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

Colin Dartnell

18:31 PM, 6th December 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Rosalind " at "04/12/2014 - 15:24":

Hi Rosalind

I don't think people are ganging up on you, it's more the cold light of day.

If your work has been done in two weeks then give them two weeks off the rent, it sounds as though you will soon recoup the money from the extra income generated with six tenants instead of four. And offer it to all at the same time, not just the one who is complaining. Some might then choose to stay and save you looking for tenants.

Dr Rosalind Beck

21:59 PM, 6th December 2014
About 7 years ago

Thanks for the latest comments. They have been very thoughtful and I appreciate your input. A lot of valid points have been made and noted. They will give me and others I am sure, food for thought.

r01

11:13 AM, 7th December 2014
About 7 years ago

How about approaching the matter from a completely different angle?

Perhaps talk with the tenant and explain that the works are being carried out in an attempt to keep his (and others) rents down as increasing the number of tenants enables the huge, ever increasing heating, lighting, water, council tax and other running cost to be shared by more people, enabling you to keep his (and others) rent affordable. The only other option being to increase his rents significantly, so could he please to be tolerant of the works, but you will understand if he prefers to seek alternative accommodation and you will not hold him to his contracted notice should he wish to leave.

Good luck

R

Mark Alexander

11:15 AM, 7th December 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "r01 " at "07/12/2014 - 11:13":

Good point RO1, and if the tenant chooses to leave, then remember to cover yourself by using a Tenancy Surrender Agreement >>> http://www.property118.com/surrender-tenancy-agreement/67939/
.

Jessie Jones

19:26 PM, 7th December 2014
About 7 years ago

Rosalind,
In any situation like this I would always look towards the AST for guidance.
If the AST grants the tenants the right to 'peaceful enjoyment' or anything similar, then it is you who is in breach of the agreement for the time that the works continue.
Worst case scenario would be all of your tenants moving into hotel accommodation and billing you for breach of contract.
So what would be a reasonable 'sweetener' to keep your tenants from doing this? I would anticipate that most tenants would be happy if you were to 'waive' the rent for each of the days of the disruption. Give too much and they will think that they can expect too much. Give them too little and they could cause you difficulties legally. Offer them gifts and they may interpret the gifts as being bought with their money. 'Waiving' the rent seems proportionate in this situation, and of course you are not really 'waiving' anything because you are the one who is actually breaching the contract. Maybe.

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