My case is turning quite complex and I would appreciate any support anyone has for me.
I will try and lay everything out as clearly as possible...
1) Viewed a property on the 21st of October, and noticed some issues with the property (cracks on the outside walls), we asked the estate agent who said it was just “common shrinkage”. As the current tenants were in with furniture / laundry around we didn’t see the full extent of this.
2) The following week we decided to make an offer on the property, and stated that “this offer is contingent on the following: …”. Our contingencies included: a professional clean, painting over some obvious large internal cracks, resealing mould in bathroom and cleaning the garden. The landlord confirmed in writing to do the contingencies before our move in date. We also asked for an inventory, and received a list of items, before going ahead with putting in our deposit etc.
3) Upon moving out of my rented flat and into the property 6 weeks later (25th of November), we discovered that 1) no work that our offer was contingent on had been completed and 2) Two 12L dehumidifiers had been placed into the bedrooms (RRP: £139.99), alongside 9x mould absorbency gels dotted around the flat, indicating that there was a mould / damp problem in the flat (neither the dehumidifiers or gels were in the flat advertisement, nor were they present when viewing).
4) I have severe Asthma and a mould allergy, and my boyfriend has also been to hospital with a mould allergy in the past, so obviously had we known there was an issue we would not have made any offer on the flat.
5) We immediately got in touch with the estate agent in writing, who stated the dehumidifiers were there upon viewing (not the case). The dehumidifiers were also not included in the inventory we received (although that included kettle/toaster and other small appliances). Irrespective of that none of the work the landlord said they would do was done. In addition, I immediately begun suffering from my allergies in the flat due to mould / damp (asthma, hives etc).
6) Once we were in the flat without the previous tenants’ belongings, we began to see many more issues in there that were concealed by the previous tenants furniture and items on walls (e.g. cracks in internal walls that were concealed) as well as many probable hazards with the flat (e.g. excessive cold, windows not shutting properly, suspected subsidence and suspected penetrative damp / mould).
7) We got in contact with the estate agent the evening we moved in. The estate agent denied all of the above and stated that the dehumidifiers were there upon viewing (they weren’t). There was some back and forth over the next 24hrs but the consensus from the estate agent and landlord was that nothing was wrong with the flat and that we were not misled. We asked to know what would happen with the flat and the estate agent told us that landlord “believed and understood the property was in a fine state of repair from the outset”.
8) After moving in on the Saturday the 25th Nov, and getting nowhere with the estate agent/landlord we decided for our health (mine especially – I had gone through a full inhaler and multiple antihistamines in the 24 hours I had been there) to leave the flat as we realised we had been sold a lie, it was clear the landlord wasn’t going to do anything and we could not stay due to our health.
9) We moved our belongings into storage at the earliest opportunity (Monday the 28th Nov) and went to stay with family so we didn’t have to live there and struggle health wise. We also received an email from the estate agent that the landlord was going to re-let the property with a different estate agent and that we would get 24h notice before any viewings take place. That email was the last we heard from either the landlord or the estate agent.
10) 5 days later we went back to the property and realised we had been locked out (they had used a lock to which we were not provided a key) so could not gain access to the property even if we did want to remain in the contract.
11) We also realised the landlord had been negligent on a number of other things: Hadn’t given us prescribed information on the deposit, had put the deposit in the wrong scheme (i.e. not the one they put in our AST), we had no gas safety certificate, and there was further misrepresentation (said there was a fridge freezer and chest freezer, there was neither).
12) We tried to contact them and were ignored. Finally, we sent a pre-action protocol letter outlining our claim and restating that we were open to negotiate rescission of the contract and our monies paid back. This was ignored.
13) 14 days later we filed a court claim against the landlord which included all the money we paid and damages (around 7k) and also the fines for them not giving us the proper prescribed information (£6.6k) so our case is currently in the fast track (we found out after this may not be the best thing).
14) The landlord is now defending and counterclaiming (we are waiting for the details of their defence and counterclaim in the post but assuming this is for loss of rent up to the new tenant move in date, irrespective of the illegal eviction).
15) One last point is that the MCOL apparently made a clerical error and accidentally discontinued our claim on the 17th of Jan without telling us, and we spent the last week or so reinstating it.
I am now unsure of what our next steps should be so any advice on what you think we should do would be hugely appreciated.
Thank you all!