Hello. I am a lawyer of over 15 years experience I will try to help you with this.
So you have lived in a flat for 5 weeks where there was a broken fridge and a broken shower. There is now a new landlord who is fixing everything. There is no dispute with the new landlord?
Is there a written tenancy agreement? If so what does it say about keeping the fridge in good working order?
I'm at work right now so I can't see the agreement right now, but does a fridge count as a "common part" of a residence nonetheless?
there is no dispute with the new landlord, but we do believe we are owed a substantial rbate for the first month. Fresh food bought daily is incredibly expensive and the nuiscance factor is substantial for a london commuter.
Your landlord would have an obligation to keep the shower in working order under S11 of the landlord and tenant Act 1985 whotever the tenancy agreement says about the matter.
A fridge would not count as a common part. Part means part of the building, so eg the kitchen, entrance hall and bathroom if shared would count as common parts.
Is there any precedent of a fridge repair counting under S11. The list of S11 repair responsibilities seems a bit dated.
Under S10, “facilities for preparation and cooking of food" are mentioned.
How would you recommend I proceed?
Your remedy would be to sue your landlord in the small claims court for breach of contract. This link takes you to the relevant government website. https://www.gov.uk/make-court-claim-for-money/overview. S10 relates to fitness for human habitation and the problems listed there are only relevant " if, and only if, it is so far defective in one or more of those matters that it is not reasonably suitable for occupation in that condition.". This is unlikely to be of help. A defective fridge will not make a house unfit for human habitation. There is almost certainly a clause in your tenancy agreement requiring the landlord to keep the fridge in working order.
So you claim is for compensation for breach of contract from the time when the landlord either knew about the problems through your complaints or should have known (ie the start of the tenancy agreement if the problems were in existence then). There are 2 types of damages to be claimed. General damages for distress inconvenience etc. These I am afraid will be very low as they are calculated as a proportion of rent over time. Was the shower completely unusable and is it the only bath/shower in the property. The other type of damages you can claim is special damages for specific financial losses attributable to the landlord's breach of contract.
This would include inflated food bills. You would need to be able to prove that you have suffered losses and be able to quantify them. So comparing food bills before and after fridge has been fixed could be one way of doing this. It is the excess costs of not being able to use the fridge that you can claim, not the whole cost of food purchased.
Something else to bear in mind is that your new landlord may have taken on all liabilities relating to the premises and if you went after the old landlord he might be able to simply pass it on to the new landlord.
Thanks for that. The old landlord knew of the problems ahead of our arrival. I will look at the agreement v soon. If the document does not mention the shower, are we stuffed?
what is the typical proportion of rent of time for general damages?
*rent over time
apologies for the poor typing.
If you want to proceed you should calculate your losses, throw in an estimate for distress, inconvenience etc and send a letter threatening legal action. You can follow this link http://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/civil/protocol/prot_hou#IDAGNMCC and adopt the letter of claim to fit your circumstances. If he doesn't respond you can issue a small claim online.
To what extent was the shower faulty? Was it useable but not very good or totally unusable? Was it the only shower/bath in the property? Very hard to give advice on level of generals. Need these questions answered to have a clue.
Am going to be offline for a while doing pancakes with my children but will look in again later this evening.