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BG0612

Landlord Harassment or am I being unreasonable?

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I wonder if anyone qualified in 1977 Rent Act law could help.

I have rented my studio flat since 1983 (part of a large victorian property owned by one landlord who held the freehold) and i have a secure tenancy. That is not in dispute. The landlord from 1983-2000 (same family, succession situation in 1997) then tried to evict me using unlawful means when I refused to accept some restructuring plans he had for my flat which I refused, as part of a five self contained unit plan he had in mind, which he could then sell on as separate self contained flats (three as part of a main house, plus two annex flat with a slightly different door number and own wheelie bins - significant later). I put up a fight on the plans he had for my flat and he lost his civil dispute costing him around £12000 in costs and damages to me. I also kept my flat on, as it was too, and was granted a consent order provisions that set out the landlord to tenant communication protocols and it held a provision that allowed me to do up my flat with decorations as I chose. Basically, everything in my flat now was bought and paid for by me - and owned by me from 2000 onwards. That includes the flooring and the fitted kitchen, not just removable items of furniture. I realise that if I leave I will have to leave behind the permanent fixtures and fittings. I don't intend to leave.

The landlord did sell the entire house to separate owners, and that included my flat too to a property investment company. They were fine at first but when I started to press them for essential repairs they were legally responsible for doing, their attitude toward me changed from pleasant to plain unpleasant after about three years. They did the works (new boiler etc.) but it was hard to get a civil word out of them. My landlord also became uncontactable by mobile phone or was rude and strange on the phone. I now only deal with the office he uses to manage his and other properties they jointly own. The office staff are not much better, but I can talk to them. They do repairs but very begrudgingly and usually after some 'arm twisting.' But over time, some repairs that the old landlord used to do they are passing over to me to pay for. It is a job for them to pay for anything now except something really basic, like plumbing, security to the flat. They do carry out the health and safety checks. That's about it. But over time, I am paying for more and more stuff that the old landlord was willing to pay for (except the decorations, as per consent order). The landlord, when he first took over, ruined my worktop I paid for and had to replace it. He then claimed it was his. I told him it was not. He was compensating me for ruining my property. Not merely replacing a landlord owned worktop he'd ruined. Whether he paid for the new one or not, it was mine still.

 

The daughter of the first landlord has always hated me (inherited by her father who did as well owing to the above eviction attempt) and still lives in the neighbouring flat (an annex with a lettered door-number). She and some other new single flat owners in the house (five flats altogether, only two tenanted - one by me) started a 'so called' joint freeholder management company. At first the whole idea seemed benign and harmless but now I am not so sure. They seem to be enlisting my landlord (by passing me in the process) to agree to changes in the house and garden area which impact on me directly without even consulting with me first. I feel as though I am being dumped on. My flat landlord is an absent landlord and has no vested interest in doing anything other than agree with the plans made behind my back by the resident landlords of the other four flats. For example, the Council decided that we could no longer keep the wheelie bins on the roadside as we had for years. Now they are on the forecourt of the house. The other freeholder owners decided amongst themselves that they should be placed under a beautiful sycamore tree that is in direct view of my window. The bins look hideous there and are held in place (from strong winds) by an ugly white chain wrapped around the trunk. It is clear that the intention is to make the eyesore my problem and not there's, even though I had no say in the decision. What angers me more is that the bins belonging to the daughter of my old landlord won't keep her bins on her side of the annex. Collectively, with the other freeholders they decided that all of them should be on my side instead - separated by a walkway path to our front door (the main part of the house - not the annex with its own front door).

 

I took it upon myself to treat these 'next door' bins as though they are generic (everyone can use them) bins - now they are on our side of the house. The other day the daughter decided to confront me for dumping my waste in what she still describes as 'her bins' bearing the same number as that stamped on the front of the bin. I got in my car and she angrily came across and banged on the window and tried to force the car door handle. It was locked but I am sure she was about to assault me. I reported the matter to the police. It is not the first time she has tried to force her way into my property (she did this to my flat when her father was landlord a few years ago and she really did assault me then). A few weeks ago, when I was talking to her partner about where the bin should go, she openly accused me of being racist (against her partner). The same partner then rebuked her openly and denied I was being racist. I had not said or implied anything remotely racist. Yet one of the other freeholders agreed that I was racist too (just because I did not know the exact country the old landlord's daughter's partner came from (Mongolia instead of Japan). This is a very sinister turn of events. 

 

The daughter has a history of abusing me in various ways:

1.  ignoring me and slamming the front door in my face (she used to live in the main house where I live now)

2. Getting her partner to ignore me too (no wonder I didn't know where he was from, exactly). The first conversation we'd had in 20 years was the night his partner accused me of racism and he disagreed.

3. Forcing entry into my flat and assaulting me.

4. My landlord has told me that 'other tenants' have complained about me too. Yet I have done nothing at all to anyone who could find fault with my behaviour. I sent the landlord a Subject Access Request under the DPA to send me all the complaints they claimed they'd received from other owners in the house and they ignored it. 

 

I am convinced that this management company is not so much about preserving the property but more about it being a convenient ruse to collectively harrass and dump on me, as a tenant. The landlord won't help and is actively involved in their decisions which work against my interests. They don’t live here so they don't care what is decided. Ever since taking over, they've repeatedly ignored the consent order provisions my previous landlord had to abide by. Now the same management company are trying to ruin the view from my window by chopping down trees, bushes and just making the whole view from my window a massive ugly eye sore with ugly bins (including those from the annex) in full view of my window. I know this isn't the worst thing that can happen when other tenants have mould, rot, no  electricity etc, but I wonder if this is harassment by the management company for which my landlord is part of. 

 

I am now thinking of ways to get some redress. Moving out is not an option due to being a 1977 Rent Act tenant. But what I do wonder is this: since I paid £10,000 for the kitchen to be fitted and flooring to be put down 20 years ago and the landlord seems to believe that all fixtures and fittings I spent that sum on belong to them, can I sue for the cost of them back or withhold the rent until they are paid off? I fail to see why I should pay for anything that they believe they own when they are ignoring the terms of the consent order too. Plus they show me no respect (as a very longstanding home dweller) either and when I confront them about why decisions are made without any consultation with me - when I am affected and my rent pays for some of these changes to the property. They always say they have when all they do is go ahead without even telling me at all (claiming they did) and if they do tell me they are merely informing me of decisions they have made without any input from me at all, even though I am bearing the main brunt of these decisions to my detriment. I have a feeling that things are going to get worse before they get better.

 

The other freeholders in the house, who I thought were OK up until recently, have pretty much turned on me too (long before I realised it too if the complaints are real). I helped one of them out during the huge storm a while back when a neighbours tent flew over the property and hit his BMW smashing the windscreen. I lent him my car cover and helped him put it on in the rain and wind. We'd got on fine before that time, which is why I wanted to help. Not long after he was playing music loud upstairs and has never returned the cover either. Now he doesn't even speak to me. The owner downstairs thinks I am racist - just like the daughter of my old landlord  (even though the person this racism was aimed at didn't agree).  Yet, it was only a while ago that I thanked him for painting the hallway and even suggested paying for the communal carpet to be cleaned even though that is not my responsibility at all. At the time I offered, I had no idea they were all treating me with such contempt behind my back (complaining about me, making decisions to actively exclude me from decisions that affect me which never really came to light until the wheelie war broke out. Again, he agrees that the annex bins should be placed on our side of the house. Yet this makes no sense when there is plenty of room the annex side and the annex door number is stamped on the bins.  All the time they are our side - stuck in full view of my window - I will continue to dump my rubbish in them. If they want exclusive rights to them they can jolly well move them to the annex side.

 

At the very least, I feel I am being abused, if these behaviours don't fall under the harassment banner. My landlord is facilitating this abuse and now I have an attempted assault from my old landlord's daughter to contend with from last week.

 

Any ideas of what is going on and what I can do about this? I don't want to stoke any fires of antagonism by resorting to crime or anti-social retaliation, but whenever something does go wrong, you can bet your life that my old landlord's daughter is at the heart of it. She seems to be running the management company show and is using the other freeholders as flying monkeys to abuse me as well. Now I don't have a good relationship with anyone whereas before I thought I did. I  feel very alone here at the house now.

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In your situation you need to talk to and obtain legal advice from a solicitor. As much as I hate the Citizens Advice Bureau I do think for you this is going to be your best course of action.

I think from what you are saying there is a case of harassment and the people doing this need to tread very carefully because it could backfire on them in a big way and empty their bank account at the same time by way of damages.

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