Here is a question to the blog clinic from Mark who is a tenant
Our current tenancy agreement finishes in November 2014. There is a two month notice period for both parties after the initial 10 months.
Our landlord has failed to meet his obligations- No Buildings Ins Certificate/ No gas safety certificate since April 2012. Added to this is the failure to treat the damp that is rife throughout the property.
So we have found a new property to move to.
Can we leave sooner seeing as he is in breach of the agreement? We do not want a long drawn-out legal wrangle, we just want to move on.
Strictly speaking no, you are obliged under the agreement to give the same period of notice that he is. The landlord’s breaches do not entitle you to leave early.
However your landlord cannot physically force you to live in the property. So it comes down to how much rent he is entitled to.
From what you say it sounds as if your landlord could be in trouble. There are two main issues – the damp and the Gas Safety certificate.
So far as the damp is concerned:
- You would have a claim against him for compensation for the damp, if you are able to show that this is due to his breach of his statutory repairing covenants (see here for some guidance on this)
- If you contact your local authority Environmental Health Dept and ask for a Housing Health & Safety Rating System inspection they will probably find a ‘category 1 hazard’, in which case they will require him to do works to deal with it. If he fails to do the works they will serve an improvement notice on him. He will not want this.
- You may also have grounds to bring a prosecution in the local Magistrates Court under the Environmental Health Act
So far as the Gas Safety Certificate is concerned
This does not entitle you to bring any financial claim yourself. However, you could threaten to report him to your local Health & Safety Executive who will no doubt require him to get a safety check done immediately.
If he fails to do this he could be prosecuted – you can see reports of cases on my Gas Access Kit site.
Suggested course of action
If your landlord refuses to let you leave early, you should point these matters out to him and say that if you stay, you will be contacting your local Environmental Health Dept and the the HSE.
Even if he still refuses to let you go, if you just move out anyway, the only way he can claim the outstanding rent from you is via the courts. I suspect he will not want to do this, and if he does you will probably be able to counterclaim for compensation on the basis of the damp.
Certainly you should let him know that if he does sue, this is what you will be doing.
If the landlord took a deposit, you may have to resign yourself to losing this – however he sounds like the sort of landlord who will not have complied properly with the deposit regulations.
You might want to check this. If he is in breach, this will give you more bargaining leverage.