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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 70516
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I'm a tenant and am facing a claim by landlord rent.

Customer Question

I'm a tenant and am facing a claim by landlord for unpaid rent. Long story but at the beginning of the tenancy we signed an AST on the basis of promised renovation. We moved in ahead of completion of works and there were extensive delays in works, reductions in specification, no use of downstairs for two months (incl no kitchen), no use of garden for 7 months - the list goes on. Landlord has just achieved a possession order (we agreed to this as we want and need to move) but we now have 10 days to submit a fully pleaded counterclaim to avoid an 'unless' judgement for the rent. What do we need to do to submit a proper counterclaim (last time we just submitted a witness statement).
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Hi.
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
Why have you not been paying?
How much do you owe?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi, We have not been paying due to a trilogy of financial disasters last year. This prevented us from moving out earlier (we wanted to leave early last year due to the deficiencies in the house but were forced to muddle through). We wanted to do a deal with the landlord but she's now pressing for everything. We are now asking for redress for her earlier failings. There is £27.5k owing. We have prepared a detailed statement if that would be helpful?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
No, don't worry. That is all I need to know on that point.
I suppose you haven't done any of the works to the house that the landlord should have done?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

No, we haven't done any works. By month three she had got it into a reasonable state but we endured weeks of builders on-site and she failed to do so much of what she promised. e.g. she was to put in a new kitchen but put in a reclaimed one - she was going to replace horrible old aluminium doors and window and then failed to do so etc etc. She was going to completely redo the garden but we were felt with effectively a building site for over 6 months.

Does that help?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Yes.
You do have a disrepair claim. I am sorry though but it is not going to be anything like £27k.
It is difficult to assess in this forum. If you had no use of the downstairs at all then probably that alone would lead to a reduction of rent of 50% for the time period in question. The absence of a kitchen may well lead to a reduction of 100% depending on whether or not there was any other means of cooking. The absence of a garden is not essentially especially not over the winter months. You may get a reduction of 5-10% depending on the season in question.
There is nothing particularly complicated in a disrepair claim. You just plead the facts and the court decides the appropriate reductions. You have a claim for reductions in rent and also to compensate for inconvenience and distress although the latter is sparingly issued.
It would be worth a claim here. This is significant disrepair and you would get a substantial discount.
I would have suggested a letter before action but you are already before the court so there is no point now.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Jo
Jo C. and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Just two points of clarification please:

1) What is the format needed for a counter-claim and do I need to get a lawyer to draw it up? With the amount owing this is likely to go to the multi-tack and I want to ensure I put it together properly.

2) The level of rent agreed in advance of the works was subject to the promises of specification made by the landlord. The garden, for example, is particularly important as i have a daughter who needs outside space for practice (even in winter!). How specific do I need to be in the counter-claim?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
1 No. You can self represent. I would imagine this is already allocated to the fast track. Don't see why they should put it in the multi track.
2 You need to set down all of the disrepair issues and what impact they had upon your use of the property. I wouldn't focus too much on the garden. That is not going to attract much. The kitchen and the downstairs are much better points.
This is the legal background
http://www.probonogroup.org.uk/lawworks/docs/training/housing%20disrepair.pdf
There is a pre action protocol here
http://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/civil/protocol/prot_hou
but you are almost certainly beyond that point and anyway you are not claiming special damages or needing an expert.
I cannot find a specific form but you can always use the N1 forms
http://justclaim.co.uk/small-claims-guide/filling-n1.html
The generalised forms are perfectly fine.