Need urgent advice please

Hi All,

We’ve been living in the same property for the last 5 years, the house is pretty old and hasn’t been maintained properly since we’ve been here, we’ve not had them come over to inspect the property even once. I spoke to my landlord 2 weeks ago and said that we’re happy to pay extra as long as you can improve the living conditions (replace old carpet, repair the walls etc.), her response was: “some people live in worse conditions than this and you’re more than welcome to look for a new property”. They’ve never had issues with us, rent paid on time for the last 6 years.

Now after our conversation I did some research about what are the landlords legal obligations etc. and discovered the following:

  • they haven’t protected my deposit (only did so last week after I pointed out that it’s a legal obligation)
  • we’ve not had a gas safety certificate (gas heating) in the last 5 years
  • property not EPC rated (checked online) and we’ve never had a certificate
  • no electrics inspection in the last 5 years either
  • I reported to her that the fuse box looks very old and a friend at work (who is an electrician) said that someone should really have a look at it and should be replaced - this was 2 years ago, nothing has been done since

Her response to these issues was:
“We’ve been a good landlord and haven’t invaded your privacy, there are a few things that we haven’t done, but we will do them now.”

Regarding the fuse box report: “That’s isn’t illegal, there’s no safety issue involved”
Gas inspection: “Admitted that it is their fault they haven’t done it, but said that the installation is safe”.
When I asked landlord if they’re a gas engineer they replied: “It will be checked”.

Now we’ve found a new property last week and signed the agreement, I gave her 2 weeks notice and told that we need want to move out ASAP as we don’t feel that the property is safe, she is demanding we pay another months rent because our notice period is a month (not stipulated in the contract).

I really don’t want to pay another months rent, because there’s quite a few things the haven’t done which are their legal obligation. They’re hiding behind the fact that they’ve been a trouble-free landlord as if that should somehow offset the things that they haven’t done. I really don’t want the next tenant to go through the same issues we have.

Any advice will be appreciated.

Thanks,
J

You should not withhold the rent. Its unlawful, no matter what they’ve not done. However, if I were you I would look for another place to live and give notice. The landlord will get a rude awakening when they try to re-let it. You can apply for a penalty against the landlord for non protection if you wish. You have 6 years to do so from the date you paid it.

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Hi David,

I’ve just spoken to a solicitor and they’ve confirmed that the landlord is in fact in breach of contract since they haven’t had a gas safety check in the last 5 years, no EPC rating or certificate and deposit wasn’t protected in time. They’ve also confirmed that breach of contract means that we can give no notice whatsoever. We are moving out tomorrow, the landlord expects us to pay for another month on the 7th which I won’t do and I will be reporting them for all of the issues listed below. Based on the advice I’ve been given, they’re facing some very hefty fines.

Thanks,

J

Take a bit of advice, I certainly do not condone all the certification they have missed but in the same instance it would appear you have not requested these over a period of six years, why all of a sudden have you bought all these to notice, remember it may come a time when you require a landlords reference, be careful you have not burnt all your bridges.
If I were you I would ask for a face to face meeting with the landlord agree when you will receive your deposit back, explain to them you appreciate they have given you total privacy over your six year, explain you are quite within your rights to report them for the infringements but you intend to let sleeping dogs lie.

I think your Solicitor is taking a few liberties there by suggesting no notice is due. I dont think it’s strictly correct, but what he’s probably saying is if the landlord sues, he will find a way to help you counter-sue. If you have a solicitor you should take his advice.

Thank you for your reply, I did have a face to face conversation with my landlord last night and recorded the conversation. When I pointed out the gas safety checks and everything else the reply was and I quote: “the law can only sanction me if I refuse to do things”.

Also, the deposit that they said they’ve now protected, I can’t find any details on with any of the protection schemes, they’ve promised to send me the details immediately after our conversation, but never did, I suspect they still haven’t protected it.

I’ve told them several times that I want to resolve this and move on, I’ve sent a follow up email asking them to reconsider and pointing out all of the things they haven’t done and that they are the landlords responsibility and a legal obligation.

If they haven’t kept their side of the bargain and sent you the details of where your deposit is, then they are leaving you no option but to take it further.

They cannot just protect your deposit now and think that’s okay. They would still be liable to pay you compensation as they have broken the law.

Also, report them to the council. Not doing a gas safety check for five years is not right. Am sure the council would have something to say to them.

There’s also the property redress scheme. Agents should belong to one of them. Raise a formal complaint with the issues and upon their final response which usually has to be within six weeks, then take it to the property ombudsman.

You have given them a chance but it would appear they are too arrogant to take it.

The Shelter website has details of how you begin a penalty claim for failing to protect hhe deposit. I think it starts with a Letter Before Action. If you send this to your landlord, demanding the immediate return of your deposit it should wake him up.

It sounds like you have given them every chance to rectify the situation, that remark “the law can only sanction me if I refuse to do things”, is a total load of rubbish and you must tell him that immediately and again ask for your return of deposit or details in writing of when you will receive it.
If this fails phone your local council and ask for the department that deals with queries on private landlords. generally every council has one of these and they should act immediately with something as serious as this.

UK Government How to Rent guide

In the section ‘The landlord must provide you with’ about half way down the page.

The obligation to provide the correct and valid documents is entirely on the landlord. There is zero requirment for you to ask for them. Fact.

Your landlord is in breach of every one of these points from what you have said. Absolutely unacceptable in my view (I am a landlord). Report them to the council for not providing you with a Gas Safe certificate, EICR (for electrics) and EPC. The landlord will get hammered for substantial fines. If your deposit is not held or protected by a UK Government approved scheme (illegal not to be) then your will need to make a court claim. The landlord will get hammered for this too. I cannot agree with the advice given above regards any reference from the landlord. Any decent landlord would take the evidence that you have been treated illegally and unfairly by the current landlord as reason enough that it is not worth asking for a reference from them.

You will be helping all future tenants and help improve the rented housing sector by not just ‘letting sleeping dogs lie’.

Good luck

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