Landlord fined £10,000 following Tenants Complaints
If you are having problems with property maintenance issues and don’t know whether it is your responsibility or that of your landlord this news item highlights one tenant’s experience and explains what you can do to make sure that your landlord keeps your property in good condition.
There can often be disputes between tenants and landlords relating to whose responsibility it is to maintain the property and sometimes they can lead to serious problems as one renowned former WWII French Resistance worker found recently.
Landlord neglected to maintain property
Helen Bora, who is 92 years of age ultimately, was forced to move into Camden Council sheltered housing due to exactly this type of dispute. She had rented a top floor flat in a building for some 15 years and had no problems until the property changed ownership five years after she moved in. During the following 10 years her new landlord neglected to maintain the property.
In 2010 she heard what she described as a “thunderous noise” during the night and when she opened her door the following day she found rain coming through where the whole ceiling had collapsed.
Successful Prosecution by Local Authority against a Landlord
Following a series of complaints against the landlord the local authority was successful in prosecuting the owner of the building, John Garvey, who was fined £10,000 and had to pay over £3,000 in costs at Highbury Magistrates Court for noncompliance with 2 improvement notices on the Bloomsbury property which has Grade II listing status.
More Tenants Complaints during Economic Recession
Research has shown that during the current recession there have been a rising number of complaints against both letting agents and landlords. This may well be as a result of tenants becoming more educated in terms of their rights and the complaints procedures available to them.
Maintenance Responsibilities of Landlords and Tenants
However, there are still grey areas whereby many tenants do not understand their responsibilities and those of letting agents or landlords. One example is that it is the absolute responsibility of landlords to ensure that the properties they are renting out are properly maintained, safe and that there are no hazards that would affect the health of their tenants. Conversely tenants also have certain responsibilities such as unblocking the kitchen sink and repairing damage that their family or friends have caused.
Tenants should complain to the Local Authority
There are a number of options available to tenants who consider that their landlords are not complying with their legal obligations relating to maintenance of their rental properties. Few private tenants realise that they can complain to their local authority about such issues even when renting from a private landlord and this may be the most expedient way to resolve any problems.
Local authorities in the UK are legally obliged to make sure that properties being rented out comply with health and safety regulations and are habitable. A complaint to the Council by a tenant will result, in most cases, with an assessment being made of the property and should faults be found, the Housing Officer will discuss the necessity for improvements with the landlord.
Beware of Letting Agents Fees
Another area of concern for tenants is that when using letting agents to secure a property, they often end up paying more fees than they expected because often they are not aware of extra fees until after they have signed the lease. Tenants should always ask about these fees before signing the lease so that they are completely aware of what they will be responsible for paying in total.
Cases such as that of Helen Bora are the exception rather than the rule but her experience highlights how important it is for tenants to understand their responsibilities and those of their landlords.