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Please help - very stressed - what are our rights?


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I will try to make this as clear as consise as I can. We have signed a 12 month short term tenancy agreement. We paid 2 months rent as a deposit and the landlord cashed the cheque. It is a private agreement between ourselves and the landlord - there are no agencies involved.

 

We are two females renting a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment. I have one bedroom and bathroom and my friend has the other. Since we have moved in the landlord has been around several times. He gives us notice, but turns up 'within' a 24 hour period. I would say in the past 3 months he has been around 6 times. He checks the flat and then sends finiky emails about it.

 

We have had no washing machine for 6 weeks as he comes around and 'tries' to fix it and then leaves. We have also had the oven break, 2 toilet seats break and one of the toilet flushes - each time he has insisted on coming around and doing an ameture job on it - the last one involved pressing window putty into a broken overflow under the sink (my DIY knowledge basic as it is knows this is a reciepe for disaster>

 

This morning I have received this email :

 

I am looking to fit the new washing machine on Sunday. The plinth and door I will store away in the loft and fit a new plinth as long as I can get one that matches the old colour. Otherwise you will have to do with out.

On a separate issue I am very disappointed in the state of _____ room I was not asked whether the chest of draws could be moved ? This will now mark the carpet when I move it back. There were also stains on the new carpet. The bathroom with the broken toilet seat was the worse thing ! The door strip to the main entrance to the flat was also adrift.

This does not in anyway reflect you, I am totally happy with you as a tenant. I have been totally honest with you both and the monthly rent is more then reasonable. I am going to have to review the term of tenancy we have signed and review the amount of deposit.

Basically we feel as if we are being bullied . He has taken a dislike to my housemate and often texts me tell ____ to do this, tell _____ to do that ... he is around ALL of the time mooching, moving things, and has been in while I have been at work without my permission and switched things around. The apartment is kept immaculately, and the toilet seat he has mentioned in the above email HAS been highlighted to him on several occassions - along with the stain on the carpet that was in the inventory. He will not let us have cable television fitted because it will 'mark the wall' and we are no able to have bedding or furniture that does not 'match the colour scheme' surely this is NONE of his business? We are also not able to hang pictures without his prior consent, when he comes in, scratches his head and then says no (then i recieve another email about a wonky towel in the bathroom, or the washing up not being done!!)

We really do not know what to do - this email suggests he wants to throw my friend out - who has done nothing other than have the landlord take a dislike to her.

Should he be around all of the time? How can we stop this. Also this email above has come about from another trip to 'fix' the washing machine - I thought if a landlord was carrying out an official inspection we should be told about it.

No idea where to go next without making him take a dislike to me too !!!

Thank you for your help in advance.

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So you have an AST agreement which you signed?

First point was the two months rent taken as a deposit or for two months rent! how is it worded in the agreement. If as a deposit has he protected it?

Second point you are entitled to quiet enjoyment of the property and he has no right to keep coming around, unlees by agreement and to sort things out as you have stated. Bit of give and take on that one. However if he comes round or wants to come round just to be nosey then tell him no! he has no right to do this or comment on the presentation or condition as you living there and it has nothing to do with him.

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Change the locks, that will stop him entering when you are not there, keep the old one and replace it at the end of the tenancy.

Not being allowed to install cable tv or put up pictures is not uncommon, it can damage the walls, and is an absolute bugger to sort out after a tenant has left!

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I would be absolutely furious if I was a Landlord and the tenant changed the locks. I'm not sure if this would be considered a breach of contract on your part.

 

Do you know for certain that the LL has been in the property without your permission whilst you have been at work?

 

In the first instance I would write to him politely to let him know that you are both unhappy with the frequent interruptions which breach your right to quiet enjoyment as raydetinu has pointed out (this should be in your AST) and make sure that he is aware that he is breaking the AST if he enters the property without notice - unless of course it is an emergency.

 

Is the property so cheap that you wouldn't consider moving?

 

Quite frankly, if my LL was so creepy I would want to give notice to quit.

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Thank you for your replys thus far.

 

To clear up a few things we paid 2 months rent as a deposit (£1400) plus the first months rent and every payment from then on.

 

The LL has been in the flat without permission, I have had emails from him (which I have saved) saying 'popped in at lunch time was not happy that the washing up has not been done'. Other times when I have got home from work lights have been switched off that were left on and things moved in the flat - unless we have a ghost I can only presume it is him.

 

Thanks for your advice. Changing the locks is not an options - no way, dont want anything to get nasty. We love the apartment and although the rent is not as 'reasonable' as he states we do want to stay as we were looking for so long to find the perfect place and thought we had found it! I am however considering giving notice if the washing machine and oven is not finally fixed this weekend as he said it would be.

 

Phew ... rant 2 over !

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Sounds like the ex-landlord of my neighbour!

 

Recommend a polite but firm letter reminding the landlord of your rights to quiet enjoyment, and the fact that he cannot review the tenancy agreement until it ends.

 

Insist that all communication is done by email or letter, not text.

 

Has the landlord protected your deposit, because you can bet that there will be an argument at the end of the tenancy. Suddenly, he will forget about saving money by doing things himself, and get in a tradesman who will charge a fortune, and the fortune will be passed on to you.

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A landlord visiting unannounced, letting himself in and making unreasonable demands can be seen as harassment. It's best as has been previously said to let him know that he is upsetting your quiet enjoyment of your home and asking him not to do it again. If he does continue then get the local Council, CAB, etc involved or get some legal advice.

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I would be absolutely furious if I was a Landlord and the tenant changed the locks. I'm not sure if this would be considered a breach of contract on your part.

 

Most LL's do get a bit aggrevied, but the tenant is quite within their rights to do it, as long as they replace the old lock at the end of the tenancy!

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When I was at Uni and renting with some friends we had problems with the landlady even though she had employed a letting agent. She was a first time landlord and had no clue about her responsibilities or the costs involved. We had problems getting her junk cleared out of the property (we couldn't use the living room for over a month as it was all stored in there). If a repair was needed she always hummed and hawed over getting it done due to costs.

 

Our favourite moment was over the Christmas period when only one of us was staying at the house. My friend was there with her boyfriend when about 11pm one night she heard a key in the lock. She was wondering why one of us was back early and went into the hall to find 2 strange people there. One of the radiators was not working and this was our landlady coming round after weeks of complaining with a plumber friend of hers to get it fixed. She couldn't see the problem with her coming round at 11pm, with no notice given and letting herself in (didn't even have the courtesy to ring the bell first).

 

The problem with many of these landlords is they feel as it is their property they have the right to do whatever they like. Also find that if they used to love there they still feel it's their home and are an even bigger nightmare with their demands, etc.

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The law is very strict on this point. It is a basic tenet of the tenancy laws of England and Wales that the tenant should be allowed "quiet enjoyment" of his/her home.

 

The law says (regardless of what is written in an AST - the law overrides it) that LL or LL's representative (e.g. LA, tradesman etc.) must give 24 hours WRITTEN notice of any proposed visit. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO AGREE. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO LET THEM IN - UNLESS there is a genuine emergency such as a gas leak.

 

He has absolutely NO RIGHT whatsoever to tell you how to live, when to wash up, what bedding to have etc. etc. You can move the furniture, but he is within his rights to forbid the hanging of pictures as this can seriously damage walls. The man is a nutter and obviously knows nothing about tenancy law. One of the main problems with new buy-to-let landlords is that they do not understand that when you let a property it is not "yours" any more, it is the "tenant's" until the end of their tenancy.

 

He cannot change the terms of the tenancy and certainly cannot change the deposit. By the way, where is the deposit protected??? The law says that the deposit must be protected in one of the 3 government schemes and you should have been notified within 14 days of paying it where it is protected. If he hasn't protected it and informed you of the details, you can sue him for the deposit + 3xdeposit - something to keep up your sleeve for the future.

 

I am assuming that your new washing machine is being fitted as I type!! Now you need to do the following:

 

You should write to the LL (no more phone or text) and tell him that his frequest visits are disturbing your quiet enjoyment of the property, that you have taken advice and that these frequent visits amount to harrassment, which is a serious criminal offence. As a result of this, you are changing the locks on the property and will replace them with the original locks at the end of the tenancy.

 

Tell him that all future communication should be in writing and that further text messages or visits without the proper written notice (such visits which you do not have to allow if you do not wish) will be considered as further harrassment which will result in you taking legal action.

 

The repairs and maintenance issues are going to cause difficulty. You cannot insist that he gets them done by tradesmen. Do you have a male relative or friend (preferably confident and maybe quite big....) who would be willing to be with you when he comes to repair things?

 

I would suggest putting headings in your letter (e.g. Harrassment; Repairs and Maintenance)

 

Under Reps and Maint, list the outstanding items of repair required and request that he make an appointment to carry these out so that you can arrange to have a friend with you during such visit.

 

These actions are going to seriously annoy him, but you have to do this for your own peace and quiet, and he needs to be made aware of the law.

 

Don't let him bully you, and if he comes round insisting on entering the property - call the police and say you fear for your safety. Don't mess around. If the police say it is a civil matter, tell them they are wrong and should back you up since harrassment is a criminal offence.

 

If you have any doubts about any of this, go and talk to the CAB or Shelter and they will advise you. You do not have to live like this.

 

You say you signed a 12-month AST - is there a break clause in it? I honestly think that you would be well advised to look for somewhere else with a more acceptable landlord.

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 would be absolutely furious if I was a Landlord and the tenant changed the locks. I'm not sure if this would be considered a breach of contract on your part.

 

I am a landlord and would not put my tenants in the position of having to change the locks!! Unlike this LL who obviously has no knowledge of his or the tenants' rights.

Kentish Lass

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

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