I share a flat with two other people, when we moved we asked the agent if we could have sky installed, meaning a dish would be attached to the wall at the back.
The agent said the landlord had no issue with it as long as it did not ‘infringe on other people’s property’. It did not so we went ahead and signed up to an 18 month contract.
Two weeks later we had a letter from the estate managers saying we didn’t have permission to have the dish installed and ordered us to take it down. We told them we had the consent of the landlord but they said that the landlord should have told us that dishes are not permitted.
We told the agent but they backtracked and said they couldn’t intervene, their feeble defence was a disclaimer at the bottom of their email which states they cannot be held responsible for advice given by email.
The estate managers have told us that if the dish is not removed in the next 14 days, they will arrange for it to be removed themselves and the cost passed to the landlord. In the meantime, we have a contract of £60 a month for something we cannot use.
We accept the dish has to be removed so we asked for £60 off our rent for the next 15 months, or a full month rent free (£990) so we can cancel the contract with sky outright. The agent did not respond so we have asked for the landlord’s address but this was also ignored. We have written a formal complaint to the agent but this has not been acknowledged either.
We are very angry about this and feel we have been let down by both the agent and the landlord. Are we entitled to deduct the money from our rent? We have kept the email confirming we could put the dish up, and all the other emails we have sent to the agent.
We think we have a legitimate case for compensation and hope that you may be able to give some advice.
There is an argument that the landlord is liable to you if you asked permission and was granted this.
My only caveat is his statement that the installation must not impinge on other people’s property. As it turns out the sky dish installation was not allowed – would this warning be deemed to be putting you on alert to check this further?
I am inclined to think not, particularly if it would have been hard for you to find out about the ban.
The agent by the way is not personally liable, as they were simply acting in their capacity as agent for the landlord, so any claim must be made against the landlord himself.
Getting the landlords address
The agents are obliged to provide his address if you ask – this is set out in s1 Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 – and it is a criminal offence if they fail to comply.
So to start with, you need to send them a formal letter requesting the landlords address – and say that this request is made pursuant to a1 Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 so there can be no mistake!
Making a claim
Neither the landlord not the agent are going to want you to deduct the Sky charges from your rent. However if you threaten proceedings they may agree to this – or they may not. Its hard to tell.
Assuming you have a case (and I think you probably have) one way to deal with it is to simply deduct the rent and leave them to sue you for it.
However note that they will probably be able to deduct this from your deposit when you leave, and this sort of dispute is not something the tenancy deposit adjudicators can deal with. So you would want your dispute to be dealt with in the courts.
Another approach of course would be to deduct the deposit sum from your last months rent. You are not supposed to do this of course, but it would mean that it would be up to the landlord to sue you for the money relating to the Sky contract, rather than up to you to sue them.
If you actually went to court, the question then is whether your case would succeed and if so, how much the Judge would award. I think you have a reasonably good chance of success but no litigation is 100% certain.
So far as the amount of your award is concerned, this would depend to a certain extent on what you told the agents at the time you asked for permission. So if you said you would be applying for an 18 month contract, it is arguable that they are liable to refund you on this basis.
However if you did not actually say this, then compensation would probably be on the basis of a normal 12 month contract. In either case, the Judge would expect you to reach agreement with Sky to minimise your claim as much as possible.
This story is also a lesson to landlord to be more careful what they agree to grant permission for!