Letter to tackle persistent and unreasonable maintenance requests?

Letter to tackle persistent and unreasonable maintenance requests?

16:10 PM, 19th May 2021, About 4 months ago 24

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Hi, I have tenants that, for almost a year, are constantly requesting amendments be made to my property in Wales. For example, I had the property painted and decorated just before they moved in at a cost of £3000. They moved in, and the next day sent me a repair list of 38 items, one being the property was in need of full redecoration throughout. Another example is they want 3 hinges putting on the patio doors as they feel 2 are inadequate. And so it goes on.

I am more than happy to pay for necessary repairs, but this has become a constant and is distressing. I realise my only option may be eviction (as an aside there no other properties for rent currently in the area that they can afford so can’t see them leaving of their own free will), but given how arduous eviction is, I want to try a letter firstly in the hope they will see reason.

However, I just want to be sure that legally I am not compromising myself in any way. So here’s the letter in rough draft

Dear…

I understand, given your repeated requests for amendments to the property, that you are finding xxxx Road unsuitable for your needs. I am really sorry to hear this, as I always pride myself on being a responsible and caring landlord, and want nothing more than for xxxx Road to be your home, and not just a house. Unfortunately, I am finding myself unable to constantly financially meet with your expectations.

When you expressed an interest in the property you raised no requests for improvements, and accordingly none were agreed as part of the contractual arrangements. Obviously I am happy to carry out all necessary repairs, but I feel the improvements being requested are excessive and unreasonable. Please therefore can you bear in mind the foregoing before making future requests.

Your cooperation with this would be much appreciated.

Is that OK?

Lorraine



Comments

by Rob Crawford

20:25 PM, 19th May 2021, About 4 months ago

I think you need to firmly state that the house has been fit for purpose since before their occupation and that you have no obligation to carry out or fund modifications or redecoration just because their preferences change. Aside from the letter I would suggest when asked for an uneccessary change that you respond with a "no".

by DSR

7:30 AM, 20th May 2021, About 4 months ago

Also perhaps highlight that they signed the schedule of condition at the start of the Tenancy along with the TA which set out very clearly the condition of the property.

by Paul Shears

8:09 AM, 20th May 2021, About 4 months ago

I have encountered sometimes painful experience when providing additional value in recent times.
I have assembled the tenant’s furniture for them, helped them move out, put up extra shelving and rapidly provided many extra "additions" over the years.
Around ten years ago this was most definitely appreciated by the tenants and I received Christmas cards and "thank you" presents such as chocolates.
It was quite normal for every tenant to send me a card or message when they left, in which they thanked me for being a great landlord.
But as the years rolled on this appreciation slowly faded away with each round of replacement tenants.
I was utterly perplexed by the gradual change of behaviour. It gave me cause to examine my own behaviour for some sort of explanation.
But I had not changed apart from observing that I seemed to be doing more for the tenants than ever as the years rolled on.
Then a landlord friend of mine pointed out to me, if you set your own conduct bar very high indeed with some tenants, they just come to expect it and regard it as some sort of right. The service that I have provided could never be achieved by an agent. My normal response time is around ten minutes. Yes really!
I discovered from talking to friends and associates that young people these days, and less commonly, some of the older ones, have acquired a sense of entitlement and they think that every demand, no matter how unreasonable, should be satisfied.
I have not, however, had as bad a group of tenants in this regard as yourself, but pretty close.
E.g. "The boiler has broken and it absolutely must be fixed immediately. That is TODAY and not when a plumber is available."
Getting alternative emergency heating within hours and the boiler working within two days did not even result in an expression of gratitude.
So just accept that some people are awful and unreasonable or they will suck the life out of you.
I anticipate this behaviour will become more common and if you want to remain a landlord, as I do not, you will just have to put up with it and fight back firmly no matter how painful you find it to do so.
But don’t expect them to see reason or be grateful.
I am told that it is normal practice in Universities for a maintenance person to be doing an endless round of repairs to fix damage caused by students.
Well those same students eventually leave and become tenants somewhere else.
I will not take students but a friend of mine does. Whilst employing an agent to manage day to day matters, the students insist on coming directly to him even if it is just a light bulb that has blown……..

by Ian Narbeth

9:50 AM, 20th May 2021, About 4 months ago

Lorraine, do not under any circumstances write in the terms drafted. Sorry for this but let me pull your draft apart.
"I understand, given your repeated requests for amendments to the property, that you are finding xxxx Road unsuitable for your needs." YOU DON'T KNOW THIS. THEY MAY BE VERY HAPPY. THEY MAY JUST ENJOY SPENDING YOUR MONEY. "I am really sorry to hear this," DON'T USE APOLOGETIC LANGUAGE WITH UNREASONABLE PEOPLE - THEY TAKE IT AS A SIGN OF WEAKNESS AND WILL ASK FOR MORE." as I always pride myself on being a responsible and caring landlord", OK BUT IRRELEVANT TO YOUR LEGAL OBLIGATIONS "and want nothing more than for xxxx Road to be your home, and not just a house." NICE THOUGHT BUT ALSO IRRELEVANT. "Unfortunately, I am finding myself unable to constantly financially meet with your expectations." IRRELEVANT. IF YOU HAVE LEGAL OBLIGATIONS TO REPAIR THE HOUSE, YOUR SHORTAGE OF FUNDS IS NO EXCUSE.
"When you expressed an interest in the property you raised no requests for improvements, and accordingly none were agreed as part of the contractual arrangements." THIS IS THE ISSUE THOUGH WHETHER THEY ASKED BEFOREHAND IS NOT THE REAL POINT. THE ISSUE IS: ARE THEY ASKING FOR REPAIRS OR IMPROVEMENTS? IF THE LATTER THEN YOU HAVE NO OBLIGATION UNLESS YOU AGREED UPFRONT. IF THE FORMER THEN DEPENDING ON THE MATTER YOU MAY BE LIABLE TO REPAIR. "Obviously I am happy to carry out all necessary repairs, but I feel the improvements being requested are excessive and unreasonable." CORRECT BUT YOU SHOULD SAY INSTEAD THAT YOU ARE NOT WILLING TO IMPROVE THE PROPERTY. "Please therefore can you bear in mind the foregoing before making future requests." SORRY BUT THIS IS TERRIBLY WEAK AND THEY WILL BE EMBOLDENED.
"Your cooperation with this would be much appreciated." AND I HAVE JUST SEEN A GREEN PIG FLYING BY THE WINDOW. AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN!
You need to be sure that the property does comply with all relevant legislation and that it is fit for habitation. Their request for redecoration sounds ridiculous. I cannot comment on the patio doors but if they have been fine for years they are probably adequate.
I hope you have a good inventory and photographs. Some nasty tenants will may start to "create disrepair" and then ask you to fix it.

by Kulasmiley

10:35 AM, 20th May 2021, About 4 months ago

Hiya,

Just wondering what part of Wales this is in? We rent in the valleys. Maybe you can request an inspection?

by Prakash Tanna

10:38 AM, 20th May 2021, About 4 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Ian Narbeth at 20/05/2021 - 09:50
I agree with Ian. Be firm and to the point not apologetic. Fulfil your legal obligations as a Landlord and refuse the improvements unless of course you want to carry them out, at your cost, to make the property better for the tenant with the view they will stay longer.

At the end of the day it comes down to what they are asking for, how reasonable the requests are and what it will cost you in time and money. Only you can make that judgement call on the 'improvements' list of tasks. Goodluck!

by Jimmy Ragadi

10:45 AM, 20th May 2021, About 4 months ago

I can only do the best I can that is reasonable. When they signed the contract, they agreed that what they saw is what they get.

by Smartermind

10:48 AM, 20th May 2021, About 4 months ago

Have to agree with Ian, that draft is virtually a white flag of surrender. Do not write it. You should have put your foot down when they gave you the list of 38 improvements and crossed off all the frivolous improvements, eg the redecoration, and only carried out essential repairs. I suggest that you carry out an inspection, taking photographs as evidence, then next time they ask for an improvement, your response should be "NO", unless it is an essential repair. If it is malicious damage, then you will have the evidence of your inspection that the damage is self inflicted.

by Barry Clark

10:50 AM, 20th May 2021, About 4 months ago

Internal decoration, wear and tear are down to the tennant, as if it was their own home. We have a taker in one of our houses, radiators needed bleeding and wanted us to send an engineer round to do it, we sent a radiator key and a link to a you tube video on how to do it, you have to learn to say no to these people otherwise every week its more demands at your expense. We are a fair and generally agreeable landlord but there are those that try to take advantage, we wont pay for peoples changing tastes in paint or furnishings.

by Marlena Topple

10:57 AM, 20th May 2021, About 4 months ago

I agree with most of what has been said. In my experience clarity is key. Your tenancy agreement should set out your obligations with regard to repairs/maintenance and you should not hesitate to say no to requests that you feel are outside your obligations as landlord. I would not be defensive or apologetic nor would I comment on their reasonabless as this just invites a come back. If you have not already done so you might want to provide your tenants with a statement about repairs giving helpful information, examples of common issues e.g. dealing with condensation, contact details, and response times. We have done this in the past and have found examples on line. It is not unusual for new tenants to highlight lots of issues when they move in but they soon settle as their busy lives take up their attention. Alternatively it might be time to appoint an agent who should have no difficulty in fielding these requests.

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