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LondonlawyerJ, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 822
Experience:  Experienced solicitor
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Property Law
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We signed into a six month Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement

on 10th February this year... Show More
on 10th February this year. We noticed shortly after moving in that there was the smell of dampness in the entrance hall. Visible water damage to the carpet by the front door (hidden by a door mat on viewing and a strong smelling air freshener in the adjoining cloakroom which covered up the smell). There was visible mould on the wastepipe of the downstairs cloakroom toilet (noted in the inventory given to us after moving in). There was also visible mould by the back door and in the units of the utility room that led off from the kitchen and the back door leaked water with any period of heavy rainfall. The lower kitchen cupboards smelt damp and musty and would fill with condensation that would leave everything in the cupboards wet every time you cooked in the oven (not the hob the electric oven). There was also a black mark bove our bed in the master bedroom that tested positive for Penicillin Aspergillus Mould. This mould was also detected on an air test in the entrance hall and the utility area of the kitchen (separated only by a glass door) tested very poor with over 40 colonies of Fungal moulds per plate on a one hour exposure to the air.
We contacted the managing agents who promised a full survey and a dehumidifier. The dehumidifier never came and we ended up borrowing one from friends. They sent a guy to look at it however it appeared fairly obvious to us that he had been primed by the landlord/agent not to go into anything and blame it all on condensation that we had created. Now we had only been in the property around three weeks at that point and it was all on the inventory (be it described as dirt and not mould). He was in the property less that 15 minutes, did not check the roof for any leaks and kept repeatedly stating he didn't work for the agent and saying I don't know where that leaves your every time he stated it was condensation. He would not answer anything regarding the kitchen cupboards and when pushed several times said it could be a water leak behind the cupboards and to check the water meter readings but followed it up with but its a longshot and wont be in my report!
I am a severe asthmatic and was using my steroid inhaler at a much higher dose than normal, I felt breathless and developed a nasal drip from my nose down the back of my throat. Our three year old is also asthmatic and suffered from a cough during her time at the property.
Not happy with the advice we emailed the agent asking for permission to get our own survey completed at our cost but where never answered... In fact all emails were then ignored and all we received was a very unfriendly letter stating they were carrying out a house inspection and it didn't matter if we were there or not. We felt completely victimised and ignored to be honest.
We ended up borrowing money from family and fortunately our former landlord welcomed us back with open arms as we are actually good tenants (or that's what we try to be anyway).
On moving from the property we complained about the report carried out along with the conduct of the agents, the landlord and indeed the landlords friends who live next door and did their utmost to intimidate us even calling us Gypcies when we left for daring to leave out tidy sealed bags of rubbish for the council collection within the properties boundary!
my health improved within a week of leaving (and being on new nasal spray prescribed for exposure to mould spores).
The agents stated that they were getting a full damp survey carried out and we asked that we be allowed to email that surveyor to ensure that all of the areas of concern were addressed in his or her report and permission was granted. We sent the company a full detailed explanation and the agent promised to forward the report. No report arrived so we requested it last Friday and were sent a report from a different contractor with testing for rising damp only carried out (we never expected it to be rising damp its a relatively modern construction). None of the real areas were even looked at the kitchen being a big one (there is a hole outside in the broken electric cupboard that leads straight into the kitchen wall)... The doors were picked up as needing minor attention by the first fifteen minute excuse for a survey.
Bot***** *****ne is we are obviously being pursued for the rent on the tenancy agreement and need to know where we stand. There is one point though that we feel is highly relevant as we have photographs of the neighbours using the garage of the property to store fence materials and wood and consistently parking on the driveway. In relation to this can they really claim we a liable for the rent if they have allowed a third party to access the attached garage and make use of that space, highly unfair for us to have to pay for someone else to benefit from the space but legally where doe that leave us?
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Hello I am a solicitor with 20 years experience. I will try to answer this for you. The basic position here is that you can respond to their threats by arguing that you have a counterclaim against them for compensation for the poor condition of the property. Any award you get can be set off against their claim and my reducee it to nithing or even lead to you being owed money by them. The problem is that the disrepair will usually need to be to the structure or exterior of the property. Condensation alone will not normally be enough to found a sufficient. Penetrating or rising damp will be covered. You should have a look at your tenancy agreement to see if there is a clause about being fit for human habitation or any other clause giving you extended rights regarding disrepair. Another possible problem is notice, the landlord is only responsible for the disrepair when he knows about it and does not remedy it within a reasonable time. Also what is this situation with your deposit. Is it in a guarantee scheme? Also how much is your rent, when did you leave a d how much notice of that did you give him. AS far as the garage is concerned. Was this covered in your property let to you under the tenancy agreement?
Customer reply replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your answer we do appreciate it.We have a personal injury lawyer that may be prepared to take on a case on no win no fee basis, but rightly or wrongly I am reluctant to go down this route.We believe that there was an issue with both the front and back doors which leak in heavy rain (which in this part of North Devon we get a lot), this was confirmed by the first guy sent by the agent. I know that there is also water / moisture coming from somewhere behind the lower kitchen cupboards (again the tradesman sent suggested a water leak possibility) but personally my bet is on the broken electric cabinet with the hole going from outside into the kitchen cavity wall. Was happy to pay for a surveyor ourselves and offered to but we were totally ignored by the agent and landlord.We have a £1,100 deposit held by the agent in a deposit scheme... Requested this back from the agent but were obviously refused.The Rent is £850 per month (we paid the first two months on time). The rental months run from 10th to the 9th of each month. Agent is charging us £25 + VAT every time they write to us - to which we have replied we moved out on the grounds of health and failure to manage the property and they should consider the rent and their charges in dispute.We told the agent we were vacating on 17th March upon signing our new agreement back with our former landlord. we moved out on 21st March and handed back keys on 31st March. They asked us to sign a document confirming that we were responsible for the rent until the end of term and we obviously declined.The house was a four bed detached property with inter-grated garage so yes garage fully apart of the tenancy. If they hold us responsible for the property rightly or wrongly I would have thought how can we be if a third party is allowed access for their own purposes? (I'm probably wrong but I think that would be unfair, either way we need to know our legal position on it).I'm an accountant and have some idea of how the system works with small claims courts etc but need some sound advice. Bot***** *****ne life is too short and I'd rather this all just go away, that in mind would a settlement offer be wise or totally detrimental to us should they decline. We would be prepared to release our £1,100 deposit to the landlord plus a token payment of £600 equating to 50% of the amount due in return for full and final settlement.
A settlement offer might well be a good idea but make it clear on the face of the letter that the offer is made without any admission of liability and is simply as an attempt to resolve the dispute.The offer seems very reasonable to me. Incidentally the deposit is not held by the agent or landlord it remains your money which is held by the scheme on your behalf. I aoplogise for the delay in replying but I was v busy yesterday.
Customer reply replied 1 year ago.
Sorry just wanted to be clear on the use of the garage and access to it by a third party, are they allowed to do that if they are claiming we are still liable for the rent? Sorry still just a bit unclear on that one point
If the garage was part of the property then yes no one else should have been given permission to use it. No one else could legally use it and that could be a further part of your negotiating approach.
Customer reply replied 1 year ago.
Thank you so much, just one final thing if we go down the settlement offer route would be better to request someone like yourself write on our behalf?