I’m a 2nd year University student living in Cardiff, UK. Like most non-freshers I live in a privately rented house with my fiancé and a third house-mate. Our landlord is meant to contact us through a letting agency called CPS Homes. He’s also opted for CPS to be in charge of the general maintenance of the house, as well as advertising it and collecting rent. We’ve been renting the house since July, each of us having paid £1,560 in rent so far, I think that’s about US$3,040.
We’ve had problems from the very beginning, not only with the house, but with CPS and our landlord too. One of the terms of our agreement stated the horrible 1960s kitchen was to be replaced by the time we moved in, which was the first week of September. We’d been to the house several times between July and that point, each time asking why the work had not yet been completed. Each time they gave us a different reason, because the landlord was on-holiday, because the landlord hadn’t approved the tenancy agreement (three months after it had been signed by him!), because the house hadn’t been cleaned yet. None of which should have had anything to do with the kitchen being refitted. We moved in, it still hadn’t been done, thus breaking the tenancy agreement. The work was started, after much pushing by us, in the last week of September, and took 5 days, which meant we were unable to use the kitchen, or even get to the bathroom beyond.
That was the first problem, which apparently was caused by the landlord deciding he wouldn’t actually refit the kitchen at all, despite it being in a legally binding agreement. So CPS had to do it instead, and they were only made aware when I rang them up and asked why it hadn’t been done. First example of bad communication, check. A series of other things was/is wrong with the house. Hinges had rotted through, causing one door, a heavy, old fashioned oak door, to fall on top of my fiancé. The house hadn’t been cleaned, as the contract said, and broken glass was left in the carpet. There were also, more importantly, no fire alarms, a necessary requirement for rented houses in the Cardiff area. We told the letting agency this on the 4th October, and that my father had put up two fire alarms himself as he did not feel the house was secure without them.
The smell is damp and mould that we have repeatedly attempted to remove, which was one of the things he was meant to be inspecting and reporting back on. The untidiness, well, we're students, but it was no worse that it was when we originally came to see the house the year before, while the previous tenants were still there.
Second example of stupidly bad communication, check. Now, I know my spelling is bad, and my grammar non-existent, but I at least know how to use spell-checker, and for that matter, not to write a threatening letter to people paying my wage. Note that the letter doesn’t address any of the issues wrong with the house, or anything to do with our request for a reduction in rent.
Last week, they admitted they hadn’t been able to get in contact with our landlord personally for THREE YEARS. At which point, I’d be worried, but apparently they’re happy as long as we keep paying them rent. But as he hasn’t fitted the fire alarms, and the fire doors he had fitted last year are the wrong shape, size and weight, and after threats from my father’s solicitor and my fiancé’s uncle, who is a property lawyer, they have decided to do something about it.
Or at least, told us so. They were meant to be here today at 12:30, to see if any work had been done, and then to go to the council afterwards to get the landlord fined for negligence. Maybe then we’ll get our money. Or at least the house fixed, because CPS are keen to start showing next year’s tenants around. But it’s 3pm now, and although I’ve called CPS twice, the woman meant to be coming round has been out on viewings. I’ve come to expect, from dealings with them earlier in the year, that CPS never, ever, call anyone back. I'd have hoped though, as this appointment was confirmed in writing, that they wouldn't have ignored us like they have. Blah.
That’s what has annoyed me most. Instead of ringing me to cancel her appointment, or sending a letter, or any of that, she just hasn’t turned up. I’ve called twice, and I can only ever speak to her underlings, who I don’t want to take this out on. I’m just appalled about her rudeness, by the fact she hasn’t called me back at all, even though I’ve rung to ask, and by the conduct of CPS and my landlord in general. Third example of bad communication.
I’ve kept all the letters I’ve sent to them, and every time something else happens I’ve been documenting it on my journal, as well as taking photographs of the state of the house, because I can’t see how this could possibly end happily. We’re already writing to the local press. They just seem to think students aren't real people who will bother to hassle them about this.
And that’s only the problems with my house! Anyone have any suggestions? CPS told us not to hold back rent, as our landlord then would have legal right to take us to court. So... any other ideas?
Edit: Sorry about all the formatting problems. ><''