Flat 3-6, London, N5 2DJ

Added 9th March 2014

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1. £3,500 lost - months of dispute, a lying agent, and landlords who treated us like scum.

By Chris Owen - stayed here from 1st September 2011 to 31st July 2012

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the worst experience of my London renting life - on moving into the 2 bed flat, we agreed an itinerary of items which needed addressing and fixing in the property - items which the landlords never once addressed, and which remained unaddressed on exit. These included mouldy and rotten window frames, a lack of wall round the balcony above a twenty foot drop (!), erratic lighting and electricity... and the bathroom (see below)

The departure dispute came amid problems with the flat, and that below, where water was leaking and causing severe damage to the underneath property, and making our flat smell stale and damp. It also made affected our health, giving us coughs and colds.

The bathroom needed gutting - this was the recommendation of four different builders who came to quote on it (the floor was rotten and the walls had extreme damp. The wall tiles were removed to assess the damage of the walls, and these were never replaced, meaning we could never have a shower - for around four months.

The owner of the property below got his ceiling repaired under our bathroom - which involved a hole in the floor for a week and no bathroom - and still we were paying full rent.

we eventually said we wanted to leave and had written agreement to do so on 31st July, but the property management company didn't start inviting visitors until 28th July due to the state of the property.

We were left to dispute being held responsible for the rent during the gap between our agreed exit of the property, and the new tenant arriving in November. This tenant was the 53rd to view the property - a two bed flat in Canonbury in one of the nicest areas of North London - either a lie from the agent about the number of viewings, or a sign of how bad the flat's condition was. The landlord claimed that there was never agreement to exit, despite it being in writing, and they held onto our deposit, and claimed rent on top.

Despite going to the Ombudsman service, a process which took seven months, we were told they couldn't intervene because it was a contractual dispute. The Tenancy Deposit Scheme advised the same - demonstrating how utterly inept the two associations are.

Eventually we were approached by the property management agency saying 'if you go to court, it'll cost you a few thousand to potentially get it back. You might not win - do you want to walk away and give the deposit to the owners and we'll not go to court?'.

there was nothing we could do. I'm still angry about this two years on - we were utterly utterly ripped off. A disgraceful and shameful episode - avoid Cluttons like the plague if you're renting.

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Reply to Chris Owen:
Comments:
shaddapurface said:

Hi, We’re going through the same kind of thing at the moment. The "'if you go to court, it'll cost you a few thousand to potentially get it back” thing is complete rubbish. If you go through the small claims court it may cost a few hundred pounds to start the proceedings but that’s it. You’ll get this back if you win. You also have 6 years to claim money through small claims. Make sure you have enough evidence and are sure you’re in the right as the court could rule against you and award compensation to the landlord. The process can take a while, as you have to go forward with negotiations before taking them to court, but be patient and stick with it. Apparently many landlords don’t bother to show up and people get their money back so you could be on to a winner already! There’s plenty of information online (Shelter and Citizens Advice are good places to start). Don’t let these people take advantage of you! There’s no harm in trying. Please note, this does not constitute as legal advice, so please seek professional services beforehand if necessary.

on 15th August 2015 at 8:42am
shaddapurface said:

Hi, We’re going through the same kind of thing at the moment. The "'if you go to court, it'll cost you a few thousand to potentially get it back” thing is complete rubbish. If you go through the small claims court it may cost a few hundred pounds to start the proceedings but that’s it. You’ll get this back if you win. You also have 6 years to claim money through small claims. Make sure you have enough evidence and are sure you’re in the right as the court could rule against you and award compensation to the landlord. The process can take a while, as you have to go forward with negotiations before taking them to court, but be patient and stick with it. Apparently many landlords don’t bother to show up and people get their money back so you could be on to a winner already! There’s plenty of information online (Shelter and Citizens Advice are good places to start). Don’t let these people take advantage of you! There’s no harm in trying. Please note, this does not constitute as legal advice, so please seek professional services beforehand if necessary.

on 15th August 2015 at 8:42am
J kase said:

Hi, Not sure I understand exactly what went on here, however, you can take the agents and/or landlord to court. You have 6 years to bring a claim for Breach of Contract. Go through the Small Claims Court if your claim is up to £10,000 - it won't cost you thousands. You do however have to pay a fee which is on a sliding scale depending on how much you are claiming. (See https://www.gov.uk/make-court-claim-for-money/going-to-court). The Court may not award costs if you have not tried to settle it out of court, but as you went the The Property Ombudsman you have attempted to do this. See also this, although it is only a consultation document at present http://www.oft.gov.uk/shared_oft/consultations/oft1509.pdf This gives guidance on what lettings agents should do to comply with the law. Regarding The Property Ombudsman, I completely agree - in many ways it is a waste of time going through this so called redress scheme and takes many months. They do not always appear to be impartial and often have to have the 'material fact' explained to them in simple english, perhaps they need to hire people with more competence. Hope this helps.

on 6th May 2014 at 12:49pm