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Advice on 10 year rental, major damp, disrepair!

Hello all, im looking for some advice on what my rights are regarding a property my wife an i rented for over 10 years. we have moved out in the last 3 months, but we are currently in debate over final rent, tennancy deposit (which was protected in a scheme, but eroded?) and final clearing/cleaning.

so abit of history! we moved in, in feb 2013. first thing we did was to go through the letting agents inventory, as it was a furnished house. we made a note on everything we saw an checked off any issues.... such as (dun dun duuuuhhhh!) damp on one wall and damage to plastering on stair well. photocopy of a date stamped inventory to us for march 2013 received by Agents.

so time progressed in the first year, and we "accidentally" start a family! fast foward to a 3 month old crawling in a slightly damp, paper peeling off living room, that suddenly starts to smell of burning plastic. we search everywhere and find nothing. cue house going dark because the breaker goes off. i take a look an see its the wall sockets that have tripped, so i search every wall socket and find only one on an outer facing wall (hidden by furniture we didnt move) slightly wet, warm and partly browning. a smart lamp was plugged into this. as i unplug it the socket comes with it, exposing burnt wires. ofcourse landlord informed, Agents informed. 

within the week of discovery my wife goes to her mums, we have contractors round ripping the plaster off to the brick, new damp course is put in.electrical wires and sockets replaced. all seems good for the first year, but we notice the damp on the wall hasn't regressed. we rent a dehumidifier, chewing 650w an hour for a few months, we put up damp collector bags every where, our tumble dryer is linked to the outer wall in the kitchen, cooker has extractor, kettle next to open window, windows open even during winter and heating is above 26'C. we got into debt with 2 energy providers for this. at one point it looked like it got better but after a year, it just got worse again. so we continued with normal routine but ditched the machine because we simply couldn't afford it and went onto prepay meters. skipping ahead abit, que a few tiles fixed, a gas fire and fire place with flume, condemed by a british gas engineer....... of which never removed or sealed up by the landlord because it was a "feature" fireplace........ we have 2 kids at this point one is 2 and another barely a few months old. this goes on for years, we decorate as best we can with paint, we stick to our tennancy agreement, wiping away damp and the paint at the same time..... because its in the tennancy!! our landlord has a habit of traveling abroad, mostly to malta and is difficult to contact. he just shows up as an when hes back home. we exchange a few words/pleasantries and changes. so most issues we had was all sorted by word of mouth, very little on paper or email/text.

and then he passes without our knowledge just as we move out. we sent our notice. so now we come to the present. his executors (children) are chasing us for final rent, cleaning and clearing of belongings. i agree to go round like i said i would in my email, to help with clearing if desired. what i get is a threat of solicitors and court action if i don't do as agreed or pay final rent as agreed. initially after leaving i went back for 2 weeks to clean up and clear out. i was then relieved of the keys. they then threaten me again with action if i dont go back to clear out all our belongings left. 

in my email i said we would, within reasonable time frame or by making financial recompense over a reasonable time period. we were given 2 weeks or else attitude. we can not afford solicitors, my wife is a student, trainee nurse apprentice and a healthcare for the NHS, she has little time on her hands, i work 2 days a week as a healthcare for the NHS so i need to be at home for my 2 kids (son 9, daughter 7!) one of which is diagnosed autism, my daughter on the spectrum but still awaiting diagnosis. routine is key! otherwise chaos ensues with my kids. i have yet to attend an appointment with CAB at his point, but i have evidence of the damp with photos of the wall, broken tiles, guttering falling off, damp mould/moss outside, a hole in the roof, chimney stack still unsealed, damp in the attic, gas fire still in property, fireplace unsealed, wet sockets, leaking pipes. i have since found out by word of mouth, the letting agents knew of the damp before we moved in, going back as far as 2006! but the only information they would give me was an email that the landlord "was aware of the damp" but refused to give me anything else without permission from the landlord/executor or a solicitor. we have our own copies of tenancy agreements going back to the start, with one or two misplaced but all pretty much the same in their writing.

we have done what we can over time with repairs, with favors from neighbors, certified/qualified electricians, carpenters, plumbers to name a few, without cost to us (save for a few beer tokens!).

but its gotten to a stage where i dont know if i have case to goto court to reclaim paid rent, what evidence i need or who to bribe for it (bribe was a joke btw!). since we have low income+ universal/child benefit ect that goes up or down based on earnings, so affording legal/lawful aid/representation ect before or during court just seems out of our reach.

any advice would be helpful, i fear it wont be long before i get a letter from the executors solicitors (which they have no problem at all with getting as they are quite well off with their multi-property empire!)
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Comments

  • sorry to double up, but ive also found that the property we moved out of, is listed for sale, and on the agents website, its still has the condemned gas fire, fireplace, and a very low asking price for the area. i fear they are selling it fast to wash their hands clean of the issue!
  • swingaloo
    swingaloo Posts: 2,642
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    edited 6 December 2023 at 12:34PM
    Any issues with the state of the place whilst you were living there are now irrelevant really as your tenancy has ended.  Evidence of damp etc is not relevant to the fact that they want you pay rent owed, clear your belongings etc. 
    Did you give correct notice and pay the correct due up until you left?
    Why would your belonging still be there weeks afterwards?

    Normally you would be expected to leave the place clean and empty on the day your tenancy ends.
  • i think you'l find, according to shelter, we have upto 6 years to start a claim, and could claim from 3 to 6 years backdated from court start. especially when our health records come into play. i worked 5 years in retail, with only 2 sick days, food poisoning and a bike accident. in the last 2 years ive been of with S-a-D multiple times, chest pains and continuous cold/flu like symptoms, all of which in my med records. tell me again its irrelevant! im finding out more an more as i dig.

    to answer your questions..... yes, we were on a rolling tenancy, had a letter of "proof of tenancy" signed an dated by our landlord, a signed and dated letter from the agents when our landlord took full control and management of the property, we were fully upto date on rent, it was only the last month of tenancy to pay, which by our notice was 1 month, which failed after his accounts were closed by his children and we had no idea he passed till a week after. the only belongings were a load of empty boxes in the attic, a bunch of coat hangers and an ironing board,  some cleaning machines and rubbish/trash broken down kids beds ect in the yard.... all of which was in hand to be collected an disposed of. (which has been i might add!)

    also to point out, we didnt have the keys for "weeks afterwards", because they took them off us. i had already said id been back there to clean and clear out, i had hoovered, vaxed the carpets and wiped down all surfaces. it looks bad because of the damp.
  • ... could claim from 3 to 6 years backdated from court start. 
    On what grounds are you trying to claim back 3 to 6 years of rent?
    "The problem with Internet quotes is that you can't always depend on their accuracy" - Abraham Lincoln, 1864
  • does anyone here so far actually read? or just skip to the bottom and que post count.. allow me to re-iterate.

    the landlord and the letting agent knew of damp before my tenancy, covered it up with paper. so already in breach of the Landlord and Tenancy act 1985 and housing act 2004 this i do know, maybe others i don't know. i even have an email from the agent basically confirming knowledge of the issue, and nothing was done about it.

    please don't ask for links, i cant put links yet or photos (of which there are many over the years)
  • sheramber
    sheramber Posts: 18,612
    First Anniversary I've been Money Tipped! First Post Name Dropper
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    i think you'l find, according to shelter, we have upto 6 years to start a claim, and could claim from 3 to 6 years backdated from court start.

    Have you asked Shelter for advice on what to do?
  • i think you'l find, according to shelter, we have upto 6 years to start a claim, and could claim from 3 to 6 years backdated from court start. especially when our health records come into play. i worked 5 years in retail, with only 2 sick days, food poisoning and a bike accident. in the last 2 years ive been of with S-a-D multiple times, chest pains and continuous cold/flu like symptoms, all of which in my med records. tell me again its irrelevant! im finding out more an more as i dig.

    to answer your questions..... yes, we were on a rolling tenancy, had a letter of "proof of tenancy" signed an dated by our landlord, a signed and dated letter from the agents when our landlord took full control and management of the property, we were fully upto date on rent, it was only the last month of tenancy to pay, which by our notice was 1 month, which failed after his accounts were closed by his children and we had no idea he passed till a week after. the only belongings were a load of empty boxes in the attic, a bunch of coat hangers and an ironing board,  some cleaning machines and rubbish/trash broken down kids beds ect in the yard.... all of which was in hand to be collected an disposed of. (which has been i might add!)

    also to point out, we didnt have the keys for "weeks afterwards", because they took them off us. i had already said id been back there to clean and clear out, i had hoovered, vaxed the carpets and wiped down all surfaces. it looks bad because of the damp.
    Of course many have suffered a bit more since COVID and isolation and SAD and all the other things so be prepared for a fight on those symptoms given what was going on at the time.

    This is not to make light of your issues but a realistic light has to be shon on these things should you go down that road.
    "I can lead you to the money saving well but cannot make you drink from it"

    As mum always said "don't respond to imbeciles just ignore them" wise words mum 
  • pinkshoes
    pinkshoes Posts: 20,001
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    I don't get it...

    You rented the house for 10 years, you wanted to move out so gave your notice as per your tenancy and then you moved out.

    1. Was your rent paid up to date? If yes, no problem. If no, then pay it. Problem sorted.

    2. Was the property left as per the condition detailed in the inventory 10 years ago less wear and tear? If yes then just claim full deposit back from deposit people. If no, then allow a reasonable adjustment. 

    3. I don't understand the bit about collecting belongings. Did you leave your stuff in the house after the tenancy had ended? If yes then the landlord* is entitled to claim from the deposit for having to remove these things. The day the tenancy ended was when all your stuff should be out of the house. 

    *The executors of the estate are now the LL so it doesn't change anything. It's quite normal to want to sell on a house quickly after someone dies.
    Should've = Should HAVE (not 'of')
    Would've = Would HAVE (not 'of')

    No, I am not perfect, but yes I do judge people on their use of basic English language. If you didn't know the above, then learn it! (If English is your second language, then you are forgiven!)
  • Herzlos
    Herzlos Posts: 14,610
    First Anniversary Name Dropper First Post
    Forumite
    does anyone here so far actually read? or just skip to the bottom and que post count.. allow me to re-iterate.

    the landlord and the letting agent knew of damp before my tenancy, covered it up with paper. so already in breach of the Landlord and Tenancy act 1985 and housing act 2004 this i do know, maybe others i don't know. i even have an email from the agent basically confirming knowledge of the issue, and nothing was done about it.

    please don't ask for links, i cant put links yet or photos (of which there are many over the years)

    You can try but I'm not sure how successful you're going to be given the problem was discovered 10 years ago and your saying the landlord has passed. It's probably not worth the stress though.

    The landlords estate presumably want the house cleared in order to sell it on because they either want the money or don't want the hassle of being a landlord and aren't likely to spend time/money fixing the house up.

    So you'd be best ensuring that you've got everything you want out of the property as soon as you can, and then come to some agreement about any further items / costs.
  • _Penny_Dreadful
    _Penny_Dreadful Posts: 957
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    edited 7 December 2023 at 2:39PM
    Hello all, im looking for some advice on what my rights are regarding a property my wife an i rented for over 10 years. we have moved out in the last 3 months, but we are currently in debate over final rent, tennancy deposit (which was protected in a scheme, but eroded?) and final clearing/cleaning.

    so abit of history! we moved in, in feb 2013. first thing we did was to go through the letting agents inventory, as it was a furnished house. we made a note on everything we saw an checked off any issues.... such as (dun dun duuuuhhhh!) damp on one wall and damage to plastering on stair well. photocopy of a date stamped inventory to us for march 2013 received by Agents.

    so time progressed in the first year, and we "accidentally" start a family! fast foward to a 3 month old crawling in a slightly damp, paper peeling off living room, that suddenly starts to smell of burning plastic. we search everywhere and find nothing. cue house going dark because the breaker goes off. i take a look an see its the wall sockets that have tripped, so i search every wall socket and find only one on an outer facing wall (hidden by furniture we didnt move) slightly wet, warm and partly browning. a smart lamp was plugged into this. as i unplug it the socket comes with it, exposing burnt wires. ofcourse landlord informed, Agents informed. 

    within the week of discovery my wife goes to her mums, we have contractors round ripping the plaster off to the brick, new damp course is put in.electrical wires and sockets replaced. all seems good for the first year, but we notice the damp on the wall hasn't regressed. we rent a dehumidifier, chewing 650w an hour for a few months, we put up damp collector bags every where, our tumble dryer is linked to the outer wall in the kitchen, cooker has extractor, kettle next to open window, windows open even during winter and heating is above 26'C. we got into debt with 2 energy providers for this. at one point it looked like it got better but after a year, it just got worse again. so we continued with normal routine but ditched the machine because we simply couldn't afford it and went onto prepay meters. skipping ahead abit, que a few tiles fixed, a gas fire and fire place with flume, condemed by a british gas engineer....... of which never removed or sealed up by the landlord because it was a "feature" fireplace........ we have 2 kids at this point one is 2 and another barely a few months old. this goes on for years, we decorate as best we can with paint, we stick to our tennancy agreement, wiping away damp and the paint at the same time..... because its in the tennancy!! our landlord has a habit of traveling abroad, mostly to malta and is difficult to contact. he just shows up as an when hes back home. we exchange a few words/pleasantries and changes. so most issues we had was all sorted by word of mouth, very little on paper or email/text.

    and then he passes without our knowledge just as we move out. we sent our notice. so now we come to the present. his executors (children) are chasing us for final rent, cleaning and clearing of belongings. i agree to go round like i said i would in my email, to help with clearing if desired. what i get is a threat of solicitors and court action if i don't do as agreed or pay final rent as agreed. initially after leaving i went back for 2 weeks to clean up and clear out. i was then relieved of the keys. they then threaten me again with action if i dont go back to clear out all our belongings left. 

    in my email i said we would, within reasonable time frame or by making financial recompense over a reasonable time period. we were given 2 weeks or else attitude. we can not afford solicitors, my wife is a student, trainee nurse apprentice and a healthcare for the NHS, she has little time on her hands, i work 2 days a week as a healthcare for the NHS so i need to be at home for my 2 kids (son 9, daughter 7!) one of which is diagnosed autism, my daughter on the spectrum but still awaiting diagnosis. routine is key! otherwise chaos ensues with my kids. i have yet to attend an appointment with CAB at his point, but i have evidence of the damp with photos of the wall, broken tiles, guttering falling off, damp mould/moss outside, a hole in the roof, chimney stack still unsealed, damp in the attic, gas fire still in property, fireplace unsealed, wet sockets, leaking pipes. i have since found out by word of mouth, the letting agents knew of the damp before we moved in, going back as far as 2006! but the only information they would give me was an email that the landlord "was aware of the damp" but refused to give me anything else without permission from the landlord/executor or a solicitor. we have our own copies of tenancy agreements going back to the start, with one or two misplaced but all pretty much the same in their writing.

    we have done what we can over time with repairs, with favors from neighbors, certified/qualified electricians, carpenters, plumbers to name a few, without cost to us (save for a few beer tokens!).

    but its gotten to a stage where i dont know if i have case to goto court to reclaim paid rent, what evidence i need or who to bribe for it (bribe was a joke btw!). since we have low income+ universal/child benefit ect that goes up or down based on earnings, so affording legal/lawful aid/representation ect before or during court just seems out of our reach.

    any advice would be helpful, i fear it wont be long before i get a letter from the executors solicitors (which they have no problem at all with getting as they are quite well off with their multi-property empire!)

    There are several issues here so I'll start with the claim for disrepair.

    There is a time limit on when you can make a claim.  That time limit is 6 years from the date you (the tenant) acquired the right to take action, except the personal injury cases where the time limit is just 3 years.  Action can be taken at any time after the landlord has been notified of the disrepair and failed to remedy it within a reasonable time, until 6 years after the disrepair has been rectified.  Are you still within the time limit?

    If yes then you require evidence such as:

    • Proof of when your landlord was notified of the disrepair and related correspondence.  Usually the first step is writing to your landlord at the address for the serving of notices given in your tenancy agreement.

    • Photographs of the disrepair and of any damage caused to personal belongings

    • Any evidence available from experts (e.g. surveyors, environmental health officers)
    • Your tenancy agreement and other documents relating to the tenancy

    • Any relevant medical reports detailing the effects of the bad housing conditions on the health or stress levels of the occupants

    • Details of any costs incurred as a result of the disrepair


    I'm not sure where you've got that you'll get 3-6 years worth of rent refunded to you. An award made by the court is supposed to put you in the financial position you would have been in had your landlord not been in breach of contract or duty. Damages can compensate you for loss, stress and injury but are not there to punish the landlord except in extreme cases e.g. where there is an element of harassment.
     
    After reading this should you still wish to pursue a claim then there are a couple of places you can get advice:
    The claims made by the executors could be valid.  You say your tenancy was periodic, do you know if it was a contractual periodic tenancy or a statutory periodic tenancy?  If it was the former your tenancy agreement would have told you how much notice was required.  If the latter then your notice would be one tenancy period (if rent was due monthly the the tenancy period would be a month) and notice would have to align with the start of your tenancy.  As an example lets say your original tenancy started 8th August 2013 and was now a statutory periodic tenancy.  Serving notice (to the address for the serving of notices given in your tenancy agreement) 3rd October 2023 would mean your tenancy ended 7th November 2023.  However, if you served notice 9th October 2023 your tenancy would not end until 7th December 2023.

    When you leave a rental property you are supposed to leave the property in at least the same condition as it was in at the start of your tenancy minus any fair wear and tear.  You lived there for over 10 years so I wouldn't expect the executors to claim for damage e.g. if you had spilled red nail polish over a 10+ year old cream carpet the landlord would be entitled to nothing because the carpet was past its expected life.  However, you can still be charge for cleaning if you left the property less clean than at the start of your tenancy but to do that they would require evidence e.g. check-in inventory and check-out inventory.  Your landlord can also claim for having to dispose of items you left behind.

    I don't know your appetite for a fight.  The best outcome might be, after consulting one of the aforementioned organisations, for you to tell the executors that should they continue to threaten you with legal action then you will pursue a claim for disrepair which would hopefully lead to the executors simmering down and leaving you alone.  I'm a bit of a scrapper though so if I genuinely believe I had a case I would go after the landlord but my circumstances might be quite different to yours.




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