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tro2

Can I break this tenancy agreement?

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I am very glad I found this site. I moved into a property in the middle of May with 6 month AST. From the first day we moved in, we have received several letters plus a visit from a bailiff, trying to get hold of the landlord. She seems to be in debt up to her eyeballs. We have also found out that another property of hers has been auctioned off because she did not keep up payments with her mortgage and did not contact the Mortgage Company to make any arrangements. She simply ignored it.

 

Also, we requested that some windows be repaired before we signed the tenancy, as well as replacing a faulty faucet. She agreed to both in the presence of the agents who are managing the property. Now, she says that the repairs are not necessary. On the day we moved in, she claimed that the handle of the large sliding doors leading out to the garden had broken off when she was leaving. Currently, the door is bolted at the bottom and we have no access to the garden through that door. Four weeks later and weekends of promising to have someone come to fix the problem, nothing happened. When we threatened to withhold rent, she quickly had someone come look at the doors and I found out that the doors were damaged before we even viewed the property and she did not tell us or the estate agent.

 

Finally, on some legal advice, we requested that she provide evidence that she has permission to rent this property from her mortgage company. She advised that it was in the post to the Estate Agent. It still has not arrived. The Estate Agents have sent her a letter advising that they will no longer manage the property for her if she does not start fulfilling her promises. She has ignored this. It looks like she does not have permission to rent the property and has not kept up with the mortgage on this property. It is evident that she does not have the money to do the repairs. In the clause 3.6 of our tenancy, it says that the landlord should have all appropriate consents necessary to sign this agreement. Do we have grounds to request that we surrender the tenancy? Can we also sue for damages and compensation? We really just want to move elsewhere and get back the costs of moving.

Edited by tro2

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Do we have grounds to request that we surrender the tenancy?

 

No, I am afraid not. Even if the consent of the mortgage company was needed and not obtained there is still a tenancy, though it may not bind the mortgage company.

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Thanks for your reply. Under the landlord's obligations in the tenancy agreement, she is supposed to have the necessary permissions. How come if the landlord breaks a clause of the agreement there is no recourse? And are we supposed to continue to pay her money when she is not going to fix what she promised and despite the fact she withheld information about damage to the property?

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Whilst the law recognises the right of a party to a contract to repudiate it if the other side is in breach, the right has only very limited application to tenancies. Basically your right is to sue for damages for any breach of contract. So far you have not suffered any loss because she did not obtain permission. However, if the mortgage co steps in and gets you out, you can sue for damages.

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So I have to put up with the bailiffs etc until I am actually given 2 weeks to leave the property by the mortgage company even though I know that's where it's heading? I assume then I have no rights regarding the repairs etc and I can't even withhold rent until they are done. Essentially I have to pay the landlord on time for a run down property which I could be evicted from with short notice.

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You dont HAVE to do anything! but you could leave yourself open to court action by the landlord. So you need to way up what to do in your own best interests. To be honest the problems seem minor so suggets you keep paying and see what happens, but keep on look out for somewhere else in case it gets repossessed. then you can sue LL, but probably got no money to pay you anyway?

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If the property needs repairs, write to the landlord (copy letting agent) setting down what they are, give the landlord 14 days and then say if (s)he fails to undertake such then say you will undertake the repairs yourself and deduct the sum from the next rent payment.

 

Provide receipts to the landlord if you undertake the repairs.

 

With these types of landlord you need to take control.

 

Ensure that you open any letter that says 'To the occupier' or similar, as they could be from the lender saying that the house is being repossessed.


If I have been helpful please click on my star and add a comment.

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Further to my last post, a leak started from the sink in the (only) bathroom and the estate agent managing the property had a plumber shut off the water to the sink. He said that a new faucet was needed. That was two weeks ago. We have to brush our teeth in the bathtub. Apparently, when the estate agent provided a quote for getting the work done, the landlord said it was too expensive and she would take care of it herself. And the doors will be fixed in about three weeks which is a lie since the builder told me it would take one week three weeks ago! Obviously, she is waiting for rent (due today) to get any money to do the repairs. Also, I had a debt collector at the front door yesterday looking for her. It's wonderful that I have to pay rent and be subjected to all this! I am so tempted not to make the payment today....

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You should just do as I said my post 7 above.

 

Take control.


If I have been helpful please click on my star and add a comment.

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I think Guidot is right. Your best way is to list the repairs. Give her 14 days to carry them out. Then if no result get them done, and deduct from the next rental payment. I would also inform her that since she was already notified of the need for a new faucet two weeks ago, that you are going ahead with that particular urgent repair.


Kentish Lass

Information given is based on my knowledge and experience and is not to be considered as legal advice

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Thanks for the advice. I have sent a letter via the estate agents who are "managing" the property. Last week, HMRC came to our door looking for her. The mobile number that I had for the landlord is disconnected and the Estate agents have not been able to get in contact with her for 2 weeks. Apparently, someone called them and said that they would now be handling things on her behalf because she has left the country. However, no one can contact her to verify that she agreed to this!

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tro,

 

Whether it be written in your agreement or not I understand that, providing you adhere to the agreement, then the landlord shall allow you quiet and peaceful enjoyment of the property, I believe this is a legal requirement.

 

I have a lot of maintenance and uncleanliness issues with the house I rent, i.e. for week 1 I had to sleep on a downstairs sofa and then no bathroom facility for 6 weeks etc. etc. etc.

 

Talking to a solicitor last week he quoted the 'quiet and peaceful enjoyment' that aside from my inconveniences and hardships i was being denied 'quiet and peaceful enjoyment'

 

The solicitor suggested my course of action should be to make a county court claim (you can do it online) for a monetary claim equivalent to a reduction in the rent so, for starters, I have claimed a 50% reduction for week 1 and a 25% reduction for weeks 2-6, problems still continue so, no doubt I shall be making further claim(s).

 

So, rather than get into fisticuffs over whether a permission etc. was obtained you might consider making a monetary county court claim for any inconviences, hardships and the landlord's failing to provide quiet and peaceful enjoyment bearing in mind you have bailiffs etc. knocking on the door hence you can't even risk leaving a window open when you are not present in the property that would allow the bailiffs entry to take away your property and possessions etc.

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you might consider making a monetary county court claim for any inconviences, hardships and the landlord's failing to provide quiet and peaceful enjoyment bearing in mind you have bailiffs etc. knocking on the door hence you can't even risk leaving a window open when you are not present in the property that would allow the bailiffs entry to take away your property and possessions etc.

 

Seems a bit pointless trying to sue someone who is up to their ears in debt, obviously has no money and for whom you have no proper address. Just throwing good money after bad.

 

And if you start paying less rent, the likelihood of the mortgage company foreclosing becomes more probable - in which case you would at least be able to leave the property since they will evict you.

 

I think it unlikely that bailiffs will try to take your property since you can prove you are renting. If you are worried, you can actually contact the bailiffs department at your local court and ask their advice. They are in fact very helpful.

 

I would still consider having the most necessary repairs carried out and deducting same from the rent payments.


Kentish Lass

Information given is based on my knowledge and experience and is not to be considered as legal advice

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Thanks for the advice re: money claim online. I feel like a sitting duck to be honest. It's obvious that this property will be repossessed since the landlord has probably left the country to escape her debts. The question is when. I know who the mortgage company is but they won't give me information because of data protection. I have paid full rent until the end of this month but if the landlord does not surface this month, I think I should seriously consider pre-empting this disaster and finding somewhere else to live. How can she take me to court if I leave the tenancy early if no-one can contact her for over 6 weeks?

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Tro,

 

You really do need legal advice from a solicitor or a Citizens Advice Bureau or similar.

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I agree with MartinPC. You do need to take advice from someone qualified in this particular area. Not just any solicitor, but one who specialises.

 

I know the mortgage co won't give you any info, but might they tell you whether you are under threat of eviction? If so, sitting tight till it happens would get you out of any obligation to LL, although you probably wouldn't get much time to find alternative accommodation.

 

If you do leave and LL does decide to sue you at some time in the future, you will be liable for about 4 months rent. Legally, she would be entitled to do that as you would be in breach of your tenancy agreement.

 

Have you thought how you will get your deposit back?

 

With all the problems you have had, any chance that the Environmental Health dept. might declare it unfit to live in?????


Kentish Lass

Information given is based on my knowledge and experience and is not to be considered as legal advice

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I spoke with a solicitor via 'Community Legal Service Direct' last week, their number is 0845 345 4345, I qualified for legal aid so, for free, they put me through to a very knowledgable solicitor who provided some very good and helpful information, as they say "he was as sound as a pound".

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Thanks for the number. I might give it a try. An update on the situation. I received a letter from the estate agents about 2 weeks ago stating that they would no longer be managing the property. Previously, they had sent the landlady a letter threatening this because she was not working with them and providing the information we requested. About 2 days before we received the letter, I had a call from some man saying that he would manage the property now. I told him that I didn't know who he was and had received no communication from the landlady that he would be taken over matters. I requested some communication from her confirming this. I still haven't received a letter or even a call since then. The phone number I have for her has been dead for weeks. No repairs have been done and rent is due at the end of this week. I am sure that someone will come out of the woodwork before then because I don't know who to pay rent to!

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Now that the managing agents have notified you that they are no longer representing this landlord, and until you are provided with written authority from your landlord (and adequate proof that this is genuine), you DO NOT HAVE TO PAY RENT to this other person. Put your rent payments into a savings account as once you are notified you will be liable for these rental payments.

 

If there are urgent repairs (e.g. faucet) get it done and deduct from rent, but make sure you keep the invoice.

 

Whilst sticking to the letter of the law, I would also get some proper advice about whether you should find alternative accommodation without penalty. Normally, you would only be able to do this with your landlord's agreement and on their terms.


Kentish Lass

Information given is based on my knowledge and experience and is not to be considered as legal advice

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Kentish Lass is correct here.

Agent not managing, you should have the Landlords address to serve notices on (section 48), if you don't then no rent is payable.

I would suggest that you don't pay rent but put it into a safe deposit account just in case you need it in the future.

Get the works done if you want to stay and follow this procedure:-

  • give the landlord notice of the disrepair and a reasonable time to remedy it; then
  • inform the landlord (preferably in writing) that you will do the repair yourself unless the landlord complies with her/his obligations; then
  • allow a further reasonable period for the landlord to do the work; then
  • obtain three estimates for the cost of the work from reputable builders; then
  • write to the landlord again, enclosing copies of the estimates and reminding her/him of her/his obligation to do the work, giving a further reasonable period to carry it out. The letter should warn that, otherwise, the tenant will do the work her/himself and deduct the cost from rent; then, if there is no response
  • arrange for the contractor who gave the lowest estimate to do the work, and obtain (and send to the landlord) receipts, with a request for payment; then
  • if the landlord does not pay, the tenant may deduct the cost from the rent (but not other charges such as service charges), then send the landlord a breakdown of the amount and period of the rent to be withheld.

 

If you don't have the Landlord's details then address all letters to the Landlord at the agent's adress.

 

If you don't wish to stay look for alternative accomodation and get out of there.

Should the Landlord ever attempt to take you to court re the vacation of the property prior to the end of the fixed term I'd say you have a wonderful case to counter sue.

I'd do this in the following way:-

Approach the (ex) agent and explain that you will be leaving the property.

(They put you in, so do have some responsibility although they have stated they are no longer managing the property)

Check your Tenancy Agreement, you should have an address on there to serve notices to the Landlord (this may well be the agent's address but if this wasn't amended when the LL took over directly then you can only write to the agent)

Under section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 the Landlord has repairing obligations which obviously they are not keeping to so why would they attempt to take you to court???

 

This is risky obviously but from experience I can't imagine that they'll go down this route.

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Thanks for the advice so far. The address on my tenancy agreement was c/o of the estate agents who are no longer managing the property. They have supplied me with the address they have on file this week and I have sent a letter by courier. No-one has signed for it thus far which could mean that no-one is at the property. Rent is due tomorrow and no-one has contacted me. Sounds to me that she has truly bolted from her debts and I might be getting the bailiff knock on the door any day now.

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As it seems there does not seem to be a way to contact this LL and there seem to be some shady goings on in the background, I would attempt to send a letter stating you want to quit the property at a date convenient to you and state if you do not get a response in 28 days you will consider the proposal accepted. Copy the letter and send it to yourself via special delivery.

As said before some things do leave you open to the LL claiming against you but i would take the gamble after this that they would not want to risk spending the money to pursue a tentative breach of contract that could blow up in their face.

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I agree with Just4Let and AustinP.

 

By the way - no need to use a courier - simply post your letter first class at a post office and get a proof of posting (free). A "belt and braces" approach is to do the same from another post office, possibly the next day if not the same day. No judge in the future is likely to believe that two letters posted from different post offices have both gone astray! I would also send a copy to the Agent as the last address provided to you for service by the Landlord.

 

Good luck. Hope you have less trouble with your new home!!!

 

By the way - you haven't mentioned your deposit - was it protected etc.? This could be a whole difference ballgame!!


Kentish Lass

Information given is based on my knowledge and experience and is not to be considered as legal advice

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Very good idea about the proof of posting. I will do that next time. I called the man who contacted me early July and asked him to have the landlady call me. He hadn't heard from her for weeks either. She still hasn't called. I am now actively looking for a new property. The deposit was protected (I have a letter confirming it somewhere). So I should be alright with that, right?

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I just received a letter in horrible broken English asking for the rent to be deposited into a bank account. It was signed PP and some squiggle on behalf of the landlady. It also claimed that it was our fault that the repairs hadn't been done due to our "responds". Also "the landlady has tried to get the repairs for the sink at a fordable price she had found, since the agent tap repair quoted a very high price." I am looking at some properties this week and getting out of here by the end of the month if I can.

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