Landlord responsibilities post break in?

by Readers Question

11:02 AM, 17th March 2014
About 7 years ago

Landlord responsibilities post break in?

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Landlord responsibilities post break in?

Dear readers, I am asking this for my friends who are tenants. Their 1st time Landlord (who was previously the owner-occupier of the house) uses a local agent & lives herself in another area of the UK.

The rear boundary fencing to their 3 bed modern EOT house was blown down in storms pre-Christmas 2013. The Landlord (via agent) has steadfastly refused to remedy until this week they gave option of fixing themselves & deducting from rent. Hey presto-it’s being done on Monday!

During a recent short break they were burgled. Police said access was gained via the (absent) fence to the rear of the house. Outhouse broken into, tools used to remove beading from wooden conservatory window then a complete patio door panel smashed & house ransacked. Freezer contents also stolen so thieves had a lovely dinner too. Front double-glazed door also damaged.
Conservatory window fixed-good. Front door bodged-they now have to physically lift the door to close. Patio door panel still covered on one side only with wood. Shards of glass remain in frame & periodically fall out. This is dangerous as 5 year old child in the house.

Their Landlord appears to have no intention of fixing the patio door. I am anxious due to the danger to their child, they feel vulnerable to further break-in & hence feel unsafe. I am also concerned for them that their contents insure may be invalidated by the fact that the slightest kick to the wood shuttering on the patio door would gain access to the whole house again.

My friends are a Professional couple who have rented before and are always complimented on exit as how well they have kept their properties. They both work for the LA and are aware of housing law regarding notice/eviction etc but find themselves powerless and worn down now.

All advice much appreciated.

Many thanks

SharonPatio door


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Comments

Neil Patterson

11:09 AM, 17th March 2014
About 7 years ago

Hi Sharon,

I am assuming they have reported/complained to the letting agent about the dangerous and insecure nature of the repairs?

Any normal Landlord's insurance policy should cover these sort of repairs to the fabric of the building so I am going to assume again that the Landlord has had the money to effect the repairs. If they were not insured that is even more worrying.

The Landlords buildings insurance should cover this as imagine you were to pick a house up and shake it. Anything that moves is Contents (the tenants insurance) anything that is fixed is Buildings (the Landlords insurance)

Your friend needs to get on top of this quickly and make sure they inform their contents insurer to find out what their position is.

If it is possible and I was your friend I would consider moving to a property with a more experienced and possibly long term Landlord like many of the readers here.

13:10 PM, 17th March 2014
About 7 years ago

Hi Sharon,

In my opinion, your friends have every right to a safe and secure home and the landlord is responsible for this.

Perhaps saying that they will deduct the patio door repair from the rent is the way to go with this landlord as it worked last time?

They could also contact the lettings agent and ask for their official complaints procedure and then follow that.

Worth also noting if an inventory was taken at the beginning of the tenancy, otherwise the landlord might try and blame the tenants for the breakage. Tell them to keep a record of the crime number just in case!

r01

14:08 PM, 17th March 2014
About 7 years ago

What an awful, appalling agent and one of the main reasons I don't use them for anything other than forwarding potential tenants.

Tell your friends to read their contract. They will find that the landlord is responsible for maintenance of the property and also for insuring it & affecting repairs. The agent should have been on the phone straight away to the landlord asking for the work to be done the moment your friends notified them that the rear fence was blown down, leaving the property exposed and insecure. Once there was a break-in there should have been an immediate rectification and an apology for not doing it sooner. I would probably have offered to pay the tenants insurance excess for them had I been the landlord and realised it was my failure to put up the fence that contributed to the break-in.

My contract, under landlord's responsibilities reads:- ".. (The Landlord) will insure the property and the items listed in the inventory (if any) and use all reasonable efforts to arrange for any damage caused by an insured risk to be remedied as soon as possible. The landlord to provide a copy of the insurance policy to the tenant....." Your friends contract almost certainly says something similar - or at least it should if it was professionally drawn up.

They should write to the agent requiring the landlord or the landlord's agents acting on his behalf, carry out the essential safety and security repairs within 7 days, failing which they will take whatever action is required to remedy the situation and pass all costs on to the landlord via his agent acting on his behalf. Should he or his representing agent fail to repay the monies spent on those essential works within 14 days of receipt of invoice, they reserve the right to commence legal action to recover their costs without further notice.

That should spark some immediate action. If not, carry out the safety and security measures and send the invoice. If payment is not received within 14 days raise a small claims Plaint but do not present it to the court yet - just send a completed copy of the Plaint to the agent for the attention of the landlord stating a date (approx 14 days time), it will be presented to the court (that way there are no fees as yet), should the landlord, or his agent acting on his behalf fail to refund the costs contained in their invoice (for which they of course must have all receipts). I have done this numerous times in some 20 years running a business and never yet issued an official Plaint and had it ignored, so have in most cases had the money owed paid by return.

Your friends may well have the legal assistance extension to their own contents policy and if they do, they should speak with their own insurers first before firing off any letters.

Good luck to your friends and I also suggest that whenever they are looking for accommodation in the future they pay as much attention to how long term the landlord is as much as to the property.

R

Simon Coppen

16:08 PM, 17th March 2014
About 7 years ago

Is there another issue that has been missed here - it appears, from the last paragraph of the original post, that the tenants are also the letting agents? Maybe the tenants are not directly involved with the letting of this property, but it sounds as if their branch/agency is.

Since they work for the LA, you would have thought that it would have been easy to apply some pressure on the landlord to see sense and get things sorted. Or, are the tenants (LA employees) fearful of their seniors and being told not to upset 'the client'? Maybe Sharon could clarify the tenant/LA/Landlord relationship...

Marilyn Solomon

19:42 PM, 17th March 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Simon Coppen" at "17/03/2014 - 16:08":

I take 'LA' to mean Local Authority, as an ex employee of ours, this was the regular term used.

r01

20:12 PM, 17th March 2014
About 7 years ago

I assume LA stands for "Local Authority", not local agent.....

R

Sharon

20:52 PM, 17th March 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Marilyn Solomon" at "17/03/2014 - 19:42":

Hi, sorry for using jargon. BY 'LA' I did mean Local Authority

Sharon

20:52 PM, 17th March 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "r01 " at "17/03/2014 - 20:12":

Hi, ditto previous comment. LA is Local Authority

Sharon

20:55 PM, 17th March 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Simon Coppen" at "17/03/2014 - 16:08":

Hi, they are both Local Authority employees. One in audit & one as a benefit assessor with a fraud background. They are intending to find another property as soon as possible but are hoping to buy this year and don't want another rental move if they can avoid it.

Sharon

21:02 PM, 17th March 2014
About 7 years ago

Thank you to everyone for the helpful and experienced comments which I shall pass on to my friends. I think the legal assistance angle on their own policy (or maybe via their Union if they are in one) is a useful and interesting angle.

I do feel sure that a lot of the problem is due to the inexperience of the Landlady and also they can't be sure how much the agent is passing on to the Landlady. Coupled with the fact that it was the L/L home so she thinks it's perfect (she moved geographically for work reasons and let instead of selling). The agent's actions all seem to be driven by not upsetting their client but not helping the tenant.

Thank you again

The L/L has appointed 'someone' to fix a few issues and seems to be claiming on her insurance policy, however the 'operative' phoned my friend and asked her 'how much are you looking for' in terms of the insurance claim. He was told that they want repair etc & they are not policyholders & he just wanted to give an estimate by telephone without even visiting.

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