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Hi, everyone....I'm posting on behalf of my mum-in-law regarding her privately rented house she has been in for four months. She is a young 70 year old! and its her first time renting privately, but doesn't understand all the ins and outs, especially regarding her deposit. We have told her about the deposit scheme that her landlord should use (?) but she has said her contract just says that the estate agent her landlord uses is holding it. Is there a letter template I can use to request information into which scheme they are using? because they are treating her awful at the minute - back boiler to heat the house not working, stating they are going to keep £200 of her deposit to 'fumigate the house' regarding her cats and their fleas! (even though they are treated!) and an awful lot of repairs the house needs doing to which they keep saying "yes we know about that" but do nothing! We really want to help her sort things out with your help! So many thanks for replies! Steve

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Hi Steve. I am no expert by any means!

 

My partner has just left a house (she had two cats) and the landlord wanted the place "deep-cleaned". If the property had not been professionally cleaned when the let commenced then from what I can work out there is no requirement to have the property professionally cleaned on departure. If they have permitted pets in the hosue then I would imagine there would be something in the tenancy agreement to deal with the cleaning, if not tough for the landlord. A professional clean was carried out on our departure and cost £85 and seems to have been quite acceptable to the landlord.

 

As regards the deposit, please refer to the sticky on the Tenancy Deposit Scheme. Basically, the landlord is required by law to hold the deposit under the TDS and is also required to write to the tenant providing details in the prescribed form. If the estate agents are a large chain then they should be able to provide you with details (refer to sticky for pro-forma letter requesting information). We have just dealt with a small agent and they were using a third party (Let Insure?).

 

On the issue of repairs, again the landlord normally has responsibilty to provide basic services and repairs to the fabric of the property. Heating is a basic requirement. Please refer to the sticky (they are really really good - very informative). I suggest that you get hold of a copy of the tenancy agreement and have a good read.

 

To my mind, if the landlord is not carrying out their obligations under the agreement then they are in breach of contract. I do not think it would be unreasonable to withold rent pending the repairs being carried out. This is a personal opinion and I think that before such action is taken you should seek appropriate further advice, any action being taken should also be stated in writing with a reasonable timescale given.

 

Hope that helps

 

Peter

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Hi Steve.

 

From reading other posts, it is not ok to withold rent, however, costs incurred in carrying out repairs may possibly be deducted but advice shoudl be sought before adopting this course of action. Refer to the thread "Can I withold rent".

 

Peter

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It is NOT advisable to withold rent, even if there is disrepair. This will almost certainly lead to you being evicted at the landlords earliest opportunity.

 

See the shelter advice guide on disrepair:

http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/repairs_and_bad_conditions/repairs_in_private_lets/tenants_doing_repairs

 

There is a way of holding back money from the rent in order to do the repairs yourself, but this is extreme, risky and a very long process that must be followed exactly to prevent any repercussions from the landlord.

Edited by xoAmyox
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If you have any issues concerning your health you should contact the councils enviromental health dept. They can force the LL to make repairs.

 

As for the deposit, assuming it's a short assured tenancy. If its not protected then the LL can get into big trouble and you can goto court and claim back 3 times what you paid. A LL who thinks the deposit scheme does not apply to them is a very silly LL indeed.

Ash.

 

If you think I have helped you, please add to my reputation by clicking the star button to the left.

Thankyou.

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Hiya, many thanks to all your replies, my mum-in-law is now thinking of leaving (she only has two more months left to go). The estate agent she has to go through has told her that the landlord has asked if she has heating and hot water, to which she has told them that yes, she has the immersion heater for hot water and a gas fire in her front room, but nothing else (apart from an electric heater that she has to use upstairs). We feel that they are covering their own backs so they don't need to sort the back boiler out (which would heat the house properly) because she has the gas fire and immersion heater, do they still need to get it repaired?. Regarding the bond and deposit scheme I have read that if you are leaving and believe that the LL hasn't used any scheme at all, that its best not to say anything until you have moved out and then pursue it? If she has to do this, does she have to sue the actual LL or the estate agents the house is let through? Sorry for more questions but I really want her to know where she stands and what she can do! Many thanks again! Regards Steve

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Sorry for coming in on the tail end of a thread - and perhaps not directly answering your latest questions yet either - but hope the following helps in some way:

 

Is the tenancy in England/Wales?

 

When your mum-in-law moved in I take it that the Agents were made aware that she had cats? Please advise.

 

If they were then, personally, I have little or no sympathy for the Agent/Landlord at the moment. What does the tenancy agreement say about cats/pets though?

 

Was the back boiler working when she moved in, or was she led to believe it was in any way?

 

To my mind 'omission' is no defence - so, if the Agent did not say it was not working then, again, little or no sympathy for them. Again, please advise.

 

If she was under the impression that the back boiler was working, or was working when she moved in anyway, then that was part of the 'deal' and would/should have been reflected in the level of rent paid.

 

Subject to your answers I'd be looking to set the details out in writing to the Agents - such as how long this has been going on, so they can't wriggle later - and request that it gets sorted within x days and get them to confirm their intentions too.

 

What are the other items of repair needed and how long have they been outstanding now too?

 

How much of this has already been recorded in writing to the Agent?

 

As for the deposit check with each of three schemes direct - without reference to the Agent - and post back here once you know the answer. General consensus on CAG, as I recall, is not to let on to the Agent/Landlord at this stage if you find it is NOT protected

 

Also, was your mother-in-law provided with an Inventory and/or Schedule of Condition when she moved in and, if so, did she acknowledge receipt/acceptance of the same?

 

As before, please advise, but avoid asking the Agent/Landlord direct at the moment

 

Hope this helps in some way and good luck too

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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Hi there,

 

Thanks for the advice. To summarize, she lives in Lowestoft and the agents were well aware of her pets before she moved in, as many had refused, but these gave her the green light. In the contract it says no pets, only at landlords discretion, so they have added a slip of paper stating they are going to withhold £200 for fumigation (nothing signed though). The property has had a very high turnover of tenants, she has found out since moving in, we now know why. She had an inventory and nothing was said about any faults, especially when she mentioned about an open fire in the winter, so she accepted it as a fully functioning warm home. There was no mention of the back boiler being faulty or she would not have taken it on. Also it was the height of summer when she moved in so for 4 months didn't bother with heating. I personally have repaired the shelving, blinds and the front door (because she couldn't close it properly). She cannot have a bath either, because the mixer tap is so furred up inside, it cannot be switched from shower to bath. When she told the agents about this, their reply was "yes, the previous tenants told us about that"! The boiler is so old you cannot get parts for it. Apparently the landlady lives abroad permanently, hence the delays. This week she has had the agents out again, who have said yes, its cold isn't it? we'll have to get in touch with the landlord again! She has told them that she has visited the council regarding the heating and the agent just said we'll have to see what happens then...not sure what they meant by that? All they say is "we've got to get in touch with the landlord".It just seems like an excuse not to do anything and at the moment she is very cold, we've also told her to visit the local paper to see if they would be interested in pushing the agents with her story! We want to do more for her but live nearly 200 miles away, or else we would be at the agents door every day.

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How much of this is in writing?

 

You mention things like "shelving, blinds and the front door" too, were the Agents notified of these items and what was their response?

 

Main concern here though is heating and hot water and the - to a degree - the level of rent against that which is actually being provided. These things need sorting quickly now, if they can

 

Perhaps need to take a step back, before can charge forward so, quick few questions (typing at speed here may well come back to edit later):

 

Are the Agents members of any professional governing body / trade association? Their website should say - you should be looking for things like RICS ARLA ARMA NAEA etc

 

Does their website show what their own company complaints procedure is, if any?

 

Are they a small independant, or part of a larger chain?

 

PM me the Agents details - name of Landlord too, if you are willing - and I will have a nosy too, although won't be until later today now, as need to go out. Whatever you send me will only be used to assist you and will not be sent to any third party without your prior approval

 

Ideally need the exact wording of the "cats clause" too please (pardon the pun) - and the term of £200 deduction - so can comment further on this

 

If you are agreeable I see no harm in documenting all of what has been going on in writing to the Agent, if not already done (and by way of setting them and their Client up too as needed) and give them ONE opportunity to comment and resolve

 

PM what you can and will see what can come up with - and I'm happy to post on the main forum too, so you can get feedback from others on CAG, just make sure you don't leave anything on the main forum that could identify you at the moment

 

I am pretty sure that they would not to put up with this themselves, why should you and your family?

 

Good luck too, hope this gets sorted quickly now

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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With regard to suing for non-protection of deposit, this can NOT be done in the small claims track and will therefore involve considerable court fees PLUS you would be well advised to use a solicitor as non-small claims are much more complex (more £s). Now, presuming you win, the landlord would almost certainly be ordered to refund those costs to you too. However, you have no guarantee of winning as there are various loopholes that have been confirmed by high court judgements in the last 12 months.

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Hi, once you've got the information from your mother-in-law (thanks for the PM by the way) then get something in writing off to the Agent as soon as you can - but it's so close to Christmas that, personally, I'd be on the phone to the Agent now anyway, if only to find out what you can...

 

Your m-i-l rented the property and was not told of the defective items though. These are problems which, by the Agent's own admissions, they were already aware too. Your m-i-l is paying a certain level of rent to reflect what, she understood, she would be getting. Yes, the Agent may need Client instructions, but the omissions on the part of the Agent are not acceptable.

 

So, a contractor clearly needs to get in to give a report / costings anyway, so can the Agent at least get this aspect of it underway...? Time is short, perhaps, so whilst you're waiting on your m-i-l I'd pick up the 'phone and have an initial chat with the Agent anyway - with your m-i-l's approval, of course

 

Let us know once you got answers to the last of the various questions and good luck too

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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Sometimes the only way to make them do anything is to be proactive. I would withold the rent and write a letter to the Agent stating all the problems that the Tenant has encountered and therefore why they feel they have been overcharged for the property. If the Tenant calculates what they feel they should really having been paying, say £100 less pcm, then work out what is left to pay to the end of the term and pay that amount only in monthly instalments. This way the Tenant is only discounting the rent by a fair proportion due to the lack of facilities that were promised and the Landlord would be hard pushed to claim they just are not paying their rent.

Also ask for the official complaints procedure for the Agent and write to them with your complaint asking for compensation. Then write to ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents) if they are a member with your complaint. Agents who are members hate the thought that they may lose their membership of ARLA.

The Landlord then has several options open to them but the last thing they want is a tenant who doesn't pay, the emphasis will be on the Agents to sort this out with the Landlord and either fix the problems or accept a lower rent. It is normal practice for a Landlord to offer compensation of a lower rent for problems in the property until they are fixed. The Tenant has the option to give notice, or accept the property with the repairs done at the full rent in the future, or take the property at the lower rent without the repairs.

It is just not acceptable to treat Tenants in this way and if the Landlord were to 'play hard ball' and try to reclaim the unpaid rent through the courts, then the Tenant would have a good counterclaim for compensation.

If the Deposit has not been registered then the Landlord cannot serve notice on the Tenant until it is, so the Tenant can stay in the property if they wish. If the Deposit is not registered before the Tenant leaves then they can claim 3 x times the deposit in compensation. If the Deposit is registered (the Agent should be able to tell the Tenant this and should have notified them where it was registered/who holds it at the start). The Landlord cannot take any monies from the deposit without the Tenants agreement or the adjudicator of the Deposit Scheme deciding in their favour.

I suspect that the amount of £200 for the fumigation is the concession the Landlord has made for allowing the cats in the property and I expect this will have to be paid at the end of the term. However, ask for a copy of the invoice for the fumigation because if the Landlord just pockets the money and does not do the work, this can be complained about too.

Renting is fraught with problems but a Tenant who looks like they won't put up with any nonsense and asks for compensation for any problems, is far more likely to be well treated than one who suffers in silence.

FYI: I used to run a Lettings Support Centre for one of the largest chains of Estate Agents, so I have seen what goes on and how some Landlords will just refuse to spend any money and do not care about their Tenants living conditions. This leaves the Agent in a very difficult position but they still have a duty of care to the Tenant, even though they are employed by the Landlord. Always try to chose an Agent who is regulated by ARLA, as at least then you have someone else to complain to and the Agent should adhere to certain minimum standards.

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Ediej6 , hi, agree with much of what you say, save the general consensus on CAG is

 

- withholding rent can be problematical for a tenant on an AST, as possession can be obtained relatively easily. Whilst I would, personally, be prepared to withhold rent (although I've never rented), that has to be weighed up against the Landlord taking the first opportunity to serve notice

- Tenancy Deposit Schemes, again, it appears the general consensus is not to tip the Agent / Landlord off to this. Instead, it seems the initial way forward is to check with the three schemes direct - but not let on to the Agent / Landlord

 

I'm sure there are stickies covering these two aspects, but will see if can check. That said, good to see someone else here coming forward with first hand experience of what it's like out there. Look forward to seeing more of your posts in due course too, perhaps

Edited by NewSAHD
Not sure why all that is in bold!

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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