Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Now It Can Be Told- Part 3

We knew that by the February of the next year (2010) our tenancy agreement would expire, so we would have expected Copper Homes to do a yearly inspection of the property and that the gas certificate would also expire, which would need redoing. But we heard nothing as regards either. Any inspection by them would have shown up the problems with the kitchen ceiling and the condition of the ceiling, the sink and the infestation of the rats. We did attempt to solve the problem of the rats by putting down poison, but we were concerned that our dogs would get it and weren't prepared to risk them as a result. Meanwhile, the condition of the kitchen was getting worse and you'd come down in the morning to find bits of plaster and mess all over the floor and the work surfaces.
We then had to contend with one of the coldest winters for something like 30 years (2009-10) without any decent heating. We knew that it would be difficult to leave the property because we would need a month's rent in advance for a new rental property if we were to move elsewhere, so we were in something of a difficult situation.
Whatever the cause of the rift between Mr Brown and the other director who 'defected' (or at least, left the country) to Australia, it was presumably resolved, or else Brown took over control of the company and the matter of the ownership of our house was resolved, because the business regarding whom we were supposed to pay the rent to came to an end and we got a visit from Brown, who attempted to reassure us that things had been sorted out and that we could sign a new tenancy agreement with the confidence that Copper would repair what needed repairing. Looking back, how wrong could we be? 
One morning there was a really dreadful noise downstairs. We could hear the sound of rats scuttling around. The dogs raced downstairs to the kitchen, barking and making an awful noise. We followed them downstairs and found that Alfie had cornered the most enormous rat in the lounge. It squealed horribly, but he manage to get hold of it by the back of it's neck. He shook it vigorously until the squealing stopped and the rat was dead. It was quite amazing to think that such a little dog as Alfie could manage to corner and kill such a large rat! For a Yorkshire Terrier this is their natural behaviour.
By Christmas 2009, we were considering what our options were regarding our tenancy at the house in Crownhill. We were stuck with not being able to afford the deposit on another property, and we knew that our tenancy agreement with Copper Homes was due for renewal in February 2010. We still hadn't got anything from Copper, as regards them coming to do an inspection, and absolutely nothing from them regarding the repairs or even dealing with the rat infestation.
We managed to get through Christmas and then, by the time Carol had Half Term, we decided that we'd try and look for another property, but we didn't know where we stood as regards our rights and legality of leaving the house. So, the Monday of the week Carol had off for Half Term we went to The Citizens' Advice Bureau in Milton Keynes. There was a very long queue forming when we got there, just before 9 a.m. We had to wait several hours before we were seen. As it turned out, the waiting was well worth it.
C.A.B. couldn't deal with the problem we had, but told us to visit Shelter, the housing charity. We went there the next day, and the lady there was extremely helpful. She told us that we had two options available, they could more or less force Copper to do the repairs, as the condition of the house was actually uninhabitable and Environmental Health would condemn the place, and if that happened Copper would, in effect be in breach of 'Duty of Care' as landlords of the property. She gave us a list of reputable renting agents. She also told us, as we couldn't afford a deposit for a new home, we could go to Milton Keynes Council and apply for a bond, which would act as a deposit. It took some while, but this is exactly what we did. By the end of that week we had approached a rental agency in Wolverton and been to see a house, and within only a couple of weeks we had got the Bond sorted out with the council and we could then start the process of moving house.

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