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Landlord No Repairs And No Hmo Licence

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I have recently discovered that my daughters landlord/managing agent do not have an HMO licence for their rental. The managing agent says no licence is required because 2 not 3 households live in the property. The council say all properties with 3 or more tenants in that area in 2 or more households need a licence.

On moving into the property it was freshly painted and looked great. After a few weeks mould and damp started coming through the walls. This was reported but no one came to look at it for 3 months despite constant emails and phone calls. In this time the whole house was covered in damp and mould on all the ceilings, walls and floors. In the basement area the floor has puddles on the carpet. Requests were constantly made for it to be sorted out. Nothing happened.

After 3 months the landlord sent some guys round who wiped down some walls and left. A week later the mould and damp was back. Floors have never been sorted out. Environmental Health visited and gave the landlord a list of jobs to do to stop the damp and protect the property from fire. Nothing was done. This was 10 weeks ago.

Recently sewage leaked into the basement soaking the carpet.

Tenancy is ending soon. Has anyone else been in this kind of situation? No licence and been left to live in a grim house after signing a 6 month lease with no get out? What did you do?

With more and more people having to rent because the government is propping up the housing market this sort of thing is going to happen more.

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Just a quick follow up to this.

The landlord did not have an HMO licence and the condition of the property is one of the worst the local environmental health had seen. For the whole six month tenancy no HMO existed and the agent argued it did not need a licence. For this reason no repairs or basic fire safety standards were met.

However the Council are NOT going to take any action because now, six month later an HMO licence has been applied for. They feel it would be unjustified to take the landlord to court 'retrospectively'. If I robbed a bank last week would the police not bother arresting me 'retrospectively' becasue the crime happened last week?

The whole licencing scheme is a joke. Only landlords who are caught red handed or play by the rules need a licence? Without a licence tenants have no protection against rogue landlords. So what is the point of the scheme?

I see labour are going to make all landlords get a licence.... will that be enforced?

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The Count's advice was absolutely correct. Sadly your daughter should have been far more pro-active in dealing with an unscrupulous landlord, especially once she had the support of Environmental Health. I suspect the first aim of licensing landlords is to ensure they pay their taxes. There are already plenty of regulations in place to protect the rights of tenants whose carpets are soaked in sewage.

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She was pro-active. 38 emails and dozens of phone calls. The reality is the property should never have been rented as it required an HMO licence and did not have one. It had damp structural problems, no ventilation and fire safety issues. All this would have been picked up if they had got a licence. Without a licence the tenant is left will no real options.

As for withholding rent. CAB advise:

Procedure for using rent to pay for repairs

There are a number of steps that you must follow if you want to use your rent to pay for repairs. This procedure is only likely to be of use to you for more minor repairs which you can afford to pay for if required.

The steps are:

  • Step 1 – report the repairs to your landlord. It's best to do this in writing and give your landlord a reasonable time to do the work. Keep a copy of your letter or email.
  • Step 2 – if nothing happens, write to your landlord again telling them that you will do the repairs yourself unless they arrange for the work to be done. Keep a copy of your letter or email.
  • Step 3 – allow a further reasonable period of time for your landlord to do the work. If nothing happens after this time, get three quotes for the cost of the work from properly qualified contractors.
  • Step 4 – write to your landlord again enclosing copies of the quotes and giving them a final chance to do the work, for example, within two weeks. The letter should warn that, otherwise, you'll do the work yourself and deduct the cost from the rent. Keep a copy of your letter.
  • Step 5 – if there's no response, arrange for the contractor who gave the lowest quote to do the work.
  • Step 6 – pay for the work and send a copy of the receipt to your landlord and ask for the money to be paid back to you. Keep a copy of your letter.
  • Step 7 – if the landlord doesn't pay back the money, you can deduct the cost from future rent, but not other charges such as service charges. Send your landlord a breakdown of the amounts to be deducted, when they will start and when they will end. Keep a copy of your letter.

In the time scale between EH visiting and last rent due (a month) there is no way this could have been done. People on minimum wage also do not have the ready cash to pay for structural repairs to claim back later. The only option is to take the landlord to the small claims court. Most would not bother or know their rights and would walk away. Rogue landlords know this and thats why they continue to treat tenants badly.

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