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Problem with kitchen left in mess after repair work.

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Author Topic: Problem with kitchen left in mess after repair work.  (Read 190 times)
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« on: October 07, 2021, 10:25:46 AM »

Hello everyone.

I first want to say parts of what I am about to type I do regret some of my actions, my intention is for resolution, not for revenge, or to cause trouble.  I did before this consider my landlord a friend as well as landlord and wanted to maintain that.

So at the start my ceiling collapsed due to a water leak upstairs, initially any mess was contained in the part of the kitchen where it collapsed, Which was near the window and above the sink where I wash my dishes, some dirt also went inside the cupboard in that part of the kitchen.

I left it as it is, and reported it to my landlord's office (he is now a very big landlord and doesnt deal with things directly anymore, has his own staff a team in the office and workmen).

Someone got sent out quite quickly, he decided to carry out the biggest part of the rubbish not in a bag outside through my front door, so carrying it out through the kitchen and the hallway, this was very unfortunate as ultimately this made the situation a lot worse, as this action wrecked the carpet in the entire kitchen and about 2/3 of my hallway.  I dont know what other work he would have done as he hurt his foot and had to get it treated.

Then another guy came who seemed to be some kind of supervisor, he explained the plan, fix the leak, fix the ceiling, get cleaners out, he said nothing about the floor, I pointed him to it, he then took photos and said he would try and get approval for it to be sorted out.

I then put cardboard down so I wouldnt need to walk around in shoes, as the dirt was really bad and thick, eventually someone came to fix the leak upstairs, and I then had to wait a week for some drying out.

After that week, the handyman came to replace the panel in ceiling and replaster it, unfortunately he made a mess, he used no coverings, and I think I heard at least twice he may have dropped the plaster, when he was done, I could see him wiping my microwave, and was only looking from the entrance to the kitchen, I thanked him and he left, I later had a look, and the microwave was completely covered in plaster, loads over the cooker including hob, cupboards, and washing machine.

Now most of the stuff that got covered was on the opposite side of the kitchen, I didnt think any of that stuff would be anywhere near plaster, but he extended out to about half of the ceiling, even then it wasnt over the microwave, so I think his tub must have fell off his ladder and landed near the microwave and cooker. Luckily I was able to clean it quite easily with limescale remover, so most of it was cleaned, (the washing machine wasnt moved as the supervisor had told me it wouldnt need moving for the work) but I reported it to the office, and advised them if they do this type of work again to use covers.

At this point the office wanted to paint the kitchen, I wasnt bothered about it been painted and I was wary of more mess, they insisted covers would be used, so I let them do it, I moved some things out the kitchen including the microwave.  The cooker is fixed in place so cant be moved, and I couldnt move the washing machine due to been physically not able to.  The painter asked me how much, I told him to just paint over the plaster, he painted the entire kitchen.  Covers were used so no paint over the main surfaces, however he didnt seem to cover the hob, the hob has dry paint on it, and loads of paint in the sink, and loads over the cupboards, he may have used the sink for washing, something I wasnt happy about, I couldnt soak it out as I noticed at this point the drain cover was gone.

So its now at the point of where some cleaning needs to be done, and the main thing the floor.  The floor the manager at the office was never keen on doing, she initially said would just clean it, but I think the supervisor convinced her that wouldnt be adequate, the floor in both the hallway and the kitchen.  So initially I was told the following week and it was high priority.  However at this point I was really annoyed about a few things including a power cut that happened of which I had to wait 7 hours for someone to attend, it wasnt so much the waiting time but rather the communication problems, I was told multiple times an electrician is on the way.  This power cut was because upstairs started leaking again and it went into the wiring via gaps between electrical switches and the wall.  The leak was stopped by the upstairs neighbour turning his water supply off.  After the 7 hour wait the handyman turned up not an accredited electrician, he also told me he had only been called 30 minutes previous, and confirmed no electrician had been called.  I watched him manage to turn the trip switch back on (albeit no power), he then turned the wrong one off again (the shower trip), and proceeded to work on live wires.  After he dried the wires, the power came back on, to his surprise as he thought he tripped the right switch (I did try to tell him but was told he knows what he is doing), he taped the socket back on and left.

The next day I tried to get the manager to get an electrician out for safety check but was stonewalled, very evident at this point its all pennies saved on external contractors, so I asked for copy of electric certificate and to include the contact on it for the electrician.  Maybe figuring out my plan, the handyman turned up unannounced, barged his way past me at the door, and screwed the socket back to the wall, then left again.

I rang the electrician, he offered to come and visit but only if the LL office agreed, he seemed very reluctant to go against anything they said, he advised me that the law says it doesnt need an electrician to work on wires but only someone competent.  I asked him if he considered someone competent who doesnt even know the right trip switch and he refused to comment.

Next day I did two things, these I regretted.  I informed the council and asked for a health and safety visit from environmental health officer, informed them my landlord has been running my boiler illegally which I previously let slip, all the problems in the property, the electrician situation, and the kitchen situation although I was honest and said the kitchen floor was planned to be worked on.  I told them what the electrician said, the council disagreed with him and said would contact him, and will contact me back again about how they will proceed.

I also sent an email to my landlord asking for deposit scheme details, all safety certificates, and copy of my tenancy agreement.  Also asked if they were offering any compensation for damaged pots, cleaning materials, new co2 detector I had to buy, lack of use of kitchen etc.

I got a reply saying policy of no compensation and they considered the kitchen fixed.  I asked them to confirm if they consider it habitable, and they said yes.

The following day I had a rethink and decided I had been way too aggressive, I ultimately thought at this point I only really care about the floor been fixed, and I will drop everything else including the council visit.  I rang the office to apologise for the email I sent and if they could give a timescale on the floor, however there response was now worse than before, they basically said the floor will now only be done "as soon as possible", I said 2 weeks, no committal, a month? no committal,? 2 months? no committal, just "as soon as possible".  They made it clear they will only do what the law requires them to do and they consider the floor as been above that, they insisted my kitchen is perfectly usable.  Also no cleaners, I am expected to clean up all their mess (aside the floor with non committal fix).

Because of this response I have "not" cancelled the council report.  Prior to the call I had full intention of doing so.

Still trying to defuse the situation I rang my landlord, or at least tried to, he texted back saying he is in a meeting right now and to call the office.  In the past he has intervened for me with the office to get things resolved.  He has been good to me when I first became his tenant, and I do remember these things.  I sent him a reply saying contacting him is already a last resort and would just like him to push his manager to commit to fixing the floor with a timescale.  Sadly he didnt reply.

I can confirm the deposit protection scheme certificate is littered with errors.  As I understand it, this gives me temporary protection against a S21, I assume until its fixed.  I have 8 months left on my tenancy.  I have not withheld the rent.  Done a bit of research and it seems I little legal options, I cant withhold my rent, I cant pay for the floor and then recover via reduced rent payments, I would have to go to small claims court.  Is this right?

I dont care about compensation at this point, willing to drop the council report if they act sensible, and I just want to use my kitchen and hallway normally again.  The problem I have with "asap" is that it is non committal, it could be next week, it could be in 6 months, it could be perpetual.  At this point its 3 weeks and counting.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2021, 10:27:53 AM by tenant42 »
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« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2021, 02:16:04 PM »

Firstly, very few people will wade through this very long and rambling account.You could have given us the picture in far fewer words.You have missed out parts that actually are relevant,such as the "littered with errors",deposit certificate, boiler being run "illegally". What are the facts?The council will carry on investigating if they feel the landlord is at fault,so I doubt if you can cancel that complaint. If the boiler and electrics are dangerous he will be forced to get them seen to,or face prosecution.If the deposit has not been protected properly,you will have the option to claim money from the landlord.It goes without saying that as far as mutual trust is concerned all bets are now off.

 I can't bring myself to read it all again,so is it the case that there is still thick mud and dirt preventing you from walking around or using the kitchen? Can you not clean  some of this yourself?
Whatever action you take, it is very likely that notice will be served on you eventually.If you decide you want to make claims against the landlord,there is no urgency,you could wait until after you have left.
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« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2021, 02:44:07 PM »

Hi, so on the basic questions.

The kitchen is still in the same state.

In terms of the cleaning, on principle they should be cleaning their own mess, but have I tried? yes, I am not physically very able, which is a hurdle, but still I tried, and we talking thick huge amounts of dirt, its not simply the case I can get the hoover out and its clean.  Even the supervisor said carpet needs coming up.  I expect if it was to be cleaned we talking industrial grade cleaner and lots of hours scrubbing.

Regarding the boiler it has a very bad history, and its in a very bad location, typically it will break down during the summer when only used for water on average every 3-4 weeks, in winter can be after one hour of heating radiators.  When it breaks down someone has to come out and relight it, and it usually takes a few hours. Just trying again and again, usually this is whats done as they wont pay for a new boiler or much else.  However when the safety checks are carried out, the boiler has issues passing the test, one issue is the exhaust is directly below my kitchen window, the landlord asked the checker to bolt the window, I refused and said he should cut the gas off instead, I showed the checker the gas safety website where it says "must consult with occupier, and do action agreed with occupier" so I overruled the landlord, gas disconnected.  Then I get a text from landlord who informs me has has come to an arrangement with the engineer who turns the gas back on and passes the check.  However in 2021 it was a new engineer, he decided to stick a "do not use" sticker on the boiler.  I asked the office what they doing about it, a guy got sent out to do a quote for a new boiler and it seemed promising, but then 3 months later (yes 3 months no heating), handyman turned up, ripped the sticker off after an hour got it relit and said there you go fixed.  The council told me he could go to jail for that.

I apologise for the detail, I thought people would want to know the full situation.

I did clean up the plaster myself, I am a reasonable person, but I do feel the floor is unreasonable to expect me to deal with it.  During my time in this property they have collected circa 270k in rent from all 3 tenants.  Yet they cannot get someone out to do the floor.

I know and agree about notice been served on me, and this is why I feel I am in a tough situation, it feels like I am on the losing path in the game show knightmare (in case you didnt know this was a children's game aired in the 1980s on tv, in certain cases they were allowed to play on temporarily but were forced to game over as they were on a losing path from an earlier mistake).

Potentially my choice is either live in these conditions, pay for it to be resolved myself, or leave the property.  It does have that feeling about it they now trying to get me out by manipulating me to withhold rent and do a S8 or just making my life a misery perhaps from the original workmen complaints.

It seems to show how bad tenancy laws are though if its considered normal and acceptable for tenants to clean a ll's mess?

The urgency for me is to not get revenge on the landlord, I just want the floor dealt with.  If it was a revenge thing then yes I would leave it until i am leaving.  Ultimately thats what I am asking for help on, how to push them into getting the floor work done in a timely manner.

But given what you told me about I am going down a path I cannot u turn on I understand what you are saying, so it looks like now I should probably already be looking for a new place to live?

Also sorry on the deposit certificate, it has incorrect address, incorrect date deposit was made, and incorrect end of AST.

I know it was bad news but thank you for responding.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2021, 03:01:52 PM by tenant42 »
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« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2021, 04:22:10 PM »

A little update, I am able to cancel the council complaint, or at least I have been told I can (whether they carry it on I dont know).

Given I have 8 months until I can be given notice, I am just hoping they will do the floor fairly quickly and then time is a healer.  I think if they drag the floor on for months, that perhaps indicates they are done with me.
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« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2021, 07:46:31 PM »

In short, what is wrong with the floor?

No offence but I really couldn't be bothered to read the whole post.
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« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2021, 10:02:07 PM »

Floor has a load of dirt, how I would describe it all I dont know, probably a mixture of plaster, dust, dirt, and paint.  Entire kitchen and majority of hallway.

Its effectively what you would see in a building site.

Please dont tell me to clean it.
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« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2021, 09:55:49 AM »

You don't seem to know what you want,so it is not possible for anyone to advise you how to go about getting it.The council may have the power to get it cleaned for you, if it represents a H&S risk. You seem to be taking a stand, focusing on this problem,but not bothered enough about a potentially lethal gas boiler.How have you communicated  your floor complaint to the agent? Sent photos,a strongly worded letter,a phone call?  If you really would like this to be resolved amicably you could pay someone to clean the floor,or get a friend to help you if you can't afford that. In your situation I think I would be asking if they will release you from your remaining lease,and look to move elsewhere.They don't have to do this,but you have the issue with the gas/ deposit form to use as a bargaining tool. However things were before,that has changed and I can't see you being able to resolve this.

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« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2021, 07:42:04 PM »

That is because this problem affects me day to day, the boiler doesnt.

I agree the boiler is a bigger issue from a legal standpoint, potentially bigger from a h&s standpoint.

I suppose from a landlord point of view the floor is seen as minor, as after all they not living in the property, everything seems to regarded in legality rather than effect on living in the property.

I am looking for somewhere, I actually have been for a long time, but nothing suitable within budget and constraints, I am trying to progress a social housing application but I have just found out the manager is blocking junior staff from sending me proof I am not in rent arrears (found out today).

My GP has agreed to write a letter to support my social housing application from a H&S standpoint, because the current state of the kitchen is increasing the risk of me falling, I cannot use my perching stool anymore for washing up dishes, and the mental affect on my health as well.

Releasing me now would only make me homeless, housing cannot be treated like moving between broadband providers.  I can already leave early with a penalty fee of approx one month rent, thats the least of my problems. In addition I would be classed as voluntary homeless by the council. 

If it isnt clear enough the issue is how do I push the landlord in to doing the work.

If you read my first post the other question is answered, but I will answer it again, phone calls, emails, all been sent including photos, pretty shocking situation in this country it seems its considered ok for landlords to just do the legal minimum (which seems inadequate) and if tenants dont like it they just move?

Whats ridiculous about all this, what is the point from my LL perspective?  If I moved out tomorrow the floor would be done the moment I leave to minimise a void period.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2021, 08:03:07 PM by tenant42 »
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« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2021, 08:07:13 PM »

It's definitely considered OK for Landlords to do the legal minimum, yes.

It's the ones that don't do the legal minimum that we need to worry about.

Whether the legal minimum is inadequate, or not, I'll not debate... but, by simple definition, I suppose it can't be. It must, again by definition, be adequate.
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« Reply #9 on: October 09, 2021, 10:31:30 AM »

You did not mention your degree of disability until now,so that does put a different perspective on things. I gather also that no one else among your friends or neighbours has offered to make things more habitable.It is clear that your complaint to the council has removed any good will that might have prompted the agents to get things sorted for you.You have nothing to lose now by contacting the council again, enclosing the letter from your GP,and asking them to visit.If the council agrees that the landlord has been negligent in this and other matters,the work will be done and you will feel comfortable for the remaining 8 months. In that time you may get an offer of social or supported housing if you meet the criteria,or be able to find somewhere within your budget.I am wondering if your rent is below that for the area.They may be keen to get you out so that they can increase the rent perhaps? 
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« Reply #10 on: October 10, 2021, 12:32:39 PM »

They havent been told I complained to the council, the council told me its not even been assigned to an officer yet. Unless maybe they get informed super early in the process?

I think what changed things was the formal sounding email and me contacting the electrician.

I accept that my expectation from renting a property is different to what seems to be accepted by the market, it seems the market has accepted, that when you rent a property, you are renting the shell, and only legal requirements get fulfilled, for me I expect more, not a fully furnished luxurious flat, but I would expect damage not caused by myself and any "large" mess not caused by me to be cleaned up, but it seems my expectation is higher than what seems to be the norm.  In other industries I have rented things, hotel rooms, IT hardware, and cars and in all those cases providers go above the legal minimum and actually have pride in delivering a good service, so I apologise for expecting the same in renting a home.

My neighbour is helping me out by doing my washing, he got food from the shop, and he turned his water off on the day of the power cut, he has told me he got the water fixed by his cousin who is a builder, says he no longer trusts them to fix it as it leaked the second time.

Regarding the rent this is a big part of the problem yes.  The LHA rates for my area for a 1 bed flat are around 360 month (when converting to months as they are 4 weekly), my rent has been going up well above inflation the past 7 years and is currently 460.  The properties at the "bottom end" of the market are at least 500 but mostly around 550 in my city.  The reason given to me for the inflation busting rent increases is as you suspect "to catch up with other tenants"  My city has an extreme demand for housing, properties outside the city are notably cheaper, which is where I am focusing my efforts on, also whilst I am making sure I dont break the council's rules for how one becomes homeless, I am certainly not putting all my eggs in one basket for them to house me, I think its unlikely they will house me as they are under extreme pressure for housing, I have a family member who works for a charity that houses people referred to them from the council, and he told me they havent gave any childless male a home for over 3 years, they all go to a hostel, where I assume they are expected to find a home on the private market.

All these reasons are why I have been tolerant of the boiler and other issues.  As I said above I do regret some actions I did, but I cannot turn back the clock.

Someone advised me to contact Acorn, who concentrate on cases where legality is met but the conditions are unacceptable, but sadly they only work in a few parts of the country.  So I think as you said HEAVYKARMA the realistic best case now is probably getting the work done, having a reasonably comfortable last 8 months or so, and hope I have somewhere else to live by the end of it.  I expect if that second leak and power cut didnt happen, it would have stayed civil and be all done by now.

If I am relying on the council for housing it will get more messy, for someone to be rehoused on the basis of been homeless by my council they expect tenants to stay in the property until the day the bailiffs boot them out, so one has to be an ars***** to not be deemed intentionally homeless.

I thank you guys for your replies and advice, and apologise for me venting my frustration on you guys.
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« Reply #11 on: October 10, 2021, 03:47:50 PM »

No need to apologise. If things have been left in the state you describe I would never expect a tenant to clear it up.From what you say it sounds as if the carpets need replacing,not just cleaning.I would expect the landlord to get this covered by his insurance. It certainly sounds as if moving to a cheaper area is your best bet.Good luck.
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« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2021, 02:45:58 PM »

Ok well some good news.

I rang the office again, but this time I just selected maintenance instead of the extension for the manager, another lady answered, and explained they had a shortage of manpower.  Apparently one guy to manage over 300 lettings.  I let her explain, and then explained my position, I was going to propose we work together in that someone is hired to do the job.  However I didnt need to, before the end of the call, she said leave it with me and I will ring you back.

She did ring me back, and she arranged for someone to be taken of the other lettings company (landlord owns two letting companies), she gave me a target date but warned me it might slip.

It did slip a day, but the guy turned up and has done most of the work on the floor, just some minor bits left because he didnt have the bits to do them.  We had a chat, and apparently the carpenter who would have done my floor quit and works for someone else now, this guy said he was happy doing my flat as he was getting sick of fixing showers and water leaks.

So thats where things are now, someone is going to come and collect the rubbish as well as the excess flooring, underlay etc.  (carpenter has a push bike, doesnt drive).

So maybe things might be ok come renewal time, the day before the guy came the council's officer rang me, I explained it looks like things are going to be resolved, so he closed the case but left me with his mobile number just in case, he said the landlord hasnt been contacted.
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« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2021, 04:11:09 PM »

I hope that resolves matters for you.If you have liked living there until this happened it is worth trying to get an amicable outcome. Maybe try the same person to get that boiler looked at ?
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« Reply #14 on: October 19, 2021, 01:09:02 AM »

Ironically I got an email some hours after making the last post, the manager has left the company, they announced a new manager, and also they inviting tenants on low income to apply for a scheme that gives free insulation, boilers etc.

I did ring, but got told its best to speak to the new manager about it who is back next weeks as currently she is on annual leave.  I wont push it though its more a query (if they encourage me to do it I will do the application), as I am reasonably happy enough again now with the floor done.
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