do so to the Court's satisfaction then you would be liable for that period but that is very unlikely.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

So should I write to the estate agents and ask them to get a new tenant as I am not happy with the house and I would like my money back plus my deposit - can I say I will take them to the courts if not. Do you have any suggestions on what to put into a letter


 

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Well, you can't be that forth right about it. Ultimately you are acting in breach of contract.

The only threat that you can make is to sue for disrepair because of the condition of the house or to go if they will return your money.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.


When you say sue for disrepair can you explain further so that I can put that into my letter and would this be through the small claims court?


I am appreciating all your help

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
You do have a claim against them. I don't know why they accept £1k from you to cover the repairs. Repair of the property is for the landlord not the tenant. You could probably claim all of that back from them.

You do have an additional claim for a reduction in rent to reflect the condition of the property but its not going to be 100% I'm afraid. You do probably have a claim for between 10-25%.

In terms of the lino, if you gave them notice of your intention to do that then you can reclaim that sum.

It would be a good idea to write to them and ask for an offer to reflect the disrepair and then negotiate over whether or not they will let you leave and repay the amounts you've paid in exchange for dropping the claim against them.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

If I send a letter with this claim in it can the landlord ask me to leave and keep my money

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Well, you don't want him to keep the money if he you paid in advance.

You need to be careful what you say to avoid allegations of blackmail but one way forward is to say that you will claim a reduction in rent to reflect the disrepair but you are happy to leave if he will refund the amount you've paid.

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