Compensation while works go on in a house?

by Readers Question

8:52 AM, 4th December 2014
About 7 years ago

Compensation while works go on in a house?

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Compensation while works go on in a house?

Compensation while works go on in a house

Hi all

This is a problem which occurs quite regularly; we do some work in a house and the tenants ask for a rent reduction while it is going on.

The current scenario is this:

We are changing a 4-bed, 1 bathroom house into a 6-bedroom, 2 bathroom house. Phase 1 is converting a large, drafty bathroom into two separate ones. Bathroom 1 will have a roll-top bath and shower attachment, sink and toilet and Bathroom 2 will have a walk-in shower, sink and toilet. Thus the tenant/bathroom ratio will go from 4:1 to 3:1 and the new rooms will be greatly improved in terms of insulation.

The work started last Thursday and is progressing well, with at least one of the bathrooms ready soon. The drawback from the tenants’ point of view is that there will be added occupancy as a very large lounge will be divided to become a bedroom and a smaller lounge and a very large bedroom will become two double bedrooms (the tenant here is most likely going to leave, but quite amicably).

Two of the other tenants haven’t said a dickey bird, but one tenant is complaining every day. Firstly, he said the builders were noisy and the house was dirty, so we visited yesterday and the builder said the tenant had told them he did not find them noisy and the house was clean – the builders are very good about cleaning up and are mostly confined to the back of the house. We pointed out to the tenant that the house was not dirty and so today he has sent another text saying that he cannot sleep, cook or shower. In fact, he can shower in the evenings no problem and also the workers have even stopped work so that he can have a shower in the afternoon as he often starts work at 4pm.

There is no reason why he cannot sleep – the workmen arrive about 8.15am and also no reason why he cannot cook as the kitchen is largely clear apart from a bathroom shelving unit being placed there by the builders in the daytimes.

So, to the question: what would other landlords do when someone keeps saying ‘it’s not fair I pay the full rent?’

If we gave him money then all the others would also ask for it and it is my experience that when someone asks for compensation they have a very large figure in their head, so no amount will please them and I then wish I hadn’t given them anything!

I’m toying with the idea of a case of wine and beer (finding out first what the tenants like) and gifting them that at the end of the works to thank them for their patience… NB. they are a very transient group – we let to them including all bills (and this particular tenant has apparently turned the heating on so high that others have had to open windows…). At least two of the four are likely to move within December and the complaining tenant had previously intended to leave in December too…

Anyway, I would welcome your thoughts, tales of how you have dealt well or badly with this kind of scenario.

Thanks.

Rosalind

Comments

Tom Doolin

14:17 PM, 4th December 2014
About 7 years ago

Rosalind

Reading the whole thread I fully understand why you feel let down by the community. But that’s exactly what it is, it’s a Community. People will always see things from their own perspective which may be completely at odds with your views. On another day on another topic their help or advice may be exactly what you are seeking.
The beauty of this site is that you get a cross section of views and you are at liberty to cherry pick the ones you agree with and can totally ignore the ones you disagree with.
Please don’t let it stop you from participating in the future. Your own opinions will be of value to some members and of no consequence to others.
I seem to recall Mark Alexander being aggrieved at a comment made about him a little while ago. Unfortunately I don’t remember the exact details. However he publically questioned why he even bothered to continue to support this forum and reading his responses there appeared to be a chance (however slim) that he was considering withdrawing altogether.
Thankfully it didn’t come to that and he continues to contribute and receive valuable advice on a daily basis.
If you were to drive into town passing 1000 motorists and came across two boy racers on the journey, would you give up your driving license? I don’t think so.
So please stay with us and rise above the comments you disagree with. Good luck with your predicament.

Harlequin Garden

15:03 PM, 4th December 2014
About 7 years ago

It wasn't meant to be unkind, but only answering the question you posed.

These works from what I understand are being done to enable you to take on more tenants so with the best will in the world cannot be seen as being done in the interests of any tenant you currently have. I'm sorry you don't like the response, but you are disturbing your current tenant and so I do think that he should be compensated. I had a very difficult tenant - disturbed the rest of the house with her continual moaning - she wouldn't leave until given 'formal notice' - the other tenants were happy enough, but she 'demanded' compensation because the washing machine broke and it took 5 working days to fix - one to get the man there and 3 for a part and one for the man to fix it - she deducted the cost of going to the launderette from her rent - the others were thankful it was fixed so quickly. Different tenants expect different things but ...... building work during the day to enable the landlord to get more rent .... hmmm I think you are fortunate that he pays any rent at all, the level he pays isn't important as he pays what he's contracted to (?).

The works you are doing are pretty major - and it seems to me that you are taking advantage of doing it at a time when you have leaving tenants to avoid doing this after they have left and so having a void.

Just my opinion, you don't have to agree - but it may make you think.

Dr Rosalind Beck

15:24 PM, 4th December 2014
About 7 years ago

Thanks Tom for that thoughtful and sympathetic response. When you are alone dealing with issues a kind word does help. As you say, I shall ignore the comments which have no resonance or relevance for me.
And in the meantime if no-one else comes up with any concrete ideas regarding 'compensation', I'll sort it out myself. It's a pretty small issue, but it is sometimes the little issues which bother us the most. You can't please all the people all the time.
But by the end of next week there will be two new beautiful bathrooms and I shall be very pleased with the upgrade of the house (the old bathroom was far too big and cold and we are having insulated walls which will be a great improvement).
Thanks again.

Michael Barnes

15:47 PM, 4th December 2014
About 7 years ago

Whenever I have had major works done in a property I have waived the rent for the duration.

Harlequin Garden

15:57 PM, 4th December 2014
About 7 years ago

Last word from me - as I really don't think Rosalind wants a measured response, seems as though you want to be supported in not compensating for being hugely annoying to your tenants. I can't say whether or not my tenants would allow me to get away with moving walls and major plumbing to bathrooms - I wouldn't even attempt it. I'm on my own as well - can't see that's a reason for anything!

Jane Reckless

21:25 PM, 4th December 2014
About 7 years ago

Hello Rosalind

you haven't replied to Mike W's question as to how you would feel if you were in the position of your tenants. are you going to do this? This question is a very logical start to constructive feedback and discussion.

Paul Thomas

9:46 AM, 6th December 2014
About 7 years ago

I've had a good read through. I will answer the question the OP has posted...

When I (2 months ago) refurbished the bathroom and re-did the kitchen (oh, added a laundry area too) I had waited until their were only two tenants in the property.

I moved them for the term of the works into another property (down the road) and gave them 50% off their rent.

When they moved back into a much nicer house I put their rent back to the level it was currently set at.

I now have a vastly improved house (more equity) and VERY happy tenants.

Would I do what the OP had done ? No !! Why not ? Well, if he can't see it he never will...

Neil Robb

13:13 PM, 6th December 2014
About 7 years ago

Hi Roseland,

The sad fact is the law says the tenant has the right to have undisturbed use of the house by the land lord and in many cases thing go wrong and need repaired. So therefore work needs to be carried out.

You stated the tenant did not attend the meeting before the was work started. Was that because he could not be bothered or had a legitimate reason for not being there.

I presume you informed him of all the work that was going to be carried out. By the sound of things your work man are being as considerate as possible.

In the last few months I have had plastering work carried out in one of my properties because the tenant stripped the wall paper and they were in poor condition I paid for the living room to be plastered at my expense. I told them I did not want the hall paper removed guess what the tenant went ahead and did it taking plaster of the wall as well so now the whole hall had to be plastered.

I would not consider compensating the tenant as I would not have had the expense of this work if they never took the paper of.

I try to plan repair work when the property was empty. Do you have another property he could move into while the work was carried out.

I would think the work is almost finished by now so when it is done. I would send a thank you letter to all tenants saying thank you for there patience while the work was being carried out. And if you wanted a gesture of good will say £50.00 per room.

That way the other tenants will think you are a decent landlord the one complaining might just think he got something not what he wanted but might feel he was listened too. As you say some tenants moving out so you would need to give them anything if you chose not to but over a bit of kindness would go a long way.

I

John

13:23 PM, 6th December 2014
About 7 years ago

I am doing a new bathroom at the moment. Putting in a shower and a new bath as opposed to having an old cast iron bath. They asked me for the shower and i said i was planning on an update and so said yes, but they had to wait 4 months before i could start.

I am not paying anything to them and they are happy they are getting a new bathroom with new flooring. The situation is different to yours, but clear communication is the best way forward.

I am knocking down a wall between a lounge and kitchen in Jan/feb and putting in a new kitchen. This will be a vast improvement and the tenants are happy about it all. I have stressed there will be big disruption for 2 weeks but they are ok with it. I wont be paying them any compensation, but they get a new kitchen and i get to update and add value to the house. Win / Win.

Nick Pope

16:39 PM, 6th December 2014
About 7 years ago

Interesting thread.

I have several rental properties and my view is that the tenants pay for the property and it is theirs for the duration. I don't call in unexpectedly for any reason and if work is needed I try to get it done without any disruption to them.

I don't think that minor repairs warrant any reduction in the rent as it is for the tenants benefit. If the provision of basic requirements (water, heating electricity) is interrupted for an inordinate period then I will give a reduction in the rent equivalent to the days without.

I have never done improvements with tenants in situ as they are always planned for a void between tenancies. I am lucky as I have a band of merry workers who will fit in with time requirements. In this case it seems that 3 of the tenants (including the difficult one) were intending to leave in December anyway so perhaps waiting until then would be better as there would be (I assume) only the 4th tenant to deal with who could perhaps be persuaded to put up with it the disruption for a reduced rent or choice of which bedroom to use in the improved property. Maybe this would also have been an appropriate time to blitz the decorations throughout.

I don't have any properties in multiple/sharing tenancies but in general the same principles would apply. In this case I appreciate that if the occupiers are on different tenancy periods there may never be set void periods to do substantial works.

However, at the risk of seeming unsympathetic, it appears that this work is purely to increase the rental income and will not benefit the existing tenants in any way and whilst there will be an additional bathroom the living room will be smaller.

The accommodation is to be increased from 4 to 6 bedrooms - is this an area where the local authority have opted or intend to toughen the standard on HMO's as if so the increase in accommodation might push the property into that category with all the additional costs involved?

I guess all I can say is that tenants need to be treated with respect and in the same way you would expect if the situation was reversed.

Nick

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