Tenant paid for repair herself at extortionate price?

by Readers Question

9:35 AM, 1st June 2020
About a month ago

Tenant paid for repair herself at extortionate price?

Make Text Bigger
Tenant paid for repair herself at extortionate price?

I have a tenant who had a leak from  the toilet cistern. She found a plumber herself who repaired the leak without telling the agent or myself as the landlord.

The repair cost an extortion£276!

When the agent later questioned their own plumber on the cost of the repair carried out they quoted a maximum of £85.

The tenant now obviously wants reimbursing for the £276 invoice.

Where do I stand as a landlord for covering this unauthorised cost?

Many thanks

Mike



Comments

Neil Patterson

9:37 AM, 1st June 2020
About a month ago

Hi Mike,

Was it an out of hours emergency call out to avoid further more costly damage to the property?

Simon Neilson-Clark

11:45 AM, 1st June 2020
About a month ago

I had same problem I gave the tenants my plumbers details but used a £100 an hour one as said he couldn’t get hold of mine £600 to change an element but middle of lockdown:(

terry sullivan

11:46 AM, 1st June 2020
About a month ago

a con--there are plenty around

i had similat years ago--replacemment of immersion tank heater charged at £400---was a limited company with 8 family directors

Clint

11:52 AM, 1st June 2020
About a month ago

Was the tenant able to contact either you or your agent? If she was able to contact you, she should have done that first. I think you should just pay her the £85 but the worst thing is that this could cause a dispute where, she might just either take it of the rent or stop paying the rent altogether.

In such circumstances, you have to weigh up what is best to do, and you and the agent are probably the only ones that can do this as, you would be the most likely people who could gauge her reactions.

If she was able to contact either you or the agent, she has definitely acted wrongly in getting her own plumber. For the future, I would suggest getting a landlord emergency insurance which would cover emergencies 24 hours a day 365 days of the year.

Simon Williams

11:55 AM, 1st June 2020
About a month ago

At common law a tenant may deduct the cost of necessary repairs from the rent. However, even on the Shelter website, which can be expected to look at this right in the most tenant-friendly terms, the tenant is urged to follow quite a strict procedure. They should contact the landlord and invite them to get the works done within a reasonable time. Only following the landlord's intransigence, should they get quotes for the work and generally proceed with cheapest quote - but only after giving the landlord a further opportunity to get the work done.

It is clear that even Shelter accepts that the tenant must act reasonably both as to whether to by-pass the landlord in the first place and in the need to accept only a competitive quote.

On the basic facts as presented, your tenant appears to have failed on both counts. I would point him to the Shelter webpage:
https://england.shelter.org.uk/housing_advice/repairs/doing_the_repairs_if_your_landlord_wont

And then tell them that reimbursement of £85 is all that will be offered. (To me that sounds generous for a cistern repair assuming not a genuine emergency).

But think about this: How much do you love your tenant and want to keep them in these troubled times? If they are good but made a foolish mistake, lenient treatment may be the way to go, so there may be room for a compromise figure.

Paul Shears

12:14 PM, 1st June 2020
About a month ago

This tenant is "Challenged".
This is exactly why most of my tenant applications to date have been rejected by myself or the other tenants they will be sharing with.
It is also why I stress in the initial face to face interview that they will never hear a complaint from myself, if they tell me that there is some sort of problem.
As per a previous comment above, I would be inclined to take the hit but explain the harsh reality to the tenant that they have been totally scammed.
There are a whole range of toilets on the market that cost less that this and I can fit any one of them for free.
Of course not all landlords are in this position.

NewYorkie

12:25 PM, 1st June 2020
About a month ago

Exorbitant cost for a repair to a leaking seal! I've just experienced the same. It was a 20-minute job. The problem is, the tenant believes she has no responsibility for ensuring a reasonable price and will have told the plumber she's renting. Happy days!

How do you know there even was a leak... and a repair? Does the invoice say what work was done?

But, as others have said, how much do you value your tenant's rent, especially now, and do you really need a dispute which you cannot resolve through eviction for who knows how long?

Provide a copy of the shelter guidance and offer 50%. If she won't accept it, perhaps a small rent reduction until the invoice is cleared? You won't notice it, but she will!

I hate to sound harsh right now, but I have a tenant who is taking the mick and not paying his rent even though he's working, because he says the papers say I'm getting a mortgage holiday! I'm not, and it's not a holiday!

Rob Crawford

12:43 PM, 1st June 2020
About a month ago

Mike, we really need to know the circumstances of the situation. Was the leak likely to cause further damage if left unattended. Was the leak spotted and rectified out of hours to prevent further damage and associated costs. Was the tenant able to contact your agent?

Simon M

12:53 PM, 1st June 2020
About a month ago

Take the long view. Although the agent quoted £85, another plumber might have charged a bit more. At most you've lost £185 - it's a small amount compared with the cost if they give notice. If you know the tenant is naive then it's understandable (I've had inexperienced agent's staff get ripped off too). Certainly stop it from happening again - they must give you a proper receipt so you can reclaim expense, and make sure they know they must always contact agent/you first.
If it's a good tenant, particularly one who has been with you some time, pays their rent on time, looks after the property, I'd probably write it off. If not but they're worth keeping in the current circumstances then be reasonable and compromise, eg agree they pay back a small amount extra every month.

Kabs

12:59 PM, 1st June 2020
About a month ago

You are at loosing end. You have to pay what ever the amount tenants wants and it does not matter weather tenant had the opertunity to contact you or not.

Remember landlord business is dead.

1 2 4

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

Guarantor agreement still valid after rent increase?

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