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wingrovebuyer, Senior Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 737
Experience:  Bachelor of Laws (Honours); PG Diploma in Law; Member of ALA; 9 years' experience
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Hello, I would like to get a legal opinion on a Tenancy

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I would like to get a legal opinion on a Tenancy issue. I had just rented a 3 bedroom end terrace house about a week ago. Before Signing the tenancy agreement it was agreed that the refurbishment work would have been completed before my move in date. On the day I was due to move in, I found that contractors were still working on the toilets and other things such as curtains/blinds, smoke alarms and lightings had not been installed. To top this, scaffolding was erected outside the property which was due to be used to repaint the front walls, although the landlord had not even started. It has been a week now and the work has not commenced.

I have agreed to be lenient and patient, although another serious problem has arisen. On the first day of occupying the property, my wife had smelt a foul smell in the kitchen which gets stronger and weaker at different times of the day. We initially thought that this would be cleared up once we have unpacked our stuff and given the house a good cleaning (although it was professionally cleaned prior to our move in). After a few days, we traced the smell by removing the skirting under the kitchen cabinets and to our surprise we found a manhole which didn't look like it was sealed with a special seal for internal use. The smell got extremely worse when the skirting was open.

Coincedently, a letter was posted to the house for the previous tenants, which happened to be friends of a friend. We contacted them, given that they had lived in the property for four years prior to our tenancy, and asked them about the smell in the kitchen (which was not apparent during our initial viewings). They were unaware of the manhole, but did complain to the agency and to the landlord on numerous occasions about the foul smell. Plumbers/builders were sent to the property to investigate a number of times, but nothing had materialized and a reason for the smel was never given. They had said that this was one of the reasons why the chose to leave the property. They had also mentioned that the cupboards against the wall which was above the manhole were sealed off by them and never used, since when they did put crockery and especially plastic cups/bowls, they would go moldy.

I had brought this to the attention of the landlord who said that he knew nothing of the smell and the previous tenants had never complained. I asked him to look at the manhole, under the cabinets, and he said he was unaware of this since he had never lived in the property. He acknowledged the bad smell and said that he would be speaking to the agency to ask them to send someone to have a look at it.

A few days ago, some contractors had a look and said that this was a major job and that the lid for the manhole should be a special double seal lid. they said that they will be speaking to the agency and I have not heard anything since.

I had spoken to the agency this morning and had pointed out that they were aware of the foul smell due to the complaints from the previous tenants. I stated that the manhole does not comply with building regulations nor health and safety regulations and that I will walk out of the property if this is not fixed by the end of the week. I have threatened to get the council's health and safety officer involved and have said that the landlord would be in breach of the tenancy contract given that he did not ensure that the property does not comply with health and safety regulations and for this reason our contract would become void.

I am not entirely sure where I really stand with this issue from a legal stand point, but I cannot and will not live under these conditions (given the rent is a significant amount). My priority is the health and safety of my family and I am very prepared to vacant the property and refuse to pay for the rent.

I would very much appreciate your feedback on this and what steps i should take.

Thank you
Hello. Would you prefer to stay in the house, or leave? Presumably you paid a deposit?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Yes, i paid a 6 week deposit.


The house is nice, I would like to stay although the work has to be completed and most importantly the manhole problem has to be sorted. If not, then I would prefer to leave.

Ok, well it seems to me that you may have sufficient grounds to break the tenancy early if you wanted to, mainly due to the lack of proper manhole cover in the kitchen.

I'd say what you've been doing so far is right. However, you could make things a little more formal. I suggest you write to the agent, setting out the history of your complaint (like above) and detailing the times and dates you have called, email ped or written to then to complain, and stating that you have not had a satisfactory response. I'd then say whilst you like the house and would prefer to stay, if the issues are not resolved within 7 days you will give notice to terminate the tenancy and you will seek to recover you costs (including moving costs) from the landlord, as you consider him to be in breach of the tenancy agreement by not providing a safe and healthy habitable house.

This should provoke a response. It may be that the agent says you can't break the tenancy because it's a fixed term, but tell him that due to the landlord's breaches, you certainly can break it, and you can sue for your losses.

I imagine this will get the work done quickly, such comments usually do.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for this.

Would I need to speak to a solicitor before giving them this notice ? I am sure they will contest it if it reaches this point?



No, you needn't see a solicitor at that point, but if nothing improves and you say you're moving out, ey may decide to try to keep your deposit, and so you may need legal advice about getting it back throw the Tenancy Deposit Scheme, and on suing for your moving costs etc. I think you may get the result you want if your threat is taken seriously. You could also tell them you have taken legal advice - that normally provokes a response.
wingrovebuyer and other Property Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you so much for your help on this. I have now drafted a letter which I will be sending to the agency tomorrow morning. Could I send you the letter to review?



By all means - please upload it and send it to me via the site. I can't offer drafting, but I'm happy to check what you propose to say. Best wishes, WB.