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MemmaJ

Urgent help needed with a problem!

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I am a single Mum of 5 year old twins, and I currently privately rent my semi-detached home through a Letting Agency.

 

I have never really had any problems with them - my tenancy is only ever renewed on a 6 month basis (as apparently the Landlord is wary of me as a single mother, not being able to make the payments! Even though I've never missed one). Any minor repairs (broken bath taps, falling roof tiles, etc) are usually completed within a couple of day without any fuss.

 

Last winter, a pipe underneath my front garden burst. I reported it and it was fixed within a couple of days.

 

On Sunday morning, I woke up to find another pipe had burst overnight - except this one was flowing out very fast. My front door is down some steps, and the burst pipe is under a raised soil bedding area which is surrounded by a small brick wall, right opposite my front door. The water was running down the sloped side of soil bedding area and into the small paved area at the front of the house.

 

The Letting Agency was obviously closed, so I phoned the emergency mobile number for them and was met with a stroppy attitude. I was told that "nothing could be done about it" because it was Sunday and she couldn't be bothered to go into the office and look at the files to see if the Landlord took out insurance the last time it happened.

I asked her to then please phone me on Monday and let me know what was going to happen.

 

Nobody phoned me on Monday, but she E-Mailed me and told me that the Waterboard had been and had a look but wouldn't do anything because it falls within my property boundaries and they are therefore not responsible for it.

So she said a company called Waterlink were contacted (the same people who did it last time) regarding a quote.

 

I heard from no-one Tuesday, so I phoned them again on Wednesday - telling them that the water is getting deeper, it's now above the damp-proof course, and that it's unacceptable for me and my 2 small children to have to wade through 2 inches of water to get to our front door.

Again, I was met with attitude and was told that although they "understand my predicament, they can't just go ahead and do any work without providing the landlord with a quote". I was told Waterlink would be out to look at it "tomorrow" (ie: today).

 

I've come home from work today, after picking up my children from the childminder, and found that it's got even worse - the bricks in the wall have obviously now shifted under the pressure, and it is literally pouring out of the wall like a waterfall in one area, and slowly coming out from between the bricks in many other areas. Therefore it's now starting fall onto my front step (potentially will go under my front door) and the water on the path is now about 3-4 inches deep.

 

Again, I phoned the emergency contact number this evening, and was again met with attitude.

 

I really think it's unacceptable - me and my chidren got absolutely soaked just walking to the front door this evening. We had to strip off from the waist down as soon as we got in because out shoes, socks and the bottoms of our trousers were soaked! I'm also very concerned about what I'm going to wake up to in the morning, now that it's pouring out so much from the wall.

 

The pipe has now been churning out water for nearly 6 days. My rent isn't exactly cheap either - I pay £800 a month, so I really think this is not on.

 

Does anyone have any advice, or legal information that may help me with this matter?

 

Thank you.


EMMA

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First thing tomorrow morning call the council structural surveyor on their emergency number. Should be in yellow poages, if not ring the council and ask for the emergecy structural surveyor. This sounds serious and my primary concern, like you is for you and your twins.

 

If you feel unsafe in any way at all, go to friends, neighbours or a hotel for the night - worry about paying later, but only if you genuinely are worried.

 

From what you have desribed the property will be damaged severely and may be structuarlly unsound after 5 days of water pouring into it. The agent have been wreckless here. As an emergency measure you can always ask the water board to cut of the supply until this is dealt with.

 

I am amazed at how inept agents can be. if that was my poroperty I would be fuming because it now has many thousands of pounds damage. Possibly so bad it could need demolishing iof the foundations have shifted, which does sound possible if bricks have moved. Either way it is not safe.

 

Also contact the housing department at the council tomorrow. You would be eligible for emergecy housing if the surveyor says it is unsound.

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I also think the LL is not going to be too pleased at the Agent's inaction. You have a legal right to be supplied with your landlord's address. If the agency refuse to supply it, write to them and state that you require the landlord's address and that they are legally required to give it. I would then contact the LL direct.

 

JimmySpangle's advice is sound and I should follow it as soon as possible. The Agent's behaviour is totally unacceptable and you should put a complaint to the head of the agency, in writing and in particular the attitude of the so-called emergency contact!

 

If nothing is done in the next day or so, you should write and state that unless this extremely urgent work is carried out immediately, you will arrange for a contractor yourself and deduct the costs from your rent.

 

Good luck. I hope you get it sorted out as soon as possible.


Kentish Lass

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

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Sorry, I dont think I worded it very well - the water is not pouring though the bricks of my HOUSE, it's pouring through the bricks in the garden wall that surrounds the raised soil area in which the burst pipe is located. Previously the water was just running over the top of the wall, down onto the paved area at the front of my house - now it is also coming through the bricks of the wall itself. And it's THOSE bricks that have shifted - not in my house.

 

My concern about that is that

a) the wall may collapse and will also bring a mud/soil slide with it, right in front of my front door!

and b) the fact that it's coming through the bricks means that it's now pouring onto my front step (potentially under my front door overnight tonight!) and making the water that was already surrounding the front of the house, deeper by the hour! It was already above the damp-proof course before today!

 

 

We are supposed to be going away tomorrow night for my twins birthday, but I don't feel like I can go anywhere until I know this has been/is going to be sorted out.

Edited by MemmaJ
Omitted information

EMMA

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Ring the agent first thing in the morning and insist on being given the Landlord's address (and, if you can get it, telephone number - but they do not have to give you this.)

 

Don't be nice, tell them you have kept notes of all communication with them and if the property is damaged by their negligent behaviour, you will make such information available to the landlord should he decide to sue them!

 

Tell them you are not prepared to continue with this and will be contacting the Environmental Health Department at the local council if they don't sort it out without further delay.

 

I would then be tempted to move upstairs anything precious and go away for the weekend. Provided your own property is protected, I think you have done all you can to prevent damage to the LL's property. It is not your fault the LL is using a useless agent.


Kentish Lass

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

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If not already done document this too by way of photographs.

 

Do this as soon as you can. That way, later, there is then no doubt as to what has happened here.

 

The Agent may perhaps realise the mistake they have made at your / your landlord's expense and try to wriggle out of this.

 

Their behaviour is not reasonable, or acceptable, so don't let them off the hook, not yet.


As for me, happy to help out. I am not a Landlord, but I have been in the past. I am not an Agent, but I have been in the past. I am, therefore, a has been, so always seek independent and suitably qualified advice elsewhere before relying upon whatever has been posted here :-)

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