I rented a flat through O\'Neill lettings. I had been in the flat for over two years when the very old boiler was replaced.
I discovered through the registered gas installer who replaced the boiler that I had been at risk of electrocution throughout the tenancy due to faulty wiring. In addition he advised that the ventilation to the gas boiler was insufficient. A different gas firm used by O\'Neills had given me two annual safety certificates without noting the dangerous wiring.
During this period, I had paid over twenty thousand pounds in rent which I would not have agreed to pay had I known that the flat was not safe to inhabit. I was very distressed to discover that any of my numerous guests could have been seriously injured or even killed while visiting me. The lease contract and the law of the land placed a duty of care on the landlady to ensure that I was not at risk of injury or death due to faulty appliances. She trusted O\'Neills to manage her property and paid them to do so, however they opened her to legal liability by persistent failure to do their job.
As a cost-cutting measure, the new boiler was installed to the very old original control panel. This resulted in the new boiler switching itself on unpredictably and also activating heating and hot water together instead of separately. Additionally, the boiler replacement resulted in damage to decoration in the kitchen which was not made good for several months despite frequent requests to O\'Neills.
The boiler was replaced in November of 2010 however O\'Neills did not achieve the attendance of a gas engineer to fix the problem until beginning of February of 2011. Mr John Knapp of O\'Neills attended with the same gas engineer who had fitted the new boiler. The engineer told Mr Knapp that when he had replaced the boiler, the old wiring was dangerous and could have electrocuted the tenant. Mr Knapp then shockingly asked if it could not be wired back to that state as it was working before. During this visit, it was agreed that the electronic timer to the boiler needed replacing. By the last day in March, this had still not been done so I had no recourse but to remove from the property at my own expense. Therefore the boiler was not working correctly for months up to and including the very last day of my tenancy. This is inexplicable in the face of the lease contract and the repairing standard applied to all properties as a matter of law.
It appears that O\'Neills staff resent taking the time to perform maintenance on their properties.
This point is backed up by emails I received from Mr and Mrs Weir at O\'Neills. The landlady and I agreed that Mr Knapp was to accompany the painter/decorator and gas engineer to the property in February of 2011 as I was not able to take even more time off of work to supervise tradesmen. O\'Neill stated that they were only happy to do this if I, the tenant, paid them a fee to cover the time of their staff. I did not agree to this as my view is that the landlady pays O\'Neills to carry out such work in order to ensure that she meets the obligations she agreed to under the lease contract and for which I am paying rent.
Mr Ralph Weir, who I believe manages the firm, attended at the property on another matter following Mr Knapp\'s visit with the gas engineer. He asked me for cash money to cover his and Mr Knapp\'s time in attending at the property to supervise tradesmen (something which their client the landlady had instructed). When I refused to pay, Mr Weir then conducted himself in a disorderly manner, shouting, waving his hand in my face, and threatening to become cross. I reported this to the landlady directly and sought legal advice on the matter. Unfortunately as there was no witness, there was no corroboration to support a criminal charge in respect of this abusive behaviour. I do however think prospective tenants should take a dim view of landlords who are reported to engage in such conduct.
Finally, when I attended at the end of property inspection, Mr Knapp and I agreed a few small deductions from my deposit in respect of some minor cleaning matters. The matters needing rectified were noted on a document headed "march out pro forma", and I was permitted to take a copy at the end of the inspection. In breach of contract, no deposit monies had been returned to me a month following this inspection. When I did finally receive a payment, additional funds had been deducted in respect of work done which was not noted on the "march out pro forma".
This included a line item for all carpets being professionally cleaned. The carpets were not soiled and on advice of my solicitors who had reviewed the lease contract the agents would have to provide evidence that I had allowed the carpets to become soiled in order to justify this deduction. The lease did not provide for the carpets to be cleaned as a matter of course, and I had already had them cleaned immediately prior to my departure. They were not soiled on the date of the inspection, and curiously O\'Neills were unable to provide a receipt from the company they supposedly instructed to do this work.
While the above may seem curious and extreme, I am able and willing to provide the following documentation to verify these claims before publishing:
-audio and video recordings of relevant conversations about the lethal wiring
-photographs and videos of the condition of the property taken immediately prior to departure on the advice of my solicitor
-email correspondence with O\'Neills regarding repayment of my deposit monies and withholding of carpet cleaning funds
-email correspondence from O\'Neills asking me to pay for their staff to supervise tradesmen
-copy of the lease contract, gas safety certificates, "march out pro forma"
-copy correspondence from solicitors
-emails from the landlady to O\'Neills which include such comments as the following:
"Firstly the following issues must be dealt with this week WITH a member of O\'Neill\'s staff in attendance on site as Thomas is not able to take more time off work to attend to them. I feel he has quite enough of tradesmen not turning up and an all round inefficiency which is more than understandable, and I really must insist that the works are carried out in a decent manner with the least amount of disruption to Thomas whether he is in the flat or not.
Please do try to see this from my point of view as landlady, if O\'Neill\'s continues to fail in it\'s duty to see that the flat is in a fit state to live in, then I as landlady then fall responsible and the tenant could walk out "
Unfortunately the landlady was not able to persuade O\'Neills staff to perform the duties for which they are paid by clients in a timely, competent, and professional landlady. I would recommend that prospective tenants give this firm a wide berth and landlords looking for an agency should consider the financial and legal risk to themselves if the appointed agency are negligent.
What agent could do to change your mind?
-addressed maintenance issues promptly
-ensured that reputable tradespeople were employed and that the flat was safe to live in at all times
-not used threatening behaviour to attempt to extort money which was not owed
-given me a proper accounting of my deposit including receipts
-only deducted from the deposit in respect of items which had been noted at the end of tenancy inspection
-treated me politely and respectfully