‘Our landlord didn’t do repairs, assaulted me and then evicted us’

Chris, 42,  lives in London. He is a sports development consultant. After getting married, he moved into a new flat. He encountered numerous problems and a surveyor assessed the building deeming it at risk of collapse. The landlord refused to take the issue seriously and made their lives a misery.

Chris | Case study

Chris

We moved into a new flat after getting married. It seemed nice. It was a top floor conversion and we could sit on the sofa in the lounge and have a view of the River Wandle.

But quite quickly after we moved in it was obvious that there were numerous things wrong with the property, which hadn’t been apparent when we viewed it.

There was damp in the bedroom, very bad damp – black walls basically.

There was a leaking roof. Where we used to sit on the sofa there was a leak between us and the telly, that went on for months and months and our landlord didn’t do anything.

We had no gas safety certificate and we found out that the previous tenants and tenants in the three other apartments had never had the gas checked either.

There were lots of other little things, like the kettle would sometimes blow up because there was an issue with the wiring.  The sink leaked and it leaked into the flat below so badly that it damaged their television and ruined all their baby photos which were on the wall.

The fire alarm has never worked

The fire alarm has never worked

This issue took months to rectify after a lot of stress in which time we could not use the only sink to wash up.

I counted 18 things wrong with the place. So when the landlord asked us to renew the contract, I finally put my foot down. I emailed him back and said I was happy to sign a new contract on the condition the repairs were carried out. I sent him the list.

The landlord agreed and he sent round a workman who tried to fix the leak on the sink. He didn’t fix the problem and he left without doing any other work on the property. I
then received an email from the landlord asking us to acknowledge that all 18 of the
repairs were complete, which was simply not the case.

We got in touch with the council and they sent round someone from their environmental health department. He came out and made a report and sent it to the landlord, and then he came out and met the landlord at the flat, but still nothing was done.

Then we got in touch with some solicitors because at that time we could get legal aid. They arranged for a chartered surveyor to come out who did an official report. He found out that the conversion was structurally unstable and in danger of collapse. He recommended that the whole roof should come off and be rebuilt. I visited the property on July 24th and this is still in place.

Because of the surveyors report and the council’s report, we were told that we had a very strong case to take our landlord to court in order to force him to do the repairs.

I work from home and one day the door opened and this guy just came in to do some repairs.  No permission, or any notice or anything. I took this up with the landlord and his secretary acknowledged our email but nothing else happened.

Then one day I’d popped out and the landlord and his workman came round to look at the roof without asking. They’d come in the flat and climbed on the bed and gone up to look at the roof, and left footprints all over the bed. They tried to fix the roof with some sticky tape.

Another time my neighbours said they’d seen my landlord walking out of the flat with a brown envelope. I discovered that a similar brown envelope with lots of official documents had gone missing.

Then we got a repossession order from the court. It came out of the blue. We hadn’t had an eviction notice from the landlord.

We were gobsmacked, it was kind of scary, as we’d never been in any trouble before and this seemed very official.  The thought that a new landlord might ask us for six months upfront after a credit check was scary.

In the meantime I’d written to the landlord and told him that we would be taking him to court.

I was out one day and he came around the corner with another chap and he started to become aggressive.  He was shouting and calling me names.

Then he picked up some stones and started throwing them at me. I called the police and they spoke to him but he denied it. They said that there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute him.  I wanted to change the locks but the police told me I couldn’t do that. I was really shocked.

We felt really intimidated by him, we had no money, we were frightened to get an eviction letter and the police were unable to help us.

In the end I emailed him and told him he had one last chance to settle with us before we took him to court.

He agreed to let us live rent free for two months as compensation for the disrepair, and he also returned our deposit, which we had been worried about.

In return we agreed to leave by a certain date.  It was a stressful and horrible experience. He still rents out the flat, he has a lot of properties, so he’s just carrying on the same way.

Shelter gives expert advice. Call our free helpline on 0808 800 4444 or visit our advice pages for help with housing issues.

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