Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practising lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.
I am sorry to hear of your circumstances. I know you have complained to the lettings agents over the last two month period without success. For the avoidance of doubt, do I understand correctly you have an email trail of your various complaints or otherwise a record of your complaints made please?
Yes I do... a full email trail, not only with details, but photographs as well
The position you describe is unlwful and you have a wide range of rights in relation to the above issues. 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 boiler or hot water provision. this includes maintaining a boiler that functions reasonably efficiently. The Supply of Goods and Services Act and Electrical Safety Regulations provides that appliances the Landlord provides with the property must function adequately. Landlords can also be held liable if they have failed to provide a safe and healthy environment for their tenants. You could consider using or threatening to use the HHSRS inspection system and ask the environmental department at the local council to carry out a health and safety assessment of the property. They have the power to serve improvement notices on the landlord to remedy any areas which do not come up to standard.
Okay, I have read up about the HHSRS inspection system, but can I withhold rent in order to put extra pressure on the landlord?
Or perhaps make my own arrangements for repairs and pay from the rent?
There is a raft of legislation and regulations to protect tenants in respect of landlords repair obligations. The landlord provides for duties under statutory legislation. 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 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:
The conditions you describe on the face of it would appear to breach the Landlord and Tenant Act and the Housing Act as above and there would if this is the case be grounds to claim a reduction in rent for the period you have suffered the issues for loss of amenity in the property.
There may also be scope for a personal injury tortuous claim against the landlord if injury has resulted in his failure to maintain.
I have copied and pasted your link into my browser, but it is not found.
The first step is may therefore be to be request an HHSRS inspection 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. even if you decide to take action yourself, which is certainly possible, an inspection report can be useful as evidence in this respect.
Reference link - I have just tried it and it works for me. It is a pdf document - you may need to install a PDF viewer though most PCs already have this.
Here is another link to the same document:https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/hhsrs-operating-guidance-housing-act-2004-guidance-about-inspections-and-assessment-of-hazards-given-under-section-9
I have a pdf viewer.... however, I'll try again later
so can you tell me how I stand in relation to witholding the next rent?
an alternative or complementary approach is to prepare a schedule of disrepair either with or without the benefit of the above inspection report and notify the landlord by his agent that you expect all matters to be attended to within the next 10 days failing which you obtain quotes yourself, carry out the repairs detailed and looked the landlord to recover costs together with a claim for rent for loss of amenity in the property during the period in question as well as, if you decide to pursue it, a claim for injury
you should not withhold rent unilaterally as this is grounds for the landlord serving an eviction notice - albeit one which would likely fail - but safer would be for you to proceed as above, carry out repairs, funds permitting, and then look to the landlord for costs in the Small Claims Court or alternatively looking to the landlord for costs before repairs are carried out in the Small Claims Court. The difficulty with the latter is it can take two months or more to obtain judgement through the Small Claims Court. accordingly, many people prefer to conscript the local authority using the HHSRS regulations because the local authority has legal powers to serve improvement notices on the landlord which are legally enforceable through the magistrates court if ignored.
again.... what about the witholding of rent?
I hope you are able to read my last post above on the issue of witholding rent?
Yes, sorry.... we crossed ........but the small claims court will only allow claims up to 1,000 for repairs?
No problem - happens to me all the time.
Small claims court allows for claims up to £10K.
This would usually sufficient for all disrepair claims save for major structural issues
okay.... 10k sounds better, but when I looked on the small claims courts site a few days ago, it said that claims for repairs in the cases of cases such as mine are restricted to 1k, not the normal 10k??
The county court is competent to handle repair claims up to £10K. If the repair claim exceeds £1K it will be allocated to the fast track of the county court.
I've just looked it up again and yet another site specifies only 1k
However the above approach is likely to involve you incurring expenses yourself upfront which is probably less than ideal hence many people's preference for the HHSRS route
Quote..... "You can only use the small claims court if you are asking the court to order your landlord to carry out the repairs, and the cost of those repairs and/or the compensation claimed are both less than £1,000."
every site I look at says the above....
Disrepair claims over £1,000 are typically allocated to the County Court's fast track. They are still handled by the county court but are dealt with by the fast track rather than small claims track.
okay..... I will contact HHSRS.....
For confirmation reference county court see civil procedure rule 26.6 (4) (link below)
Okay.... thank you
Generally a tenants best approach however will be to first involve an HHSRS inspection and depending on how quickly that is carried out consider taking their own complimentary action (funds permitting) to address urgent repair issues and then seek a claim for those costs through the county court.
many councils have of reason efficient housing officer service which supports tenants quickly and efficiently and can avoid the need for you to make upfront payments yourself. Unfortunately service can vary between councils but overall they offer a good service on average.
Unfortunatly, funds are tight...... so although I don't mind paying some repairs and claiming, the cost of having to pay rent, plus repairs, plus the cost of reclaiming in court, is likely to be prohibative.
okay.... i'll contact the council today and hopefully it will be able to help
Do consider that if you do find yourself suing for monies you can consider a claim for a rent reduction for the period in question. If funds are tight HHSRS is likely to offer a more cost effective approach though it inevitably will take a little longer than taking action yourself using your funds. With some landlords it is enough simply to threaten HHSRS involvement to spur them into action
Can I help you with anything else or has the above answered your questions satisfactorily?
that was helpful.... thank you Joshua