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Short Assured Tenancy - habitable condition

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Long story short...

 

Any experts on Scottish short assured tenancies here? We've just rented a property and there are problems which are having an impact on health, namely damp and air quality.

 

The land where the house is situated was flooded a few years back, and it will take a few years for the land to return to its normal water table level. The land under the house is still damp, causing an unpleasant smell in the house, not to mention the potential for hazardous spores finding their way into our lungs.

 

The piping under the floor has old cladding on it. The cladding has deteriorated with age, and is disintegrating. The particles are entering the house and circulating in the air. This is aggravating my partner's asthma and god knows what damage it could do to our new born baby.

 

We are effectively being released from our obligations for the tenancy duration (6 months) and are having our deposit and month rent refunded, minus our landlords estate agent fees (approx £250).

 

Any experts feel we should accept this (we really need the money for our new new digs), or do we have a case and go for a full refund plus removal costs, hotel expenses (we had to stay in a hotel one night the problem was so bad), etc etc? We believe the house was not habitable and therefore should never have been let.

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It sounds as if the property is not fit for habitation and as such I think deducting £250 is a bit excessive. I would be tempted to say no. If you google scottish tenancy law, there are some very informative websites but I am not sure that your specific situation would be covered. In England and Wales, most councils have someone who helps private tenants - and there is also the Environmental Health department - you should see if your local council has these services. Considering the conditions you describe, I suspect the environmental health would be prepared to get in volved - and of course, it is quite possible that if you mention contacting them to the agent, their £250 demand might dwindle......


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 Kentish. Environmental Health have already been out to see the house and identified the problem, although they didn't comment on the suitability to live in. EH took a sample of the cladding to check for asbestos so once the results are in, hopefully he'll send us a written report. Quite simply, the place can't be lived in to an acceptable standard. I have no chronic breathing problems but after only 10-15 minutes in the property I can feel a wee bit wheezy myself, and much longer I get a headache. A joiner friend has confirmed the smell is that of dry rot. The missus has her 6 week post natal checkup today so hopefully the doctor can point us in the direction of further help.

 

I actually sought advice from a solicitor who feels I would have a good case to ask for everything back- full deposit, full rent, removal costs, hotel, etc. He recommeds we ask for it, and if he won't give it then accept his offer so long as we don't sign a full and final settlement, then take him to small claims for the remainder. If we accept his offer we have lost over £500.

 

We have just started moving our stuff into our new home to discover another problem. All of our clothes etc are stinkning and will need washed. Soft furnishings such as pillows, cushions, and matresses are stinking right through and will have to be replaced. We're probably going to have to chuck our sofas in the skip. Everything else will have to be washed down. Our new home is currently smelling of it too because of all the dust ingrained into our clothes etc.

 

I think we will definately be taking a small claims action.

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