Our Second Landlord and Tenant Nightmare
We didn’t inherit this landlord and were very pleased when he went to a great deal of trouble to assure us that he wanted to work with us. We didn’t have the measure of him other than that but the first thing he did was to place his tenants, (a mother with two small children) at risk of a gas explosion through knowingly renting out the property with a faulty gas meter. She had to call a gas engineer on the first evening of her tenancy as she smelt gas and he refused to supply a Gas Safe Certificate when we pressed him for one. He even got his solicitor to ask us where in the lease does it say he has to provide one! Never mind that it’s a legal requirement under gas safety legislation for tenants to receive a copy of the certificate within 28 days of the safety check having been carried out or before moving in!
He also failed to help matters by turning up at her flat at all hours, culminating in her reporting him to the council for harassment and he being reminded of his responsibilities to her as her landlord by her Tenancy Relations Officer.
Tenant Turns Out To Be A Big Problem!
Although by now we had got the measure of the landlord, sadly the tenant caused major problems for the pensioner owner/occupiers in the flat beneath. Why? Because someone had reported her to social services for physically abusing her children and she thought the report had come from them. She then lodged a complaint of harassment which resulted in a heavy police attendance of 4 officers to their flat some weeks later. They nearly had a heart attack, thinking that one of their family had been in a fatal accident! After an informal interview in their home, they were then interviewed on camera at the local police station!
The landlord continued to keep his distance, resisting all our attempts to get him to deal with his tenant. Instead he had the nerve to approach our neighbours asking them to confront her themselves and advising them that they should learn to live with others! An eighty-year old couple, (one of whom has a heart condition) are supposed to deal with an aggressive woman in her twenties, who has friends who are as aggressive as she is? I don’t think so!
When we again approached her landlord to ask him to deal with her, he stated that he would do nothing because he couldn’t afford to lose her(?).
At the beginning of 2012 we again got a call from our neighbours saying that they now had a small hole in their bathroom ceiling! We got the landlord to take a look (yes, he actually came) but all he did was to state that there was a hole in the ceiling and it was a buildings insurance job. No looking in his own flat to trace the problem! In the end they got the hole repaired themselves and even the guy who did the work was astounded by the noise levels coming from the flat above. Even whilst he was working, debris continued to fall on his head! He also said that the combination of wet joists and the continual jumping up and down on the floor above was highly likely to cause more problems in the coming months.
WE GET ASSAULTED!
When yet another disturbance from the flat spilled over into the common areas my partner went downstairs to diffuse it, as he always does as the common areas fall within our remit. By the time I caught up with him on the pavement, he had been successful. He returned to the flat ahead of me (or so I thought) but on reaching the first floor landing I found him up against the parapet holding at arms length a female who was not only kicking and punching at him but screaming that it was ‘none of his f*****g business!
The tenant then called the police on behalf of her friend and as that call was made ahead of my own call, she was seen first. She didn’t want to press charges although she said that my partner assaulted her first. He on the other hand did want to press charges and even though the police said it was a case of ‘he said, she said’ and didn’t want to take it further, he had a number of scratches and welts round his neck, clear evidence of an assault. She on the other hand only had a ripped t-shirt where he had held her at bay. He had to insist on being voluntarily arrested in order to be able to press charges against her, and they were both taken away.
No further action was taken but the investigating officer at the Waltham Forest Custody Centre said he would e-mail the police Safer Neighbourhood Team to see if they could supply any extra patrols in the area.
One evening I came out of anther flat to find my partner being verbally abused by the very same person who had assaulted him previously. Instantly recalling what she did to him I got myself in front of her to try and diffuse the situation but she shoved me out of the way. I then physically removed her from the premises. As I watched to ensure she did not come back onto our forecourt she turned, shouted abuse at me, deliberated for a few seconds then punched me in the head, giving me a black eye and nasty bruising which can be seen in the photographs. To make matters worse a complete stranger intervened when my partner was trying to get her off me and I was brought down to the ground getting at least a couple more kicks to the head.
I was taken away by ambulance to the hospital where I was checked over and give pain killers. The police were too busy arresting my partner because she’d also accused him of assaulting her to follow me to get a statement. This meant he spent the night in the cells, and didn’t return home until the following afternoon.
Broken Bail Conditions
Unsurprisingly, whilst she was give conditional bail she broke it the very next day. On calling 999 as we had been advised to, we expected the police to pick her up but instead a police officer came to our flat the next day (by appointment!) and took the details. I also reported all this to the investigating officer (who still wasn’t actually investigating my attack) who told me that bail condition breaches weren’t really worth doing anything about because they weren’t worth the paper they were written on. The most that would happen would be that she would spend a couple of hours in the cells and basically told not to do it again.
My partner contacted Victim Support himself on my behalf as I was really struggling emotionally. It ended up being12 days from the assault before my statement was taken by the police and I was hoping that after my attackers bail had expired she would actually be arrested for the assault on me.
Despite providing photographs of my assault, she wasn’t arrested, a) because of the mess up by the police at the time of the assault and b) no independent witness statements or CCTV corroboration.
What really angered my was that despite the police admitting she was well known to them as a nasty little thug, my comprehensive witness statement and photographs were put on the same level as just her word!
After contacting the Noise Team again they told me that although they had received a number of complaints against the flat, there were yet to be any visits! Officers had either tried to contact our neighbours and not got through or officers had got through but the noise had stopped. The Noise Team also have to witness it themselves 3 times before they can issue any notice, either against the tenant or the landlord.
They said that the type of noise I described sounded more like anti-social behaviour (rather than just noise nuisance) so they suggested I contact to the anti-social behaviour team for advice as they can respond to allegations in a more direct way. As it happened there was a caseworker already in possession of our details from a very helpful Safer Neighbourhood Team police officer who passed them to her in relation to our assaults. He gave me her contact details and also asked to be kept informed of how we progressed.
She also sent an incident diary sheet for our neighbours to record any further incidents for the next fortnight in order for the noise team to examine it with a view to arranging a planned visit to hopefully witness and assess the noise.
This they agreed to do.
A REMARKABLE TURN OF EVENTS!
However, in a somewhat remarkable turn of events the tenant approached my partner in desperation when her sink overflowed during her washing machine emptying. Despite the problems she had caused, as the freeholder he went down to the flat to assist but came back seriously concerned by most of the electrical sockets.
Not only were they loose on the walls and the electricity kept cutting out (which he witnessed) but the boiler was also leaking all over the work surface and had to be continually mopped up (seemingly around the cut-off valves at the base). The front door handle was completely broken (rendering the door insecure), and the washing machine soap drawer could not be opened without difficulty due to it fusing as a result of the machine overheating. The fridge had also stopped working. Tenant misuse? In some cases perhaps but she certainly didn’t wire the place up! Nor can I see it having been wired by a Competent Person under Part P of the Building Regulations!
Knowing he would not attend, (at least not until he was put under serious pressure) I sent photographs and e-mailed the Housing Standards Team who escalated it to Environmental Health.
A council inspector duly attended the flat to make a report (under HHSRS) and the landlord received a Schedule of Works which was required to be carried out within a certain amount of time. I also requested a copy of this report on behalf of the freeholders to enable action to be taken in tandem through our company solicitors. Whilst the council thought that Data Protection would not prevent them sending me this, if it did, I would be advised of the correct procedure to follow to obtain the information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI).
After telling the council he had more or less completed the works, there was another incidence of water ingress into our neighbours flat 10 days or so after the works were supposed to have been completed. On returning to check, the council found he hadn’t done anything at all! Some time later I finally received an e-mail from them stating that the works had been done, it met their standards and the works would not require being carried out in default. Good thing otherwise the next step would have been the serving of another Prohibition Order!
The tenant herself moved out eventually and to date the occupancy has changed a number of times. We did however have to report the landlord to the police for being seen to be deliberately damaging a tree in the rear garden and peering in letter boxes and through windows!
He was subsequently invited in by the police for a formal interview and whilst no further action was taken, he’s rarely been seen since but of course he has a right to come to the block as he has two rented flats here.
Another really weird thing that happened with this landlord was that he appeared on the block again without seeming to be visiting either of his two rented flats. He just kept staring at us, walking up and down the pavement and then taking photographs of us. When the police attended, they had a chat with him in their police car then came to see us. One of the officers asked us whether we knew of anything being wrong with him as he came across as decidedly ‘off’. This observation reassured us that we had been right to contact them and he has not been seen by us since.
Subsequent problems have been minimal. An installation of a reconditioned washing machine caused water ingress again into the flat below. Whilst it was claimed the problem was fixed (but no paperwork was left to that effect) I had already called in our own contractors to take a look and they had to put a new o-ring seal on the washing machine hose connection!
There was also a leak from the flat into the flat below in December 2016 and whilst he took his time in getting someone out it was finally repaired. It turned out to be ill-fitting bath taps.
It’s all been quiet since.
My next landlord and tenant story is I think, rather a sad one and perhaps show how quickly councils are willing to discharge their homelessness duties. It can be read here.