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We were very proud of the house
We were very proud of the house

Yorkshire Letting Agent Lets Landlord Break ALL The Rules

 Yorkshire Letting Agent Lets Landlord Break All the Rules

With news circulating such as the family forced to live in squalid conditions by a landlord and petitions to introduce stricter controls over lettings agents, we wanted to share a true life tenancy story straight from the horse’s mouth.  Although until court cases are over some parts are still allegations, all facts are true as reported to councils, the police and in exchanges with the landlords, David and Heather Hume of Manor Farm and Yorkshire Letting Agent, Rounthwaite and Woodhead.

If you are considering renting, read this first and make sure you have everything in place to protect yourself no matter how affable your landlord may seem.

2 years ago we rented a Manor House, it was “sold as seen”. It was huge, draughty and quite frankly a mess, with pigs ears in the oven and broken glass all over the garden. We loved it. It wasn’t double glazed but had everything we needed, it was structurally sound, safe, had electric and heating and hot running water. The rest was superficial, we could change it with the landlord’s permission.

We took to cleaning up the garden, re landscaping and decorating the purple interior. Using professional painters and decorators, we brought this house round to its former glory. We paid for carpeting of the rooms (yes, I hear you sighing, forking out for a tenanted property is never a wise idea) and we took care of minor DIY issues such as dripping taps, leaking roofs, holes in walls and slippery patios. We weed killed the six foot high nettles and started all over again. The landlord left us to it. This suited us as we had previously endured a landlord that would visit his garden on a daily basis. This landlord would take rhubarb from the veggie patch and bring his lawnmower if the grass hadn’t been cut for a week. He would never arrange a visit, just turn up and despite arguments we found our privacy was seriously compromised.

A landlord that lived next door but didn’t bother us was bliss in comparison.

Before We Repaired and Decorated the Manor House

Problem No.1 – Our Landlord Taps Into Our Water Supply and We Receive the Bill

Then the problems began. The first one a water bill for thousands of pounds. We knew we’d rented a bigger place but, still, with just five of us we couldn’t understand the cost. We asked the landlord if he was on our water supply, he told us he wasn’t.

The water board came, switched everything off but still the meter turned. We asked again, he brushed us off.

We sent this:

Hi Nick,
> We have had ongoing issues with our water bills. To keep it short the water
> meter for the Manor house also supplies water to some horses troughs and
> stables at David and Heathers property. David initially denied this but it was
> confirmed by Yorkshire Water about 4 months ago when they came to investigate
> why we were using £250 of water per month. The main cause was a leak (also on
> the pipe work supplying David's horses). David had promised to get the supply
> disconnected but, to our knowledge, he has so far failed to do so.
> As a result we have paid for, and are still paying for, water for David's
> horses troughs and stables for the past 10 months. Given the number of horses
> we estimate this to be £250-£300.
> We have tried resolving the matter with David but he has not been forthcoming.
> As a result we would like a water sub meter installing in our kitchen so we
> can accurately meter our actual usage. This would be at David's cost. We would
> also like the bill to be in David's name and for him to be responsible for
> collecting the monies owed from us and Mary (bungalow next door) when he
> receives a bill. We would also like David to address the issue of water he has
> used and we have paid for since we moved in.
> Apologies for the somewhat direct approach but we feel the situation gone on
> too long.
> Kind regards
> Justin and Martina


The reply:

David Hume says that this was looked into some time ago and the troughs are
not on your bill. So I'm afraid I don't know where to go from here - have
you spoken to Yorkshire Water and of course taken into account that the
price of water has increased pretty dramatically over the last year or so?

Which was a blatant lie so we sent this one:
Could you please find out when the troughs were disconnected. Like I said
> Yorkshire water confirmed a few months ago the troughs were connected. I have
> messaged him a couple of times to ask myself but he has not replied. I also
> asked for his contact at Yorkshire water who was supposedly doing the work but
> he would not provide their details. The person I have been dealing with at
> Yorkshire water has no record of the troughs being disconnected and as far as
> they are concerned we are still paying for his horses water. David is refusing
> to provide any evidence to suggest otherwise.
> Thanks
> Justin 


And finally got this forwarded from the landlord:

We have traced an old alkethene pipe which 
i certainly didn't know was there and cut it off 
and capped it off in case it was leaking somewhere.
All the stables and troughs are definitely now fed from our new
supply so if Justin wants to monitor from now on whether the bills
reduce then i guess it was that pipe.
David

Yet when contacting Yorkshire Water, they said there was no cap recorded and there was still a problem. They said it was leaking and we were still supplying water to his horses. Eventually, they got permission to investigate and found that the pipe to the horses had a big leak. Something our landlord won’t have noticed as he wasn’t paying the bill. We thought, with the evidence in front of him that the pie HADN’T been capped at all and we were still paying for the water, he would be apologetic. We thought he’d compensate us for the hundreds extra we’d spent on the bill since we moved in. He didn’t. He refused to communicate and would do so only through the letting agent.
The leak was fixed but to this day, that house still supplies the landlord’s water.

Problem No. 2 – Left Without Heating and Hot Water Mid Winter

Then winter came. We knew it would be expensive, we knew it would be cold. We didn’t think it would mean we were without heating at all. With a baby and two other children, we were left with a broken boiler for weeks as he wouldn’t answer our calls. The boiler was decades old and kept omitting a strange smell, it was against regulations in where it was installed. At the time, we weren’t concerned with this, we just wanted to get warm. We bought plug in radiators and watched our electricity bills soar as the oil we’d paid for sat unused in the tank outside.

He got it fixed eventually but declared this was out of good will and he had no obligation to. In fact it was his obligation to ensure we had heating and hot water. The boiler broke many times during the tenancy. We got used to it and thanked our lucky stars for a mild winter.

Problem No.3 – The Electrical Explosions

The electric kept tripping, we bought new energy efficient appliances and changed the light fittings. When we took on the house there were a lot of live bare wires hanging out of the walls were wall lights should be. We put up wall lights. Now, the tripping was annoying but we got used to it. We couldn’t use the oven and the kettle together- too much power and so we devised combinations of usage to minimise the inconvenience. We also used the oil fired AGA to cook and boil water when we could, until this broke down and the landlord refused to answer our requests to take a look at it.

What did bother us was the electrical shocks, the exploding light bulbs and the threat of fire. Yet despite many requests nothing was ever done.

Problem No.4 – The Leaking/ Cracked Sink

This problem leads onto another, however the sink was cracked, not just a small crack, a huge gap and the pipes underneath were leaking heavily. We told the landlord, it was soon after moving in. His plumber came and tried to fix the sink (we bought the parts needed). Anyhow in his haste he broke the kitchen cabinets and left the pipes with a constant drip. He was supposed to return to fix that, he never did, in 2 whole years, drip drip drip.

Problem No.5 – The Dishwasher

A broken dishwasher became a massive problem that threatened our lives. That is no understatement. This is quite a long story but I’ll make it as quick as possible.

The dishwasher was old, a good ten years and occasionally it refused to drain. We sorted  this ourselves. There was a constant leak too (see above) which had made the underside of the kitchen cabinets wet, cabinets that eventually collapsed. We bought new pipes and when getting no answer from the landlord we fixed the problem temporarily ourselves but when the dishwasher refused to power up we nagged and nagged for a solution. It wasn’t just the thought of washing dishes by hand, it was because, if we did, the pipes would leak even more. We were also paying rent, a lot of it, and the dishwasher was the landlord’s responsibility.

So we sent this:

There has been an issue with the dishwasher for the past 8 months. Every time
> it has had the same fault, that is it stops washing and goes into the safety
> mode where all it does is drain. The problem has been frequent during this
> period and has developed the same fault this morning for the fourth time in
> four days. Jonathan Moxon from appliance solutions has been trying to fix the
> machine during this period but can still not fix it. We would now like an
> alternative remedy to the problem.
> We notified David of a fault with the boiler and heating system on 16th
> December. The boiler does not function with all it's covers on and frequently
> the heating will come on in the whole house when it is not programmed to do
> so. This will no doubt be using a significant amount of oil. So far the issue
> as not been fixed. This morning the oil burner has began omitted an unusual
> smell. I am concerned as to whether this is dangerous. The flue could be
> blocked and the fumes entering the house. We require the issues with the
> boiler and heating fixing urgently as it is a health and safety concern.
> Also, we have noticed the conservatory now leaks in several places and some of
> the wood is rotting. We would like to arrange a time and date for a suitably
> qualified person to assess the conservatory as we are concerned as to whether
> it's structural strength could be compromised. I assume David would be
> suitably qualified, being in the line of work that he is. We would appreciate
> it if this could be done soon.
> I am sorry that I have had to take more formal approach but matters have not
> been satisfactorily resolved within an acceptable time frame
> Many thanks,
> Justin and Martina
>

He sent round a person who owed him a favour, a qualified appliance repair man who didn’t have a good word to say about our landlord. We didn’t mind, on the first visit our relationship was quite new, so we still had the rose tinted glasses on but we just wanted the dishwasher fixed.

The 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th visits took 20 hours in total

He told us that it was too old and a replacement was needed. Our landlord wouldn’t hear of it so he set to work repairing it. His first visit last 6 hours. 6 hours of keeping the dog out of the kitchen, chasing after a toddler running out the open doors, unable to use the kitchen at all. That would have been fine had he fixed it.

It broke within minutes of him leaving.

  • The second visit took 4 hours. It broke within a day
  • The third visit 5 hours, it broke before he got in his car to drive away.
  • The 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th visits took 20 hours in total.

He kept ordering parts but he couldn’t find the problem so he replaced each one, one by one. Every time he put the dishwasher back he took off another piece of a kitchen cabinet. He’d rest it precariously on a wobbly table to fix while our children passed by, many times we asked him to use the solid kitchen island or the floor.

The leak also bothered him but he couldn’t find a source. He even told us we were imagining all the water all over the floor at one point as we’d had the presence of mind to vax it!

Over the course of two years he visited over 25 times, each visit lasting more than an hour, sometimes five. As I worked from an office at home, we’d dread his visits as he’d stomp round the house shouting for someone’s attention expecting us to be on beck and call for the hours he took to fix it.

He wasn’t giving our t*** of a landlord one of his best appliances as he’d taken the p*** enough as it is

The dishwasher blew up eventually and our landlord still refused to fork out for another. The dishwasher man decided to loan us one he had in the shop. It was very late at night when he turned up. He said he’d “just be a minute” plumbing it in. An hour later, with our daughter unable to sleep due to the noise and ourselves nodding off on the sofa, my husband went to ask what the problem was. He said he’d just be another ten minutes – that meant hours to us. He asked him to leave, the dishwasher man got very angry. He refused to leave without his dishwasher so he spent another hour disconnecting it then another putting the old one back in. He said it would work fine as he’d fixed it but he wasn’t giving our t*** of a landlord one of his best appliances as he’d taken the p*** enough as it is.

My husband had all the dealings and can tell this better than I can.

The next night, my husband was working late, I put the dishwasher on and started to get the kids to bed. A few hours later, with my eldest son still up, I thought I’d make a start on emptying it and was met with this:

The whole thing was on fire and the kitchen was filled with black acrid smoke, smoke I needed medical treatment for as I inhaled it trying to turn the blasted thing off. I got the kids out of the house and rang my husband as it had set fire to the kitchen.

That was the dishwasher story. The landlord dropped off a new one and paid for a real plumber to install it who swiftly found the source of the leak. A leak that had been dripping for years on to live electrics despite the other man telling us it was completely safe. We got a few weeks out of the dishwasher before we were served an eviction notice for the below.

Problem No.6 – The Conservatory

The conservatory was our favourite room in the house, it was the thoroughfare to the other rooms and so light that we tended to gravitate there. Very long and with smooth floors, the children loved wheeling up and down on their favourite toys while my husband grew grapes, tomatoes and cucumbers up the walls.

Within 6 months it started to leak. We told the landlord. He ignored us. The water dripped down the walls and ruined many pictures. He still did nothing. Then we noticed the wood crumbling (this was not a PVC conservatory, more an Art Deco all wood orangery). The glass started to slip and we worried about the safety. Almost at the same time, the children had accidents with slipping on the wet floor and the electrics cut out due to the water.

Now we noticed the problems when we moved in, told the landlord about the leaks. At the time these weren’t enough to cause us bother but we thought he’d like to know as problems like this escalate and it could end up costing him a pretty penny. Despite living next door he didn’t come round to look.

As the problems made living in the house nigh on impossible due to the electricity being off a lot, the leaks and the danger, we started to contact him and the Yorkshire Letting Agents Rounthwaite and Woodhead regularly. We heard nothing until 2 months before moving out we were told to just stop using the electric and turn all the power off. That was it. It was swiftly followed by an eviction notice, where due to section 21a landlords don’t have to give a reason.

We couldn’t use the garden, we couldn’t use the conservatory or any rooms connected to it. Luckily we had family visits and holidays booked but still it made the place completely inhabitable as it was condemened. We asked if it would be repaired while we saw out the 2 months notice from the eviction, as it was highly dangerous, unsafe and impossible to live in the house.

We received no reply. We asked again and again – no reply.

After We Fixed and Decorated the House

The Eviction

We were in shock about the eviction. Yes we’d complained when things had reached a point where we couldn’t keep quiet any more. We fixed most things ourselves despite it not being our responsibility but we knew better than to faf with electrics, oil or the landlord’s appliances. Although we got people in to patch up the conservatory we were told it would take thousands of pounds to make it safe. Thousands we couldn’t waste and in light of the eviction, thousands we didn’t want to.

We’d been keeping our eyes out for properties in our son’s catchment area for a long time as the repairs and running costs were adding up. Anyone in the area knows though that these are hard to find and we’d decided that if the landlord made the house safe we’d stay. We didn’t really have much choice there was nothing else on the market.

Of course this was no longer an option and with the eviction hanging over us we made a quick decision to relocate to Devon, something we’d always promised to do but never had the heart to change the children’s schools. After a good chat with them we began the arrangements. It was quite clear this wouldn’t be simple and obvious that we wouldn’t be moved within a day. It would take weeks. The removals company are another story altogether.

The First Day of the Move

The letting agent had done an inspection just weeks before so we saw no reason to involve him. We didn’t trust him at all. We promised to be out by the date on the eviction notice, we paid our rent (which was then questioned as we paid it early and they’d missed it going into their bank) and the rest was up to us. We were set.

The removals told us it would take days, they included a packing service so it would take a while to pack, travel and unload. Our tenancy covered us for another 3 weeks so we were in no immediate hurry but we were keen to get to a property that wasn’t a death trap to live in.

So on the day we got the keys for our new place, we left the removal men to start packing. My husband hired a van and took down essentials, pans, cutlery, a few beds, the ducks, rabbits and dog, everything we’d need for a camping trip as we were to be without our items for a while. I travelled with our youngest and eldest children while our middle daughter travelled with the pets and her dad.

With good traffic it took both of us nine hours to get to the new place. We both had to stop to give pets water, change nappies and so on. My husband arrived just an hour ahead of me and once there we relaxed knowing we’d never have to go back.

My family were sorting out cleaners, the removal men were packing up, my mum would sort the post for the next few weeks until we redirected it. There was absolutely no need to do the journey again. We were home.

The Shocking Revelations in the Days After the Move

We were pleased when the removals arrived, finally we could make this a home. The removals had not been the best firm we’d used due to them demanding hundreds of pounds extra just a day before – leaving us in limbo. We were over that now though and just wanted our stuff and to start making this place a home.

It was at the end, when the removals were nearly unpacked that my husband noticed 30% of our things missing. Then the whole story came out. They’d said earlier that they’d had trouble with the landlords. We thought this odd because the landlords hadn’t been round despite us asking them to come and look at the conservatory many times. One, who had refused to introduce herself at the beginning had never made contact at all.

This all came about because you didn’t give a definite moving date.

The removals explained that they were thrown out of the house. The landlords had ripped all bin bags open and thrown our items all over while hiding many outside and in the cellar. They stopped them from moving many things amongst which was our piano, as they told the removals it was theirs. It wasn’t, I have the receipt from Ryedale Auctioneers with my name printed clearly on the top. As we began to unpack we noticed just how much was missing and of course the stress hit. It really was too much. With all the extra expense, I needed to get back to work, to pay for the removals and the extras we’d need now our stuff was missing. The whole home office was gone, along with important documents, passports, bills, NHS cards, birth certificate and photos spanning 3 decades.

Furniture my late father gave me, plants from my late grandma and more were missing while a lot of our items were damaged. It became a chore to open a box or a bag as we didn’t look forward to what we’d find inside.

This was just our things, the children meanwhile weren’t so calm and on spotting the swing set plus many toys missing they began to wail. It would take another removal company to pick up what was left, another £3000 if the landlords would release it.

The Warped Reasoning behind the Criminal Damage and Taking Without Consent

In all of this we tried to get in touch with the letting agent, Rounthwaite and Woodhead who replied only to tell us that it was our fault as we hadn’t given a definite moving date. We had a date, the eviction date, which was 2 months from the serving of the notice. We couldn’t choose another unless we wanted to be difficult and pick a later one, as this was set in stone. We’d have to give 2 months notice anyhow and as we said when receiving the notice, “we promise we’ll be out by the 16th”. As our tenancy ran until then, there was no need to give another move date, as we needed the time to clean the place up and redirect post etc.

We scratched our heads wondering why they would turn up and do this after we’d tried to get them to answer our calls, emails and texts for 6 months or more without success.

The removals mentioned curtains. Which took me back to 12 months prior when Percy ripped a pair in the living room.

I contacted the landlord and the letting agent by text and email. I told them Percy had ripped the curtains and what would they like me to do? Should I take them to be repaired or would they prefer me to buy them from them to reimburse the cost so if needed they could buy replacements. Or would they like to pick them up and get them repaired themselves? I got no reply. So I tried again, a total of 4 times over 6 months. Giving up I bagged them and put them in storage in the loft.

These are apparently what they were looking for when they threw my personal items all over the floor, when they decided to withold our piano and move my home office to the cellar before tuening off the electrics so the removals men couldn’t see down there. These scruffy curtains that were so important that when I contacted them four times they didn’t even reply. They were lucky as I was going to throw them out or use them for weed control in the garden as they obviously didn’t care about what happened to them.

My husband had emailed too, a couple of times. No reply. Any correspondence from the letting agent simply ignored we’d mentioned them at all.

The Aftermath

As soon as we found out, we notified the police. We didn’t have a phone connected at the new place, or a signal on our phones so my husband travelled a few miles to a lay by. We were told the landlords had made a complaint regarding removals of property from the house (bear in mind the property was let unfurnished and no items are listed on an inventory).  We saw this as a counter attack as they knew they were in the wrong. We then received an email to tell us if we wanted access we had to be accompanied by the police. This put off any cleaning company coming within a mile of the place. Just days before we’d been told we could come and go as we pleased.

As the original van had gone back to the depot my husband had to hire another to pick up some of our remaining items. It took a lot of expense and 3 days and without the help of the 4 removals men, who were hired to move the heavy items such as the piano, a lot had to be left behind. There was nothing we could do, we were back at work and didn’t have the money or the time to stay in Yorkshire to arrange more removals and extra vans. We also had nowhere to stay. The house was condemned and had nothing in it for day to day.

We asked family to pick up what they could but the keys were being held under lock and key. A family member went to pick them up from Rounthwaite and Woodhead (despite them being our property until 16th August) and within hours was pestered to return them immediately. She couldn’t do anything with the house and was told that handing them in on the 16th was not acceptable neither was dropping them off the next day. This meant that any damage limitation that could be done, couldn’t as she didn’t have access to show a man with a van in, to remove the extragoods (to a storage location until we had the funds to get them to Devon). So the house was locked up, still containing our stuff and now they’ve took complete possession.

In our eyes, they took possession months ago when they made it a hazard to live in. It was impossible to raise a family in a house so unsafe.

Here’s the screenshot of the initial complaint in 2012 about the conservatory.

First Conservatory Complaint 2012

First Conservatory Complaint 2012

It took 2 years to get the following reply and when we did, it came with an eviction notice.


The reply we finally received to the conservatory problem, two years later

The reply we finally received to the conservatory problem, two years later

 

It’s up to you now, you decide, but is this the way to treat tenants? It’s just a couple of days since the tenancy ended and we’re still dealing with the police and with hindsight there’s a lot we should have done differently but I don’t think we deserved this?

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Martina Mercer

Martina Mercer is an award winning freelance digital marketer and copywriter. She founded The Consumer Voice on just £4.99 and now delivers expert consumer advice as the Consumer Voice's spokesperson on the BBC.
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