UK landlord / tenant laws
July 20, 2004 5:55 AM   Subscribe

UK tenancy advice. Our landlord lied to us about neighbouring building works. [more inside]
posted by influx to Law & Government (11 answers total)
No there's not :/
posted by ed\26h at 6:00 AM on July 20, 2004

Our flat (in London) has a medium-sized plot of abandoned/waste land right behind it. This land sits between the backs of houses on 2 streets, so approximately 30 or so houses back onto it.

When we viewed the flat, one of the first things I asked the landlord was if any building work was planned; I'm a freelancer, and work at home, and so did not want to be sitting next to a building site all day long. He told us that there had been a planning permission application 2 years ago, which had been refused, so there would be "no work for at least a year". This (in retrospect, naively) was good enough for me.

Yesterday, a construction crew rolled up with two JCBs and several pneumatic drills and started demolishing the derelict garage. I went and spoke to the site manager, who informed me that 5 blocks of flats are being built, and the building work will take a minimum of a year. Naturally, I asked if the surrounding residents had been informed, to which he replied "yes, of course". Obviously, this is exactly what you would expect.

So, now, 2 months into the 12-month lease, I am now living and working next to a construction site which is so noisy our flat vibrates, and I absolutely cannot think straight at all.

Our landlord lied to us in answer to a direct question, to our face. I am, I think understandably, furious. This is a serious impediment to my ability to work, and I have no wish to rent workspace elsewhere, nor do I really have the means with which to pay for it.

So, what are my options? Do I have grounds for legal action? Is it reasonable to demand that he return our (quite enormous) deposit forthwith? Is it reasonable to withhold rent? Reasonable to demand that he lower the rent so that I can afford to rent the workspace I don't really want?

I realise that it's possible that he somehow was not informed of this, but I find that very hard to believe, as everyone else concerned was informed.

(As yet I have been unable to contact my landlord, which is not neccesarily unusual)
posted by influx at 6:04 AM on July 20, 2004

Be patient, little one. :/
posted by influx at 6:05 AM on July 20, 2004

posted by ed\26h at 6:05 AM on July 20, 2004

I think this is one of those situations where a call to a solicitor might be in order. I'm fairly sure if you were buying a house, that sort of non-disclosure would get you pretty big damages, but I don't know the rules for renting.
posted by ascullion at 6:22 AM on July 20, 2004

Your landlord may have had a letter posted to him, but perhaps he did not see it - the previous tennants may not have passed it on.

Perhaps you should speak to him before posting here in future ...
posted by ajbattrick at 6:31 AM on July 20, 2004

I fully intend to speak to him, but I've not been able to get hold of him yet. I posted this question largely to get an idea of what to say to him.
posted by influx at 6:34 AM on July 20, 2004

I'd take legal advice to be sure of this, but my feeling is that you haven't got a leg to stand on. If it isn't in your rental lease agreement, then it's your word vs his.

If it was me and I could afford it, then I'd make sure that I'm paid up to the current date, kiss my deposit goodbye and do a runner.

Alternatively, take solice in the fact that dependant on the size of the flats, the loud stuff should be over with as soon as everythings been knocked down, and the foundations have been laid.
posted by seanyboy at 7:53 AM on July 20, 2004

If your tenancy is a standard shorthold, you need only give a month's notice and be gone. No need to "do a runner" or anything.
posted by davehat at 8:09 AM on July 20, 2004

I'd be very careful not to be nasty to landlord on the phone - he has you by the short and curlies so it'll pay to be nice.

My understanding of most tenancy agreements is that you're tied in for six months, after which you can leave without penalty (given two months notice). Assuming yours is the same, if you left now you could be liable for four months rent. Yikes!

I had problems with my last flat and needed to get out sharpish. The landlord offered me a deal whereby if we could get a replacement tenant in then we would not be liable for the rent. Obviously with your situation this could be very tricky if work carries on into the evening or weekends. Anyway, first things first - read and re-read your agreement before doing anything.

{insert IANAL disclaimer here}

I would assume that you legally do not have a leg to stand on. Even if you had proof that he said what he said, he was only telling you what he knew. If he sticks to that story then you're not going to get anywhere. You'd have to prove that he knew the work was going to be carried out. You could try talking to your neighbours if they have the same landlord as they may have some dirt. I suppose if you made a legal nuisance of yourselves you might get something but by then you'd probably be able to move out anyway.

I understand courts take a very dim view of non-payment of rent and would not be sympathetic to your pain.

I hate to say this, but I speak from very bitter experience. Sometimes you just have to admit you've been taken for a ride, accept it, learn from it and if you're driving your car two years from now and the bastard is crossing the road in front of you - don't bother to beep.
posted by dodgygeezer at 2:26 PM on July 20, 2004

I have been told that in the UK, you officaly know what has been posted to you, without regard to proof of any delivery. So then the problem becomes proof of what the landlord told you. Such important details should be done by correspondence.

I'm an American living in the UK. Your laws for tenants here are designed almost entirely to the advantage of the landlords. Not surprisingly, I suppose. Other than the ease with which landlords can force someone out for no reason, in many cases, my #1 complaint is for crap like the clause that says, if I annoy my neighbors, I can be kicked out. Excuse me? Of course if my neighbors annoy me, I can't make THEM move, they own their house.

The latest pain is with mail. The landlord had their mail forwarded for 6 months. Here in the UK, you pay for that. After 6 months they simply start sending it as addressed. I get about 4 pieces of mail a day, and my contract says I have to re-address it and re-post. I won't allow that clause again! Its amazing how much mail they get from Inland Revenue.
posted by Goofyy at 1:03 AM on July 21, 2004

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