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I am setting down my experiences with the landlords D&d Moncur of Drum, Kinross-shire and their agents as a warning to others, and because a full explanation of my experiences with them would be too long and bizarre to fit into a review. This way, I can review them by giving a link to this essay.
My mother is ex-Services, born in December 1926 and now crippled with arthritis, and I am her carer. In spring 2015 we had to start looking for a new house to rent because Annette Gracie, the landlady of the house we were then living in in West Calder, West Lothian, said that she wanted to sell it and put the money into a house move of her own. [At least, that was what she told us, although subsequent events indicate that she just wanted us out so she could let it to a friend of hers.]
We were unable to find anywhere suitable that we could afford nearby, so we started looking for somewhere in the Falkirk area because it’s cheap and my vet is there. Because of my mother’s medical problems we need a fair amount of space, as she may eventually need to use one of those indoor electric wheelchairs. We wanted a place with either a large garage or a third bedroom to use as a boxroom, in order to be able to keep enough clear space for a chair, but we couldn’t get a large enough place through the council, plus we have pets, so we had to go for a private let. We were lined up to take an excellent place in Slamannan in May 2015 when it fell through because one of the owner’s relatives had decided that they wanted it, so we had to take whatever else we could get at short notice.
On that basis, we started looking at a house at 60 Calder Place, Hallglen, Falkirk FK1 2QQ, through an agent called Let Direct Falkirk. The house had been empty for at least eight months (there were actually plants growing across the front door) and had a lot of major problems. It was owned by D&d Moncur, who advertise that "The high standard of our properties ensures that demand is always great". They were asking £540 pcm for it in an uninhabitable state, but agreed (in writing, by email) to lower the rent to £500pcm in return for my carrying out cosmetic repairs such as finishing painting the walls. At the point at which I made this offer I had not yet seen the inside of the building, due to the fact that when I went to view it Let Direct sent their agent to the wrong address, so I was going by the photographs in their advert which, as it turned out, didn’t come anywhere close to showing the true state of the property.
The catalogue of things which were wrong with 60 Calder Place as at May/June 2015 is so long that I’m going to stick it into an appendix at the end so as not to disrupt the narrative flow. Suffice to say at this point that the main problems were due to damage done by cowbody builders, who had ripped out the old heating system in such a way as to leave the interior walls, floors and ceilings peppered with holes, many of them big enough to stick your head through, and had wired in the boiler and electric shower by pulling the cables through holes in walls, floor and ceiling, some of them inches out from the nearest wall, and then just draping them through space like ropes with no attempt to embed or cover them; and also to the fact that much of the wiring dated back to the 1980s and many of the electrical fittings had become brittle with age, and were disintegrating. One of the upstairs window frames was severely rotted at the bottom. There was also (although I didn’t know it at the time) a recurring leak under the bathroom sink which had already brought the kitchen ceiling down at least twice, and had never been properly fixed.
Having finally seen the interior I said that in fact I wouldn’t be able to carry out all the repairs myself as some of the issues would require professional work, so I agreed with Let Direct that I would carry out minor and cosmetic repairs, such as replacing missing skirting boards and finishing the re-decorating (it had multi-coloured walls where somebody had started to repaint and had run out of steam), laying carpet etc., while Let Direct would do the major ones, and that they would have the house in a habitable condition by the end of June, about the time we expected to have finished packing and be ready to move into it.
They also assured me verbally that they would not start charging rent until we had moved in, so the sequence was meant to be that they would get the major problems fixed so that the house would be habitable, if shabby, then we would move in, then we would pay rent. On that basis, on 20th May I signed a lease for the house starting from 1st June for one year minimum, and paid £500 deposit and £500 for the first month's rent, which was meant to be applied from the date on which we moved in.
Unfortunately their assurance that they would have the house fixed up by the end of June and wouldn't charge rent until we'd moved in was agreed verbally and I don’t have it in writing. I did actually try to get Let Direct to provide a lease which more accurately fitted the terms that we had agreed verbally, but they insisted that they only had one boilerplate lease agreement and couldn't prepare another, so I would just have to sign what they had. Unfortunately the fact that each trip from West Calder to Let Direct's office took two hours each way meant that it wasn't practical for me to say "I'm going home and not coming back till you re-write that", and at that stage I had no reason to distrust them.
D&d Moncur would subsequently argue that since I had signed the lease when the property was uninhabitable I must have been willing to pay rent for it in that state - but there was never meant to be any question of us paying rent while the house was uninhabitable. Since the wiring was in a dangerous condition (for which I have both witnesses and photographs), as I understand it it wasn’t actually legal for the landlord to let it unless it was going to be fixed in what the Housing Scotland Act calls a “reasonable” time frame, so I think that the agreement that the house would be made habitable within six weeks really goes without saying.
As soon as I had signed the lease, Let Direct reneged on their verbal assurance and insisted that we pay rent from 1st June, not from our prospective moving-in date, even though the house was semi-derelict. We began moving in at once and transferred a susbtantial proportion of our belongings to the new house in the first couple of weeks. Let Direct did make a start on the wiring issues and sent in a (cowboy) builder who fixed some of the major holes while making others actually worse, but early in June the leak under the bathroom sink started up again, causing water to drip through the kitchen ceiling, and despite repeated requests from me Let Direct ignored it until round about 10th June the kitchen ceiling collapsed. The resultant hole was about 4ft square, was directly over the sink and cooker and had large chunks of loose beams and old plasterboard dangling precariously from its edge, so it really wasn’t possible to move in until this was fixed – especially as my mother is too slow to move out of the way if she was standing by the sink when loose rubble started to come down.
Meanwhile, we were unable to arrange an overlap Housing Benefit payment to cover the period of the move because we were moving from one council area to another. Therefore, I was advised by someone at Falkirk Council to claim Housing Benefit from the point at which we started paying rent, not to wait until we actually moved in, and since we expected that the house would be fixed and we would be moving in very shortly, so that the difference between the date we started paying rent from and the date we moved in would only be a few weeks, that seemed fair enough.
On 20th June I visited Let Direct and told them that we shouldn’t be paying rent while the house was uninhabitable, and they agreed to start the rent from 15th June instead of 1st June, but assured me that in the last few days they had rectified the major issues and replaced the ceiling, so the house was now ready(ish) to be moved into. I therefore went to the Council and signed up for Housing Benefit as from 15th June.
Unfortunately, Let Direct had outright lied about having completed the work. They did not in fact replace the ceiling until late August, after months of nagging, and they never did complete work on the wiring - according to them, because D&d Moncur refused to authorise the cost, which may or may not be true. Meanwhile I was in a bind as regards packing to move, because the house we were in in West Lothian was and is absolutely tiny, basically a 20ft cube with a big bite taken out of it, and things in boxes take up much more space than things on shelves. Therefore, we were unable to complete the packing until we had somewhere to move the packed boxes to in stages, each stage freeing up space for the next wave of boxes. Since I was reluctant to move all our stuff into a house which might never be habitable, we had to put packing on hold.
I suppose that I should have just cancelled the Housing Benefit and refused to pay rent, but I had already moved at least a quarter of my belongings into the house before the ceiling came down, and since the council were paying me Housing Benefit I felt I couldn’t hang on to it but must pass it on to the owner. All in all I paid Let Direct £2,000, including the £500 deposit and £1,500 in rent. I only found out much later that Let Direct did not pass all of this on to the landlord. All parties seem to be agreed that Let Direct spent £547 on the partial repairs they carried out at the house (some of them necessitated by they themselves having neglected the leaking plumbing until the ceiling fell in). Let Direct say that D&d Moncur never paid them for this work, so they impounded my £500 rent instead. D&d Moncur say they did pay them.
Let Direct never finished making good the wiring, which they said was because the owner had refused to authorise the cost of the work. In early September I told Let Direct that I was going to withhold the rent which was due on 15th September and use it to hire an electrician myself. They agreed to this in advance and I spent £120 on an electrician, which therefore counted towards my rent, meaning I had paid £2,120, of which just under half came from the council and the rest from my mother and me.
Meanwhile, all this time I was travelling back and forth between West Lothian and Falkirk once or twice a week (two hours each way on the bus, and £10.50 each time), carrying out the more minor renovations myself as per my agreement with the landlord. I also had to do some of the hole-filling which Let Direct had been meant to do. All told I did well over a hundred hours of work and spent over £100 on materials and about £150 in fares, and in addition I supplied and fitted hundreds of pounds’ worth of carpet and lino, new light fittings and a new mixer tap which actually fitted the downstairs loo (the one which was there before being so much too large that it was jammed into the wall). Unfortunately I did not keep receipts because this was work which I was sort-of donating gratis in return for eventually getting to live in the house, but I have photographic evidence of and witnesses to the work I carried out.
Around this time, September/October, several things happened. The landlord found out what had been going on with Let Direct (who had told him that there was just a small hole in the ceiling, and had let him think that the place was habitable, according to him) and switched the property to a new agent, The Property Bureau in Stirling. Let Direct withheld my £500 which I had paid in August and refused to hand it over to D&d Moncur. Meanwhile, the council stopped paying Housing Benefit and demanded back the £1,038.50 they had already paid. On the plus side they said that I should never have paid Council Tax and was £79 in credit, and assured me categorically that I wasn't liable for Council Tax on a property unless I was living there.
Meanwhile, two different people at The Property Bureau both told me verbally that I should never have paid rent on the property until the work was finished. I was all for moving into the house, now that the wiring had been done by my own electrician, and completing the work once we were in but The Property Bureau told me, in writing, that the landlord had instructed them that we must not move into the house until the work was completed by their own workman. This was now early in October. They sent their workman in and he discovered several new problems (including declaring the existing fusebox unsafe, although two previous electricians had thought it was OK) which had to be fixed before we could move in but he wasn’t free to do it in a timely fashion, so that held things up until the first or second week in November. Even then, he didn’t finish all the work because the rotten windowframe wasn’t fixed, leaving the house not wind-tight, and he didn’t do the missing skirting.
We were just getting ready to move the next batch of stuff in when The Property Bureau suddenly started insisting that we should have been paying rent for the whole period June to November. This was despite the fact that the property hadn’t been habitable, they themselves had instructed us (in writing) not to move into it and they themselves had said (not in writing) that we should never have paid rent until the work was done.
On top of this, because the landlord hadn’t received the August rent he effectively accused me of being a liar and not having paid it, so on 19th November I provided The Property Bureau with my bank statements showing all the payments made to Let Direct, but they never passed this on to the landlord.
This argument held up the move for weeks because instead of packing, I was pursuing paperwork, writing to my MSP, speaking to Citizen’s Advice etc. and I didn’t want to move more stuff to a house I didn’t know whether I would ever get to live in. I also made the revolting discovery that at 56 I wasn't as strong as I used to be, and where I had expected to be able to pack, carry downstairs and stack around ten boxes of books a day, I actually struggled to manage three or four - a serious problem given that we own around five thousand books, and that my mother was by now too arthritic to help.
I agreed to count the rent I had paid as starting from early November when the house (supposedly) became habitable, even though we weren’t in the place yet. At the start of November Martin Turner at The Property Bureau (one of the people who had told me verbally that I should never have paid rent) offered me a new lease but wanted me to start paying again on 4th January, meaning that I was only being credited with two months’ rent and not the three I had paid. This was at least partly due to The Property Bureau not having passed on the bank statements which I had sent them. I haggled over this and they eventually agreed to start taking payments from 1st February.
Several more things happened around this time. At the end of November I developed a severe respiratory infection which lasted most of December and cost me three or four weeks of packing time, because I was far too weak to handle boxes of books and heavy furniture. I discovered that the boiler at Hallglen did not in fact work and that there was therefore no heat or hot water at the house, meaning that it was still not really habitable. My mother had what appeared to be a nervous breakdown due to stress and had to be put onto powerful sedatives: this came on very suddenly and in hindsight was probably the first salvo from what would later prove to be a very nasty kidney infection, although stress clearly played a part.
To cap it all, in the middle of this Falkirk Council announced that when they had said that I shouldn’t have paid Council Tax that only held good for the first six months of the lease and that as I wasn’t living in Falkirk I couldn’t get Council Tax benefit, and started pursuing me for hundreds of pounds which I had no possible way of paying, since every penny I had had gone into the new house and I still had to find several hundred to pay for removal vans. The council had emphatically not said anything about a six-month limit when they told me in late September or early October that I shouldn’t ever have paid Council Tax on the property.
I asked Martin Turner at The Property Bureau to let the Council know that the original lease had been killed off and replaced but he refused to do so, saying that as I had argued with the terms of the new lease he had proposed – which I had had to do because they had failed to pass my bank statements on to the landlord – he regarded me as having rejected the new lease and that what we had now was the old lease continuing, so I would just have to pay the Council the hundreds of pounds they were asking for. However, he had written to me stating plainly that what we were discussing was the terms of a new lease, and the only indication that it might not be was that he subsequently used the word “recommence” to describe the payment I was going to make on 1st February. Set against his written statement that “your landlord will agree to replacing the current lease with a new lease”, I don’t think his argument holds water.
But if it is the old lease then D&d Moncur themselves failed to honour the terms of it, by failing to get the house into a habitable state in the reasonable timeframe specified by the Housing Act. Whilst it doesn’t specify exactly what "reasonable" means, it surely doesn’t mean eight months, so I would have thought the old lease was dead in the water anyway.
Interestingly, in the original letter in which Martin Turner of The Property Bureau stated that we were negotiating a new lease, he also urged me very strongly to try to recover the missing £500 from Let Direct, with whom I was still on good terms. "It is ... imperative that you pursue [Let Direct] immediately for a refund of your money which they hold." When he later insisted that what we had negotiated was not a new lease, he also acted as if I was interfering by trying to get the money back from Let Direct and said that it was a private matter between the landlord and Let Direct. Clearly The Property Bureau (or at least their employee Martin Turner) has a settled habit of saying something and then simply denying having said it.
When I pointed out that the house was still not habitable because it had no heat, the Property Bureau replied in writing that not having any heating or hot water (in January!) was not a justification for not moving in – despite their having been informed that my mother is 89, crippled and feels the cold badly. They also told me in writing that even though I had paid the August rent to the landlord’s then agent, the fact that that agent hadn’t passed it on meant that it was still outstanding, which sounded like they thought I was liable to pay it again. I tried to get some answer from them about what would be done about the rotten window, but every time I mentioned it they simply blanked me out and refused to discuss it.
Despite this uneasy situation, we had nowhere else to go so I went ahead with moving our stuff into the house at Hallglen, and even unpacking it there, expecting to be in by the end of January. The heating was finally fixed on 18th January, and I commenced doing the final packing of things like clothes and saucepans. However, on 25th January, one week after the place finally became habitable (if you don’t count the gale coming through the rotten windowframe) I got an email from The Property Bureau stating that the Council was now pursuing the landlord for Council Tax.
The reason the landlord was being asked to pay the Council Tax was because we had not been living at the house, and the reason we had not been living at the house was because it had not been in a habitable condition prior to mid January. We now expected to move in on about 1st Feb, two weeks after the boiler was finally got into working condition, so even if we had had room to get everything packed at West Calder in summer 2015 and had then spent eight months living out of packing crates we still wouldn’t have been able to move in until 18th January when the boiler was fixed, and it would have made a difference of only two weeks to our moving date. Nevertheless the landlord decided that it was our fault we weren’t living in his uninhabitable property, and on 25th January he gave us Notice to Quit by the end of May - just as we were finally able to move in.
Obviously, I was not going to move a crippled and very stressed 89-year-old into a house we would then immediately have to prepare to leave, so the house had again become essentially uninhabitable (albeit for different reasons), but The Property Bureau again demanded that I pay rent for it even though I couldn't live in it and there was effectively no lease, since D&d Moncur had reneged on the terms of the original lease and Martin Turner had denied the existence of the new one which he had told me in writing that we were negotiating. Meanwhile Martin made a point of writing to the Council and telling them that the original lease still stood and I should pay all the Council Tax.
At this point we had been left several thousand pounds out of pocket, with nothing to come back except our £500 deposit, and our move had been set back by eight months due to D&d Moncur's incompetence. The landlord and his agents had had £2,000 from us directly (the fact that half of that initially came from the Council is irrelevant since I have to pay it back) and about £400 in expenses and materials including lino, a replacement tap etc. and £120 to the electrician, and about £70 fed to the meters for no purpose except to support the work I was doing on the house. In addition I’d spent nearly £600 in removal fees moving stuff to the house, my mother’s health had been badly affected, our then current landlady at West Calder had been put to great inconvenience, and we hadn’t received a single thing in return except stress, nuisance and work.
On top of this, I had told West Lothian Council that we would be gone by the end of January and so they cancelled our Housing and Council Tax Benefits, and I had to re-apply for them just to cover our last few weeks in West Lothian.
It’s all very odd, because the landlord, a retired Detective Inspector of Police, seems to regard himself as above the law and to be motivated by spite and control freakishness rather than common sense. Had he not given us Notice to Quit I would have paid him £500 on 1st February and moved in around the same time, and then we would have stayed for years and I would happily have gone on upgrading his still tatty property at no cost to him, and he knows this. Instead he chose to land himself with a property which still needs hundreds of pounds of work to make it at all attractive, knowing that it could be months or years before he finds a tenant – apparently because he was annoyed because I insisted that the wiring should be safe and there should be a working heating system before we moved in.
Meanwhile the original property we were after in Slamannan came on the market again and we took it, but because D&d Moncur had taken thousands of pounds off me without giving anything in return, I was left so far out of pocket that I had to take out two loans (one commercial, one from a friend) and go further into debt because in addition to moving my remaining property from West Calder to Slammanan, I had to pay another £480 to move my belongings out of Hallgen, as well as spending days and weeks of extra work re-packing the stuff I’d already unpacked there.
We signed for the keys to the maisonette at Slamannan on 15th February, which involved spending nearly £100 on taxis because my mother had to sign as well and she was too ill to go by public transport. The place at Slamannan is both bigger and cheaper than the one at Hallglen but it's a maisonette above a shop - you have to climb a flight of external stairs to reach the front door - so it needed a rail putting in at the side of the stairs for my mother to get into it. If we had waited until we'd moved in then the council would probably have paid for a rail but they wouldn't do so in advance, or retroactively, and my mother wouldn't have made it up the stairs without one, so I had to pay £185 for a rail myself, especially designed to fit her way of moving.
We had hoped to move in by about the 22nd of February but my mother had a relapse and was very ill for weeks, with hallucinations and delirium brought on by the kidney infection, and this held the move up by three weeks because I was having to spend all my time nursing her instead of packing, and was myself reeling with exhaustion. This meant that we also lost three weeks of Housing Benefit (about £300). This again is a loss which is partly down to D&d Moncur, since whatever the causes of my mother's illness, if not for them we would have already been living in Falkirk before her illness peaked, and so would not have lost out on Housing Benefit.
Meanwhile, I had already told D&d Moncur and Martin Turner that I would be shifting my stuff by 21st March "give or take a week", i.e. between the 14th and the 28th, and that in return for storing my property for a few weeks I would let them off £500 of the money I'd been going to sue them for, but Martin Turner wrote to say that if my belongings weren't out by the 21st The Property Bureau would change the locks and impound my belongings. Instead of saving money by moving some of my belongings myself on the bus, as I had intended, their impatience meant that I had to pay for all the stuff at Hallglen to be moved professionally, hence the cost of £480.
I did at least manage to get back my £500 deposit for Hallglen, but only after another six weeks' worth of paperwork and 'phone calls, in part because Let Direct had filed it under a different address. And I don't just mean a typo, like e.g. putting Caldwell Pace instead of Calder Place, which could be simple human error. When I first went to view 60 Calder Place, and wasn't able to do so because Let Direct had sent their agent to the wrong address, they had sent him to the place which was next on their list of properties alphabetically, which was understandable - but they had listed my deposit under an entirely different address which did not resemble "60 Calder Place" in any way, other than by both being in Central Scotland.
In addition, because of my mother’s age and disability and the fact that I am on Income Support we should have been entitled to a £140 Warm Home Discount. We had applied for one with SSE, the firm which supplies the electricity at the house in Hallglen, but hadn’t received it yet because we hadn’t moved in. We would have been expecting to receive it some time between December and March. Now, however, we were moving to a house which gets its electricity from Scottish Power, and Scottish Power’s deadline for applying for the Warm Home Discount closed on December 2nd, so this is another £140 we have lost because of D&d Moncur and their various agents.
Out of the three, I would say that D&d Moncur and The Property Bureau are actively malevolent (or at least Martin Turner is: the other staff at The Property Bureau seem OK), while Let Direct Falkirk are probably well-intentioned but out of their depth.
Meanwhile, Falkirk Council has decided that because Martin Turner never gave me any documentation for the new lease he said we were negotiating, the original lease stands and I should therefore pay about £763 in Council Tax for a property I never lived in and then take D&d Moncur to court to get it back. There's no way I can come up with this money as it's almost two months' income, and it's also almost entirely the council's own fault, because they told me that I definitely didn't have to pay Council Tax on the property if I wasn't living in it, and made no mention of a six months' time limit. Had they done so, I would have given D & Moncur an ultimatum to get the house fixed by December or cancel the lease, but the council omitted to tell me this vital fact. I now have the Revenues department of Falkirk Council threatening me with bailiffs if I don't pay two months' income to cover their error, and the JobCentre and Welfare Benefits departments telling me to stick to my guns and not pay a penny.
What's more, the council is claiming that I am liable for Council Tax for Hallglen up to 29th March even though Martin Turner ordered us to get all our stuff out by the 21st, and we did. [N.B, I also took back the two expensive light fittings which I had had fitted at Hallglen, and some of the lino, so I have to knock about £120 off the tally of money I spent on the house.]
In addition, since we got to Falkirk my mother has been hospitalised twice with the lingering after-effects of her illness. Whilst it is true that she might have become ill even if we'd moved to Hallglen in July 2015 as we were supposed to, she would certainly have been already settled before becoming ill, not trying to move house at the same time, and the physical and mental strain on her would have been far less.
I am planning to sue either D&d Moncur or The Property Bureau (and quite possibly Falkirk Council). The Property Bureau caused a lot of this trouble by not passing on my paperwork to the owner, giving him the false impression that I was lying about how much rent I had paid and was therefore not to be trusted; by insisting that we not move into the house until their workman had finished working on the house, and then taking six weeks to do it; and by being wilfully obstructive over the matter of the Council Tax and the new lease which they had told me in writing was what we were discussing, but which they now deny. Although they told me in writing that they were acting on instructions from the landlord in telling us not to move in until the work was completed, D&d Moncur deny having ever told them to say this. They took nearly two months to get the boiler working, and never did make the place wind-tight. The combined incompetence of Let Direct and The Property Bureau between them mean that it took eight months to get the property liveable, and it still had many problems in terms of missing skirting (I had only managed to replace about half of it), rotting windows, broken interior glass, graffiti etc., all of which (except for the exterior part of the rotten window frame) I would have fixed for them myself had I been permitted to live there.
I hope to ask for the return of all the money I spent on rent and repairs; payment by D&d Moncur of the Council Tax which the council is pursuing and which is the direct result of them taking eight months to get the place habitable; at least £700 for my labour (that’s a hundred hours at £7 an hour, although in fact I did more like 130 hours) which was free only on condition that we actually got to live in the house; legal costs and compensation for stress and for damage to my mother’s health - and also possibly to mine, since my dentist tells me that the condition of my gums has deteriorated sharply and that this may be due to stress.
Quite apart from the general stress caused by having to move house not once but twice in eight months, owing to the incompetence of D&d Moncur's agents, I had really liked the house at Hallglen, had already come to think of it as home owing to the many days I spent working on it over that eight months, had already made friends with the neighbours and had invested a tremendous amount of love and care in the renovations I had already carried out and in those I had planned. Even though the maisonette at Slamannan is in some respects more convenient I will always regret the loss of that house, with its marvellous views and its beautiful setting, and there ought to be some compensation for this loss.
The next door neighbours at Hallglen are willing to go to court to testify to the state of the property – including the fact that the landlord knew that the ceiling was prone to collapse, because at least one of the previous collapses had happened while D&d Moncur owned it, and according to The Property Bureau’s workman the recurring leak which caused the collapses had just been bodged, not properly fixed.
I was also planning to ask for say £1,500 in compensation to Annette Gracie, my landlady at West Calder, because the eight months' delay in our moving out was a great inconveneience to her too. Having discovered that she was lying to us from partway through the move and possibly from the outset, however, I've changed my mind about that. According to her she needed us to move, even though she must have known that moving would cost us thousands of pounds, because she was going to sell the house we'd been living in and put the money towards buying a house in Ireland - but in July 2016 I learned from a friend and former neighbour in West Calder that within a couple of days of our moving out she had let (not sold) the house again, to a personal friend. This explains why she blanked me off and wouldn't answer when I told her I knew somebody who was interested in buying the house with us as sitting tenants.
Although I did get my deposit back from Annette, she had not put it into a deposit protection scheme. This was against the law and strictly speaking she was obliged to pay me three times the deposit in compensation, or £1,650. I let her off this because she had been in Ireland tending to her dying mother when the relevant legislation was passed and probably hadn't been aware of it, and also because she was, as I thought, being very patient with the fact that our problems were delaying her house move. Now, I think I should probably pursue her for it. I'm not sure whether lying to get us out of the house was actually illegal or not, but it was certainly callous and immmoral and I think it's reasonable that she should contribute something towards the cost of the move.
Unfortunately I'm having trouble finding a lawyer, in part because lawyers who deal with tenants' rights are used to dealing with cases where the tenant's rent is in arrears, not where a tenant has been defrauded by their landlord. I reckon this is more of a consumers' rights issue - I was sold something, I paid for it, but I didn't receive the goods I had paid for. It just happens that the "goods" were a house. In February I found the name of a lawyer at Marshall Wilson in Falkirk who deals with this sort of thing but who was on sick leave. Because I was having great difficulty finding anyone else I decided to wait for him to return, but he has now done so and I've been told he's still too unwell to take on new cases, so I'm having to start all over again, without much success - especially as I'm having to waste a lot of time on dealing with the Council, who are still pursuing me with menaces for a £763 bill which wouldn't exist if they hadn't given me incorrect information.
One lawyer has outright told me that there is no doubt that D Moncur has broken the law and that he is defrauding both his tenants and the Council, but he may have to be allowed to go on doing so because stopping him would be too expensive. Another has said that there is no point in my trying to find a lawyer unless I can pay them myself (which, obviously, I can't because D Moncur has cheated me out of all my money), because Legal Aid in Scotland no longer exists, except for the very simplest and cheapest cases. The reason is that the money paid to solicitors for Legal Aid work is now so low that they actually make a loss on it.
Update as at February 2017Either David Moncur or The Property Bureau continue to give my email address to energy companies as a contact for 60 Calder Place, a year after I ceased to have anything to do with the property, and I continue to be approached by these energy companies for payment of bills incurred after I left, or to arrange entry to the property. As at last month, January 2017, the house was still standing empty.
This was the condition of the property which D&d Moncur, whose boast is that "The high standard of our properties ensures that demand is always great", were initially asking £540pcm for.
All in all the place was not just uncomfortable but rather dangerous.