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Joshua
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 25470
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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We have just taken on an AST property. We were told by

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We have just taken on an AST for a property. We were told by the agent that all bis were included except council tax, we were told the landlord was providing white goods and the property would be clean. We moved in to a dirty property, discovered mould, they now state we are liable for white goods breakdown etc, we can't have a cat and the tenancy says the opposite. Can we leave early?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.
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. May I deal with each of these in turn: regarding bills and tax, do you have the agreement that the landlord would be responsible for these items in writing or alternatively does the tenancy agreement provide that the landlord will be responsible for these please? Same questions in relation the white goods.Regarding pets - does the tenancy agreement prohibit pets? If so do you have confirmation in writing the landlord would accept a cat?Finally regarding mould and dirt have you taken pictures and have you notified the agent in writing of these issues? Have you bee given a copy of any inspection report?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Joshua, the agent told us verbally about the bills and never informed us that we had a £1 coin meter for electric which is now costing us a fortune! They said we can change the meter but we have to pay. We don't what the rate is set at or who the supplier is. Cats are stated in the AST as being permitted but now the management company says no. The AST says the landlords obligations are to repair or replace all electrical and gas appliances and now the washing machine has broke down and leaked everywhere they say they were gifted! This is not stated anywhere in the AST. They said we are liable for call out and repair even though some appliances are integrated! I have the inspection report which we were given after we moved in so no inventory on entry. It seems that they are not complying with the terms of the AST. I have made them aware at every point and requested a meeting to no avail.
Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.
Thank you. In respect of the bills, to be sure I am clear the AST has no provision for bills or council tax and there is nothing in writing on this point between you and the agent?Regarding the inspection report you refer to does this accurate report the condition of the property - e.g. dirty mouldy etc?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
The AST says the standard wording about being responsible for utilities like water, gas, electric, council tax but they now say we don't have to pay water, we have no gas and we do have to pay electric on this coin meter thing. So it's very unclear. The inspection report does highlight the state of the property yes. We have found mould on the rear of bedroom curtain and up the back of radiators since then though.
Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.
thank you. Starting point for this (and I apologise in advance as I do not mean this to sound in any way like a lecture) but it is crucial to obtain any agreements you come to with a landlord or lettings agent in writing as verbal agreement will mean little because a landlord or letting agent is free to deny any such agreements were made. Verbal agreements are perfectly binding but in the absence of any written evidence, and a denial by one party of the agreement, it is a question of one person's word against another. It is possible to attempt to enforce an agreement on this basis but it would come down to who a judge believed if you were to go to court on the matter which is far from an ideal basis upon which to issue legal proceedings. In addition, so far as the tenancy agreement is concerned, although there is considerable protection in terms of unfair tenancy terms for tenants, a tenancy agreement is a very important document and it is important therefore to read the contents carefully to ensure that it reflects the agreement that has been made and you are happy with the terms contained therein. Finally, in respect of the condition of the property, a tenant takes the property in the condition he finds it and therefore it is important for a tenant to fully inspect the property before signing any tenancy agreement to ensure it is satisfactory and to ensure that any matters at hand is not happy with our agreed and resolved in writing between the landlord or agent or signing the tenancy agreement - e.g. any cleaning that is required and so on. In terms of where this leaves you, with your permission, I will address each of the issues you have identified in turn. The good news is that there is considerable tenant protection so redress should be available on most of the above points but not necessarily in respect of the utilities I fear.1) Utilities - I will start with this as this is likely to be your weakest position. The starting point is that a tenant is responsible for council tax and utility outgoings on the property and if an agreement to the contrary is made with the landlord, this must be evidenced in writing in order for the tenant to fully rely on it otherwise it is a question of the tenants were against the landlord. If you made an agreement with the lettings agent that the landlord would be responsible for council tax and other outgoings, consider putting this in an email to the lettings agent referring them to your conversation, including the date and time and with whom the conversation was had specifically by name and setting out what was agreed. If the letting agent outrightly denies your claims in relation to the conversation, you could consider a complaint which you could then referred to the letting agents ombudsman which can independently review the complaint. Alternatively, you could issue proceedings to claim the cost of the outgoings you will be required to pay on the property in the County Court. Unfortunately, as above, the outcome of any complaint or claim in the County Court would ultimately come down on whether the agent or you are believed if there is nothing other than verbal agreement.2) Mould - mould is covered by the Housing Act 2004 and will be in breach of the HHSRS regulations and you can require that the landlord addresses the mould or you can threaten to contact the local authority to ask them to carry out a HHSRS inspection. The local authority can carry out the above inspection against the HHSRS regulations and issue improvement notice to the landlord on any items including the mould which do not come up to standard. You can read about the regulations using the following link:https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/hhsrs-operating-guidance-housing-act-2004-guidance-about-inspections-and-assessment-of-hazards-given-under-section-93) Dirt - unfortunately, there is no law that requires the landlord to supply the property in a clean and tidy state. If it is so dirty so as to prove a health risk, will be a breach of the above HHSRS regulations but if it is just generally dirty, if nothing was agreed in writing with the landlord as to cleaning the property first, I fear there is little redress in this respect. However, the landlord cannot insist that you return the property in any better state than you found it and so providing you evidence the fact that it was dirty when you moved in either by taking photographs and emailing the lettings agent to complain of the fact and or noting as much on any initial inspection reports, the landlord cannot complain if you leave the property in similar dirty state at the end. The agent cannot insist that you fully clean the property to a better standard than they provided.4) Cat - if the tenancy agreement provides that you may have an animal, or more specifically does not provide that you cannot, then the landlord cannot prevent you from keeping a pet at the property.5) White Goods - if the landlord has supplied white goods, the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 requires the landlord to ensure that the appliances are of satisfactory quality; The Electrical Safety Regulations 1994 provide that the landlord is responsible for ensuring the electrical safety of the electrics and any appliances they supply; Finally the Housing Health and Safety Rating System introduced under the Housing Act provides that the landlord is responsible for the electrical safety of appliances they supply. the white goods are faulty then the landlord must repair the same. if the agent claims that the landlord has gifted the white goods to you, unless you wish to accept that on the basis you can then remove them at the end of the tenancy you can refute this claim and insist that the landlord repairs the same failing which you will appoint your own contractor to repair them and recover the cost from the landlord. I hope the above is of assistance? If you have no further questions for now I should be very grateful if you would kindly take a moment to click to rate my service to you today or just reply back to let me know if the above is helpful. Your feedback is important to me. If there is anything else I can help with please reply back to me I'd be very grateful
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