Landlord not addressing damp so I am leaving but where do I stand on the notice period etc?

by Readers Question

10:14 AM, 15th February 2016
About 3 years ago

Landlord not addressing damp so I am leaving but where do I stand on the notice period etc?

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Landlord not addressing damp so I am leaving but where do I stand on the notice period etc?

Can anyone offer me some advice please ? I have been in private rented accommodation for 14 months, I receive housing benefit to help with part of the rent after I left the family home with my 3 children due to domestic violence. high stress

I have a Shorthold Tenancy agreement and for the 14 months I have lived there one of the bedrooms has been unusable due to damp and mould so I have had my 9 year old and my 4 year old sleeping in my room for the duration of the tenancy.

I have repeatedly asked the landlords to sort the problem and they have done nothing at all, so yesterday I handed in my notice, and gave them one months notice, so I move on or before the 10th of March.

I told the landlady I would pay up to the 10th of march and she said “okay great that’s fine thank you”, but today they sent me a letter handed to me by their 13 year old daughter saying that my tenancy states that notice must be given up to the last day of the month and so I will have to pay them one months rent as notice on the 1st of March, this means I wont have enough money to pay the first months rent on my new place as I have a tenancy agreement with my new landlord from the 5th of March and I pay that on the 1st of each month, so effectively I have to come up with 2 months rent on the 1st of march which I cant do.

As my landlord did not do anything about the damp is there anything I can do?

Feeling sick with worry at a time when I am also feeling very vulnerable.

Sarah



Comments

Neil Patterson

10:18 AM, 15th February 2016
About 3 years ago

Hi Sarah,

I am very sorry you are feeling so stressed. Have you tried talking the situation through with the Landlady yet as she may not realise you are in a pickle and a nice chat could help solve things amicably.

Anthony Endsor

12:07 PM, 15th February 2016
About 3 years ago

IF you have put your complaint in writing, the Landlord is legally obliged to address the issue.
Far from worrying about paying rent to the end of the month, you should actually be withholding rent until the repairs have been done. The landlord will not be able to issue either a section 8 or section 21 as you have already told them about repair issues, and you could even claim back some of the rent already paid as a result of part of the property not being fit for purpose during the tenancy.
Yes the landlord might not realise you are in a pickle, but she knows about the repairs. I would also suggest a chat with your landlord, but I might be a bit less diplomatic than Neil in this case. 🙂

Gary Dully

12:19 PM, 15th February 2016
About 3 years ago

I would also suggest that you talk it through with your Landlord, explaining why you cannot offer the notice required.

To do so, write down your concerns as a bullet point list and stick to it, without worrying about getting emotional.
Talk to or arrange to talk to your landlord.

If they won't budge, simply contact the environmental health or housing department and tell them of the damp issue.

Then tell your landlord that you have asked environmental health for their opinion of the suitability of paying rent on a property being damaged by damp.

If I was that Landlord, it would normally take just a simple conversation with a tenant to reach a compromise solution.

If I was stupid enough to be inflexible then I would soon find out what costs and misery the local council can bring upon me.

Obviously, you would have been better to have your previous concerns written and on file, because then the local council would have served an improvement notice on the landlord and you wouldn't now be leaving anyway.

Now the damp issue, to make sure that the council don't have a wasted journey, does this room contain laundry?
Is it ventilated?

Mould has to be fed or it dies, it requires humidity and water, so for just one room to be affected suggests LAUNDRY.

Every time I hear about mould growth, I find blocked vents, laundry drying and a cold house to be the cause upon my visits.

I continually have to advise my tenants, (in a light hearted manner), not to air or dry clothing in sealed poorly ventilated, or double glazed rooms, once the ventilation is sorted the mould and condensation miraculously disappears.

That may be why your landlord has not resolved the problem, it may be because they aren't aware of what is causing it and fear massive repair costs from dodgy tradesman.

If you have a dodgy landlord, simply report them to the council, if they are fair minded, simply have a friendly conversation.

It's in their interests to help you at this stressful time.

Gary Dully

12:27 PM, 15th February 2016
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Anthony Endsor" at "15/02/2016 - 12:07":

Anthony,

Never advise a tenant to withhold rent, it's is not the way to get things resolved, it immediately escalates the emotion of a Landlord to retaliate, and they will wait until the Tenant requires a reference and then all hell will break lose.

As soon as this tenant moves out, she could be faced with a County Court Summons for breach of contract.

The tenant should try to speak to their landlord and have it placed on the record.

Then utilize the council if required.

Only one room is affected by the damp - why do you think that is?

I have guessed that laundry may be the culprit, I may be wrong, but even Shelter advise never to withhold rent.

That's because two wrongs don't make a right.

Jan Martin

12:50 PM, 15th February 2016
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Gary Dully" at "15/02/2016 - 12:27":

I agree totally with you Gary . It is not the thing to advise .Proper procedure needs to be followed. The tenant needs to speak with the landlord and put all concerns on paper allowing the landlord time to make contact .
We do not know anything about this tenant and it may be that the landlord has already got a history regarding similar problem .

Gary Nock

12:58 PM, 15th February 2016
About 3 years ago

Agreed. Witholding rent is not the answer. I have lost count of the number of "we have damp and its making us ill / damaging clothes/ bedding" etc this year. You tell them its condensation and they don't believe you. Put the heating on and open the windows on trickle vents. I have invested in a hygrometer than measures relative humidity, a damp meter, and a digital laser thermometer and go through the "science" of how condensation gets generated. It's not rocket science. I saw an Envirovent engineer do it and its easy. The dew point is calculated by the meter. You go through the motions of checking roofs, walls, etc for "damp" with the damp meter and exclude water ingress. Then you prove its condensation. After that it's up to the landlord how it's dealt with. Extractor fans, humidistats, de-humidifier, Envirovent (last quote £1500 for a one bed flat!) - or open window and switch heating on!

Alison King

13:20 PM, 15th February 2016
About 3 years ago

In an upstairs room, damp might also be caused by broken roof tiling and rainwater coming into the loft or by a poorly ventilated loft allowing condensation to accumulate. It would be worth going into the loft and seeing if it is damp, humid and mouldy. If so I would expect your landlord to be pleased to be told and it would be in their interests to fix it as soon as possible. These things are inexpensive to fix if caught quickly but can rapidly escalate if allowed to continue.

Jan Martin

13:40 PM, 15th February 2016
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Alison King" at "15/02/2016 - 13:20":

Well of course I agree and would hope that once the landlord had been notified of a problem then they would check for roof problems too .
I will add that in all my years of dealing with condensation problems that it has boiled down to tenant lifestyle. I have tenants in property for years with no problem at all .New tenant moves in and the house changes.When this happens we have to act accordingly .As Gary wrote "drying washing on radiators and beds against outside walls, not using the extractors provided etc etc. I also have reports carried out so that my tenant can see that they need to play their part too and the house is not full of damp .

Anthony Endsor

13:57 PM, 15th February 2016
About 3 years ago

The OP states the room has been unusable for the last 14 months she has been living there, so that wouldn't suggest to me the room has been used for drying laundry unless this was done by a previous tenant, in which case it would be up to the landlord to put right.
As a landlord myself, I have had tenants withhold rent for repairs before, and even had the Council look at one house which a tenant claimed had damp. They didn't act as the claim turned out to be false, but I was told the tenant would have been within their rights to withhold rent had it been found to be true. The tenant left 2 weeks later strangely enough.

Gary Nock

14:53 PM, 15th February 2016
About 3 years ago

Err...I don't think so Anthony. Unless I have missed something in landlord and tenant law that allows tenants to withold rent because of ourstanding repairs. If that was the case we would all have tenants in arrears. Some repairs can be done quickly. Some take time.

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