Here is a question to the blog clinic from Mary-Jane who is a tenant
We have had a horrendous experience and were not been able to live in the house we rent for 23 days after the boiler failed and we had no hot water.
The landlady wanted quotes before deciding to have the boiler replaced but the whole process was long winded and stressful.
My husband and I had to chase for updates on a daily basis while my parents kindly put us up, this was a very uncomfortable situation and we had to pay board.
We have asked our landlady for 23 days off our rent but she has refused stating that she has already lost money by paying for a new boiler, blaming the previous owner of the house for using cowboys (not our problem!).
She also said that we caused delays by not being available during the day – I should point out that were not given adequate notice for appointments, always phone calls from plumbers like – ‘I’m in the area this afternoon otherwise it will be next week’.
But the biggest insult of all was when she told us we do not understand what it’s like to be a homeowner and so we have no cause to complain.
We are extremely disappointed to say the least. I’ve heard that it may be possible to have the 23 days rent struck off because we could not live in the house, is this correct and how do we do it?
Your landlady certainly has a very ‘landlord centred’ view of the world to say the least! You are quite right, you are entitled to compensation for the days when you were unable to live in the property and are also probably entitled to further compensation for the inconvenience and stress suffered by you.
Strictly speaking if compensation is not agreed between you, you are only entitled to payment if it is awarded by the court. However one course of action is (assuming no agreement is reached) to deduct what you think is right from your rent and say to your landlord that if she seeks to recover this sum through the courts, you will defend and counterclaim for compensation for the loss of service and stress and inconvenience suffered by you.
If you do this, note that if the landlord then tries to recover this money back from your deposit, you should not agree to have this decided by your tenancy deposit scheme adjudication service, as I understand that compensation for disrepair is not something that adjudicators are authorised to deal with, and they may award the money to the landlord.
Say instead that you will want the matter to go through the courts. There is also the option of not paying the last months rent to prevent this situation arising.
As it is possible that court proceedings may be brought in the future, you need to make sure you keep full details of everything that happened. So I suggest you write it up so you can say precisely what days you were unable to stay in the property and keep a record of any other issues.
Ideally you should keep a diary of events at the time. Its a bit late for you to do this now, but any tenants reading this in a similar situation should take note of this.
Alternatively you could, instead of making a deduction from the rent, threaten to go to court now if your landlord fails to agree compensation. You may be able to find a solicitor who will act on a no win no fee basis. It would probably be advisable to take some legal advice anyway before taking any sort of action.