A FAMILY who were ordered to pay £3,500 after trying to sue their landlord have offered to pay their debt – over 37 years.

Zena and Derek Smith said they incurred massive bills because the central heating in their rented home in Queensland Drive, Colchester, did not work properly.

As a result, they withheld their rent.

During a court hearing in March, a judge agreed the rented home was “sub-standard”, but because they could not present a tenancy agreement for the whole of their stay, he ordered them to pay £3,500 in rent arrears.

The couple have now offered to pay landlord Choy Wong £2 a week.

Mrs Smith, who has now moved with her family in to another home, said: “As we thought it would, it came back saying it was not an acceptable offer, but it is all we can afford.

“We filled in our means forms, and with all the income and outgoings, and that is what it said we could give.

“They’ve said no, but since then we haven’t heard anything about it.”

She also criticised the ruling, adding: “It was not right, but unless you’ve got money, and we haven’t, it is very hard to appeal formally.”