I'm having problems getting things repaired in my rented flat. First, our boiler broke and was pumping out carbon monoxide. We had five electricians/plumbers come round to look at it (none had spoken to each other, so it was five individual assessments), which took weeks. During this time we were without heating and with very limited hot water. The last gas certificate for the property was done in 1995. I rang the estate agents every couple of days to check progress, and they said they were unable to contact the landlord and were therefore unable to do anything. We stayed in for four consecutive weekends to let the plumbers in as the estate agents said they didn't have a spare key and we had to be there. Eventually, after 4 weeks of no heating or hot water, a plumber finally replaced the entire boiler.
We thought that was the end of it, until over a week ago, when I went into the bathroom to find the carpet completely soaked. I did some investigation and found a leak coming from the pipe that runs behind the toilet, boxed in and tiled over. I called the estate agents... We've since had three plumbers come and look at it and nothing's been done. Each say this and that, and send quotes, but nothing is fixed. The flat now stinks of rotting carpet (one plumber wretched when he came in) and it's unbearable to live here. We also cannot use the toilet, shower or sink because this creates more water and we're concerned that it will leak into the flat below. We've explained all this to the estate agents and they do nothing. When I call them, they say they'll call back and they never do. No one is communicating with each other and the upshot of this is we're left to visit our friends and family for showers and use the neighbour's toilet when we need to. Not an ideal situation.
Yesterday we went to the estate agents and sat in their office. I said I wanted it fixed asap, that I would like to request a rent reduction for the two months we've had problems in this flat (I suggested the landlord half the rent for next month, but didn't ask for more) and that if it wasn't fixed soon we would be moving out.
My question is, do we have a right to move out? Are there any specific laws that say problems with heating/burst pipes etc should be fixed within in a certain period of time? I would happily get the repairs done myself and take that off the rent/be reimbursed by the landlord, but I simply can't afford to do this. I'm in the process of packing a suitcase and going to stay with my parents until this is fixed, but it is likely to be at least two weeks, according to the estate agents.
I feel completely stuck with no recourse to the law. I can't threaten anything in order to get my point across, it seems. I've also sent a letter to the estate agents requesting the name and address of my landlord, who lives abroad. I suspect they'll give me a UK address and I won't be able to contact him.
Other problems we've had with the property are: it was supposed to be a furnished property, and we sat with the estate agents highlighting all the things we wanted the previous tenants to keep in the property. When we moved in, the flat was empty, as the cleaners had got the wrong idea and taken everything that was highlighted to the dump. We were told there was nothing the estate agents could do, they refused to contact the landlord, begged us not to tell him and we had to go out and buy loads of furniture at vast expense. We have also been asking where our car parking space is for six months (as we live in a communal flat area, where the car parking spaces don't seem to correspond to the flats) but the estate agents have never asked the landlord and never call us back. We've asked where it is about 20 times. Last week, the car was inevitably clamped for being in the wrong place and the estate agents say there's nothing they can do.
I would really appreciate any help or advice anyone can give me. I'm extremely angry and frustrated with the whole thing and don't want to pay nearly £1,000 a month to have no hot water, heating, no use of toilet or showers at various times during our tenancy.