- February 7, 2017
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Landlord threatens to remove secure tenancy due to disrepair
My client was granted a secure tenancy of a Victorian property. After removing some of the wallpaper she realised that the premises suffered from rising dampness and extensive cracking throughout and she was unable to move in.
The landlord agreed that the premises were not fit to live in but rather than offer repairs they said that they intended to withdraw the offer as the property was a void property and should not have been offered in the first place. My client had obtained the property by bidding under the choice based lettings scheme and it was suitable for her needs had it not been in disrepair. She had a dual rent liability which she could not afford. Housing Benefit refused to pay for two properties. Housing Benefit was paid for the address that she was actually living at and the rent account for the subject premises fell into arrears.
The landlord agreed to carry out extensive works and to waive any rent liability after my client’s housing benefit appeal had been exhausted. However, they were insisting that there be a surrender and re-grant of the tenancy. My client refused to agree to this course of action for the following reasons:-
- In the event that the premises were sold or re-let her claim for specific performance would be frustrated.
- The premises were empty and the landlord was in possession of the keys and was able to carry out works without any hindrance and at their own convenience.
- My client would be unable to deal with any practicalities as the actual tenant such as collecting mail or liaising with the contractors.
The offer to waive any rent not paid by Housing Benefit was too vague. My client would have been left to chase the outcome of a housing benefit appeal before any rent was waived. Further, had the Housing Benefit appeal failed for some other reason, such as failure to provide information, the local authority could argue that the appeal had not been exhausted.
After proceedings were issued and disclosure was provided the case finally settled on the basis that works were completed in accordance with the expert report and there be a complete waiver of the rent and council tax on the premises. The landlord also agreed to pay a further £1000 to compensate the client because the premises should not have been left in that condition. The landlord also agreed to pay the claim for special damages in full.
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