Tenant being difficult after leak?

by Readers Question

13:20 PM, 9th February 2016
About 3 years ago

Tenant being difficult after leak?

Make Text Bigger
Tenant being difficult after leak?

we are renting out our family home in London,having recently moved abroad. Unfortunately there has been a leak at the property (water mains, not our liability) which has caused damp issues in the lower ground floor. rebate

We are actively pursuing the matter with our insurers and have promised to the tenants to make good, but they are seeking a rent rebate for inconvenience, claim the damp has caused ill health and general dissatisfaction with the condition of the property.

Our insurance policy includes cover for loss of rental income if they move out, but not for giving rebates. We can ill-afford a rebate as we depend on the rental income to cover the rent in our new home. However tenants are now threatening legal action.

We’d be grateful for any advice!

Ros



Comments

Annie Landlord

14:02 PM, 9th February 2016
About 3 years ago

Hi Ros, we have had a similar problem recently. Does your AST state that you will reduce rent by the number of days a tenant has to vacate the property due to emergency repairs? It is the AST that binds the contract. So, if the tenant feels it would be best to move out while the repairs are undertaken they can negotiate with you to do so and you will reduce the rent by the number of days they are out of the property. You might wish to ask them how they think compensation is supposed to eradicate health issues?? ASTs don't normally include 'compensation' for inconvenience. If you are a member of NLA or RLA (I hope you are!) you can ring their advice lines

Dr Rosalind Beck

14:11 PM, 9th February 2016
About 3 years ago

Hi Ros
The Guild of Residential Landlords is also very good at this sort of thing. I think it costs about £80 annual membership. Adrian there will then give you the advice you need. One thing he always says though is to generally not give compensation as give an inch and they'll take a mile and I have found this to nearly always be the case when someone 'demands' compensation. All the best.

Ros Davies

14:20 PM, 9th February 2016
About 3 years ago

HI, thank you Annie & Ros, much appreciated. The AST only provides for rent reduction if the entire property is rendered uninhabitable, and I'm sure our loss adjuster will not agree that it is uninhabitable (nor would I). I'll try these other bodies - there seem to be a few of them, is there any one that stands out?

Dr Rosalind Beck

14:34 PM, 9th February 2016
About 3 years ago

Like I say, Ros, the Guild of Residential Landlords and its boss, Adrian, have been great over the years with advice for this kind of thing. You will also be able to access all his documentation if and when you need it, which is regularly updated - eg. if you need to evict in the future. He can also advise on all other stuff like deposit legislation and so on. He has saved me a lot of stress and money over the years - even though I can sometimes not need advice for a couple of years. So I can't speak too highly of him (he hasn't paid me to say this!)
If you join can you mention that I recommended them (I'm Ros Beck). All the best with this and don't agree to anything until you've taken advice!

Ros Davies

14:38 PM, 9th February 2016
About 3 years ago

Brilliant, thanks!

Kate Mellor

13:53 PM, 11th February 2016
About 3 years ago

As a fellow landlord (not solicitor), my reaction to this would be to write to my tenant and advise them in the first instance as follows:

You (LL) have acted in good faith and done/are doing all that can reasonably be expected in the circumstances to rectify the damage and that in accordance with their contractual agreement (signed AST) they (T) are liable to continue paying rent unless the property is entirely uninhabitable which must be by agreement of the appointed loss adjuster who you will ask to make a formal ruling on this matter. You have not viewed the property damage not being in the country, the loss adjuster however has and is a professional in this area. If they (T) are unhappy with the loss adjusters decision then it is their right to seek compensation for their inconvenience etc with the body which caused their loss and is at fault for the leak which is whoever your mains water supplier is in the area (Thames Water?) and not yourself. Their first port of call therefore should be to ask Thames Water (or whoever it is) for information about their compensation claims procedure and they should fill in the relevant claim form and submit it to them directly. Any damage to personal items or furniture must by made good via the tenants own contents insurance.

This redirects your tenants complaints in the correct direction of party responsible for their inconvenience and gives them an active approach to take via the utility companies claims procedure. It also reminds them that they have signed a contract the terms of which they've agreed to and redirects the decision making process to the door of the loss adjuster and not you.

Perhaps you could ask the insurer to pay for the hire of a dehumidifier or two whilst the property dries out, or if they won't agree, cover the cost yourself as a gesture of goodwill?

Best of luck Ros

Chris Byways

15:00 PM, 11th February 2016
About 3 years ago

This may be of interest, contrary to first reports of NFU persuing tenant, the outcome was the opposite.

http://www.insurancetimes.co.uk/high-court-rules-tenants-are-covered-by-landlords-insurance/1417300.article

The earlier articles was indicating a concern for the tenant....
https://www.landlordtoday.co.uk/breaking-news/2016/2/landlords-insurer-pursues-tenant-for-damages

Ros Davies

17:39 PM, 11th February 2016
About 3 years ago

Thanks Kate and Chris, both very helpful.


Leave Comments

Please Log-In OR Become a member to reply to comments or subscribe to new comment notifications.

Forgotten your password?

OR

BECOME A MEMBER

Millennials stumble on the Property Ladder

The Landlords Union

Become a Member, it's FREE

Our mission is to facilitate the sharing of best practice amongst UK landlords, tenants and letting agents

Learn More