Taking a Tenant to Court Over Condensation

by Readers Question

15:09 PM, 2nd February 2013
About 8 years ago

Taking a Tenant to Court Over Condensation

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Taking a Tenant to Court Over Condensation

Taking a Tenant to Court Over CondensationI have a court date coming up in April as I am taking my ex tenant to court over damage caused to the property by condensation. Does anyone have any experience with claiming for condensation as this is my first and hopefully my last court case?

The tenant and his wife was with me for 5 years in a 2bed 2bath ground floor flat. He also had 2 children in this time and allowed his parents from India to live in the property for long periods of time with out asking me. 

He repeatedly complained to me about condensation and after several inspections it was clear this was due to them not ventilating the property i.e. opening windows, wet clothes on radiators etc.

I educated him on this various times but they did not listen. The flat looked like it was raining inside all down the walls, also the property looked like it hadn’t been cleaned ever through out the 5 years. Mould starting growing up the walls on the carpet and woodwork and ceilings. The tenant asked me to sort this out so I thought right fine OK. I got 4 quotes all around 3k to sort out and sent them to the tenant and refereed to the AST saying if he wanted it sorted out he would have to foot the bill. He then refused and gave me notice to vacate. I then had to pay the 3k to sort the property out so I could re let it, which meant the property was empty for 1 month whilst I got it done. His deposit was £1,650 and protected so the TDS have that now because we are in dispute and he owes me £1,350 on top totaling 3k.

In the AST it says the tenant is responsible for damage caused by condensation and I have a survey report that proves it is damage caused by condensation which was caused by “tenants lifestyle”. He claims he gave me the property back in the same condition as it was when he moved in which is clearly a lie as it was uninhabitable when he left it in the state he did. I have 60 photos of the damage but I have no photos of when he moved in.
I do have an inventory saying everything was in good condition but he never signed it. However, I do have an email from him when he vacated where he does refer to the inventory in the email so he cant say there isn’t one because he’s referred to it.

There was an extractor fan in the en suite which was broken for 12 months and he also blames me for this damage, but this was never reported to me in writing and when it was eventually reported to me in person I had it replaced within 2 weeks.

Is it possible that the judge might pass judgement on this case based on the evidence and our defence that we have both submitted without us attending the court?

What do you think?

I’d really appreciate any feedback good or bad as I’m new to the court thing and I could really do with my 3k back!

Thanks Rob.

Comments

21:42 PM, 6th February 2013
About 8 years ago

Rob,

Whilst it is not possible to insure against such incidents after the event / discovery, there is cover that you can take out to help protect yourself against incidents such as this which are costly to take action against.

You can purchase on either a stand alone basis, or receive within a policy for Landlord’s Property Insurance, some cover for Legal Expenses which is customised specifically for Landlords.

Within the policies that we offer to our landlords, one of the areas they are covered for is Legal Expenses up to £50,000 incurred in any dispute or legal proceedings made by or brought against them over the actual or alleged disrepair to the Insured Property (subject to the amount in dispute being in excess of £1,000 and any Legal Expenses being limited to 75% of the amount in dispute).

They can also at any time obtain telephone based legal advice on a wide range of areas of law provided by barristers, solicitors and tax consultants and which is confidential and impartial and this is considered by them to be of an important benefit.

Whilst this policy won’t cover the remedial work for the actual damage in question (as neither also will a material damage insurance policy due to there not being an insured peril in operation), this will help protect you against incurring to your own personal expense in negotiating your legal rights and pursuing the tenant for the damage to the property caused by neglect.

If you would like to find out more, please contact me directly by all means or visit http://towergatesevenoaks.co.uk/landlord-insurance/rent-and-legal-protection.aspx

Regards
Noel Davy

19:24 PM, 28th February 2013
About 8 years ago

I tend to agree with Sam.
The Landlord is responsible for the building.
It is a fact that some structures are more prone to condensation than others.
You need to ensure a thermal break between internal surfaces and the outside surfaces. Warm moist air within a building will cling to any cold surface, particularly if there is no air movement.
Single skin concrete (pot block) walls can be very bad. Remedies for these are normally drylining.
Ensure cavity walls are injected. You can obtain grants for this.
Ensure lofts have adequate insulation.
All the above are the Landlords responsibility.
If the above does not work then increase ventilation and install at least two high quality through the wall extractors fitted with humidity sensors.
Apart from applying for insulation grants, it is not reasonable to expect tenants to deal with the above actions.
Landlords in vulnerable properties should also ensure Bathroom extractors are activated automatically. Also, ensure cooker extrctors and tumble dryers vent externally.

matchmade

17:59 PM, 4th March 2013
About 8 years ago

I too have had problems with overseas tenants: one from Somalia who was simply terrible as regards hygiene, leaving food out in the kitchen, never cleaning up, with the result I had my first infestation of cockroaches and mice in a rental property. The tenants from India were the complete opposite: upper middle class who were used to at least four servants back home, and were stunned when I showed them the utility room, washing machine and ironing board - they'd never done their own laundry before and were expecting me to provide staff to do the cleaning and gardening, inclusive with the rent.

The tenant not signing the inventory is an old trick: you or the inventory clerk simply must be there on the move-on date, and you must ignore all bleating about "we need to unpack" and insist they have to check and sign the inventory before you hand over the keys. I've also heard of inventory photographs being discounted by a judge because they can't tell what the scale is, so if you take photos of existing marks, you must include a ruler in the photos to show their size. General establishing shots showing a room is "clean" are also all-too-easy to discount: in this ludicous contemporary world you really do have to photo or video every square inch, otherwise the tenant is assumed to be in the right.

A written description of how the house works - where the stopcock is, etc - is also essential, because verbal accounts during a walkround when the tenant moves in can so easily be "forgotten".

Rob

15:44 PM, 29th March 2013
About 8 years ago

Well small update before my upcoming court case on April 12th. I am required by the courts to send all the documents/evidence that i am going to rely on in court to the defendant and to the court no later than 14 days before the court date being March 28th,this is known as a court pack. I have done this but the tenant/defendant has sent me nothing, Can i assume this means he has no case and the judge will throw it out?! Probably not. On receiving my court pack the tenant has emailed me saying he wants to settle instead of going to court,i think my court pack of paper work and evidence has scared him a little bit plus he has obviously realised that he was supposed to send me the same but has not! Anyway he wants to meet me to discuss closure! Now call me paranoid but im not meeting him anywhere to discuss anything,him yes no problem but how do i no he hasnt got 5 people waiting round the corner to "pursuede me" to drop the case. Plus i want everything in writing via email so i can use for evidence. Anyway i said no to a meeting stated what the figure was he owed and said you can transfer it to me and i will then cancel the case. Again he asked for a meeting again i said no stating (politely) transfer the money or ill see you at the case. I also reminded him that he has not complied with the court condition by sending me his court pack, 24 hours have passed and no response as yet!

Freda Blogs

22:19 PM, 29th March 2013
About 8 years ago

Rob

You have seen the opinions of mst people on here, including me, who think you will struggle to win this case in court because of lack of evidence.

There is now a chink of light as the tenant wants to settle. This seems to me to be an opportunity for you to recover some money rather than risk losing a lot more. You can meet him in a public place like a cafe, take a witness and get them to make detailed notes of the meeting.

Alternatively, correspond with him on a 'without prejudice' basis initially to try and achieve a settlement prior to the court case and insist on receipt of cleared funds before the court date.

Even if you did get judgement in court, which does not look promising, you would still have to enforce the judgement to get your money, so no guarantees there.

I still think you should cut your losses and settle rather than go to court. Good luck.

Rob

14:48 PM, 1st April 2013
About 8 years ago

So the settlement is complete. He has settled for £2415 out of court. Basically I think my court 70 page bundle that sent him worried him he then responded by sending me his court bundle 2 days late and consisted of 2 pages! Although there were weaknesses in my case I did have a strong case and what with his case consisting of 2 pieces of paper he decided not to go ahead. So the landlord wins this one!

Mark Alexander

16:03 PM, 1st April 2013
About 8 years ago

Hi Rob, congratulations!

Freda Blogs

16:18 PM, 1st April 2013
About 8 years ago

Well done Rob, that must be a great relief for you.

DAVID BREWSTER

11:33 AM, 1st July 2014
About 7 years ago

Freda makes the best point of all. Winning a court case is only the first step. Enforcing the judgement is another matter entirely.

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