Advice on property with no heating

Hi all!

I’m having an issue with a tenancy I entered into - I was due to move in on the 9th of December, but upon moving in there were a multitude of problems, firstly, the house was absolutely filthy, not even a basic wipe down of surfaces had been done, there were pet feces in some rooms, and the kitchen and bathrooms in particular looked like they hadn’t been properly cleaned in over a year and covered in grime - this was an issue not just because of the fact its an inconvenience, but I’m classed as vulnerable with a lung disease and we’re in a pandemic, something I made very clear to the estate agent beforehand, the risk of covid is very real to me and it’s beoynd insulting they wouldn’t even ensure a basic clean was done. This meant I had to wait an extra 3 days before cleaners could be organised to provide a deep clean. Secondly, it then turned out the boiler was broken, meaning no hot water or heating, it took two more days for a plumber to be organised to look at it, and he recommended a full replacement - but the landlord chose another repair (Apparently the boiler was repaired just 2 months ago) - as of today the property has been without hot water and heating for almost 2 weeks - which meant I haven’t been able to stay at the property and instead lost a tenant of my own as I had to move back into my own property.

There were some other miscellaneous issues such as rain water coming through the front door, broken locks, and junk left in different parts of the house. These issues including the need for a professional cleaner were clearly noted on the inventory yet hadn’t been done before my move in and I was simply told “It could use a hoover”.

I’ve told the estate agent I no longer wish to move forward with them, as due to losing my own tenant I’m now not in a position to rent the property since I won’t be able to re-let it around Christmas, and the property just simply isn’t fit for purpose. In an email the estate agent said the landlord agreed to release me from the contract (though I already considered the contract void as I couldn’t move in on the agreed date).

A few days later they began demanding I pay rent up until a replace tenant can be found, and given the state of the property and how long it’s taking them to initiate repairs, have no idea how long this could be. They’re also saying they won’t initiate remarketing the property until I agree to paying rent.

Has anyone been in a similar situation? What are my rights when a contract is breached by the landlord re the property not being available/suitable for the agreed upon move in date?

I’d appreciate any help, I’ve gone to Shelter but haven’t been able to get through at the times I’ve tried.

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Jandford…did you take any pictures? They are obligated to find a tenant right away to mitigate any losses. I would stand your gound and make a counter claim . Keep a record of everything.

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did you get "how to rent guide <gas certificate, and elec safety cert and EPC cert/?

From what I’ve read they’re not required to mitigate losses, but it’s advised. It seems spiteful to hold it over me though, like it’s a “Well the longer you refuse to agree to our terms the more we’ll make you liable for”.

Yes I recieved those, the electricals are a bit strange with wires being run through different rooms to provide power, and there are recommendations on the elec safety cert for improvement but it’s still classed as satisfactory.

Sadly because you’re a homeowner you’re in a dangerous situation.

If this happened to someone with no property, they can’t do much as the person has little worth going after.

If they go after you, it could put your home at risk.

I would strongly suggest seeking professional legal advice. I hope you’ve documented everything with pictures and email and the like.

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Sounds like a terrible landlord and agent. I think you have to negotiate. If you had more time you could call in the Environmental Health team with regard to the defects, but that’s difficult right now and without photographic evidence you would struggle to get the property declared as unfit for human habitation.

You’re right that they don’t have to mitigate their losses in the fixed term of a tenancy but given the lack of heating, the state of the place, the problem with the locks, (particularly if that means the place isn’t secure) etc, I think you should fight your corner and argue that no rent should be payable for the current period. If they insist then you should get initial legal advice from a housing solicitor and/or Shelter/CAB.

What does the Agents email say about releasing you from the contract? Is it conditional? Does it give dates? They won’t be able to go back on that.