Damage to tenant’s possessions

by Readers Question

10:50 AM, 3rd November 2014
About 4 years ago

Damage to tenant’s possessions

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Damage to tenant’s possessions

Our tenant has informed us today that her £500 pram has been destroyed beyond repair due to a collapsed kitchen ceiling and she wants to claim the full amount from us. In a nutshell, I would like to know if we are liable please. Any advice gratefully received. Damage to tenant's possessions

To give a bit of background, 2 weeks ago on Sunday afternoon, she said there was water dripping through the kitchen ceiling and demanded an emergency plumber on the spot. She said it had being doing it since Saturday but that she couldn’t get through to us to report the problem. Not true, the phone was with us constantly, we received at least 5 calls, none from her. We declined this request and said we would have a plumber with her on Monday morning which we did. Our usual plumber was too busy to go but we used our regular handyperson who builds extensions etc and does small plumbing jobs for us. He checked the sink, under the bath (removed the panel etc) and whilst he found the floor and vinyl behind the sink was wet could find no obvious cause. He felt that the children may have overfilled the sink and it had dropped through. There was also no water dripping in the kitchen.

We heard no more until last Sunday. Same scenario, water p**sing through the ceiling etc etc, again demanding an emergency plumber. Again we declined and asked the tenant to turn the water off and we would have someone there first thing Monday morning. This was met with verbal abuse, being sworn at and the phone being put down on us. We were then called back to be told she was going to get her own emergency plumber and deduct it from the rent. We reiterated that this was not acceptable. Phone put down again… (Strange how this is always Sundays!) this time on Monday, we had our regular plumber who identified the fault as the sealant around the bath not doing its job. He jacked the bath up as much as possible but didn’t have time to rectify the fault. He said it needed to dry out and a frame made for the bath, new silicone etc. he returned to the property on Friday to complete the work. We were called again Saturday to be told it was still leaking and water was still dripping through the ceiling. The plumber agreed to go back again this morning. Apparently a push-fit joint was weeping which he has replaced.
We then received another call this morning, stating that after the plumber went, the ceiling fell in. He had already informed me on Friday (as well as the tenant) that it was vulnerable and I had given him the go ahead to get his plasterer friend to take the ceiling down, replace, redecorate etc. he had informed the tenant that this will be happening on Tuesday. So, all of a sudden, after he left , it caved in its her v expensive pram under it….. Why would you out a pram there knowing it was dodgy is my first thought? The plumber told me this morning that it looks as if they may have been pulling on the ceiling as it was much lower than Friday and that there was no water going down the sides of the bath when he left. It had been filled and blasted with water as a test. Of course proving that would be difficult,nay impossible no doubt.

Of course this could all tie in with her telling me on Friday, (I challenged her as my plumber told me she had found another property) that she is looking for somewhere else as the property is not fit to live in and that we don’t do repairs… She has lived there only 3 months. In that time, there have been new carpets throughout, repairs to window catches, replacement of a cracked bath panel, the roof ridge tiles repointed and £100 given to them for work they have done on the garden. Apparently we are very negligent as she reported this 19 days ago and only now are we doing something about it. The house is now suffering from mould on the upstairs walls, again in 4 years of owning the property, it was never a problem and this has been blamed on the leaking roofs etc. the roofer tells me there was no water ingress at all. Other requests we have had are to sort out the aerial, it was working fine on arrival but now isn’t for some reason and the kitchen cupboard handles which are rusting and new window locks for the upstairs windows as her 2 year old is likely to climb out?! Everything is usually accompanied by ‘this is not healthy for my children’

Quite happy for her to go away but not to then try and take us for a new pram, return of bond etc.
as I said at the start, any thoughts, suggestions gratefully received.

Apologies for the war and peace, it’s just that the devil is usually in the detail!

Many thanks

Julianne

 



Comments

Mark Alexander

10:54 AM, 3rd November 2014
About 4 years ago

Hi Julianne

From what you have said you appear to have been unfortunate in allowing a particularly destructive and nasty person to rent your property. There are always two sides to every story though of course and to argue with such a person can often lead to further damages, costs and stress.

If I were you I would want this person out of my property at the earliest possible opportunity in order to limit future stress and damages. I also think you should look to claim on your landlords insurance for all damages including the pram.

Whilst you probably won’t like my suggestion (it is likely to go against your perception of justice) I am going to make it anyway.

This is what I would do:-

1) Enter into a Tenancy Surrender Agreement allowing early termination without penalty and providing a full refund of the deposit.
2) Make a claim to my insurers for the damage to the property, the pram and loss of rent.
3) Agree with the tenants that if the insurers pay for the pram that you will give them the money (this will endear them to cooperate with you).
4) Make a decision on whether to re-let or sell the property after all damages have been made good

Link to Tenancy Surrender Agreement template template >>> http://www.property118.com/surrender-tenancy-agreement/67939/

Link to recommended steps to minimise future risks if you decide to re-let >>> http://www.property118.com/property-management-checklist/67891/
.

r01

16:01 PM, 3rd November 2014
About 4 years ago

Whilst he may be correct, I don't know the full circumstances so don't necessarily agree with Mark that they are .... "a particularly destructive and nasty person". They may well just be totally P'd off with what they consider to be your slow reaction to what in their eyes was an emergency situation.

Had this been me, I would have asked them to turn the water off and got a plumber out immediately after the first call regarding a leak was received as water is incredibly damaging both to your property and their possessions. At least they rang you..... many would not and a small job rapidly turns into a major one.

I always encourage my tenants to call me if they have any problem no matter how minor and I always react immediately. My advice is, if you cannot do jobs yourself and don't have contacts that can go out immediately, take out an emergency response plan such as British Gas or other organisations/insurers offer so that your tenants can ring direct whenever there is a problem such as leaks, storm damage etc.

My view is you should now make an insurance claim and include their damages as part of it and let them justify it to the insurance co.

All the best, R

All BankersAreBarstewards Smith

16:07 PM, 3rd November 2014
About 4 years ago

if she had reported that water had been coming through the ceiling for 6 days I would have been round there like a shot - Sunday or no Sunday.

I agree with Mark' suggestions - let her go and give her the deposit back - but only AFTER she has left the house .... its the cheapest fastest way in the long run.....

For the future - water leaks need to be looked at sooner rather than later.

Freda Blogs

16:12 PM, 3rd November 2014
About 4 years ago

Pram left in the kitchen? Really? Is the ceiling collapse above the floor or the cupboards/worktops?

I would want her out, but I would scrutinise her claim carefully - if you can be bothered, I would want to see and find out the make/model of the pram....

Joe Bloggs

17:54 PM, 3rd November 2014
About 4 years ago

sounds like an exploitative tenant from hell, but also sounds like you have been badly let down by your trades people so allowing her to take advantage. i think its ridiculous of your plumber to suggest the tenant pulled the ceiling down...as he not heard of gravity. and why did the plumber not tell her to move the pram if the ceiling was 'vulnerable'?

Colin Dartnell

18:24 PM, 3rd November 2014
About 4 years ago

I would check that your insurance company will foot the bill for the pram before you admit liability, especially if they send an assessor to see the damage and your tenant tells them you knew about the leak but did nothing about it until the next day.

Why, if you had been told both by the tenant and your plumber that the ceiling was 'vulnerable' did you not do something straight away, it was lucky it was only a pram that got damaged! Mind you it would take a very heavy ceiling to damage a decent pram, so it is a bit hard to believe.

It does sound like the tenant is looking for a way out of the TA if she has found somewhere else to live, as Mark says get rid.

Jools P

19:42 PM, 3rd November 2014
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "All BankersAreBarstewards Smith" at "03/11/2014 - 16:07":

Many thanks for your comments and advice. The point is, there was not water coming through the ceiling for 6 days. On the Monday after our original Sunday call, my handyperson went out, first thing in the morning. There was no water. I spoke to him today again about this to clarify. There was no wet ceiling, no water mark on the kitchen wall and no wetness at all near the fuse board that apparently only 10 hours earlier was soaking wet. I may not be very good at DIY but even I know that water which is coming through at a pace would surely have left some some of stain and dampness. It cannot possibly dry in that time?

The following Sunday's phone call was to say that following a week of total dryness, the water leak had started again. I know it probably seems like tardiness on my behalf but having got someone out the day after, the previous week, I felt the situation was similar but still agreed to get someone out the very next morning, which I did.

Jools P

19:43 PM, 3rd November 2014
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "r01 " at "03/11/2014 - 16:01":

Thanks, good advice. I will definitely look at getting some sort of contract on the boiler / leaks etc.

Jools P

19:49 PM, 3rd November 2014
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Joe Bloggs" at "03/11/2014 - 17:54":

Hi Joe

He said that there was no pram in the kitchen? There is a huge walk in pantry in the kitchen which is where the pram, vacuum etc is normally kept so why it was left there underneath what was known to be an area which has been leaking is anyone's guess....

The plumber said the ceiling whilst vulnerable did not look on the verge of collapsing, just that it needed to be re-plasterboarded where it had been wet.

Jools P

20:01 PM, 3rd November 2014
About 4 years ago

The fun continues. Today I have been reported to Environmental Hralth and have received another phone call from the tenant to tell me guess what... It's still leaking.... Now it seems it's the taps on the sink. Apparently a teeth clean has led to a 2 hour continuous drip through the now 'collapsed' ceiling.

The plasterer is going tomorrow to replace the damaged part of the ceiling and will investigate further..

Thanks again all for your comments and suggestions. I do just want her out and am happy to release her early. Hopefully I will still have a house left to re-let afterwards!

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