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desperate tenant

Desperate Advice Please

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:( I currently live in a one bed flat with hubby and 3 children sharing the 1 bedroom. We had to take it as the house we had paid a deposit on fell through, the landlord doing a runner. Our new landlord offered to let us stay in the flat for a while until something new came up. Two days after moving in, he made us sign a tenancy agreement for 6 month. :( The flat is freezing cold the whole time and (no joke) it's often warmer outside than in. The heating supplied didn't work for the first two weeks, then when the new wall heaters came (NOT night storage) , they cost us £2.80 an hour to keep on low. A one bed, and we are going out to friends all day and spending about £60 a week to heat at night, because I have a daughter with serious asthma. The only bathroom is an ensuite in the bedroom with no ventilation and the only window in the flat is at the back, in the lounge room. The flat is under a shop (underground). We've told the landlord many times that we can't afford to pay to keep warm and he doesn't care and says the previous tenant never complained. We know this ex tenant and she only used the flat to work in, in the summer for a couple of hours a week (office), so she never noticed. We are claiming HB and are still awaiting payment to the landlord. The landlord is now making abusive phone calls to us to chase the council, which we have done several times. All week he has harassed us, but we have not hasseled the council this week because we've been in and out of hospital with our asthmatic daughter. Our boiler is the size of a showbox and the kitchen is 2 cupboards and a cooker in a cupboard. We can't get enough hot water to fill the sink to do dishes.

Sorry to drone, but really need advice. We have been looking for somewhere else to live. We nearly lost our daughter to this problem once before, and it scares the life out of me, that we are putting her in this situation. Our landlord knows all of this and still only cares about the HB and wants it now. We have all been so ill since moving in 2 months ago. I'm desperate to move out now, but the Council don't see these things as extreme (typical :rolleyes: )

a) Can we terminate the (conned into) tenancy agreement on the grounds of lack of natural light, overcrowding or no heating/not enough hot water ?

B) Do we have adequate grounds to counterclaim if he takes us to court for the remainder of the rent ?

please help :(

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to be honest, I do not think you have a leg to stand on. you weren't conned into signing the agreement, it was not under duress. the landlord has provided heating that may be expensive to run, but nevertheless has been provided. the only people you could contact would be your local environmental health people, but I very much doubt they could do anything. and no these circumstances would not be a vaid counterclaim to unpaid rent. sorry it is not better news. how long is remaining on the contract? there are other options available if you absolutely feel you have to leave, but they depend upon how long the contract has to run.

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http://www.basingstoke.gov.uk/services/housing/standards/

http://www.ussu.info/documents/housingdisrepair.pdf

http://england.shelter.org.uk/advice/advic...wipLive-13083-1

some useful links...... I entered a 6 month contract, no ventilation in the en suite (Only) bathroom.... Window rotten and painted shut.... Loads of mold and mildew..... Landlord not concerned....

Local council environmental health informed and were very helpful.... Within a few weeks i walked away without a contract and all of my deposit.... could have gone for more but i wanted to continue renting, anyway got a glowing reference for some reason.... i wonder why ?

if it has no ventilation because it is in a state of disrepair for any reason you have them by the testicles, you need to find the housing protocol, there is a helpful guide.... CIB are helpful in guiding you through it...

There are laws against poor living standards

Good luck....

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Actually, when I re-read this, the more absurd it sounds. Quite frankly, what on earth possessed you to move into a one bed flat when there are 5 of you??? If you had to time to go to him and agree to move in there, you had time to find another property....there is hardly a shortage of property for rental. You appear to be blaming the landlord for your poor judgment....retrospectively saying there is not enough light in the property kind of highlights this. I wouldn't really get your hopes up too much with regards to what keepwatching has said either, the only thin that may apply is the ventilation, but if there are extractor fans in the property somewhere then the landlord is probably covered. Two questions:

- How old are the children?

- How long is left on the contract?

-

*EDIT* also, can you tell us:

- What rooms there are?

- What you would estimate the square footage to be.

Edited by MrShed

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Only thought I have is if you can prove that a significant element of coercion or duress was placed upon you forcing you to sign the agreement.

My limited understanding is that if a property is occupied under a licence then the landlord is required to give notice at least equivalent to the period between rental payments. If the landlord turned up two days later and threatened to throw you out there and then there is perhaps a case to be made for not honouring the lease.

On every agreement i've ever signed my signature has been witnessed. Is there a legal requirement for this? Was your signature witnessed, if not is this evidence of duress?

The key point is that the onus is on you to prove your case.

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Guest Fiddlesticks

The heating supplied didn't work for the first two weeks, then when the new wall heaters came (NOT night storage) , they cost us £2.80 an hour to keep on low. A one bed, and we are going out to friends all day and spending about £60 a week to heat at night, because I have a daughter with serious asthma.

I'm amazed by how much this heating is costing you to run. £2.80 an hour is phenomenol. The usual rate for electricity is at most around 10p per kilowatt hour. In other words it costs 10p to run a one-bar electric fire for an hour. £2.80 an hour would mean pumping the equivalent heat of 28 one-bar electric fires into a one-bedroom basement flat!

Are you on a coin meter, and if so has the landlord cranked it up so that it is grossly overcharging you? One solution would be to buy a portable gas fire that operates from bottled gas. You can get them on ebay for roughly what you're paying for one week's electricty. They do throw out condensation though, which may irritate your child's asthma.

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thanks for your replies. :)

Firstly we didn't have time to go to the landlord. We were already homeless (ex landlord selling from under us and legging it with deposit plus made redundant within the week). and housed in a B & B. The B & B was ending in 5 days time, and our landlord also owned the B & B so asked if we wanted to stay in the flat temporarily.

There are two rooms : a lounge and a bedroom, plus a bathroom and an excuse of a kitchen in a cupboard.

my children are 8 and twins of 6.

we had been looking for suitable housing, but with being on HB and having 3 children, landlords don't like 'breathers' these days. So it's not like we had not tried MrShed !! we had no choice and we aren't the only ones :angry:

THank you for the advice though everyone. I am still researching for answers as to whether we can end the tenancy without being taken to court for the remaining 3 months.

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THank you for the advice though everyone. I am still researching for answers as to whether we can end the tenancy without being taken to court for the remaining 3 months.

As I said earlier, was the contract signed under duress?

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OK.....apologies if my tone was harsh, just trying to drive home the fact that the landlord is not REALLY to blame.

First of all, with your description of the rooms and the children, the property is definitely not over the statutory definition of overcrowding.

Secondly Young Goat, just to clarify, the signing of an AST does NOT legally require a witness, although obviously it is advisable.

With regards your remaining three months, you do realise that even if the landlord is in breach of EH regulations, this does not give you the ability to end the tenancy? Only in the case of uninhabitable conditions, as LEGALLY defined, would you be able to do so, which this property certainly isnt.

If you MUST move out, you do have several options which I shall put below:

- Simply leave. Although you are responsible for the rent until the end of the fixed term, the landlord must make every reasonable effort to fill the tenancy and mitigate their losses.

- Check your AST for a clause preventing assignment or subletting. If there is a clause preventing both, this is classed as an unfair term and so can do either. Assignment means you can find someone else to fill the tenancy and take over it for you. Subletting I'm sure you are aware of what it is. You MUST be allowed to do one or the other. However, the landlord can refuse permission, IF there is good reason(eg the assigned tenant does not pass credit checks).

- Make a financial agreement with the landlord, say you will pay one more months rent upfront if he lets you break the contract now.

*EDIT*

Just re-read YG's post, and he makes a very good point which I had not considered. If the landlord stated that if you did not sign the 6 month agreement you would be chucked out IMMEDIATELY(or otherwise very soon), then this may well be considered by the courts to be a form of duress. If he just said evicted, this would probably not be, as all landlords of assured shorthold tenants have the right to evict, as long as they give the neccessary notice.

Edited by MrShed

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With regards your remaining three months, you do realise that even if the landlord is in breach of EH regulations, this does not give you the ability to end the tenancy? Only in the case of uninhabitable conditions, as LEGALLY defined, would you be able to do so, which this property certainly isnt.

I don't know - there might be problems that aren't obvious from a distance. We got out of a flat we hated once - my girlfriend got the local council environmental health round because of space issues - I thought she was wasting her time, but what they ended up pointing out was that the cooker door opened into an access route (ie the kitchen doorway) which is against regulations - we were allowed out of the contract pretty fast because the landlord decided we were more trouble than we were worth. I doubt he fixed the cooker problem, but we got out of the flat.

It can't do any harm to get the environmental health people round. They might say there's nothing wrong, but if there is something wrong it could be some help in getting out of the contract as keepwatching says.

Sorry to hear of your problems by the way desperate tenant - I know the hassles caused by delay in hb can be dreadful and the whole situation sounds pretty intolerable. Best of luck with it all no matter what you do, and I hope the weather at least improves soon.

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:( I currently live in a one bed flat with hubby and 3 children sharing the 1 bedroom. We had to take it as the house we had paid a deposit on fell through, the landlord doing a runner.....

All week he has harassed us, but we have not hasseled the council this week...

Just a couple of other quick thoughts...

Have you seen the "Another Deposit Withheld" thread and others about getting money back from landlords. your situation with the previous landlord sounds a bit different but maybe there are some ideas there that might be a start towards trying to get the money back? Not sure without knowing the details, but obviously it might be a help if you could track that money down somehow.

Also, just thinking about him hassling you for the HB - I know it's stressful because he is on your backs. But what is the worst he can actually do if you ignore him? Evict you? Would that be so bad?? I know that's not much help, but maybe it's a useful thought in trying not to get too stressed by his behaviour...

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thank you everyone for advice and links. :)

Have consulted a very good solicitor whow is on the ball (for a change) and seems to think there is a very easy way out. Have appt tomorrow.

Thank again.

:)

Good luck. Must be a nasty situation to be in.

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thank you everyone for advice and links. :)

Have consulted a very good solicitor whow is on the ball (for a change) and seems to think there is a very easy way out. Have appt tomorrow.

Thank again.

:)

Any chance of letting us know what the way out could be? Just curious for future reference :)

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