I am in pretty desperate need of advice!
I rented a unit to use as a photography studio around 18 month ago.
When I looked at the unit, there were a few leaks, which the landlord said he would repair, but never did.
I carried on paying rent, but not using the unit as a studio, more of a storage space, as the leaks prevented me from having my equipment set up.
Fast forward to December (my dad was incredibly ill and passed away in the August of last year, so all of the unit leaking and not being able to use it went right to the back of my mind)
the landlord gave me a polite reminder that my rent is due.
I, again, politely reminded him that the unit leaks and nothing has been done about the leaks since I'd been there.
He apologised and told me that I wouldn't be paying any rent until he'd repaired the leaks.
I then spoke to the landlord in July, him asking what was happening etc. and whereabouts the leaks are etc. so he could get them fixed.
I explained that I don't use it etc. and most of my work involves me working away (or I use my garage as a small studio) and I wouldn't be back until mid August.
I then start getting messages from the landlord saying that I'm owing the full missing months of rent, from the last time I paid in December.
I received a letter the other day from a debt collector company saying that I owe the landlord £4248, which is the 10 months rent (£400/m) plus a late payment fee.
The guy was friendly enough and I explained the entire situation and he appreciated that I as clearly not trying to rip them off etc. He said that as it's a commercial property, the fact the landlord told me not to pay until he'd fixed the leaks was completely irrelevant unfortunately.
The unit still leaks next to the 3-phase 415V main fuseboard, so as far as I'm concerned, it's a death trap and I could never have clients into the building etc.
He said that even though the landlord had said that (not paying rent etc.), I was still responsible and if anything, should have had the roof repaired and taken it out of the rent.
Where do I stand?
The chap I spoke to said the amount may be negotiable,
but to be frank, I feel that I shouldn't have been paying full rent for the period that I was,
let alone for the period that he told me not to pay through.
I fully appreciate that although the guy I spoke to was very friendly etc.,
but is obviously working for the landlord and not myself,
so there is going to be an issue of him biasing towards their interests and not my own.
There's just no way I could afford to pay that figure, it's hard enough working as a freelance photographer at the best of times, let alone paying rent on a unit that's been unusable since I got it.
Where do I stand?
If anybody has anything impartial to say,
that'd be great and thanks in advance.
Sorry for long post.