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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10991
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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I moved in May to a new property which turned out to be

Customer Question

I moved in May to a new property which turned out to be infested with bedbugs, a horrible smell of damp mostly noticeable after each day it rains, mice droppings, and I even had one rat since the moving date. I spoke with the last tenant who confirmed he had reported the bedbugs to landlord and she refused to treat them, landlord rented me without fixing the problems without any thought about myself and my baby's safety. There are holes everywhere for which mice come through. I told Environmental health to come and inspect it and they say landlord has to treat the bedbugs but that the flat isn't in that bad condition because it looks good so she can't say is not uninhabitable. I request that since is not my fault and that infestation was here before me and my who are suffering hundreds of bites and reacting to them shouldn't have to suffer to live breathing the fumigation chemicals, they will have to spray three times in a month and a half and we would have to live with the pesticides without cleaning the house for all that time. I explained Environmental Health the risks of pesticides and babies/children, also that pesticides inhaled by the mother pass to breastmilk. I showed ENvironmental Health official documents from nation health institute but they say if i don't allow treatment to be carried out they will inform social services I am putting my child at risk of infection, like if it was my fault not my landlord's. All I requested is for a landlord to pay me a hotel so that they can carry out any treatment and works done while I am in peace in a hotel, but environmental health said the property has to be inhabited for the treatment to work and so I would not only have to allow keep being bitten but also breathe chemicals and my young baby. So Enviornmental health contradicted themselbves in the email, accusing me of exposing child to infection but asking me to keep being in the property and being bitten while breathing all the chemicals. My baby has highest risks of becoming autistic if exposed to heavy metals due to a mutation on a gene that impairs his natural detoxification process, I explained it all and gave details of this but the landlord and environmental health still ignored it. Please help. what are my rights not to be fumigated when is not our fault pests are in the property and what kind of offence and what can be done for a landlord to rent a property in this situation when they are aware of the problems to a mum and a baby? how can i sue them?In terms of deposit, they only protected it on the 25th of July, they didn't notify me withing 30 days of me moving in of the deposit scheme, can i still ask for compensation of up to a third the value of deposit back? Can I request all money paid in rent back? compensation for my child and my health at risk? i have a GP letter saying we cannot live in these conditions and that the bites are causing me allerci reactions
Submitted: 2 months ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  F E Smith replied 2 months ago.

Good morning. I will try to assist you with your question but need more info first - also i apologise if delayed in replying

is this a private rental? if not is it being managed by an agency?

have you got evidence of the bites?

how long did they have your deposit before protecting it?

have they notified you now?

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
AST private landlord, no agency. they had my deposit from the 9th of may and notified me on the 25th, they sent me something to sign to put my deposit on a protected scheme and themselves wrote 25th july as the date so not within the first 30 days. I havent signed and returned yet. I have evidence of bites, insects, in me and my baby, of rat and mice droppings pictures
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
property furnished
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
AST from 9 th of may to 31st of july however im still here and paid rent so i am authomatically on a periodic contract... evidence of everything including rats video bites on me and baby , they sent me a letter dated on the 25th of july that they have put my deposit in a deposit scheme so not after 31st days of moving in. i need to send the paper signed but i haven't done it yet.
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
or should i not sign it saying they should have done it before?
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
i also have evidence pests were here before me as last tenant confirmed it to me and my landlord just rented me without treat the bedbugs which were very very extended as the previous tenant showed me the pictures
Expert:  F E Smith replied 2 months ago.

When you say a new property, I’m assuming that you don’t mean Brand-new but you mean a different property.

If the infestation arrives after you, then you are responsible for it.

If the infestation predates you, then the landlord is responsible for it.

I disagree with the local authority that the property is un-inhabitable.

How it looks is irrelevant.

If you have an allergic reaction to the box, get a letter from your doctor and take it to the Environmental Health Department at the local authority.

I fully agree with your comments about pesticides because I have a client in circumstances like this who would immediately go into anaphylactic shock.

The risk in the respect of mother’s breast milk only applies of course if you are breastfeeding which you have only mentioned in passing so I assume that is relevant.

I find the suggestion that the property has to be inhabited for the treatment to work somewhat bizarre. I’m certain that fly spray works whether I am in the house or not!!!

If you haven’t put your complaint to the Environmental Health Department and to the Landlord in writing, do it. It’s easy to get fobbed off on the telephone. Tell them that unless they compel the landlord to get this sorted, you will make complaint in writing to the Local Government Ombudsman. They don’t like that.

What I suggest you also do is see a solicitor that deals with housing disrepair/landlord & Tenant matters. You may be eligible for legal aid and you could well be entitled to compensation.

We then get to the deposit issue which you say they protected on 25 July. If you moved into the property in May, they are in breach of the requirement to protect the deposit and they do not escape the potential penalty even if they do have protected it late.

You will find that solicitors are chomping at the bit to get these claims and here is one firm that I know are very active and aggressive in the market. https://www.mckayssolicitors.com/services/tenancy-deposit-claims/

I have had a client on the receiving end of their litigation and they are very aggressive. They should deal with the disrepair claim also at the same time so worth a telephone call.

Pressure coming from a solicitor in respect of the disrepair will always get more notice taken of it.

Can I clarify anything else for you?

I am happy to answer any specific points arising from this.

Please take a moment to look at the top right hand corner of the page and rate my service by clicking one of the stars at the top of the screen. It’s important you use the rating service because that gives me credit. It doesn’t just give me a pat on the head! Opinion, (Although there is an incentive scheme where the more five-star ratings I get, I do actually get a pat on the head! :-)) All you need to do is press Submit. Thank you.

If you still need any point clarifying, I will still reply because the thread does not close.

Best wishes.

FES.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
Hi, what I wanted to know is if is a criminal offence to rent a property infested if landlord knew about it and what can laws can i show to environmental health that protect my right to not want to be in the property while is being fumigated. Apparently it has to be lived so insects come out to bit as if they dont smell a human they will remain hidden and not get in contact with pesticide. What laws protect me for being breastfeeding and to not want to be exposed that I can send them an email so they dont accuse me of putting my child at risk of infection when they request i put him at risk of pesticides.
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
is not new , is just the new place i mvoed to :)
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
environemntal health says that is hbitble so they can't enforce the landlord to pay me alternative accomodation even though my contract says: If the Premises or the House or any part thereof shall at any time during the tenancy be destroyed or
damaged by fire or any other cause covered by the Insurance Policy maintained by the Landlord in
accordance with the covenant hereinbefore contained so as to be unfit for habitation and use and the
Policy or Policies of Insurance affected by the Landlord shall not have been vitiated or payment of the
policy moneys refused in whole or in part in consequence of any act or default of the Tenants the rent
hereby reserved or a fair proportion thereof according to the nature and extent of the damage sustained
shall be suspended until the Premises or the House shall again be rendered fit for habitation and use but
the Landlord shall be responsible for providing the tenants with suitable alternative accommodation for
so long as the Premises or any part of the House remains uninhabitable.
Expert:  F E Smith replied 2 months ago.

It is not a criminal offence.

It is a breach of section 11 of the Landlord & Tenant Act.

Now you mention the issue about human habitation in the bugs, I can understand that make sense. However please do bear in mind I am a lawyer got a pest control expert.

HOWEVER what they are suggesting, and I find absolutely bizarre is that you have to be used as live bait!

As I already said, I disagree with what the Environmental Health Department have told you and I have told you how to deal with that.

You have a claim in respect of failure to protect the deposit and I have already told you how to deal with that.

Unfortunately, you cannot beat the landlord with a stick and if the landlord refuses to play ball with any of this, your only alternative is to take him to court. There is no magic solution to it

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
if they got granted a license to rent by the council after i started living there, could i request rent be paid back for th eperiod they didnt hav the license?
Expert:  F E Smith replied 2 months ago.

It depends where the property is in the country because not all residential properties need to be licensed.

Assuming that it is a condition that it needs to be licensed that is a matter for the local authority to prosecute.

The payment of rent for living in the property (infestation apart) is totally separate. Assuming the property was in superb condition but not licensed, would not entitle you to live rent free.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
ok thanks a lot
starting a claim for deposit with your suggested link. i havent moved out of property so i dont know if i can start the claim now but worth getting things moving. the most immediate thing though is that environmental health wants to come on monday and do treatment while we live here and not enforcing the landlord to put us in alternative accomodation so this is my most urgent enquiry as i dont know how can i complain in time bfore monday?
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
i am breastfeeding and my child has this condition which i already told via email to EH and they said as is not uninhabitable they cant enforce landlord to comply and put me in different accomodation as their powers are only to enforce treatment is carried out
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
i cant afford paying extra 43 unfortunately ...i have requested on my initial question about what to do for them to put me in a hotel asap so they can carry out the treatment without having to be forced into it or reported to social services accused of not collaborating...I want the treatment to be done but it will take a month of living wiht pesticides and reapplications so i thought i must have some rights to be given alternative accomodation and my baby
Expert:  F E Smith replied 2 months ago.

Yes, you can start the claim now without moving out.

Further, the landlord can’t actually give you notice whilst there is a dispute over the repair of the deposit.

On the other hand you may want to move out of the property and if you do, you can still bring the deposit claim and the disrepair claim and it would be somewhat remiss of the landlord to actually try to enforce the balance of the tenancy agreement.

Tell the Environmental Health Department that you will not allow the treatment to go ahead unless you have it in writing from them that they will be responsible for any damage or injury physical mental or otherwise to you or your baby’s health. They will not give you that and you don’t want to be a guinea pig but if this ends up in court, it shows that you have been reasonable.

As I said earlier, if the landlord won’t play ball, you can’t beat him with a stick in your only remedy is to take the landlord to court.

As you have a child who is potentially vulnerable, and in these circumstances, I would also talk to the Housing Department of the local authority because if you have housing which is not fit for human habitation, they are under a duty to provide a home for you and a vulnerable child.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
i tired and they said unless i am not facing homelessness or have medical evidence of his problem they can't help. I found out of his problem independently by doing a dna test so will go to GP today and hope they wont be so square minded to not consider it as evidence as most gps woouldn't know about methylation gene mutations..
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
how much compensation you think the bedbug bites in me and baby, disrepair mice rats and deposit i would get? this is my last question thanks a lot i will give 5 star
Expert:  F E Smith replied 2 months ago.

Thank you. That’s why I said that you need a letter from your GP.

The statutory compensation for failing to protect the deposit is up to 3 times the deposit plus the return of the deposit.

Compensation for loss of amenity is not going to probably be more than the rent that you would have paid