This is a question to the blog clinic from Claire who is a tenant.
Noise and more noise. I moved into a flat four months ago which I was assured had no issues with noise or neighbours and feel I have been tricked into a 12 months lease.
I’ve been subjected to night upon night of nightclub noise, crashing and banging. All the other tenants seem to know about the ceilings being paper thin and there is no insulation. Even my landlord concedes you can hear everything from flat below.
I asked to leave the property on the third day of the lease, in tears to the estate agent. She said no. I asked the landlord (begged and pleaded) to let me out in February and she sent me to the estate agent who swerved it.
I’ve called Westminster council but to no avail. It has affected my health to the point where my doctor diagnosed stress. I work for myself so it is a nightmare. The property has also had builders there every day for about 6 weeks now including weekends. At this point they are working above me, starting around 7am every day. I’ve reported most cases to the council.
I have also never seen an itinerary and there were a whole list of things wrong with the flat when I moved in.
I’ve complained to the extent the estate agents say they will let me out if they find someone/or I pay a penalty (which I have said I will do as I want to leave now).
I spoke to shelter who said they should have let me leave within 90 days and also that I should have an inventory. These arguments are not swaying them and they are still asking me to pay a fee to exit.
I’ve put in an official complaint but I’d like to know can I also complain to my landlord? Can I take this to an Ombudsman? It’s so unusual, I’ve never known anything like it and just can’t believe they can get away with it! I just want a nice flat where I can work.
Under the Consumer Protection (Amendment) Regulations 2014, a tenant has a right to ‘unwind’ a tenancy where the tenant has been induced to enter into the contract by an unfair practice. This would include telling untruths about the tenancy – for example, that it is a quiet property when it is not.
Under this legislation, you had the right to end the tenancy and recover money paid – but the method of enforcing this is by bringing civil proceedings – which of course you did not do. There is a time limit of 90 days for this and so you are now out of time
The trouble is that you asked your agents to agree to your leaving. Letting agents act for your landlord, not for you the tenant. So if you ask them to let you terminate your tenancy early this will be against their client’s interest – so of course, they will say no.
It is a bit like asking turkeys to vote for Christmas.
There seems to be a general view that agents are there to help tenants. Whereas in fact, they are nothing of the sort. Their job is to represent landlords. They are the landlord’s agent – not yours.
What you should have done
First – it is unfortunate that you did not double check the agent’s statement that the flat was quiet. For example, it should have been apparent that there is a nightclub nearby in which case it is perhaps unrealistic to expect the flat to be super quiet at night.
Then, when you found out the truth you shouldn’t have asked the agents to allow you to leave. You should have told them you were exercising your rights and asked if they would be willing to reach an agreement to avoid the disagreeable necessity of court proceedings.
This should have been done as soon as possible to ensure you were within the time limit. You should have told them that you were aware of your rights under the consumer legislation and that if they did not agree to let you leave now you would be applying to Court requesting that that tenancy be unwound – and claiming back all money paid as was your right.
Then if they STILL did not agree – you should have applied to Court. Although I know that court proceedings are worrying and intimidating to many people – in a case like this the Judge would almost certainly have been on your side.
What you can do now
So what can you do now you are out to time to claim your rights under the Consumer Protection (Amendment) Regulations?
There remains the misrepresentation legislation but this is notoriously difficult. I think probably the best thing would be to make a complaint and claim for compensation to the agents Property Redress Scheme. They can award up to £25,000 compensation.
Your claim will be on the basis
- That representations made to you before you signed the tenancy (ie that the property was quiet) and
- That those representations were false – giving details of all the problems that occurred. This is often best done by keeping a diary.
After all, this is what the redress schemes are for – to help tenants who have been denied their rights.
You may also want to have a word with your local Trading Standards Office – they may also be able to assist. They have powers to act where a business has breached the consumer legislation.
So far as the lack of inventory is concerned – this is more likely to be in your favour – as the landlord’s / agents will not be able to claim any deductions from the deposit as they will be unable (due to the lack of an inventory at the start of the tenancy) to prove that the damage was down to you.