Q: A month ago my flatmate and I signed a rental contract for a two-bedroomed house. Upon checking the house before signing the contract, we noticed that in one of the bedrooms there was a black spot on the ceiling and the corner of the room was wet.

When we pointed this out to the landlord, he promised he would fix the problem before the rental contract starts. Unfortunately, this was not the case and because of this I could not sleep in my room. I tried to remove the mould with bleach but this did not solve the problem. My doctor also advised me not to sleep in the room as it could be toxic for my health.

At this point we informed the landlord about the problem and he gave us three options: to terminate the rental agreement and get a full refund of the deposit paid, a discount on the rent until the problem is solved or temporary lodging in another house until he fixes the problem.

Since we cannot stay in the house, my flatmate and I will opt to terminate the rental agreement. We would like to know if besides the refund of the deposit paid we can also claim a partial refund of the rent paid since we couldn’t use one of the bedrooms?

A: Since the landlord was aware of the mould problem before the rental agreement started and did not abide by his promise to have the problem solved before you moved in, then if you have evidence that it is dangerous to live in such a room, you may request a partial refund of the rent paid.

When consumers rent a property it is in their best interest to gather evidence of any problems or damages a property has and to complain immediately with the landlord or estate agency. Delay in complaining may diminish consumers’ right to compensation.

Furthermore, complaints should always be made in writing, so consumers have evidence that they have notified the landlord about the problem and also gave him the possibility to rectify it before claiming compensation or the termination of the rental agreement.

Should consumers not manage to resolve the problem directly with the landlord or estate agency, they may lodge a complaint with the Office for Consumer Affairs. When submitting their official complaint, consumers also need to submit a copy of the rental agreement, a copy of the receipts of the money paid and any correspondence with the landlord or travel agency concerning the problem encountered.

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