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Tenant tries to sue landlord over mould and fails spectacularly

A social housing tenant’s bid to sue their landlord has failed spectacularly.

A statement from Mid-Devon council says the unnamed tenant was persuaded by a no-win no-fee solicitor to sue the council with allegations of disrepair, which triggered a legal case which extended over 16 months.

It was eventually settled out of course when the tenants offered a settlement to avoid prolonged legal proceedings. Far from the renter getting a payout from the council, the court ordered the tenant to compensate the local authority with £4,735 towards its costs.

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What’s more, it’s the second time in a year that the same council has won compensation following a tenant’s unsuccessful bid to sue.

In the most recent case the council faced allegations of property neglect leading to various issues including defective brickwork, mould, dampness, and a shower room leak. However, the council's repairs history demonstrated that it has taken pro-active measures to address concerns, including ventilation improvements and proposed upgrades to the property.

Despite a breach in the pre-action protocol by the claimants' legal representation, which hindered a joint expert survey, the council' won the case using expert opinions supporting its stance. There was no evidence of moisture transfer from outside the building, there was no leaking pipework in the shower room and the condensation related mould was not as a result of any defect or failure to provide adequate ventilation.

A council spokesperson says: "Although we were able to successfully defend this claim, I don’t think there are any winners in cases such as these. We know that the process was stressful for our tenants and it did not achieve the outcomes they were hoping for, serving only to delay some much needed social support.

“Moving forward, we aim to continue working collaboratively with tenants, offering tailored support to address repair, damp, and mould issues effectively. Tenants are encouraged to get in touch with us for assistance and guidance.” 

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  • George Dawes

    Solicitors, parasites and thats a compliment

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    Not a compliment to parasites, it isn't.
    Expect a writ from the Association of Leeches and Related Bloodsuckers, they are most miffed.

     
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    No doubt WE are paying the £4735 awarded against the tenants since I doubt they are employed. 🤬🤬🤬 Perhaps they should find another bottom feeding solicitor to sue the first set of parasites for poor advice? 😂

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    • A S
    • 28 May 2024 12:28 PM

    Exactly AL, whichever side won this case, me and you end up paying for it. Warms the cockles doesn't it!

     
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    Likely the mould, if at all there was any, was caused by wet washing drying inside or tumble dryer hoses not used correctly.

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    Tenants are being told that mould is their LLs problems & as ever, where there's blame there's a claim! Glad this tenant got their comeuppance, but what a waste of everyone's time & money!

    Zoe S

    Agreed - but doubtful we as private LLS would’ve had the same outcome given the same circumstances.

     
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    Zoe,
    The firm advertises on television and ONLY for social tenants. Presumably because councils are more likely to roll over.

     
  • John Harrison

    I wonder what the outcome would have been if the action was against a private landlord ? Always bear in mind that - like the post office - public services are usually staffed by hypocrites and self serving leaches.

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    The takeaway from this for us is to keep records of all correspondence with tenants, photographs (date stamped), and all works done.
    Then 🤞🤞for a fair minded judge.

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    Nice to see the scammer lost, but as said…. The tax payer will stump up for it 🥵💰💰👎🏻👎🏻

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    Just another nail in the coffin of decency and personal responsibility.
    RIP UK.

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    I’ve been through this with my Nigerians. As said above where there’s a blame there’s a claim. It’s all a money making exercise.

    My solicitor said they usually send someone around and look for other things to claim for too.

    They send a pre-action protocol making unfounded claims. Then its all over to you to prove you’re are innocent. Landlords can expect a lot more off this with the tenant biased ombudsman awarding compensation everywhere.

    Dreadful business being a landlord.

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    The landlord will only recover a tiny proportion of the total cost, if lucky. The tenant's lawyers were clearly aware of that - so often landlords pay up, even with a strong case, because it will cost them less to do so. A council can make a different decision - it's not their money that's being spent. This will act as a deterrent to other claims and so is, arguably, money well spent. The tenant's lawyers will also know that the judge is likely to be more sympathetic to their situation than that of the landlord.
    I'm assuming that the expert witness drilled holes in the outside wall, then used an endoscope to check for bridges across the airgap. That doesn't come cheap. Impossible in an older, solid stone wall with no cavity. It's so hard to prove a negative.

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    Not all properties have a cavity wall to inspect. In the case of older properties it is probably best for the landlord to call in a professional damp advisor to write a report.

     
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    This is the result of all the vilification against landlords. Obviously it is the landlord’s duty to keep the property in a good state of repair but it has to be the tenant’s duty to play their part ie heat the property and open windows. Unfortunately had the tenant won this case all these no win no fee solicitors would be at it. There would be an avalanche of litigation. The only way to avoid condensation is for the landlord to provide free heating and take in the tenant’s washing!!

  • Franklin I

    Tenants need to be educated on proper household maintenance. Many believe their rights entitle them to keep windows permanently closed, without considering the need for ventilation. This often results in issues like mould, damp, and condensation, for which they unfairly blame the LL.
    I experienced a similar situation with a tenant whose son had asthma. During a routine mid-term inspection shortly after the COVID lockdown, I discovered severe issues, I've never experienced with previous tenants on routine visits.

    To protect myself, I called in "Peter Cox Damp Proofing" for a survey report and followed all their recommendations. However, the tenant persistently kept the windows closed, failed to use the provided dehumidifier (which remained in its box for six months), refused to cooperate with the double glazing company, and was extremely rude to their staff.

    After four months of trying to resolve the situation and following advice from the NRLA, my solicitors, and other experts, I served her a Section 21 notice. I also informed the council, but found them to be unhelpful. Despite having a dedicated email address for tenants with damp issues, there is no equivalent support for landlords. This is particularly concerning given that these are the same authorities responsible for issuing "landlord licenses."

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    You were more patient than I would have been.

    "However, the tenant persistently kept the windows closed, failed to use the provided dehumidifier (which remained in its box for six months), refused to cooperate with the double glazing company, and was extremely rude to their staff."
    Any one of those would have had me issuing a Section 21.

     
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    V T Annoyed. Us the tax payer will foot the bill. Out of work prob they ain’t got that kinda money! The actual solicitors need to be taken to court as well . They to pay half!!!

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    Why half?

    Why not get the ambulance chasing lawyers to pay every last penny of costs plus agravated damages - and not allowing these to be tax deductible.

    That's the only way to stop this vilification and persecution of landlords from happening.

    Also well done to this Council for not taking the easy way out and just throwing our money at it.

     
  • Franklin I

    I completely agree with you, "Annoyed Landlord."

    In my case, I was dealing with a council tenant on Universal Credit, which made the eviction process particularly challenging. This tenant was always going to be difficult to evict. During the eviction process, the tenant committed a clear breach. Universal Credit showed no concern, but when I presented the same breach to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), they took action and contacted Universal Credit. Remarkably, within three days of contacting the DWP, the tenant left voluntarily, resulting in the tenant being evicted one month earlier than the notice expiry date.

    In the end, my patience paid off, as this didn't go to court. However, I won't be using local housing authority tenants again. I'm sticking to professionals and overseas students who pay upfront for a 12-month contract.

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    Now that was your first mistake. Universal Credit . . . Still you have learned your lesson and will not need to worry about an SBR-type tenant in future.

     
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    Hi Franklin
    Interested to know what the breach was ?.

    Franklin I

    Robery Shread: I attempted to claim direct rent payments online from Universal Credit (UC). Although the claim was initially approved, the tenant falsely informed UC that she no longer resided at the property.

    Consequently, I was unable to pass security verification, as the address I provided no longer matched their records.

    Taking matters into my own hands, I gathered video evidence through the Ring doorbell, demonstrating that the tenant was still living at the address. I reported this as benefit fraud online, but UC did not take any action.

    Ultimately, the tenant was found guilty of benefit fraud for claiming benefits from another address while still residing at my property. Despite this, UC did not compensate me for the one month of lost rent. When I sought reimbursement through my insurance, the tenant then stopped working full-time, complicating the claim process further.

    Nevertheless, I was satisfied with the outcome. When the council later offered me another tenant, I informed them that the market rent had increased by £400 to £500 per month. Despite their persistence, I declined the offer firmly yet politely, using "6-21" as alpha numerics for two obvious letters. 👍

     
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    • A S
    • 28 May 2024 12:27 PM

    "it was eventually settled out of court" and "the court ordered the tenant to compensate the local authority with £4,735".

    Which one was it, settled by the court or out of court? Another poorly written article.

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    It's a real problem. Tenants who just use their property like a service apartment. They often don't keep it clean, don't open windows and don't sweep the front path. They when condensation appears they throw it all back at me telling my this property is defective. Despite there never having been a problem with multiple Tenants before. I gave them clear directions via email on how to stop it but they don't even acknowledge the email. These are your snooty london middle class useless young professionals who are so naieve but think they can just blame everyone else instead of having to actually try to resolve the issue themselves. My pool of acceptable Tenants keeps shrinking.

    Franklin I

    I agree with you 100%

     
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    Same flat, around 20 different tenants over 30 years.

    First 10 years or so - no damp or mould issues.

    Year 11 - damp and mould.

    Years 12 to 26 - no damp or mould issues.

    Years 27 - damp and mould

    Years 28 onwards - no damp or mould issues.

    Remedial treatment in year 11 and year 27 - spraying with HG mould cleaner, thorough ventilation and issuing Section 21 to remove the source of the problem.

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    Loved this, "issuing Section 21 to remove the source of the problem."

     
  • Franklin I

    Normally, "Annoyed Landlord," I would not consider renting to a Social Benefit Recipient (SBR) tenant. However, in January 2020, Purple Bricks was struggling to find any tenants for £1,150 pcm, which was the market rate at that time.

    The LHA rate was higher at £1,250 pcm, with a £4,500 payment upfront, making it an attractive option under those circumstances.

    Today, even if they offered me £20,000 upfront and the current market rate, I would not consider renting to an SBR tenant.

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    Purple Bricks - that was mistake number 2. An independent agent would have been better and more likely to get you a better class of tenant.

     
  • Franklin I

    Annoyed Tenant: No mistake at all!

    I've had the pleasure of using Purple Bricks for two separate properties, and I must say, both experiences were quite positive. In both cases, the tenants were professionals who stayed for a commendable period of 5 years.

    While I've also utilised independent agents, I've observed that the primary difference often lies in the quality of tenants they attract. It's no secret that those attempting to circumvent standard procedures tend to prefer independent estate agents.

    They might opt to pay 6 months' rent in advance, only to reveal after half a year that they suddenly qualify for benefits, or they might pay upfront and then pursue the over-occupancy route.

    From my own personal experience, these strategies are frequently employed by individuals from Eastern European backgrounds, particularly Romanians and Hungarians.

    Of course, it's worth noting that agents nowadays are more cautious about accepting such payments upfront, unless they align with their company's specific criteria. Speaking from my encounter with Purple Bricks back in 2017, I found their services to be nothing short of impeccable.

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    It's no secret that those attempting to circumvent standard procedures tend to prefer independent estate agents.

    Well that us news to me. Offering the whole rent in advance is an immediate NO and they are made aware that they will be referenced on the basis that the landlord wil be taking out rent & legal expenses insurance. If they cannot be insured, why would we recommdend them to a landlord.

    I am glad you liked the service that PB gave you - I hate agents that do not give their client landlords good service, but as an independent agent, I will always defend the independents. I have worked for corporate agents and know, at least in ny own case, that independents are more flexible.

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