Housing Disrepair Pre-Action Protocol – need to reply in 20 days!!

Housing Disrepair Pre-Action Protocol – need to reply in 20 days!!

13:47 PM, 23rd January 2014, About 8 years ago 74

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Can anybody help me please?

My previous tenant has appointed a solicitor who has written to me claiming for numerous things. One issue is “Repairs”. The solicitor states that the tenant complains of the following defects at my property since the beginning of the tenancy in June 2011. These include:-

(1) The screws behind the toilet kept on coming loose and the landlord up to date has not changed them;

Comment: I’ve visited the property on two occasions and tightened the screws. I saw this as a maintenance issue that the tenant should be dealing with. Where do I stand?

(2) The door to the master bedroom does not close and when it does it gets stuck;

Comment: The latch on the master bedroom door was working ok for 21 months of the 2 year tenancy. Once again, I viewed this an a maintenance issue for the tenant to deal with as they caused the disrepair. Where do I stand?

(3) Two light fittings in the upstairs bedroom do not work;

Comment: These did not work prior to the tenants moving in and these were not requested to be repaired before the tenants moved in. I tried to purchase new fittings but could not find suitable replacements at a reasonable price. Where do I stand?

(4) Dampness in the bedrooms upstairs;

Comment: As a landlord with 15 years experience and having tested the areas concerned for dampness with a meter. I’m of the opinion that this is condensation caused by the manner in which the tenants lived.eg. not ventilating the property adequately and drying clothes close to electric storage heaters. Where do I stand?

(5) Electric meters downstairs is not covered;

Comment: This is fabrication. The electric meter is in a metal-clad cabinet secured by a child proof latch about 1.25m above floor. However beside it is a consumer unit and it is this the tenant may be referring to. Where do I stand?

For your information, my tenants vacated my property having damaged many of the roller blinds in the conservatory and kitchen area. Carpets throughout the property are filthy and need to be cleaned or disposed of. They have also left a huge bedroom wardrobe that is falling to pieces and needs to be dismantled and disposed of. The tenants have left large items of kids toys and carpeting in the garden.

Their solicitor expects me to compensate their clients. Is there anybody out there who can offer advice on how I should proceed. I understand I should reply within a 20 day period.

I would appreciate any assistance and advice available.

Many thanks

Garypreaction



Comments

by Michael Edwards

14:11 PM, 23rd January 2014, About 8 years ago

I suggest you look at Section 11 of the Landlord & Tenant Act, 1985 as amended

http://www.tenancyagreementservice.co.uk/repairing-obligations.htm

You are under a legal obligations to deal with repairs within a reasonable timescale consistent with the nature of the defect. Condensation due to poor ventilation is a common problem, but do you have an appropriate Clause in the Tenancy Agreement requiring the tenant to adequately heat and ventilate the rooms?

As to the issue of cleanliness you should have taken a "Schedule of Condition and Inventory of the Landlord's Fixtures & Fittings" and had a copy signed by the Tenant(s) at the start of the Tenancy. This should record not merely what is in the property, but the decorative condition and state of your Fixtures & Fittings. That way you will have a claim for Dilapidations against the Tenant(s) if they have failed to look after the property consist with the length of the Tenancy allowing for reasonable wear and tear during that period.

by All BankersAreBarstewards Smith

14:15 PM, 23rd January 2014, About 8 years ago

unless you have an inventory of condition signed by both you and the tenant on move in then you cannot prove your case.

One option would be to just ignore the letter. it is only a letter. i doubt very much they will take you to court.

by Chris Hayden

14:16 PM, 23rd January 2014, About 8 years ago

Sounds like your listing a lot of reasons why the items were like they were.... Therefore your already admitting these things were faulty... School boy error.
You haven't stated what they mean by "compensated"?
Why do you only have 21 days too reply..... What's will happen?
If it's a real solicitor sending you a letter they are spending money already
so they must be serious about putting their hands in your pockets.

The worst outcome is that you get sucked into a legal fight. Wether your in the right
or wrong it will cost you time and probably money.

Find out what they want and go from there.

by All BankersAreBarstewards Smith

14:19 PM, 23rd January 2014, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Chris " at "23/01/2014 - 14:16":

many tenants go to neighbourhood legal advice centres who seem able to provide advice/letters via legal aid, and often Legal Execs are the ones who handle tenant/landlord issues. They can be terriers... i have had several intimidating letters from them over the years and none has ever taken me to court.

by Jerry Jones

14:29 PM, 23rd January 2014, About 8 years ago

Most of those issues are ones that I would expect, as a landlord, to sort out. What is there should be in working order. If that is too hard, then get them removed or replaced (e.g. non-working light fittings). I'd second the advice about a professional inventory - without it you are stuffed.

by Chris Hayden

14:33 PM, 23rd January 2014, About 8 years ago

As I said if it's a "real solicitor" they will have had to have paid him to send the letter
as they won't get legal aid for such a trivial case.
If it's a letter from anyone else it's a bluff.

by Mark Alexander

14:35 PM, 23rd January 2014, About 8 years ago

Hi Gary

May I ask you some questions please?

1) Did you employ a letting agent and if so which bodies do they belong to?

2) Was a professional inventory completed at check in and check out?

3) Did you take a deposit and if so was it properly protected and if so with which deposit protection scheme? Also on this point, if you did take a deposit have you withheld the deposit and if so has it been disputed with the Deposit Protection Provider? If you did take a deposit and it has not been referred to ADR with your Deposit Protection Provider by your tenant this could work in your favour if the case does go to Court. Make sure you raise this point if it is relevant.

4) Have you sought independent legal advice? If not, why not?
.

by Peter Gulline

14:43 PM, 23rd January 2014, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "23/01/2014 - 14:35":

Most of these repairs are really small and you should just have fixed them.

My tenants only change the toilet roll...I end up doing the light bulbs.

Dont see the need for compo, just write back saying , thank you for the note all the jobs are completed now.

Keep £50 off the deposit for dumping their rubbish!

Dampness is always a pain, I have started fitting Humistate fans which they cannot turn off so that there is no disputes.

by Jonathan Collins

15:01 PM, 23rd January 2014, About 8 years ago

Hi Gary,

I believe your tenants are trying their luck with threatening tactics. Presumably you are retaining some of their deposit for damages etc and they are attempting to claw it back. They are clearly not responsible tenants to leave the place in the state you describe.

The key question with any potential litigation is what are the financial losses? I can't see from what you say that your tenants have suffered any financial loss in which case there is no case to answer. My advice is to ignore their bleatings and focus your time on cleaning up their mess and getting the property rented out again!

You should follow the advice above to have a signed inventory and a clause in the contract regarding ventilation (this is a very common problem).

Kind regards
Jonathan Collins

by Mark Alexander

15:05 PM, 23rd January 2014, About 8 years ago

Gary

Check out "Decent Homes Standards" - this should help you a LOT!

From what I can see your tenant doesn't have a leg to stand on. None of the causes of complaint appear to be a statutory requirement and none of them apply to the Decent Homes Standards which are only applicable to Housing Associations anyway.

Your tenant is just nit-picking, it's probably all bluster in the hope of you caving in over the damage he/she has caused.

You could simply write back to say that you dispute all allegations and ask what legislation any of the reported issues fall foul of. Remember to mark your letter "Without Prejudice".

I'm am now of the opinion that your former tenant is taking the P!
.

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