Forum Home Search Login Register
+  Landlord Forum
|-+  General Category
| |-+  Tenant Advice & Help
| | |-+  Forced to keep windows open in winter

Forced to keep windows open in winter

Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: Forced to keep windows open in winter  (Read 146 times)
Newbie
Posts: 4

I like property

« on: January 06, 2021, 09:51:39 AM »

Hello,

I'm wondering if anyone can share any advice on these two issues:

We moved into an old property in June, and immediately realised there were problems with water damage and mould, which the landlord is blaming us for, even though we raised the issue within a few weeks of moving in in the middle of summer.

We've been instructed to keep windows open, which we've done, whilst constantly running a dehumidifier and heating.

Now it's December and *really cold*, we're being told to continue to keep our windows open all the time (not just during/after showering or cooking).

We've agreed to keep them open but asked if we could have a reduction in rent or contribution to heating bills, but the landlord has said no. The oil boiler doesn't even meet the 2007 efficiency regulations, so very expensive to run. Our rent is £850 for a two bed, so not cheap.   

We're being blamed for all the mould and damp, but I'm convinced constant open windows is making it worse right now as the house can't warm up properly. There were also raised eyebrows when I said I close them when it rains, which would otherwise definitely make it worse.

Is it within our rights to keep the windows closed and just open them once a day or when showering/cooking?

We've also asked if we can put a catch on the bathroom door so that steam doesn't go into the house, but she said no, even though we were going to do this ourselves.

I don't know how we can prove that we've kept the windows open, but we can prove our heating bills and things like extractor fan not connected to outside etc.

Would a damp inspectors report be enough in our defense in a small claims court? I'm expecting her to attempt to keep our deposit.

Any advice appreciated!!


Secondly, the landlord bought this house to rent out and I assume didn't get a survey done. The kitchen roof needs replacing as there's a hole in it with rain coming through over the boiler electrics, and the whole ceiling is squishy when poked. You can clearly see there are two bodge job repairs that had been wall papered over, one of which is now a hole with rain coming through. The landlord has finally accepted there is an issue after we've been raising the problem since summer and even had a builder assess it before the hole appeared. She now has said she might sell the property so we need to move again - can we get any form of compensation e.g. payment of agency fees and removal vehicle etc? We only moved in in June for what was sold as a long term let, but only signed a 6 month contract and now just started a monthly rolling contract. This is our 5th house in 4 years due to various job moves / moving in with boyfriend and we are exhausted and really don't want to move just yet despite the hole in the roof and all the other problems as we're completely knackered. Our next step is to buy a house but don't want to be rushed into it due to pressure to move out of here.

Any advice is hugely appreciated, it's all getting a bit stressful.











Jr. Member
Posts: 66

I like spoons

« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2021, 12:32:45 PM »

Hello

It does not sound like a great situation! Unfortunately it sounds as if you were sold a bit of a lemon. Some things will not be easy to pick up on, but you would be expected to take into account the current state of the property when you are doing your viewings. This is your time to do a thorough inspection before you commit contractually to paying the rent for the property. Whilst it is difficul to pick up on damp and leaking roof etc on a short viewing, to expect a rent reduction is probably wishful thinking, unless you have a very generous landlord. By the sound of things, they don't seem keen to fix even some seemingly necessary repairs.

The definition of a long term let is defined only by the length of the contract signed - 6 months in this case. Bear in mind though, no landlord is in the business of kicking out perfectly good paying tenants. It sounds like to me they would either hope/want a tenant who is willing to live with the faults you have picked up on (and don't want to pay to have them rectified), or genuinely you have brought it to their attention for the first time and might not have the funds to do the repairs so actually will need to sell.

Lets be realistic though about compensation/small claims court - if (and its a big IF) it actually goes to court, its a huge amount of stress and energy with probably very little outcome. Sounds like your best course of action is to consider alternative accommodation.
Global Moderator
Hero Member
Posts: 503

I like poetry

« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2021, 01:17:35 PM »

Expecting you too keep the windows open all the time and in all weathers goes beyond any reasonable expectation of using the property in a tenant-like manner and, as you say, is likely to be counterproductive. Any attempt to sue you for closing the windows in the middle of winter would be laughed out of court, down the street, and all the way back to the circus.

If your landlord did decide to sell, she'd have to give you notice. At the moment that's a minimum of six months and I don't see that getting shorter any time soon.

Try speaking to your local council. They can inspect the property and issue an improvement order if necessary. This would also give you further protection against the possibility of a "revenge eviction".

Were you given an EPC at the start of the tenancy and, if so, what's the rating?
Newbie
Posts: 4

I like property

« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2021, 02:53:30 PM »

Thanks for your replies. I defo wonít be forcing any repairs, thatís unfair as I donít know her situation. Iím just trying to get my ducks in a row as Iím worried sheís going to try and bill us for the existing issues and getting a bit stressed by it all - Iím aware it is very difficult for tenants to prove theyíve done all they can to heat and ventilate (other than providing our bills). But Iíve kept all correspondence about requesting a second dehumidifier, offering to put a door catch on the bathroom and to tarp up the kitchen roof etc, so hoping that will be enough, if it ends up being needed.

The EPC is E which is fine, but very soon to expire, and that obviously doesnít take into account constantly open windows.

6 months notice is very reassuring though (thank you Covid!).

Itís also useful to have a second opinion that expecting a rent reduction to cover a bit of the increased heating bill due to open windows is unreasonable. Iíve never had a problem in about 18 years of renting so no experience to go on. So thanks for the sense check.

Moving is expensive and tiring, but I guess itís just bad luck that we chose to move into a (very pretty and expensive) lemon.

Thanks for the reality check - I do think Iím getting a bit paranoid!
Global Moderator
Hero Member
Posts: 3780

I like lots of things

« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2021, 04:44:02 PM »

I think I would be tempted to remove it from your and the Landlord's hands by trying to involve the appropriate Council function. I'd not normally recommend this as I expect there to be adult discourse between Tenant and Landlord but, if we are to take what you say at face-value, then it looks like you've tried that and you've had no joy. If something comes from exercise that then your Landlord can do a number of things to retaliate and make your life a bit harder... but kicking you out with short notice isn't one of them. Sometimes a Landlord whose heart isn't in the Landlord game has no real interest in keeping their property in fine nick, that could be the case here. Also, while you feel you've been sold a lemon, this 'expected amateur' Landlord could be feeling just the same chagrin and regret rolled into one... chagret or regrin (definitely the first). That doesn't change their responsibilities to you as paying customers... but, as I say, rather than argue the toss with someone who's sticking their fingers in their ears and their head in the sand (doublly insulated from all sounds of complaint) it might be better to get an objective third party involved... if that party says all is OK, though, then you'll have to suck it up.
Newbie
Posts: 4

I like property

« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2021, 10:39:34 AM »

Thanks Hippogriff, Iíve very much avoided pointing the finger of blame and just let the landlord know, as an FYI not complaints, that there are issues with the house she just bought.  So Iíve really tried my best to keep it friendly whilst also doing my duty as a tenant to inform of such things. Not naggy stuff like leaky taps or things we can fix ourselves, just the major stuff - hole in kitchen roof, dark patches on ceiling of bedroom, extractor fan not actually connected to outside, gutters sloping away from down pipes etc. She wrote us a letter at the beginning asking us to look after the property and ventilate it well, so weíre doing our best by communicating the things she needs to be aware of. She is probably very much regretting buying this house, but obviously shouldnít be blaming us for the problems with it. Iím just paranoid that itís difficult to prove weíre not responsible for mould in this case as we canít prove weíve kept windows open under instruction and done all the usual stuff to reduce condensation.

Iím putting everything together, dates and times of correspondence, photos etc, so that if she does keep my deposit which Iím convinced she will, or issue any unfair bills, then Iím prepared to get a council rep involved.

Do you think thatís fair? Rather that involving the council before sheís billed us?

Iíll also add to the report all the stuff weíve done to improve things - other half is a lead gardener at a very posh estate and has turned round her overgrown but actually quite complex garden. Different types of roses, huge grape vines, figs, various fruit trees, climbers on the house, none pruned in years and years, he even revealed a stone walled pathway that didnít even appear to exist it was so overgrown, now all looking fantastic and professionally maintained for free. Not even an acknowledgment I may add.

Anyhow, that last bit was a grumble.
Global Moderator
Hero Member
Posts: 3780

I like lots of things

« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2021, 10:59:03 AM »

You're talking about Deposit deductions - that occur at the end of a tenancy - but in the same breath you are telling us you have no intention of moving. Don't you want to focus on living in a place that you can be happy in? If your Landlord won't take remedial action on their own, or with your gentle prodding, then what option do you have that doesn't come with a) you living in these conditions for an uncertain time and b) the question of what will be happening when you eventually leave being an unknown?

It certainly seems to me that your priorities here are almost entirely backwards... but there could be other considerations I'm not aware of.

As you allude to yourself - the last bit is not pertinent to the situation.
Newbie
Posts: 4

I like property

« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2021, 12:28:54 PM »

I should have said weíre looking to move out as soon as we can, to buy a house, but itís taking time, weíre knackered so donít want to move to rent again just to move again to buy. So keen to stay as long as we need - reassured now that we will have a minimum of 6 months due to Covid.

Iím not that fussed about putting pressure on to get things fixed, just to extricate ourselves from blame as she says weíre ďruining her houseĒ.

My questions have been answered -( thanks everyone) - about whether the landlord should have got a survey before renting out a property where the roof needs to be replaced (we chose to live there, so no) and whether  itís reasonable to have a contribution to heating bills if sheís asking us to keep windows permanently open through winter (not really reasonable to expect this) and that it wouldnít really stand up in a small claims if she was to blame us for lack of ventilation / mould if we didnít keep windows permanently open through winter. But Iím still fretting, probably just due to being overly paranoid, that we canít really prove how much weíve kept the place ventilated. But I donít think thereís any way I can prove that over the rest of our time here, itís not like Iím going to take date stamped photos of open windows every day.

I think I have all the advice I need for now, I literally had no idea about what is reasonable so a reality check has been very useful. Thanks again for all the advice.
Pages: [1]
Print