Tenant suing for condensation problems?

Tenant suing for condensation problems?

10:29 AM, 21st February 2023, About A year ago 11

Text Size

Hello, I have a tenant who is suing me for damp and mould problems. When the tenant moved into the property it was just renovated with a new carpet and painted throughout. The flat is a two bedroom ground floor. She and her three children ages 12, 14 and 10 months – all boys.

After about 6 months she complained about mould in the front room, when I went to the flat there was mould by the front wall of the living room/kitchen – she was drying clothes on the radiators and didn’t have the windows open.

I explained to her about opening the windows and not to dry clothes on the radiators.

I got some mould spray and cleaned the walls down.

The mould problem continued and then she got a tumble dryer in the living room which was not vented outside. Instead she put the hose out on to the floor causing more mould.

Her husband then moved into the flat making five people living in a two bed flat. Her husband was not on the AST, only herself and three children. She got the flat due to domestic violence from an estate agent who went through the council who approved the flat.

I have kitchen extractor and an EnviroVent fan in the bathroom but still had the mould.

I received a letter from a solicitor just after Christmas looking for compensation, the tenant has now moved out of the flat moving to a three bed flat. She only gave me a week’s notice and still had 4 months remaining on her AST.

I have asked the solicitors for a joint inspection, they said they didn’t need to do this as they already had enough evidence.

The tenant had sent the solicitor photos of the mould but I also sent the solicitor photos of the tumble dryer in the living and the bedroom unvented.

Can anyone advise and recommend a solicitor in the north west London area?

Peter


Share This Article


Comments

Lorraine Mansfield

11:02 AM, 21st February 2023, About A year ago

Hi i have been watching on youtube blackbelt barrister, he gives free info on defending a claim and bringing a claim to court. Make a chronological list with dates and all your pictures before and after and hopefully you have a inventory and defend the claim or in your case counter claim for unpaid rent. You need evidence and dates and stick to facts but i find his information very useful dealing with this sort of thing. Sorry to hear you're going through this. I would get all repaired and get a new tenant asap with a reputable agent.

K Anon

12:07 PM, 21st February 2023, About A year ago

I agree. 110% get a barrister onboard asap do not bother with solicitors they will drain you then instruct a barrister anyway.
You can 'hire' using open access. Google.
It will cost you no matter what, this is about limiting your losses. You have a positive, they've gone. Mine (tenant on benefits) I had to pay her thiusands to leave and pay these legal costs along the way so of course no rent paid etc.
Pg

DPT

12:42 PM, 21st February 2023, About A year ago

If you've received a solicitors letter you will definitely need your own legal advice now. It may seem self evident that the damp was caused by the tenant, but you will need to prove this in court. Your own solicitor will probably advise you to get a damp specialist in to investigate the cause so that you can quote a professional opinion to back up your claim.

Martin O'Hearne

13:38 PM, 21st February 2023, About A year ago

Did you take a picture of the washing she was drying? If not, you really needed to but in any case, make sure you do so if you see it in future.
So, as a very experienced landlord with a large portfolio, you can imagine I’ve had a lot of this over the years but with the heightened media interest, this year has been exceptional.
What I do when faced with high levels of condensation damp, is to first do an external assessment, looking at roof problems, leaking gutters, poor pointing, anywhere where water might be getting in and where necessary repair the problem. We also always instruct a specialist surveyor to make a damp assessment. 9.9 times out of 10, the survey points to living habits; tenants not venting, tenants not keeping property the heating on at an ambient temperature, tenants washing inside and hanging on radiators etc etc. Generally, getting the rads balanced and kept on during winter and having the windows on vent opening does the trick. But also insist on tenants cleaning any mould they see, often one of the problems is lazy tenants, they like to blame everyone else but themselves.
From what you have said, you have done everything you can, and as the property is a flat, it’s likely you won’t be responsible for any structural issues. As landlords are easy targets, you need to keep records. It will be hard for them to sue you if you have done everything you possibly could, and she will have to prove it wasn’t her that caused it. I have a page on my website which might help you - I’m very matter of fact that most times this problem is the tenants fault, I’m matter of fact because that’s nearer the truth!
This link to my web page might help in future;
https://mandgproperty.co.uk/dampissues/
Good luck and report back how things pan out.

REB

13:47 PM, 21st February 2023, About A year ago

You need to make the tenant realise that there is a potential loss to the tenant. Working with a solicitor on a no win no fee basis the tenant may think there is nothing to lose, but you are able to counterclaim for the loss of rent/cost of finding new tenant because the tenant left prior to the end of the AST fixed period and for the remedial work required because the tenant allowed the mould to develop and any other damage. To make things easier get a builder to provide a quotation for dealing with this work (ensure the quotation refers to the reason). Don't forget all carpet and soft furnishings (if any) will also need special deep cleaning to remove any spores.

I suggest that you also do a little detective work. There will likely be a small fee to pay when issuing a counterclaim but it may well make the tenant see sense.
You mention domestic violence. Are you sure the 'husband' is not just a new partner. Do you know whether the place they have moved to is in fact a new partner's home? This could all be contrived.
You mention the council was involved in relocating the tenant. Have you ascertained whether she was funded by the council? Have you notified the council that she has left the tenancy? It is possible that she continues to receive support as an abused spouse notwithstanding a reconciliation or new relationship.
I totally agree that you need to instruct a solicitor but a solicitor can only be as good as the information that you provide, so you need to deal with getting the evidence. While instructing a barrister using direct access may be cheaper, the barrister can only provide advice. He is not permitted to deal with the court paperwork, filing counterclaims etc. He can only advise you, draft certain papers and appear to speak for you in court. In any event stop communicating with the solicitor for the former tenant yourself. That is likely to damage your case if you have no relevant experience.

Scrapiechick

16:12 PM, 21st February 2023, About A year ago

It would be a good idea to get a full survey done, especially if there was evidence of damp/mold prior to the redecoration, while not an expense you may want to take on, if there are structural issues that have caused/contributed to damp and mold then they will be able to advise, and it may end up saving you money.

Smiffy

19:15 PM, 21st February 2023, About A year ago

This is a shakedown, you certainly don't need to spend money with solicitors.

Assuming the tenancy has been formally surrendered, all you need to do is ask for their evidence, if they don't have anything, they can't create it without access.

Give them nothing, you are the defendant, the onus is on them to prove their case.

David Houghton

8:30 AM, 22nd February 2023, About A year ago

In order to establish it was damp due to disrepair then she would need expert evidence.

Yes it's a shakedown where you end up paying more to a solicitor than her claim.

She has left so is still liable for the rent tilll the end of the tenancy. So you have a counter claim.

Point this out. Deny the clsom

Make a part 36 offer of her deposit back and waiver of all the rent she is due. Comply with the part ,36 rules.

She would then have to beat this offer at court to get her costs. The solicitor will realise this and if he is on a CFA drop her like shot potato.

If it's a small claim,then you don't be a solicitor, though an expert report would be helpful. Again offer to the other side to appoint a joint expert. Watch the claim fall away

Tom Holley

10:53 AM, 23rd February 2023, About A year ago

Agree with Sniffy. Shake down. Tell them to knock themselves out. In the unlikely event that this gets to court the burden of proof is on the claimant and they will need to provide you with their proof long before the court hearing. Then and only then do you need to think about legal advice.

Darren Horn

7:42 AM, 25th February 2023, About A year ago

Re the damp survey.
We had the same problem in one of our properties.
We had 2 types of survey.
1 was done by a general builder with a £15 "damp meter" off Amazon, who conveniently found himself £3k of work at the house with the meter and said we need a new damp course and tanking.
The other survey was by a damp only specialist, who had no interest in doing any remedial work. But he had £100's of damp measuring equipment, including, humid detectors, thermal imaging cameras, snake eye cameras to go into the wall cavity and thermometers to measure dew points.
Not surprisingly the 2 findings were totally different. His findings were lack of air flow under the floor boards and in wall cavity.
The 1st survey would of had us covering up the problem, not installing air bricks and letting the damp accumulate behind the tanking and thus cause more damage in 10yrs time.
Choose your "damp specialist" carefully!!!

1 2

Leave Comments

In order to post comments you will need to Sign In or Sign Up for a FREE Membership

or

Don't have an account? Sign Up

Landlord Tax Planning Book Now