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propertylawyer
propertylawyer, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 233
Experience:  Property Solicitor with expertise in commercial and residential property transactions.
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I am currently renting a flat, whose owners changed whilst I

Customer Question

I am currently renting a flat, whose owners changed whilst I was a tenant in the property through one of the most famous agencies in the UK.
Around 14th December 2015 the sale of the flat completed. Nobody informed me of the new landlord's contact details. I asked my previous landlady for the new landlord's details and she said she did not have them since the sale went through solicitors and therefore she was unaware.
On Saturday 19th December 2015 my boiler stopped working and I could smell gas. National Grid locked off the gas supply and advised for me to repair the boiler in order to start using the heating and hot water in a safely manner.
I attempted to call the agency however it was closed due to the festive period. I managed to contact the agency that sold the flat however they said they are not willing to provide the landlord's details due to Data Protection Act.
I was left without heating or hot water for the period 19th Dec - 9 Jan.
Upon an attempt on receiving a compensation for the situation I was told by my landlord that the duty to make the first contact was on me. I explained that given that they are the landlords they should have presented themselves and provide their names and contact details.
My question is who should have contacted the other party? Can I claim a compensation and who should I sue, the landlord or the agency? Thank you
Submitted: 6 months ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  propertylawyer replied 6 months ago.

Hi Michael

You should have been made aware of your landlord's contact details.

It is the landlord's responsibility to provide constant hot water and heating. It is illegal not to. Therefore boiler repairs are absolutely your landlord's responsibility and therefore at his cost.

I would not expect a tenant to cover the cost of boiler repairs. You may have to call out a service engineering in emergency situations but the cost of works should always be covered by the landlord, unless damage was caused by the tenant.

You should inform your landlord that it is his responsibility to maintain the boiler and therefore the cost incurred should be reimbursed.

Whatever action you take to remedy this will no doubt erode the relationship with your landlord which may result in being given notice to quit. You may well have decided to move on in any event.

You could seek to recover the cost via the small claims court. It may be tempting to withhold the sum out of paying rent but the landlord may then deduct that sum from your deposit when refunding it to you at the end of the tenancy. However, if the deposit is (and it should be!) protected by a tenancy deposit scheme then the reason for making the deduction will need to be disclosed, you can then dispute this and the scheme can recommend alternative dispute resolution to find a resolution. The landlord can reject this. This leaves you to sue your landlord in the small claims court to recover the deducted sum from the deposit.

As to who should have informed you of a change of landlord, it is not the selling agent's responsibility to inform you of this. I would have thought the seller's solicitor would send what is called a rent authority letter to inform you that the landlord has changed and who to pay the rent to from the next rent payment date (it is what I do when selling and what I ask the seller's solicitor to do when acting for a buyer). That is generally standard practice. Regardless of that the landlord should introduce himself and provide contact details.

I hope this helps.

Any further questions or queries please do not hesitate to contact me.

If you are satisfied with my answer please accept and rate, many thanks.

Kind regards

Paul

Expert:  propertylawyer replied 6 months ago.

Hi Michael

I am just checking in with you to see if you have any further questions or queries in respect of your question. I would be happy to assist you further.

If not, then please can I ask you to take a moment to accept/rate my reply. Otherwise I will not get paid for the time I have taken to consider and type my reply. Thanks.

Kind regards

Paul

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
Thank you for your answer however it does not answer my questions.The boiler was repaired by my landlord therefore I did not pay any money in order for me to seek reimbursement. When I said compensation I meant money to cover for the inconvenience having no hot water or heating caused. I was left in the property for so many days without heating at temperatures of sometimes 5 degrees Celsius with smoke coming out of my mouth. I caught a cold during that period and I also had to go to friends house to shower which in turn cost me money to travel and time that I could have spent living my normal life.With regards ***** ***** questions you have said that it is the landlord's responsibility to introduce themselves. Is this covered by an Act or case law? Any similar cases like mine? Can I claim compensation for the hell I went through during the coldest period of the year, as well as not being able to shower for Christmas, New Years Eve nor for my birthday? Who should I seek the compensation to come from, the landlord or the agent to whom I pay my rent money to, since they are the party that manages the property potentially meaning they should have informed me?You said the party to sue should not be the agent that sold the flat. I do understand this and when I said the agent I meant the agent that I pay my monthly rent to. Given that you said that the seller's solicitors could have sent "rent authority letter" it now turns out there is another potential party I may turn to seek the compensation for damages from? Again, is this area of law covered by an Act where I can see who exactly has the responsibility to inform me as a tenant in such a situation. You also said that the above mentioned letter serves the purpose for me to know who I should pay my money to. I have always paid my money to the agent from which I am renting the flat, meaning upon the sale the new landlord "jumps into the shoes" of the old landlord including in the active contracts between myself and my old landlady. Could this be the reason why the seller's solicitors did not issue one of these "rent authority letters"?Kind Regards,
Michael D
Expert:  propertylawyer replied 6 months ago.

Hi Michael

Thanks for your email. The further details provided make the position much clearer.

I think we can therefore disregard all of what was said about you being notified about the change in landlord. As a managing agent is involved this is the person, on behalf of the landlord, who would be responsible for ensuring that issues regarding the property are dealt with.

I understand the main issue here us that you want to be compensated for the inconvenience suffered.

Whilst I fully appreciate that you would have gone through an unpleasant and distressing time whilst the boiler was broken we have to consider if you have suffered loss. This will be difficult to establish.

You need to establish (1) financial loss (2) pain and suffering.

Re (1), you have told me that you did not pay for the repairs and therefore suffered no direct loss. However, we can consider indirect losses, for example did you buy an electric heater to keep the property warm, boiling more water in the kettle in order to wash etc and increased electricity bills, travel costs to shower? If not, then there is no associated financial loss.

Re (2), pain and suffering. Whilst you may have been cold during this period and caught a cold you have to be able to quantify this. This would be nominal.

If you did incur indirect losses as described in (1) above then you could potentially bring a claim. In addition, you would have to establish that your landlord was in breach of his duty owed to you. Your landlord may be able to demonstrate that he did what he reasonably could to ensure the boiler was repaired asap. It did happen around Christmas and new year which is a busy time of year. You do need to consider your chances of success and balance this with what you are claiming and the associated costs of bringing a claim (you have to pay court fees based on the value of your claim). Therefore, you could end up out of pocket. I cannot advise on your chances of success.

Also consider that if you were to bring a claim against your landlord it may result in the landlord serving notice.

What are your losses exactly?

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