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Joshua
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 26070
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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Are my landlords in breach of the tenancy agreement? We have

Customer Question

Are my landlords in breach of the tenancy agreement? We have only been here for 3 weeks. Rats were discovered on the first night. Repairs reported on the second day of occupancy are still outstanding.
There is a clause which states "The Landlord will give the Tenant exclusive uninterrupted occupation of the property together with the exclusive use of the contents........"
We are unable to use a bedroom & bathroom because of the infestation. Also cannot now leave the dogs in the garden for same reason as bait being used is very strong.
Thank you
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.
Joshua :

Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practicing lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.

Joshua :

For the avoidance of doubt I correct in my understanding that you are renting the entire property rather than sharing the property with the landlord (for example a lodger) please?

Joshua :

Have you raised the issues you have experienced with the landlord or the landlords agent in writing to date and if so, have you retained a copy?

Joshua :

If so what was the landlords response?

Joshua :

Finally you refer to rats. Have there been other problems too?

JACUSTOMER-oe0wy6ag- :

Yes we are renting entire (unfurnished) property. The Landlord uses a property management company and so it is with them that I have been exchanging emails. They have instructed a pest control company who advised me it was an established infestation and that when they had finally eradicated the problem they would need to clear out the loft entirely and dispose due to contamination and risk of disease.

JACUSTOMER-oe0wy6ag- :

The other problems are more irritating than anything but are probably indiciative of the level of service we are going to receive. 5 outstanding repairs - all reported on day 2 of tenancy (24.2.15) remain outstanding - these include internal door with no hinge so cannot be opened or closed without risk of injury. 2 external door not secure, 1 external door unable to open/close and faulty taps. As I say - nothing serious (apart from h & s risk from door) but.....

JACUSTOMER-oe0wy6ag- :

I have a real phobia of rats and so am now unable to use part of the house where the rats have been identified as living.

JACUSTOMER-oe0wy6ag- :

We also cant let the dogs into the back garden (landlord agreed to dogs - is in tenancy agreement) because of the risk of harm from the rats/poison.

Joshua :

Thanks. Just reviewing your posts...

JACUSTOMER-oe0wy6ag- :

There is also the risk of disease - I dont know if dogs can contract anything from rat urine in the same way that humans can. also dont know if the rats are getting into any of my cupboards - food/crockery/pans etc and urinating

Joshua :

Thanks for the above. Final question, has the pest company advised that it is safe to continue to occupy the property during treatment?

JACUSTOMER-oe0wy6ag- :

By default I would assume so as they havent said to the contrary. But how do they know exactly where the rats are going? Everytime I open a cupboard I expect to see a rat - its massively stressful.

JACUSTOMER-oe0wy6ag- :

They havent said either way so I assume they are suggesting it it. But its awful - I keep expecting to see rats wherever I go. How does the pest company know exactly where the rats will be?

JACUSTOMER-oe0wy6ag- :

I just have to go and answer the door....

Joshua :

Thanks. You have a wide range of rights in relation to the above issues and legislation places wide responsbilities on the landlord for repairing obligations under a tenancy. The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 places an implied term in every tenancy that the landlord must keep in repair the structure, sanitary installations and exterior of the property which means he must maintain and repair the structure of the property, including its doors and taps etc. However beyond this landlords can also be held liable if they have failed to provide a safe and healthy environment for their tenants under the provisions of the Housing Act.

Joshua :

In addition the Environmental Protection Act 1990 provides that the Landlord has a duty of care to provide adequate and safe conditions in their properties and the Housing Act 2004 referred to above wen further and introduced the Housing Health and Safety Rating System which shifted assessment towards health and safety impact. Each council is responsible for developing its own policy but most have a substantive list of requirements that address mould, damp structure and so on. There is a useful guide to the same here:

Joshua :

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/9425/150940.pdf

Joshua :

You will note the section relaing to pests in section 15

Joshua :

The conditions you describe on the face of it would appear to breach the Landlord and Tenant Act, Environmental Protection Act and the Housing Act as above and there would in the circumstances be grounds for claiming a reduction in rent for the period you have suffered the issues for loss of amenity in the property given the infestation is established and in respect of any undue delay in the landlord remedying other issues. You could also consider seeking costs for a through clean of the property following the infestation being cleared.

Joshua :

The first step is therefore to raise your concerns with the agent and to advise that you are considering requesting a full HHSRS inspection by the local authority if they do not adequately respond to your concerns and requests so that the council can take action in respect of issues that are unacceptable and in addition this will give you a report you can potentially use in respect of any claim for compensation.

Joshua :

many landlords will be very keen to avoid a full HHSRS inspection because such inspections inspect properties are much wider range than simply the narrow issue of pests and such inspections can result in costly bills to the landlord in resolving issues the council identifies with the property which you can see from the above link, our extensive. Some landlords are obstinate however and threats such as the above have little impact but can still be a useful process to follow through for the above reasons

Joshua :

in terms of compensation you may be able to claim, apart from potential costs for cleaning, compensation for loss of amenity is usually calculated based upon the loss of area, for example if one particular room is not available because of flooding. with firm infestations, the calculation is rather more difficult because the infestation impacts potentially across the property though it does not necessarily prevent use of the property overall. if the infestation is not preventing the use of the entire property you could consider a claim for loss of amenity of say 10-25% depending upon the severity of the infestation though many landlords will be resistant to such claims and court can be necessary. It is important to be able to show in such a claim that the infestation is established and the landlord would or should have been reasonably aware of the infestation.

JACUSTOMER-oe0wy6ag- :

Ok - thats really helpful, thank you.

Joshua :

A pleasure. Does the above answer all your questions or is there anything I can clarify or help you with any further?

Joshua :

If you have no further questions for now I should be very grateful if you would kindly take a moment to rate my service to you today. Your feedback is important to me. If there is anything else I can help with please reply back to me though

JACUSTOMER-oe0wy6ag- :

I think its answered everything thank you. Yes of course I'll leave feedback now. And thanks again

Joshua :

Many thanks

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