I was flicking through the January edition of Legal Action Magazine today (yes I know, I am a bit late getting around to it) when my eye was caught by a couple of cases in the disrepair section featuring rodent related awards.
We often get tenants complaining to the Blog Clinic about rats and mice – well here are a couple of cases where tenants received financial compensation.
Both were made on counterclaims brought by tenants whose landlords were trying to evict them for rent arrears.
Frederick v. Simpson v. Frame
Willesden County Court, 11 July 2011
Here the tenant had an AST of a room in a shared house. The tenant brought a counterclaim to the landlords possession claim based on disrepair which she had suffered since she first moved into the property in November 2009.
The Judge found for the tenant and made an award based on a diminution of the value of the rent throughout the tenancy of 65%:
- 30% for lack of hot water
- 15% for lack of heating in the common parts,
- 15% for (wait for it) a mouse infestation – largely to the common parts, and
- 5% for miscellaneous matters
The award came to £7,417 and £131 interest. Easily offsetting the £5,752 alleged rent arrears. The landlords were also ordered to do remedial works within three months.
Harwood Properties v. Remuinan
Brighton County Court, 18 October 2011
Here the tenant, again, counterclaimed a possession claim for disrepair from the start of her tenancy from May 2010. The Judge found the landlords liable for:
- Breach of an express agreement to clean the carpets and decorate the walls
- Sewage on the patio for two months, with further leakage and smells for a further 14 months
- A leaking toilet
- Cracked bath sealant which led to water leakage
- Leaking bathroom tap and defective patio door, AND
- A rat infestation from February to August 2011
Taking all this into account the Judge awarded
- 20% of the rent throughout the tenancy for general damages plus
- an additional 20% for the period of the rat infestation.
Once again the award to the tenant, £2,816 outweighed the agreed rent arrears of £940.78.
So if your property has a rodent problem, this could equate to an award of between 15 and 20% off the rent.
But don’t just knock it off the rent – you are only actually entitled to this if you have had a court case and the Judge has made an award.
Remember also that you are not going to get this sort of award if you just see a mouse once on the patio. These were both serious infestations. In fact in the second case, the Judge considered the rat problem to be more distressing than all the others. So be realisitic.