Broken shower surround and disabled tenant unable to use bath

by Readers Question

11:35 AM, 22nd May 2014
About 7 years ago

Broken shower surround and disabled tenant unable to use bath

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Broken shower surround and disabled tenant unable to use bath

I have had a tenant in my property since 2012. The most recent letting agent inspection report identified a major leak from the shower area affecting the room on the floor below. The tenant does have a bath they can use, but I have just been told they are disabled and cannot use it.

On investigating it has been found that the grout is very badly cracked and a border tile has been broken within the shower enclosure (it’s a shower tray with sliding doors). The inventory report undertaken before the tenant moved in and previous letting report of January’14 showed no damage at all – I suspect the shower area has suffered some form of impact/damage of an unknown origin that has occurred since the end of January’14 and end of April this year. I nor the agent have received notification of the fault from the tenant prior to the agent inspection.

The tenant refused to stop using the shower after the agent inspection visit, I had to arrange for a plumber to temporarily fix the major cracks (in case they decided to use the shower area) and removed the shower hose so the shower could not be used until the shower is fully repaired. The tenant does have a separate bathroom with bath available for use.

Since the identification of the fault the tenant has stated that they are disabled and cannot use the bath, I have offered to buy a bath seat or pay for the tenant to use private shower facilities at the local leisure centre until the problem can be fixed. I can’t change the mixer unit on the bath to a shower as there is limited tiling above the bath and no shower screen over the bath – I don’t want damage to the plasterboard above the bath and to end up with another problem. Also a temporary plug on shower hose can’t be affixed as there are none available that will fit the mixer tap to the bath.

My insurance company has also finally agreed to accept paying for the necessary and urgent repairs (first notified on the 9th may), the earliest the plumber can get there to fix the problem is in 3 to 4 weeks time (regardless of the insurance situation this is the time frame I was given by the contractor), other contractors have stated longer time periods. ( I am chasing another contractor who may be able to do the work sooner).

The tenant refuses to accept the temporary alternatives, has accused my letting agent of being discriminatory, has stated I’m breaching the Equality Act and has rejected the options offered and insists that the change of mixer unit to a shower mixer unit is the only option (the agent has explained why the shower over a bath can’t be used, it would also take the same length of time to get the plumber to do all of the necessary other work too as it would to fix the shower).

I have tried to provide suitable alternatives to assist the tenant and have tried every possible way to remedy the problem asap. The tenant is also now threatening to go to the media along with legal action and is stating they have spoken to the housing department (I don’t think it’s the LA housing enforcement department but some social housing staff?) who allegedly agree with her objections. The tenant also states the mixer shower replacement unit alone (without tiling or shower screen) is ‘reasonable adjustment’, I have concerns regards damage as mentioned already and a also safety risk from slip injury from water washing over the bath edge and onto the floor.

Does anyone have any suggestions/remedies other than get the shower fixed asap which is what I’m working on. I will see how much it is to hire a bath lift (in and out of bath) seat as the tenant has previously stated only this would be acceptable (these units are around £600 +vat).

Thanks for your thoughts and assistance

RachelTiles


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Comments

Rachel York

14:32 PM, 22nd May 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "All BankersAreBarstewards Smith" at "22/05/2014 - 14:12":

I have managed to hire a brand new lifting device, luckily there is one available for use immediately. I wasn't going to buy one, that is madness.

I do have another contractor coming to quote who I'm hoping can do the work much sooner.

Regards the work there is no point in patching the job, it needs to be fixed properly or it will recur and damage the property further. There are contractors who can patch it, but this is major work not just a little bit of fixing and those contractors cannot repair the entire problem.

If this contractor doesn't come good, I will ask on the forum, thanks

r01

15:56 PM, 22nd May 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "All BankersAreBarstewards Smith" at "22/05/2014 - 11:59":

I couldn't agree more......

Doh. How silly is this ??? Tiles crack and wallpaper peels. It's called wear and tear but some landlords seem to expect their property to stay in the same condition forever.

I'd be furious with you if I were your tenant Rachel. You need to wake up, treat this seriously & use some initiative. There are thousands of people out there that will call out today if you offer to pay enough. Forget the "quotes and paperwork" - this is an emergency.

Pay whatever it costs - even if the insurance will only pay part, IT'S ALL TOTALLY TAX DEDUCTIBLE ........

Get it sorted now...

Rachel York

16:23 PM, 22nd May 2014
About 7 years ago

this is not a simple tile crack issue it's much more, perhaps i was too short on details r01 you must have a limitless pot of money to fix things in your property. But that's not why i was asking for advice it was what is reasonable provision.

I believe that reasonable provision has now been made.

Btw the damage is very very extensive and has not appeared over time and yes routine wear and tear maintenance is needed on properties to keep them in good condition. Wear and tear doesn't bother me I account for this and include this cost as part of being a landlord, this wear and tear is routine work and to be expected and yes it certainly is tax deductible. If it were small cracks and peeling wallpaper the bill would not be so sizeable. We are talking thousands not hundreds of pounds.

thank you to everyone for your input, I have contacted the LA for more contractor details and am chasing to get this sorted asap.

All BankersAreBarstewards Smith

16:52 PM, 22nd May 2014
About 7 years ago

If you plan to make a claim against your tenant in the future for these substantial costs now is the time to prepare a statement which you can ask your contractors to sign to give a statement that the damage ...... (describe it) ..... is as a result of sustained damp ingress because ........... (give reasons ).

Did your agent do inspections on your behalf and when was the last one ? If he has not done one what does your management agreement say about the frequency of inspections if anything.

Your tenant is obligated by law to "act in a tenant like manner" and whilst this is not defined in law, surely it includes the reporting of damage or leaks to the agent or yourself in a timely manner. I suspect that in any court case, or adjudication the tenant would have to prove that they reported it to you.

What does your AST say about reporting repairs ?

Rachel York

17:53 PM, 22nd May 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "All BankersAreBarstewards Smith" at "22/05/2014 - 16:52":

Yes my agent does inspections every three months and this is where it was just picked up.

and yes the AST states they the tenant have to notify of faults immediately (I forget the exact wording, but do have this). The agent has raised this lack of notification detail already, information and evidence is being collated already.

Good call on getting the contractor to specify their findings, I will include this. However my main concern right now is to get it fixed and resolve this headache!

Roy B

20:46 PM, 22nd May 2014
About 7 years ago

Every one seems to be having a go at the landlord. When I first read the query I wondered why the tenant had not reported the damage/leak. Tenant also said she was disabled and couldn't use the bath after and only after being unable to use the shower. The tenant DOES have a responsibility to report the damage, however it was caused - especially since it is causing further damage in lower rooms. The damagewas picked up on agents 3 monthly inspection. My queries are - why can tenant not use the bath with a chair lift supplied as a temporary measure. Why did she not report the damage and leak? Landlord appears to have given a lot more than required to placate the tenant who, has suddenly started making accusations of discrimination. Whilst I have sympathy for the tenant not being able to use the shower alternative facilities have been offered and contractors have been arranged, even though they say they will do the work in weeks rather than days. I suspect that the damage is a bit more than just re-grouting the tiles and replacing the shower screen. Personally I would not be renewing the tenancy because the tenant failed to report the damage and major water leak. I bend over backwards to help good tenants but always get wary when people start talking about equality and discrimination.

Rachel York

21:32 PM, 22nd May 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Roy B" at "22/05/2014 - 20:46":

Thank you for your support Roy B. It hasn't been easy at all and yes I am considering what you suggest already in terms of tenancy.

Yes it is very off putting when I have done everything possible to resolve this, and like you say, I also go out of my way for good tenants and refuse to let a property that is anything but in good working order (and safety checked and clean). I have always believed if you rent a property out that looks good from the outset there is the hope that the tenants will appreciate that and look after the property.

I know that doesn't always work, but using an agent to assist in vetting prospective tenants reduces the risks of getting a bad tenant.

Mandy Thomson

9:48 AM, 23rd May 2014
About 7 years ago

I only just mentioned in my comment to another article on here how property maintenance issues caused by bad and unavailable contractors is the major issue for landlords that no one is talking about, and given that most landlords are very small landlords I reckon that this accounts for a large proportion of PRS properties being deemed as failing to meet required standards. According to Property Reporter magazine, 58% of UK homeowners have trouble sourcing reliable tradesmen, resulting in a large proportion of repairs either not being done or not done effectively.
I very recently experienced a similar maintenance issue to Rachel - my tenant had learned of leaks coming from his bathroom to the flat below. It turned out to be two leaking pipes and the seal around the bath (it's a bath with shower over - that's the only bath and shower in the property) being broken. After being messed around by the buildings insurance broker who led me to believe the actual repair to the leak would be covered, and sourcing me a very expensive plumber, I was forced to cancel this plumber at the eleventh hour on learning insurance wouldn't cover - I was very fortunate enough to be able to get someone from Plumber Now who came out that evening. Over the course of two evenings, the leaks were mended, the bath resealed and the hot tap on the bath (unrelated to the leak) replaced - all for £99! Having said this, this was only last week and I haven't seen the work for myself yet, but my tenant isn't aware of any issues with the work. However, I am aware that Rachel's maintenance issue is more complicated, and as others have said, it also sounds like she doesn't exactly have a great tenant...

Devon Landlord

11:05 AM, 23rd May 2014
About 7 years ago

My advice is to give this tenant a section 21 notice immediately and get rid of them asap. From my experience, this type of tenant will start to run you ragged now that they think they have got the upper hand and that you have a vulnerability. You have tried to be reasonable but it strikes me that the tenant is not being, so get rid as quickly as you can, but, for sure you will now have a problem in doing so but whatever it takes do it. A small cost now will be well worth the potential stress that this tenant will cause you in the long run.

Devon Landlord.

All BankersAreBarstewards Smith

11:19 AM, 23rd May 2014
About 7 years ago

If she issues as Section 21 now this will for sure be seen as retaliatory eviction, and given the disability issues (a VERY powerful trump card in court) inherent here, I would suspect this tenant would go to a local Law Centre for advice and try to challenge the S21 to extend her tenancy. Before issuing any notice, I suggest you a) get this repair done and dusted, b) be as nice as you possibly can to this tenant, c) take your paperwork to a local solicitor for a read-through to ensure that you can actually issue a Section 21 notice which will be legal and successful ..... "Superstrike" court ruling has left us all a bit anxious about our ability to get rid of tenants.

I am paying a local solicitor £100 at the moment for him to read my docs to ensure a safe passage through a Possession order to come.

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