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JimLawyer
JimLawyer, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 14763
Experience:  Senior Associate Solicitor
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I'd like to know where I stand legally with a rental

Customer Question

I'd like to know where I stand legally with a rental property. The property is managed by the estate agents who deem insanitary conditions and mould as no priority. I withheld rent and was threatened into submitting a partial payment of which I paid half. The estate agents are misleading me with information. I believe I have rights with this instance of mould and potential sewage problems however this is not being taken seriously. I live with 3 children 6 and under. And having to take a substantial amount of time out from work to go back and forth with them.
JA: Where are you? It matters because laws vary by location.
Customer: Slough
JA: What steps have you taken so far?
Customer: I have written various emails citing references to the contract and inventory. My local citizen advice do not offer telephone services within my area and I am unable to get ahold of the local authority environmental team
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: A handful of these problems were raised prior to moving in 2 months ago and I am still battling with them to resolve the issues.
Submitted: 12 days ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  JimLawyer replied 12 days ago.

Hello, this is Jim and welcome to JustAnswer. I will be the lawyer working with you today.
Sorry to hear of the issue. I will set out my written answer shortly.

Expert:  JimLawyer replied 12 days ago.

Mould is a serious issues as it can lead to respiratory issues. Sewage problems would be an environmental health issue (you do need to reach your environmental health department at the council to report this).

In UK law, landlords must ensure the property is in good repair under Section 11 to 16 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. Further, a recent law came in to force to provide more protection to tenants, which is the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 is now in force - the house or flat needs to be healthy, safe and fit for human habitation (free from things that could cause serious harm). So the issues you mention which afflict the property would put the landlord in breach of this law.

If they do not, they face prosecution by the local council and can be fined. It would also be a breach of contract on their part. The only situations where a tenancy can be ended are, you finish the tenancy term or there is a break clause meaning you can end the tenancy part way through. Or the landlord agrees to you leaving early - usually if another tenant can be found. You could terminate but you would need evidence of repeated requests to the landlord to fix and they do nothing. If you terminated then they could sue and you may have to defend the claim in a civil court.

The Local Authority Environmental Health Officers have powers under the Housing Act 2004. They have a duty to ensure that properties in their area are in a habitable condition, and will serve improvement notices on landlords of properties which are assessed, under the new Housing Health and Safety Rating System as having ‘category 1 hazards’.

Similar powers are available to Local Authorities under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 if the property is considered a threat to public health.

I would therefore recommend that you contact your local council (the housing department) in the first instance to report the matter and ask them if they can send someone out to do an emergency repair - if so, they will do the work and they will bill the landlord themselves.

Yours can be reached by telephone on 01753 475111

If for some reason the council cannot help, you would either have the option of paying it yourself and withholding rent or to instruct a tradesperson to come out and fix the problem and you then pursue the landlord for the money. You can also claim any loss of earnings as you said you had to take time off work.

If the landlord does not pay or if they refuse for whatever reason, you can sue them in the county court for your losses on the money claim site (www.moneyclaim.gov.uk) although I recommend sending the landlord a letter before action to warn them of your intentions first and allow them 14 days to reimburse you. If they do not reimburse, you are free to issue a claim.

Expert:  JimLawyer replied 12 days ago.

I hope this helps and answers the question - my goal is to ensure you are happy with the answer and have the information you need. If you have any follow up questions then please let me know. I will reply as soon as I can to help with any further queries.

Many thanks,
Jim

Expert:  JimLawyer replied 12 days ago.

Please let me know if the answer helped or if you need me to cover anything else?. I am happy to clarify the answer or if you have any follow up questions. If so, I’d be grateful if you would let me know. I am free most days, including weekends, so feel free to ask me anything you are unsure of.

Best wishes,

Jim

Customer: replied 12 days ago.
I issued a request that was ignored for 5 weeks, when i went to the ombudsman they said put a request in a formal letter, I did citing every section of the contract involved, they tried to reject some on the issues (mould and a horrific smell coming from the washing machine that they claim is ok) so I withhold this months rent to which they finally cont a contractor to look at some but not all of the issues, but only if i paid the rent. i paid 50% so now thy are organising only some of the things to be fixed
Expert:  JimLawyer replied 12 days ago.

OK, thank you. Hopefully you can see the answer set out earlier. You would need to pay rent under the contract (it's safer to do this as they could evict you otherwise) and sue in a small claim for the equivalent sum.

Customer: replied 12 days ago.
I will read through and come back with any questions. Thanks
Expert:  JimLawyer replied 12 days ago.

OK, thank you

Customer: replied 12 days ago.
Is there a differential between mould and mould in something ie in silicon?
In regards ***** ***** sewage it is the smell from the washing machine which should have been maintained. Various products have been used to cleanse the machine. Could this be a sewage problem?
Expert:  JimLawyer replied 12 days ago.

Mould in a rental property is a no-no. I am not a surveyor so not sure whether that would make a difference but mould is a health risk, which breaches the terms of the tenancy agreement in any event. Again, it could be a sewage / pipework problem. I would say only a plumber would know so you could have one come out, or you could ask the council to send someone (which they should do at no cost to yourself).