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Lee Harvey Oswald

Problems With Rental - Advice Reqd

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We recently moved into a rental that had undergone a major refurbishment. When negotiating, we offered a move in late June but had to compromise as the Landlady wanted someone in sooner. This was inconvenient as it gave us a large overlap with our previous rental, but we accepted as we really wanted the house.

Last Tuesday, three days before the start of the contract, I spoke to the landlady. She advised that some of the wardrobe doors still needed to be fitted and that this might not be completed by the time we moved. I advised that this was not a problem.

Last Friday we visited the agent, paid the deposit and first month’s rental, and signed the contract. We then went to the house to find that it had not been completed. The wardrobe doors were not a surprise, but there was still major work required in other areas:

- The ensuite to the main bedroom was out of action. There was no carpet/tiling on the floor and the panel around the shower was not complete

- The family bathroom was not complete. The shower screen was not in place and the units had not been sealed

- There was a large mound of rubble in the back garden where the shed is supposed to go (health and safety issues as we have children)

- There are a number of fence panels missing, hence children can escape into next door’s garden (coincidentally the ladlady’s garden) where there is a considerable amount of glass, old window frames etc. Again there are health and safety issues here.

- A number of doors don’t close properly and locks don’t work on any of the four bathrooms.

- The garage door does not lock, hence we cannot securely store belongings.

- There are a number of minor issues with the finish, where doors etc appear to have been painted with some sort of primer or emulsion rather than a gloss (the landlady tells me that it is a matt finish but I have my doubts), but we can live with this.

Having already hired a van, paid the deposit, and signed contracts in good faith, we had little option but to move in. The landlady promised that all problems would be soon addressed.

We have now been installed for a week and very little has been done. Wardrobe doors have been fitted (this was a very noisy process with lots of planning/drilling while our baby was having her afternoon sleep, and the carpenter left sawdust all over our bedroom floor and made several indentations in the wall) and the main bathroom is now operable, but there is no sign of any of the other work being done.

The landlady tells us that she is having trouble getting the panel for the shower in the first ensuite and so is going to get a glazier to make one. She doesn’y have any idea how long this will take.

As regards the shed, she advises that this will hopefully be moved this weekend (all of our bikes etc are having to be left in the garden at the moment, rather than be put in the shed only to be taken out), but there are no plans to fix the fence.

We are sick of constantly harassing the Landlady, but really don’t know how best to escalate things while still staying on good terms. It annoys us that she has time to do silly things like move hanging basket holders etc, but can’t address the issues with our property. Her property next door is also being refurbished, and there are constant streams of workmen going in and out.

We would like to suggest a rent reduction for as long as the snagging list is still open, is this reasonable? How much should we suggest (the rent is 1400 pcm) and should we suggest that it starts now or from when we moved in? Should we suggest this directly to the landlady or should we engage the agent in any way?

Any suggestions would be gratefully received.

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Speaking as a landlord, I would say that any request for a serious rent reduction until the works have been completed to your satisfaction is a perfectly reasonable request to make. Point out to her that it will compensate you for the inconvenience caused so far, and it will ensure your loyalty as tenants (plus, it will focus her mind on getting the job finished rather than fiddling about with flowers!)

If she doesn't agree with a reduction of at least £200 (around 15%) and possibly more, you might mention the small claims court. It's not a route you want to go down, but she made a contract with you, and she can't hold you to your side if she doesn't keep her side.

Whatever you do, Do NOT withold rent! Tempting though it may be, it immediately puts you in the wrong, and on the defense, in the eyes of the law.

Hope that helps.

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Many thanks for the response Property Man. Problem was resolved eventually without having to make recourse to this. We had to go three weeks without an ensuite to the master bedroom but it wasn't too big a deal as there were 3 other full bathrooms to choose from. Perhaps we were due a rebate but I don't really want to rock the boat as we have a good relationship with landlady and we are getting a huge property for a song.

Still a list of odds and ends to be done but nothing urgent.

Thanks again.

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