Am I guilty of Disrepair, Being Unfair or Both?Make Text Bigger
A letting agent I use in Yorkshire has sent me an email today, as they have received a letter from the local council suggesting that I am guilty of disrepair.
This is probably a complaint in retaliation from a tenant that I invoiced, £97.87, for an emergency repair to her kitchen floor that had collapsed due to a water leak from her washing machine over a period of weeks that caused the suspended floor to crumble.
On the 21st June of this year, I was asked, via my letting agent, if the tenant could replace the kitchen laminate as her washing machine had been leaking and some of the laminate flooring in the kitchen had become warped.
Simple question, simple answer!
I had no objection and said I didn’t mind to the letting agent and thought no more about it.
Then on the 20th July, I got a phone call to say that the tenant had started replacing the flooring and had fallen through the kitchen floor and the house had now become uninhabitable.
To say I was alarmed is an understatement, so I cancelled my appointments for the day and dragged myself across the Pennines to find out what had occurred.
When I got there at 3pm, the laminate had been partially been removed by the tenant, or whoever was doing the flooring, revealing a rather large hole in the floor panels, where the tenants foot had gone through down to her knee.
That resulted in a hospital journey as the hole was knee shaped when I got there.
The reason, the floor couldn’t carry her weight, was that the kitchen floor was made from fibreboard and had been subjected to water for so long it had the strength of wet cardboard , i.e. NONE.
(The floor is suspended on joists above a 3ft drop to the planet below).
As I had limited time left, it didn’t take long to trace the source, (the washing machine) and I videoed the hole and then started to rip out the wet floor panels and more sections of laminate until I came into a section of standard floorboards underneath the laminate, further towards a load bearing wall, made of good old fashioned timber floorboards.
The timber was soaking wet and so were the floor joists.
The washing machine was suspended by the existing wooden floorboards and thankfully wasn’t in any danger of going through the floor.
I told tenant that I couldn’t remove the washing machine because there was no floor left to place its weight upon. It would have to stay in position until the rest of the floor was made load bearing again.
The only option was to replace two of the water soaked fibreboard panels, (the rest were intact), so I went to Wickes and bought some flooring grade fibreboard of the same thickness and by the time I got back the surface water had evaporated from the floor joists and I then got on with what I told the tenant would be an emergency temporary repair, so that she could use the kitchen again.
Whist I was removing the ruined panels, the letting agent arrived and was shocked at the extent of the rot that had set in and told the tenant that she might expect an invoice for the work,-as she had reported the leak weeks before and had only just started to remedy the situation.
I kept asking how the floor was so wet and I was originally told that the washing machine had leaked slightly, but that didn’t justify the amount of rot.
So I kept asking the same question in a different way for a couple of hours and finally I think I got an answer that made a bit of sense.
The tenant finally told me that the waste pipe of the washing machine had come off a couple of times and the kitchen floor had become wet because of it.
The waste pipe wasn’t installed properly, but I didn’t move the machine to check because I was too tired and I assumed it would be sorted after the floor had dried out.
To be honest, I was just happy that I had just enough time to get the fibreboard panels replaced so that the house could be used again and I think the tenant was also.
That was 8.45pm and I couldn’t stay any longer.
I told the tenant that whoever was doing her floor would have to leave time for the floor to dry out thoroughly, to which she agreed and about a week later I forwarded on my invoice for about 5 hours work, (at the minimum living wage rate), and the materials used. The total came to £97.87, which I thought was fair, considering it was her washing machine leaking and not mine.
So I went back to Merseyside and carried on with my life of Landlord drudgery.
Then last week I got another email from my letting agent that said that the tenant had told my letting agent she was going to ask her home help if she should pay for it.
I didn’t give that remark much thought, perhaps I should of.
Then POW!, today I got a letter from the Housing Enforcement team declaring that I am guilty of disrepair and wanting to know what my intentions are?
I thought I had made it clear to the tenant that the work I did would only be a temporary emergency repair and I wasn’t the person that would be carrying out the repairs, as they weren’t my fault.
So before I get beaten up by the council, would any Property118 readers like to advise on what to do or say?
Thanks in advance
Please Log-In OR Become a member to reply to comments or subscribe to new comment notifications.