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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71132
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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We have discovered that there is an environmental issue over

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We have discovered that there is an environmental issue over contaminated land that the property we rent is situated on. Our landlord knew about this and failed to disclose it before or during our tenancy. We were also not informed beforehand about certain bills we were expected to pay that were not included in our written contract. Do we have grounds to break our fixed-term rental agreement?

Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.

What is the environmental issue?

What bills are you required to pay that you have not been told about?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

There is an on-going investigation into land contamination over substances such as Lead, Arsenic and others.

There is an annex on the property belonging to the landlord and we had to pay for their electricity and water too.

With all property rental and purchase contracts, caveat emptor (buyer beware) applies. The landlord is under no duty to advise you of the environmental issues. If however the property is deemed by the Environmental Health Department at the local authority to be a health hazard, they will tell the landlord to stop letting it. At this stage, from what you have told me, it doesn't give you the right to end the tenancy.

You may have to pay for the electricity and water coming into the property if it is on your meter however you are entitled to Bill whoever occupies the annex in proportion to the amount of the use and if they will not pay that, you are entitled to take them to court to enforce the payment. That also does not give you the right to end the tenancy early.

I'm sorry if this is bad news for you.

Can I clarify anything for you?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

We were only told after signing the rental agreement that our property was responsible for the annex bills and that the two rents had been adjusted accordingly, our agreed rent being £700/mth as advertised, they said should have been £750, but nowhere was this stated. The annex's rent advertised at £450/mth bills included, but how is it possible to determine the usage with a single meter?

They cannot rely on a statement made post contractual. You are only responsible for services that you use. The rent is the rent. Whoever occupies the annex is responsible for the amount of those bills.

The only way you can possibly determine the usage is to apportion it by the number of occupiers.
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