Compensation - Landlord from Hell

Hi all,

I’m hoping someone will be able to advise.

Long story short, we moved into a property early March and to say it has been hell is an understatement. One week after we moved in, we had an electrical issue wherein the main switch would go off at all times, mostly at nighttime (2 am-ish). When we called the landlord to have it checked, we were threatened with a fine should we be at fault (one week after moving in). Bear in mind, we had just moved in and waiting for deliveries so we had no appliance apart from the hot water kettle (we were reassured white goods will be provided which turned out to be a lie). We had just moved in and it’s a three years minimum tenancy, we agreed to have the issue resolved. We ended up calling an old landlord for a reliable engineer that we paid to come out and look at the property. The fault wasn’t us as it’s an old property with lots of existing issues. The engineer fixed it and we’ve never had any other electrical issue since.

Then just a month in, we had our gas safety check booked by the landlord. We failed it due to a gas leak from the boiler. As we were well in the pandemic, we asked if this was something we could live with until after the lockdown. The engineer called his boss and they both agreed it was unsafe and the boiler/gas should be shutdown apart from the cooker and the issue should be resolved with a replacement boiler. Relieved at first as it should be an easy fix, right? Wrong! The landlord refused to installed a new boiler, said it’s too expensive (mind you, we pay £1400 for a two bed). We went back and forth with the property management company and they asked us to leave as the landlord may sell the property instead of replacing it with a £2000 boiler (cost confirmed). Leave to go where in a pandemic with a child? We both work full time. We asked if we could be reimbursed for the moving cost provided they re-home us to a suitable property. That was declined but offered to recommend us to a number of agents. We refused as a)we pay our rent on time, b) it’s a boiler issue as confirmed by their own gas engineer, and the landlord is being inconsiderate.

We ended at the Council, went back and forth for several weeks, tons of emails as we had to justify why we couldn’t move without them paying for the moving cost as we had spent lots of money to make this property a home knowing we have a long lease (3 years minimum). Council finally told the landlord a charge will be placed on the property to fix not just the boiler for heating and gas, but also the door as we couldn’t shut it properly. My partner works at night so I am mostly alone with a toddler. That caused a lot of anxiety as I had to put chairs/heavy items to secure the door at nighttime.

He finally had the boiler fixed six weeks after it was shut down, and three months after we reported the door lock faulty. During that time, we continued to pay the rent on time as the agents reassured us we will be compensated once everything is resolved. That never happened, and we were told we weren’t eligible for any compensation. The landlord is a property developer (company) and not your average private landlord. We then told them we will be taking it to the small claims court for a decision. They then came with one week off the rent, and then £500 for months of hell. We have refused both as we think we deserve more and for them to learn from their actions.

My friends/renters are telling us to accept it as all landlords are bad which I refused to accept as this is my first experience of a difficult landlord. We have filed the claim, but as it’s a joint tenancy, we are waiting for the court to reopen as we’ve heard there is a lot of backlogs with paper claims. Am I right in thinking the £500 offered is a slap in the face for 6 weeks of no heating and hot water, and three months of sleepless nights due to a temperamental front door? Are we being unreasonable? A neighbour has already disclosed to us the landlord will be knocking down the properties in a year to build flats. The first gas engineer confirmed the same even though we signed a 3-year contract. We feel duped as this should have been our final move before we eventually buy. Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

KR

Frustrated renter :frowning:

Hi

Thanks for thinking not all landlords are bad!

He certainly can’t knock your home down mid way through a tenancy agreement unless there is a break clause in the contract.

Compensation amounts are difficult. You can claim for the inconvenience. Based on the timelines you were without heating in may and June which presumably didn’t cause much problem. Had it been dec and Jan then it could be argued it wasn’t habitable and you could probably get all rent back as LL should rehouse you. You certainly shouldn’t be without hot water but amounts would depend on the actual inconvenience you suffered, ie how far you had to go to wash etc. You may get more than that but amount doesn’t seem too bad and it’s up to you if you want the hassle of it.

Thank you, Richard.

We were without heating and hot water from 11th April until 15th June. Our only option at the time was to drive 20 miles to my aunt’s house to shower every other day. Furthermore, as the house isn’t insulated, it was not hardly habitable hence lots of spent weekends with her.

Do I still have a case given the time frame? We have requested for at least half the rent back paid between April and end end June (3 weeks) as a middle ground and forgo any other stresses for the door, but as usual, the landlord has refused.

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I would have said make it a thousand and we will settle

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You’d have a case in normal times. A LL needs to do repairs in a reasonable time frame. Reasonable isn’t really defined but I would have thought that would be within 2 weeks for a new boiler as good tradespeople are often not immediately available. However given the time coincides with lockdown the LL could argue reasonable time is longer than normal. I’d agree with Colin and see if you can settle for 1000.

Thank you both.

I’ll follow through with the court.

…and look for a new home (uninsulated, with a child and likely to have notice served upon you if LL looking to redevelop). You deserve much better.

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I agree, Nilesh.

The only reason why we agreed to pay such amount for a two-bed property was for the long term let and nothing more. The same reason we paid the electric engineer for something that we are not contractually obligated to do.

We will eventually look for a home, but not before we are duly compensated.

The court will want to see evidence say a log of your journeys to your aunts.

You should claim for the electrician.

You should have seen the electrical wiring certificate and EPC rating plus gas cert before you rented.

If you do not have a break clause you should be able to stay but do you want to?

You are asking for around £2.5k compensation but been offered £500. If you accept as Colin says I would say plus sparkies bill and a contribution to your extra travel so £1500 will save a load of hassle. However, if you can prove the landlord is harassing you, not followed renting due process for legal compliance then the court will come down on him hard.

Just keep everything in writing and a log of events, calls, emails, sms etc etc. Everything.

You will only improve your win chances if you have this all. The courts will not go on sympathy but facts and supported evidence.

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As a landlord I work hard to get things right, i replaced a working boiler gas cert. as it was noisy!
He needs an EICR by April 2021 for electrics.
As a tenant you have loads of rights, speak to CAB or SHelter.
He is a on sticky ground, no hot water is an emergency

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Stick to legal processes, you have plenty grounds

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You should get more than 1k

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Thank you, Brian.

We have all the relevant evidence to support my claim including messages/emails to the company.

Thank you, Sarah44

We intend to follow the law to the latter.

Hi

I rent out my properties and my tenant had issues water leak from electric hot water boiler just after lockdown. I contacted my plumber and he ordered and got it fixed with in a week. Luckily we got the boiler delivered in time. It was expensive to change but I give Best service to my tenants. My tenants appreciated that as they have been living for 4yrs.

Also I had to change storage heater in December in emergency for my other tenant. I bought oil filled heaters in mean time while waiting for order to arrive.

There are so many good landlords and tenants
as well as only a few bad landlords and some nightmare tenants.

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Hi This type of landlord gives the industry a bad name. They should be ashamed of themselves offering a property which clearly wasn’t fit for purpose. When my boiler broke down I didn’t charge my tenants any rent until it was fixed. Take them to the small claims court and they will end up paying you substantial compensation. Keep paying your rent on time and you should be able to negotiate compensation if the landlord wants to terminate your tenancy early.
Good look

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Landlords like this give the really very good ones a bad reputation. I feel for you. I pride myself in being one step ahead of changes and legislation and have superb properties and within hours usually I would have sorted any iasues

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You can take the landlord to court even after you have moved out, so if you have a break clause start looking for somewhere cheaper and more suitable.

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I am also glad you recognise that all Landlords aren’t bad. My tenants have been with me for over 4 years in all cases (I have 4 properties) and I gave them all a rent reduction during lockdown to help them out (a significant hit over all the properties). I think the above case is an appalling example of lack of responsibility shown by both the Landlord and managing company and gives a tarnished view of the rest of us. Some Landlords forget that in investing in their properties they are improving or upgrading them for the future and should set aside a portion of the rent to create a budget for unplanned events that are their responsibility. However some tenants also believe that everything that goes wrong in a property is the Landlords responsibility and it isn’t. In many cases it is the same as if you owned your own home and had a plumbing problem beyond the main supply for example a shower unit, you call out a plumber and pay to get it fixed. Some tenants have the view that because they pay rent then the Landlord should sort everything out by using their rent money to do so. That’s like going to your mortgage lender and saying because I pay for a mortgage you need to sort out such problems and pay for it out of my mortgage premiums !! If I had a tenant bothering me every week with different issues I would seperate those that are my responsibility and sort them out and push the other ones back that are not my responsibility but would not renew their contract as I would fail to see (if their expectation was such that it was) what I was getting out of my investment and hassle as a responsible Landlord trying to do the right thing.

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I agree - all my landlords including my most recent before this tenancy was efficient. This is a first and possibly the last time renting from a large property company.

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