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Hiya all,

 

It's been a while since I posted here so be nice lol! I've had a lot of issues with my previous estate agent and was wondering if anyone can give me any advice. Basically, the responsibility probably lies somewhere between the letting agent and the landlord, but I'd say the letting agent is highly responsible as it was mostly them failing to make any action.

 

The property was let to us (my boyfriend and I) on an AST for 12 months (£425/ month rent, £525 deposit, £150 agent fee). We moved in and noticed a severe condensation mould problem had been painted over. Despite the agent having known about this for a year before we moved in (reported by the previous tenants), they failed to inform us of it on viewing the property or signing the contracts. It was only was we moved in that it came apparent. It had never been treated, just painted over (probably by the previous tenants). Another issue was the fact it was rented and seen as furnished, however, once we moved in, again it became apparent that a lot of the furnishings were not fit for use and the inventory even states this. We were given permission to remove the items, but no compensation of rent or time and had to replace them at our own expense (although we did take them with us when we moved).

 

On the misrepresentation note, I wanted to get my agency fee back and the first year's rent. The mould became very severe and dominated the bedroom, bathroom and much of the kitchen. The only unaffected room was the lounge (well, mildly affected). We were eventually forced to sleep there. It took a year before the agent finally dealt with the problem, telling us often just to clean the mould off ourselves (which wasn't our responsibility and it was too extensive). Finally, after getting Environmental Health in and telling the agent we would charge them for the repairs if they didn't start them in a week (this was on advice I had sought out) they fixed the problem. It was found to be a faulty extractor fan in the bathroom and other faults (poor maintenance- not tenant lifestyle) which caused the mould. During this time, I developed a chronic skin condition called Dermatographic Urticaria and my boyfriend had a bout of excema (he is usually fine). My condition prevails today and I'm basically allergic to touch (that is the disorder), so you can imagine it's very uncomfortable and doesn't look great too.

 

The mould was present for a year but once fixed, we believed our problems were over. We were also in a contract for this period, that is why I want the money back (it was our financial loss at signing a contract which had been misrepresented to us). Also, I want £12.50 / month back for the remainder of the tenancy (we stayed on another 3 years almost where the maintenance was poor but not bad enough to have us move out). This rebate would be for the misrepresentation of the property as furnished and not part-furnished. I also want my time in removing these items reimbursed at min wage for approx. 1 hour per item (8 in total). Our contract had gone on a monthly roll-over at this time, so we did not renew it as such it just continued under the original terms.

 

During the last few months of our tenancy, there was a broken locking mechanism on the front door (the only entry/ exit to the property) and this lasted for 3 months and was only fixed when we moved out. I was advised by the council that they had a maximum of 1 hour to fix the door since it was a fire hazard. We withheld rent during the last month based on the outstanding repair and also because I'd had enough. The agent issued a notice to quit and we were happy to get the hell out of there. As soon as we moved out, they completed all repairs and put the rent up. I wonder if this shows their neglect was an effort to move us out and bump the rent up which would constitute harassment for eviction.

 

I was wondering if anyone knows how much you can claim in compensation for personal injury (mental and physical health- I have mental health problems also which this exasperated). This is in addition to rent rebate etc. Also, how much can you claim for personal inconvenience or stress? I will also be asking for them to compensate my time pursuing the matter which was extensive.

 

I know a lot of people may think why didn't we move out, but originally we were contractually bound to the property and also could not afford to move for a very long time. The problems were less severe without the mould but still present. We stayed on believing the main problem had been resolved but after 3 years I just had enough of their general attitude and lack of maintenance (even if it was just minor things it was lots of them). There was even a period of 1 week where we had no bathroom floor (there was only that bathroom/ toilet in the property as well) because the sub-floor had rotten through. I had asked them a million times to put a new lino down because the current one was very slippery and water stained. I eventually removed it myself to find the problem had been the sub-floor was rotten through and actually had turned to soil. This was when my skin problem really flared up. I am not sure if it was the same time we had mould to be honest, but I know the humidity levels had been very high.

 

Ok, so lots to take in there sorry, hope I've got it all but any questions please ask :) Thanks for helping!

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So, to be absolutely clear - you moved in, found a problem, it wasn't resolved, your 12 month tenancy ended, and you chose to stay a further two years - or was it three?

 

I am afraid that you, like a landlord in an opposing position, would need to do whatever you could to mitigate your own losses. How much of the issues can you attribute to the first year of the tenancy? And if it was so bad during that first year, why stay? I appreciate you have what you believe are reasons for staying, but if those additional years contributed to your issues now, then you've shot yourself in the foot.

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Heya,

 

We were contractually bound to stay there during our first year and were constantly strung along about the repairs with the estate agent miss-advising us a lot of the time saying we should clean it off and that we could't make them do the repairs or that it was for us to buy a dehumidifier. If they'd done their job when we asked they have seen it was a faulty extractor fan and other things we had no control over. We were new to renting then and it did take about a year to get the correct advice and learn enough to know my rights with the matter, whilst communicating with them to get it fixed. I spoke to so many people to try to resolve it during that time. The mould lasted a year and was fixed and that being the main problem, we stayed on. The periods the complaints relates to is the first year and the last few months.

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You are almost certainly not entitled to a full year's rent back. And it is highly unlikely a court would grant you any kind of reduction for the period following your fixed term agreement. The LL would simply state that if it had been as bad as you claimed, you'd have moved out (it's fairly good evidence for them that you stayed for two/three years beyond the period you were actually tied into).

 

You may be entitled to some form of reduction for the period of time when the damp was such a huge issue, but it certainly won't be 12 months worth of rent. You'd need to make a claim, but it might be worth discussing the issue directly with the LL first and seeing if he's prepared to make you an offer. Certainly you'd have to write him a letter before action in any case, and you'll need to quantify your losses. You're unlikely to be able to do this properly yourself, so you'll likely need to see a solicitor or go to your local law centre.

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The only reason I was going to ask for a year's rent back was under the misrepresentations act, where we are recovering our financial loss at signing a contract for 12 month's which we would not have signed knowing the truth about the property. We had already paid the agency fee and deposit at this time and it wasn't until we had been living there a couple months that the mould became apparent. Our financial loss at that point was already significant, and we had no money to move elsewhere. Knowing the landlord is legally liable for these repairs, we kept on getting him to try to do them. We liked the location and layout of the flat and wanted to make it work and didn't see why we should be put out to move instead of forcing the landlord to carry out his contractual obligations- which we finally did. From that point, yes things were still bad but not enough to justify moving out.

 

I am in the process of getting a no win no fee solicitor to look at my case and hopefully they can give me some assistance. I was going to contact the estate agent first to raise the complaint with them and give them a chance to resolve it before court as I'm sure neither or us want that. That's why I had made this thread- to see what amount should be listed for compensation for personal injury and compensation for inconvenience and stress. I know what I am going to put for the other types already (rent rebate etc.)

 

Cheers.

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Your actual financial loss for the alleged misrepresentation would not be the whole year's rent as you still had the benefit of the property - albeit not in a good state of repair. This is why you need someone qualified to go over your paperwork to see precisely what your damages are and to be able to quantify them. If you have medical issues arising out of the first 12 months, then you may have a claim for that; but proving any loss for the period of time outside of your fixed contract is going to be very difficult as you had the choice to stay or go. You have to mitigate your own losses.

 

I hope you manage to get some assistance with writing up your claim.

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Hiya,

 

Thanks for your help, much appreciated. I'm trying to find a reputable no win no fee solicitor (haha) but hopefully they will be able to help see if I have a claim and for how much. I was thinking initially after a letter to my previous estate agents that they might cough up knowing they were in the wrong, but the likelihood of that happening is slim I guess.

 

I think seeing as 3/4 of the property was affected with mould (but was still used as we had no other option- although the bedroom was not used and we slept in the lounge) then we should in effect get 3/4 of our rent back.

 

Does anyone know who I should speak to about this? I'm going to email CAB and I know Shelter do some stuff like this. I'm on JSA so do I get legal aid to go to county court or is it just tribunal?

 

Cheers again.

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A solicitor who has had sight of all the paperwork should be able to give you a good idea of whether you have a claim or not. You can try to get an appointment for a free 30 minute consultation from most solicitors.

 

It'll likely be a county court claim.

 

You may not get legal aid. The cuts have been quite drastic, so unless your home is under threat, legal aid is likely not to be awarded. However, that does not mean you should not contact a solicitor who does legal aid work to get a definitive answer on that.

 

You'll need a housing solicitor. You can search here: http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/find-a-solicitor/?view=solsearch

 

Good luck.

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Hi I am not sure that the misrepresentation Act is the right way to go with this because I cant see where a statement was made to you that induced you to enter into the contract and also once a contract has been entered into that has been induced by the misrepresentation then the right is there to recind the contract, however one of the bars to recission is the affirmation of the contract. By continuing to live at the property I would say that you have affirmed the contract certainly with the amount of time that you spent there. However that is just my opinion.

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