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Remus2004, Barrister
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 71048
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice.
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Hi we have a rented property which we are now in the last 2

Customer Question

Hi we have a rented property which we are now in the last 2 months of contract. It is a four bedroom property which since the start of December we have only been able to use 3 of the rooms due to damp and a leak. In December we were advised by two builders not to use the bedroom when the conservation team came they advised the same thing. I have had to organise via the estate agent for builders to come and asees the issues, each time having to show them in to the roof and around the house at the various damp issues ( only one that really matters to us was the use of the fourth room). No action has been taken to date, land lady has shown no interest in coming to see the property even though I have asked the estate agent to try to do this. Last week finally the head of lettings at the estate agent came to see the house and photograph all the problems. I have spoken to her a number of times about withholding rent if that is the only thing which will get the landlady to actually do something. I wrote to her via the estate agent on the 31st stating that I was not happy to pay all rent back to December ( copy of email below). The estate agent sent back her response today (copy below). I don't feel it is at all fair we should pay for something we don't have and something I have been raising as an issue since end of November ( lots of emails and a large number of calls to estate agents as evidence). Obviously we are in contract and have a responsibility to pay but equally the landlady had and still has a responsibility. I have with held rent this month inline with my email below. Any advice you can give on what I should do next would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks, Ros

My email to landlady via estate agent. 31-3

As you know from our discussions and written communication dating back to the 3rd of December we haven't been able to use the fourth bedroom as a bedroom since the issue with mould was identified in November and following recommendations from 2 builders at the start of December not to use the room. In addition to this there has been a substantial leak with water penetrating the interior of the room running down the chimney breast.

Despite regular communication since then the issue still has not been sorted so we will have had a period of 6 months to the end of our tenancy effectively renting a three bedroom house.
As I have discussed with you on a few occasions we are not happy to pay full rent for a four bedroom house for this period.

Our proposal as also discussed with you is to pay reduced rent commensurate with market value of a three bedroom property for the duration of the period.

You have informed us that a three bedroom property would rent out through Perry Bishop at £950 per month in Buckland. We understand that Hedges is currently the equivalent of a large three bedroom house, so propose that we reduce our rent for the period by 25 percent of £1550 (£387.50) reducing rent to £1162.50 per month.

We will backdate this to when the fourth bedroom was deemed unfit for purpose - December 2013: four months at £387.5 per month, totalling £1550. With two months left on our contract, this means we have a balance of £775 to pay before we vacate the property on 31 May.

I hope this proposal sounds reasonable, given an understanding of the distress and inconvenience caused over a sustained period.

Reply from land lady via estate agent today:

I hope this message finds you well.

We have now heard back from your landlord at Hedges and her response is;

It is a straight decline except that to say that if my tenant finds another suitable property I will release her from her contract without notice and require her only to pay for the exact days she is in occupation. I think this is quite generous.

Please let me know your thoughts.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Remus2004 replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for your question. My name is Jo and I will try to help with this.

What would you like to know about this please?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
What should we do next?
What options are available to us to get recompense?
Are we entitled to withhold a proportion of rental?
If we do continue to withhold a proportion of rental what is the landlady entitled to do
Do we have a sound case
Expert:  Remus2004 replied 3 years ago.
Have you complained to Environmental Health?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
No all communication so far has been with the estate agent
Expert:  Remus2004 replied 3 years ago.
Ok. Thanks,

What I need to know is have you complained to Environmental Health?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Expert:  Remus2004 replied 3 years ago.
Why not please?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Because until you just asked I hadn't even thought about it. Please could you answer the questions I've posed?
Expert:  Remus2004 replied 3 years ago.
I will need some more information before I can do that I'm afraid.

When you refer to the conversation team, who sent them around?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
It's not a conversation team it's the conservation team. They assess listed buildings for ventilation issues etc. every builder who has quoted for work and the conservation team have come around due to me discussing the problem with the estate agent and then them finding the right person and me being at home to let them in and show them the problems. Each report that has been produced and sent to the landlady by each builder or the conservation team via the estate agent has not been actioned. We are still no further forward with the leak in the room and water running down the chimney breast other than the weather isn't so bad now so the leak obviously isn't so bad but the stone is all wet and very visible and the room smells damp as the window in the room does not work either. If you need further information to answer my questions then don't worry as I'll speak to citizens advice this morning. The whole reason I signed up last night was because this site said 24 hour 100% satisfactory advice. Please either answer my questions to the best of your ability with the information I have provided or if that is not possible I will just cancel my subscription as a simple bit of advice shouldn't take this long and looking at the ore threads ( probably not real) more difficult questions are being asked and answered than what I am posing. Many thanks.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Relist: Incomplete answer.
Could you please just read the information and answer the questions based on the information I have provided. If there are other factors to consider just list what these are so I can then assess the advice and your questions and decide what my next move should be. Thank you
Expert:  Ash replied 3 years ago.
Hello my name is Alex and I will help you with this. Please note that I am a working Solicitor and may be on and offline as I have to attend Court and meet with clients, even at weekends. As such you may not get an instant response when you reply as this is not an ‘on demand’ live service, but rest assured I will be giving your question my immediate attention upon return. There is no need to wait here, you will get an email when I reply.

I see you have relisted this. Are you currently deducting these sums or saying you expect a refund of the said sums please?


Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Hi, we have two months left to run on our contract and this month we have put aside our rent rather than paying it. We plan on doing the same next month and only paying the remaining amount stated in my email to the landlady approx £700. Our deposit is in a tenancy deposit scheme and so we will have to have our debate with the landlady at that stage the landlady is not willing to negotiate and we are not happy to pay for something we don't have and still no action to remedy the issue has been put in place. Look forward to hearing back from you. Kind regards, Ros
Expert:  Ash replied 3 years ago.
Ok. What you need to do is get an estate agent around and give you an idea of fair market rent on the condition that it is in.

You need to continue to pay full rent but tell the Landlord it is under protest.

You should then write to the Landlord and ask for a refund of the difference what has been paid to fair rent within 14 days or say you will go to Court.

If they do not refund you then you can issue proceedings in the County Court. You can either do this online at: or by completing form N1 and take it to your local County Court.

The Court will then issue a claim which a copy will be sent to the Defendant who will have a limited time to defend it, if not you can enter Judgment and enforce.

If the matter is defended it will be set down for a trial. If the claim is for £10,000 or less it will be a small claim and you will not need representation.

Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?

Expert:  Remus2004 replied 3 years ago.

Sorry for the delay and Im afraid the answer above is incomplete.

What you need to do is pay. There is no way around that. If you don't pay then it will place you into arrears.

If the issue here is that you say that disrepair has developed then that has nothing at all to do with fair rent and the rent assessment committee will not be interested.

What you need to do is sue for disrepair. If bedrooms are literally unusable then you do have a claim for a reduction in rent on that basis.

In principle you could withhold and invite the landlord to sue. If you do that though then the downside is that the landlord will be able to point to your failures. The upside is that he will have the burden of proof but that doesn't realy count for much in these circumstances.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
How would I go about suing for disrepair? Will it cost me lots to do this? Or is there a free route I can go down if I present my case myself?
Expert:  Remus2004 replied 3 years ago.
No, its very simple and quite cheap as long as you are claiming under £1k which would probably be about right here.

You can self represent.

This will just be a small claims court procedure but you do need to give notice to the landlord.

You are going to need to explain why you didn't complain to Environmental Health.

You need to gather evidence of the damp.

The only defence the landlord could raise is either to say that the damp was not so bad that the rooms were unusable which can be fairly easily rebuffed with evidence or that the damp was caused by the manner of occupation rather than the condition of the property. That doesn't seem to be what they are saying here anyway but its fairly easy to tell the different in causes.