Tanz is a private renter from Somerset. She encountered dangerous problems in her flat as soon as she moved in two-and-a-half years ago. She explains the steps she took to challenge her landlord’s revenge eviction.
During my first week living in the flat, I put my foot through the rotten kitchen floorboards. My landlord’s response was to put a bit of plywood over it.
In addition to the hole in the rotten kitchen floorboards, I had water coming in through the electric extractor fan in the bathroom ceiling every time it rained.
The ceiling around the electric extractor fan was perishing, there were leaks under the kitchen sink, under the bathroom washbasin and from a neighbouring property.
Tape held the glass in the window to the frame.
I asked an environmental health officer from the council to assess the property and she said it had several category 1 hazards. She said that I could be electrocuted because of the water coming in through the electric extractor fan in the bathroom ceiling.
I told my landlord about the problems and asked him to fix them but he didn’t. Then he started renovating the flats around me.
After a year of living there I was getting very frustrated by my landlord doing nothing. So I started to withhold some of the rent.
I later realised that you’re not supposed to do that but I just thought it wasn’t fair that I was paying rent and my landlord wasn’t sorting out such serious problems.
My landlord went completely and absolutely ballistic. I said “Don’t you care that you’ve got a tenant in here who could get electrocuted?” He just said, if you don’t like it get out.
He issued me a Section 8 notice. He didn’t list any grounds. I wanted to get out of the flat but I couldn’t because I didn’t have any deposit money saved to get somewhere new.
I have serious problems with my legs which has restricted me working. I was already using some of my ESA [Employment Support Allowance] to pay towards the rent.
I went to the local town council and they said they couldn’t help me, but they pointed me to the YMCA. I saw a private sector support worker at the YMCA and he said, this Section 8 is wrong – you need to get hold of Shelter!
I rang Shelter and spoke to an adviser. She looked at my case and told me I would be eligible for legal aid and then found me a solicitor who could take on my case.
The Shelter adviser was absolutely phenomenal on the phone. She was so thorough and she said my landlord was completely wrong. She really knew her stuff and it was such a relief. I felt penalised and demoralised as my landlord was trying to say it was my fault.
I went to see the local solicitor Shelter recommended, and he also brought in two barristers to help on the case. We put in two counter claims against the eviction notice. One was that the landlord didn’t put my deposit in the safety deposit scheme, and secondly we claimed damages for the level of disrepair I’d experienced.
When we went to court in November last year the judge found that the Section 8 was not lawful and the landlord had to reissue me with a section 21 notice. I couldn’t pursue my counterclaims because I no longer could get Legal Aid.
Shelter provides free housing advice. Our expert advisers will help and support you no matter what your situation. Call free on 0808 800 4444.