Rescission by the tenant. Landlord’s demand for compensation. Deposit. Inspection. Legal costs.
The parties entered into a lease covering a holiday cottage for a definite period. The cottage was let out with furniture and fittings. The tenant maintained that the condition of the cottage had been unsatisfactory from the outset. Shortly after the tenant moved in, he became aware that the plumbing did not work properly and he had no alternative but to install new mixer taps because the ones in place posed a hazard. There were also a lot of mice in the cottage during the winter and the tenant therefore considered it unfit for human habitation. As the winter wore on the situation with the plumbing became worse and there were blockages. The landlord made an attempt to fix the plumbing but did not manage to fix the drainage system fully. The tenant therefore rescinded the lease on the grounds that the premises were not fit for human habitation. After that, the landlord accused the tenant of having removed items from the premises, in addition to not having paid rent. The tenant completely rejected the assertion that items had been removed from the premises. Having returned the rented property, the tenant asked twice whether an assessor would come to inspect the condition of the rented premises, but received no answer. However, the landlord had an inspection made, unilaterally, shortly afterwards.
The Complaints Committee considered the rescission by the tenant to have been lawful, since the premises were not fit for human habitation because the drainage system did not work properly. It also appeared from the communications between the parties that the landlord had accepted the rescission; thus, there was no dispute as to its legality. The tenant vacated the premises in mid-February, but had not paid rent for that month. The committee took the view that the tenant was obliged to pay rent until the time when he formally returned the premises. On the other hand, the committee rejected the landlord’s demand for compensation on the grounds that no inspection had been carried out prior to the lease period and the inspection that was carried out at the end of it had been unilateral. No proof had been submitted regarding the items which the landlord accused the tenant of having removed. The tenant sought the payment of his legal costs in connection with the complaint.
Conclusion: The landlord was obliged to return the deposit to the tenant, following deduction of two weeks’ rent, i.e. rent for the time which it took the tenant to vacate the cottage. The landlord’s demand for compensation was rejected, as was the tenant’s claim for legal costs, as it was considered evident that the complaint had not been without reason.