This is a question to the blog clinic from Victoria who is a tenant.
I live in a flat that has a car park with 6 spaces (there are a total of 4 flats). In my contract it states that I have the use of 1 space for myself, and 1 guest space. Including my car, there are 2 other cars that park in the car park who are residents of the other flats.
My landlord, who is also the landlord to 2 of the other flats, owns the property next door which is his business. His business has its own car park, however he parks his cars daily in the car park for the flats. Both him and his wife park there, which is 2 cars, along with his staff.
He also recently had building work done on his commercial property and let his builders use the car park for the flats – there were frequently 3 vans plus lorries blocking the drive way most days.
Is he allowed to use the car park for the flats? I frequently come home and am unable to park my car, or have my partner come round and he cannot park his car.
All the flats he owns (a total of 3) are occupied, 1 of them don’t have a car, the other 2 (including me) have a total of 2 cars between us.
The first thing to do, if you have not done so already is to speak to your landlord about it. He may not be aware of the problem.
The best thing would be to see if he is willing to allocate a space to you, maybe put a sign there saying ‘reserved for flat X’ so that only you have the use of that space.
I don’t think he could do that for your guest space though as there are four flats so they can’t all have exclusive rights to two out of six places.
So far as your landlord’s right to park there is concerned, if he owns it, he has the right to use it. However, this should be subject to your rights as a tenant in one of the flats.
Remedies for Breach of contract
Strictly speaking, if you are unable to use the car park due to your landlord and his employees or contractors, this is a breach of contract.
The rule in contract is that if one party breaches it, the other party is entitled to be put in the position they would have been had the contract been performed as it should.
So for example, if you have had to park elsewhere because of your landlord or his workmen, then strictly speaking you would be entitled to be reimbursed any cost – for example, if you had to use a local multi-storey car park.
You could also claim the cost of additional travel costs and any other expenses which arose from this issue, plus maybe something for distress and inconvenience.
Note however that it is only if it is the landlord’s fault that you would have a claim. Your landlord cannot be held responsible for anyone else parking there – other than his workmen or employees.
It’s difficult though as the only way you can claim compensation, assuming your landlord is unwilling to pay it voluntarily, is via the courts.
If you just deduct compensation from your rent, then the landlord will probably, in turn, deduct it from your deposit when you leave. This sort of dispute is not something you could challenge at adjudication as this is not something the deposit scheme adjudicators are authorised to deal with – they would just award the money to the landlord.
So you could have to deal with any dispute about deductions from the deposit via the Small Claims court.
Also, bear in mind that if you antagonise the landlord there is always the risk that he will decide he wants you to leave after your current fixed term.
If your landlord is reasonable, the best thing is to approach him and see if you can work something out.
Otherwise, you do have a right to compensation but claiming it may be difficult and you may have to do this through the courts. Unless you are incurring substantial charges through having to park elsewhere it may be more trouble than it’s worth.
I would advise though that in any case, you keep a record (and proof of) any actual expenses that you are put to due to this problem, and also keep a diary so you will be able to prove how often you and your visitors are unable to use the car park due to your landlord or his workmen parking there.
It is a shame that there is no mandatory ombudsman scheme for landlords as there is for agents, as this is just the sort of situation where an Ombudsman service would be helpful.