Tenant withholding rent due to boiler problems

by Readers Question

10:06 AM, 10th June 2020
About 3 months ago

Tenant withholding rent due to boiler problems

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Tenant withholding rent due to boiler problems

I have a tenant who has decided to withhold her rent for each day the hot water has been off. Is she being reasonable or am I right to be miffed?

I have had a few problems with my boiler lately, but also pay for a gold service plan with the manufacturer. Unfortunately they usually take a day or two to send an engineer. The tenant insists that I should call out an emergency plumber to deal with the problem within 24 hrs and has sent me a list of people who could come. I answer her calls late at night and weekends and always respond asap, but because my magic wand doesn’t always work as quickly as she’d like, she insists I’m a bad landlord.

Thankfully she’s handed in her notice! but in the meantime how should I handle her rent reductions?

Also, while I’m on – this is the third call out to the boiler in as many months, and the last engineer said the problem could occur again and I should get a new boiler, but my plan states that if it can’t be repaired, they will replace it. I’ve been paying the company for years, when can I expect them to replace it? Should I be chasing them up now?

Thanks in advance for all the brilliant advice I know I will get. This site is such a support to all us ‘lonely’ landlords.

Regards to all

Linda



Comments

Graham Bowcock

11:37 AM, 10th June 2020
About 3 months ago

Boilers are sent to try landlords.

I'm with you that what you have done seems reasonable. Tenants often cite "emergency plumbers", but they very rarely offer the promised service and eve then do not stock the necessary parts. It is a fact that parts have to be ordered sometimes. It's the same in my own house - we've been without a boiler pending plumbers and parts.

There's no obligation to use an emergency plumber, as long as there is some positive action on the landlord's part.

When I've had boilers fail I am generally sympathetic to my tenants (who are by and large reasonable people), but it has to be on a case by case basis. I do sometimes acknowledge the issue financially, but it depends on circumstances. In the middle of winter, a young family with a combi boiler and no electric shower will be worse off than a single person in June, perhaps where there is a separate shower. there's no rules.

It does sound like you need to pursue getting a new boiler.

terry sullivan

12:44 PM, 10th June 2020
About 3 months ago

most plumbers from eg bg are told to sell new boilers and will tell you parts not available--parts are nearly always available

ps if boris persists gas boilers will soon be totally banned--hes off his head?

David Harris

15:42 PM, 10th June 2020
About 3 months ago

Hi Linda, I cannot believe your story is very similar to my experience I recently had. My tenant contacted me to say her heating was not working but she had hot water. As soon as I received the message first thing Monday morning I contacted my plumber who had only installed the boiler a couple of years previous. He said to contact Baxi as any work he might do could invalidate the warranty. I then went over to the property within half an hour of her call to see if there was a simple fix. I also took her a oil filled electric radiator to use. Unfortunately there was not and I then spent ages on the phone in front of her to try and contact Baxi. I then left saying I would continue to try and get Baxi to get an engineer out ASAP. I then spent the rest of Monday morning on the phone and by midday had managed to get Baxi to contact her and arrange for an engineer to visit. The engineer duly arrived and repaired the boiler first thing on the Wednesday morning of the same week. Imagine my surprise when she then presented me with a bill for extra use of electricity in running the portable electric heater and two more she said she had purchased. The bill for £33.42 pence covered use of the heaters running continuously until the boiler was repaired. She also complained that I had not got it sorted quickly enough as she was 'top priority' having two young children and works from home. I then contacted my Landlords association and housing standards of my local council who confirmed I had acted as quickly and professionally as I could have done. However with her constant moaning and threatening behavior I relented and knocked 'her bill' of the following months rent. She had informed me a couple of months previous that she was going to hand her notice in shortly which she did and good riddence! The law does state you have to respond in a reasonable time but there is nothing to say how long this is. If the boiler is faulty I would suggest you replace it as it saves a lot of hassle.

Rush001

18:43 PM, 10th June 2020
About 3 months ago

For starters, I would stop taking calls late at night and responding to everything every time. I'm sure they'll message you if they can't reach you. Tell them to do so.

Have contingency for emergencies, of course. You being on standby 24/7 is not it.

Asses what is reasonable and respond accordingly.

Emergency plumber is for EMERGENCY. Boiler suddenly not working late at night is not emergency.

And to answer your questions
- do chase up with them. Or maybe the engineer will find out it needs replacing and save you the trouble but do ask
- if the engineers are coming out in a day or two from the date of reporting, I would NOT take any bs about rent reduction unless they took longer to actually fix the problem.

Super Dario

23:06 PM, 10th June 2020
About 3 months ago

Totally agree with Rush001. I've had my fair share of issues with boilers over the years and the tenants have generally been very understanding and appreciative that issues do occur and it takes time to get an engineer out, especially when you have service plans. You do, however, get the odd tenant who will insist on making matters more stressful than they need to be. I've created a management document, including privacy policy, repair timescales, defect logging and the such, which has all the information a tenant needs when renting a property I own. In that I've stated that boiler repairs will be attempted in a reasonable time frame (dependant on the manufacturer availability). Any issues and I've always referred tenants back up that document for most things. It's issued to them before they move in and even if they don't read it, they acknowledge that they've received it. This usually gives me some respite when dealing with problematic tenants. I used to try and be available 24/7, but I've learnt with time, you can't please everyone, plus, landlords deserve time to themselves too. Just my two pennies.

SimonR

15:17 PM, 11th June 2020
About 3 months ago

sorry but if the boiler has needed 3 repairs in 23 months then she has every right to be annoyed, legally she cant withhold rent.

If you were having to wait a few days every month for a repair at home I'm sure you would get it replaced so why do you think your tenant doesn't deserve the same.

SimonR

15:32 PM, 11th June 2020
About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by SimonR at 11/06/2020 - 15:17
Sorry 3 repairs in 3 months, was unable to edit

Jessie Jones

11:26 AM, 13th June 2020
About 3 months ago

If it was the middle of a very cold winter, she was unable to use the property at all, and had to move out, she might well be entitled to withold the rent. But she has continued to live in the property so she is liable for the rent.
I would offer her a reasonable amount to compensate for her increase in electricity costs for each day, which might be a couple of quid, and then seek to recover any unpaid rent from her deposit. I have no experience, but I can't imagine any of the deposit protection schemes having issue with this.


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