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Can I claim rent reduction due to excessive building noise and landlord’s misrepresentation ??


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I started renting a ‘studio apartment’ (i.e. a bedsit) in January this year in a three-storey 1930s block – residents are a mix of renters and leaseholders. I am considering asking for rent reduction due to two main issues:

  1. Upon moving in I noticed that there is no way to turn off the radiator, as it is controlled centrally, making for an overly hot room. The landlord and their letting agents did not inform me of this (I would not have agreed to rent it if they had). They said that that ‘may’ install a thermostat before the winter comes and they turn it back on. I was willing to chalk that up to ‘live and learn’, until…

 

  1. The landlord is now engaged in an extensive external repair programme on the roof, meaning that the entire block will be covered in scaffolding for at least three months - this is preventative rather than urgent as far as I know. The builders are here from 8-4 every day and the noise from drilling, shouting, hammering etc. is incessant... they've been here 3 weeks already and now the landlord informed us that they'll be there another months at least. I work from home and it’s borderline unbearable (my nearest company office is 50 miles away, and as it’s all confidential legal stuff I work on I’m technically not supposed to work in a coffee shop or library). Moreover, the way they have laid out the scaffolding means that I can only open my windows about 1/10 of their full capacity, this in the hottest period of the year. There is also the loss of privacy as the builders are constantly walking past my window (flat is one room, open-plan), plus the loss of natural light due to the scaffolding planks. Though letters/emails were sent warning of the works, I was not informed of the works before I signed the lease and again would not have moved in had I known.

 
Given the above, I do not see why I should pay the full rent for the months the works are taking place, given as they are violation of the ‘quit enjoyment’ clause and ability to use the flat as intended upon signing the lease. That said, the landlord will likely push back saying the works are essential (covered in the lease) – I understand there have been recent cases found in favour of the lessee, but that these were extreme cases (e.g. noise so deafening noise plugs were needed).

As for misrepresentation, I’m not sure about the law on that. The landlord could say I should have known that an older block would have centrally controlled heating (news to me) and that building works could take place at any time. I was happy staying here for a year whilst I save for a deposit but really I feel I’m been completely taken for ride (£650 a month to live in a tiny bedsit which is a construction site in the summer and a sauna in the winter). Stupidly I didn’t insist on a break clause (was stuck in couch surfing hell at the time).

Any advice here would be helpful - assuming the landlord refuses to discuss compensation, is the legal route worth it? Even if successful any compensation gained would likely be cancelled out by legal fees.
 
Thanks,
A Renter

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The radiator thermostat is an easy fix and work for that to happen should be booked in.

The building works should have been informed to you prior to occupation if the work was imminent to take place which would have enabled you to make an informed decision on whether to accept the tenancy.

Your next step is to discuss your rent reduction with your landlord for the reasons you have stated. Depending on that outcome depends on where you want to be. If there is no satisfactory outcome for you, you may be able to be released from your tenancy contract and move on.

Going down the legal route is expensive and time consuming and your chances of winning are very slim.

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In answer to your Q2:

There is nothing to stop you asking for a rent reduction. Given the situation, it's entirely understandable that you are unhappy but I don't see how a rent reduction will make things better for you. In your situation i'd  probably already have done the same But, building work will continue, noise, disruption etc will continue unchanged. You may get, say, a 10% reduction.......but you will still need to suffer for a few more weeks. When I let property I'm always amazed at how few questions are ever asked by potential tenants. They seem to expect the onus to be on the landlord to tell them of every detail that's in the pipeline. Now, if you were buying a property, the onus would be on you, the buyer, to ask questions to determine if the property was suitable for you. The buyer wouldn't be complaining that the seller didn't tell them the roof was needing repair.

I'd suggest you look at your approach to renting and ask yourself....'should I make more effort when looking to rent a property?'

 

 

 

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Thanks for these replies. I've got a busy few months ahead and really cba dealing with another house move atm so would rather just stay for convenience's sake, but on principal I'm not paying full price for inferior goods.

 

Your point about due diligence is a good one. The lopsided market is to blame largely. At the time of agreeing the let I had been sleeping on friend's sofas/Air bnbs for several weeks - the city I'm in has a tight rental market, and so it was taking a lot of time and energy, and time was a factor. The flat itself is fine, and the letters had good reviews online, so I agreed. Market conditions dictate this - why should a letter waste their time as a potential tenant nitpicks them to the nth degree about every possible issue, when someone more biddable will be along in few hours time? Moreover many people have been burned several times by dishonest landlords and so don't trust what they say anyway, and obvs for a rental you're not going to waste money on an independent assessor.

 

So lets are agreed, the tenant is legally bound for a year, and them the problems emerge. They're in there with all their stuff, and now faced either wasting their time and money on a legal battle which even if they win any compensation will be wiped out by legal fees, or to move out and go through the stress of house hunting all over again. And if they stay the relationship with the landlord is ruined and you can bet there'll be a fight over the deposit.

 

Unfortunately, the chronic shortage of housing for rent or purchase in this country had encouraged a lot of unscrupulous, penny-pinching people to enter the property market, which has given landlords a bad rep. 

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ps. as for the legal side a case a similar case a few years ago was decided in favour of the lessee (Timothy Taylor Ltd v Mayfair House Corporation and another [2016]).

 

Though I guess owning a gallery in Mayfair helps when it comes to asserting your legal rights 

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I'm sorry I just don't agree with your analysis. To balance the argument there are also a lot of unscrupulous, penny pinching, rip off tenants around whose main aim in life is to find somewhere to live without paying......landlords need to be on top of their game.

Renting property from a tenants point of view should require an applicant to go through similar questions and queries that a buyer might follow. How difficult is it to ask about those aspects that are of particular interest........what's the parking like, how are the neighbours, is it a private estate, is it quiet, are there any building works planned et c etc. When I look at property, I ask all of those and more. If there is an agent involved I'll take 10 minutes asking for details before I agree to even view a property.

Your failure to make appropriate enquiries is your fault. Yes, one would expect roof repairs to have been mentioned but YOU carry equal blame for your failure to enquire.

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Quote

 

Will given that Timothy Taylor Ltd v Mayfair House Corporation and another (2016) stated that tenants should be told of planned major works at the time of signing the lease, it appears the law agrees with me. 

And if you seriously think renters have any real power in today' market you're living in cloud cuckoo land. Maybe if landlords weren't such greedy leeches tenants would be less antagonistic?

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Well I think you have already answered your own question yourself by quoting the 2016 legal case.

You asked for advice, just to be clear, mine is:-

1. You should be more proactive when looking for suitable accomodation. If you had been you might not have found yourself in your current predicament. Relying on others to flag up issues is not always reliable.

2. We all make mistakes. I find that instead of getting annoyed it's far better to change the approach and put the effort into ensuring its never going to happen again.

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