Tenant’s poor housekeeping causing property disrepair?

Tenant’s poor housekeeping causing property disrepair?

8:19 AM, 10th August 2022, About 2 months ago 6

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What to do for the best? I have long-standing tenants (from 2016) who don’t appear to have done any cleaning since then.

The shower cubicle resembles a 21st-century Black Hole of Calcutta (i.e. it is black moulded from top to bottom) with the moving door parts so heavily limescaled that they barely grind into a closing position. The lead tenant reported her feet getting wet as she walked barefoot into the kitchen last week – her text said she thought there was a leaking pipe above the ceiling. Directly above is the awful shower cubicle.

I visited immediately. The tenant’s husband was equally clueless as to the leak. I haven’t seen much of him as he’s an HGV driver and is either away or asleep at times I’ve visited. The tenants arrived as a married couple expecting their first child shortly and all was fine at the time, with Mrs Tenant in nesting mode.

I can’t repair the shower cubicle in its seriously unhygienic state – and that’s the issue! There is likely to be more to it than failed sealant – but no tradesman would want near of it, for sure. I know what my duties are – but if the tenants are neglectful of their responsibilities to ‘keep the interior of the property in the same condition, cleanliness, repair and decoration, as at the start of the tenancy with allowance for fair wear and tear’ – does that let me off the hook with repairs to a well-used facility which is now damaging the fabric of the building? For clarity, I would have no issues with the repairs if the shower resembled being looked after.

As the main bathroom also has a full-size bath with a shower attachment on the taps, I wouldn’t be denying the tenants a bathing facility if I had the electric unit removed from the shower cubicle. This would give them the opportunity to clean it as fast (or slow) as they like. I’d be ready to make any repairs necessary when the shower cubicle is in a fit state to be worked in – and then happily re-instate the electric shower unit.

Would you – other landlords take the same approach??

Due to extenuating circumstances, I wasn’t able to make the usual checks following a new tenancy. Please follow the relevant information below and then apply the impact of the Covid pandemic on it – thank you!

Relevant information on the negative side:

*Mrs Tenant had a horrific childbirth experience and nearly died. She was in hospital for a long time after the birth and now has a No-Win No-Fee medical negligence case pending, which I know has caused her considerable distress to prepare. It’s also cost her £8k to lodge.
*Their child has been diagnosed as severely autistic. Thankfully the child is now in receipt of a full benefits package plus re-started educational support (which got cancelled during the pandemic)
*Mrs Tenant has an immuno-suppressive condition and couldn’t receive the Covid vaccine. She was shielding for a long time with their child.
*Mrs Tenant has been hospitalised more than once, as has her child. Her husband is often away at the time (and from my observations, isn’t involved in the running of the family household or childcare).
*Mr Tenant doesn’t speak English well enough so he relies on his wife to do everything in his stead.
*The family has no UK relatives
*They remain vulnerable tenants who are fiercely private about their situation. It’s not an open door by a long chalk.

Relative information on the positive side:

*Rent is paid regularly
*Communication with Mrs Tenant is great – however, it’s in and out of long absences but that is only sometimes due to health issues
*Mrs Tenant is an academic workaholic and is a published author – unfortunately, repairs reporting comes after all her deadlines are met. By the time I’m notified, things needing attention have been malfunctioning for a while.
*Mrs Tenant is a genuinely nice person and due to the multiple workarounds I’ve arranged for her with my tradesmen to suit her situations over the years, she is very respectful of me – which cuts both ways.

All that said, the issue remains: how do I sort out this shower repair without a dereliction of duty on my part? Is taking out the shower unit the way to deal with the house-keeping issue?

Depending on the result, a regular inspection regime could be implemented afterwards, particularly as matters appear to be more stable for the family now.

Clearly, after 6 years, wear and tear will become an increasing consideration from my point of view. As this family is unlikely to move, I need to think this out loud.

All your contributions will be much appreciated. Thank you!

Lord



Comments

Smartermind

13:16 PM, 10th August 2022, About 2 months ago

It's in your interests as owner to get the shower unit leak fixed. It's in your interests to get the mouldy shower replaced to prevent mould spreading elsewhere.

The onus is on you to mitigate the damage and get the leak fixed ASAP.

I am not a legal expert, but I expect if the electric shower was in place at the start of the tenancy, then you can't just disable it otherwise that could be construed as harassment, irrespective of whether there is another bath etc.

You need to negotiate with the nice lady tenant a contribution towards the repair, say 10%. Then you need to ensure that you carry out regular inspections, say six monthly. As you have allowed things to get to this stage, it's probably best to put it down to experience.

If the leak is an "escape of water" issue, you may be able to claim on your house insurance. We had a leak in the water pipe to the sink which our "nice tenants" didn't tell us about and we got our bathroom and downstairs hallway refurbished this way through a new for old insurance policy as the water damage can be quite extensive.

You also shouldn't be posting the tenants personal details here, even if you refer to her as Mrs tenant. It's not really relevant anyway. Just say "covid and personal health issues".

Lyn

14:04 PM, 10th August 2022, About 2 months ago

I would think that your tenancy agreement specifically states the property should be kept clean and free from mold, I know mine do. In which case the tenant is in breach of the tenancy agreement.
It's up to you how you decide to take this forward. But if you decide to keep a tenant who never cleans I would insist she changes her ways and have 3 monthly (at least) inspections.

DSR

14:32 PM, 10th August 2022, About 2 months ago

if you got photos of the shower cubicle before they moved in send them back a photo of this and what it looks like now. They can see themselves what the difference is. Contact them to tell them you will repair the leak but they need to clean the shower cubicle first so that a contractor can actually see what needs to be done - tell them you have explained the situation but noone will come out until the area is clean and this is NOT your responsibility. Without sounding condescending sent them a photo of a shower cleaning product on the basis they might find this of use and also details (google search) on how mould accumulates in such an areas so they can be 'enlightened'.
Do all that and then book a check in three months time.

DSR

14:38 PM, 10th August 2022, About 2 months ago

Reply to the comment left by DSR at 10/08/2022 - 14:32
also meant to add that explain that as you are now aware you have an obligation to fix the leak, but any delay on their part (they dont clean it) means that there will be a DIRECT delay in getting it sorted. Make them aware that any further damage will be as a result of their inaction not yours and that also means that you will not be responsible for any additional repairs over and above this.
If you can pencil in a contractor for say 2 weeks time - that way you can tell them you have taken it seriously and will make good but they have to act and do their bit too and they have this time in order to do this. Also drop a hint that if the contractor onthe day is unable to carry out the repair as they have not done their bit then a failed call out charge will also be coming their way.

LordOf TheManor

15:33 PM, 11th August 2022, About 2 months ago

Thank you, all - especially DSR - for assisting with this.

I have the AIIC Inventory & Schedule of Condition plus photos from 2016, so I'm going to take DSR's advice and let Mrs T compare the two herself. I'll also send a copy of the tenancy agreement as a reminder of their undertakings.and do that after I've been to see her at 6pm tomorrow.

I'll go with a bag full of cleaning kit as a 'goodwill gesture' and explain what has to happen next for the repairs to be made. I'll suggest she pays someone to do it if she doesn't like the idea of applying the chemical treatment herself.

Good point, DSR, about the delay they could cause by not getting on top of the cleaning with haste. Thanks for that. I'll let them know it's down to them when the repairs take place and I'll take photos of the kitchen walls as they are now.

I doubt I'll ever get a regular 3 month visiting slot due to the way time is managed in the household. If I get 'put off' I'll have to ask for a video presentation while I 'wait' to get in.

In an ideal world these tenants would be housed in the social sector. Realistically, I can't house them for life - nor do I want to - nor should I have to spend my future actively supervising a tenant's reluctance to engage with a housekeeping regime.

At some point sooner or later, the child's support structure will have to be disrupted by a house move.
As will Mrs T's time devoted to everything else bar the maintenance of good hygiene standards.

Anyway, thanks again for all the input. It's been much appreciated!

Lord

Jessie Jones View Profile

8:47 AM, 13th August 2022, About 2 months ago

Talk to them ! I have had similar issues with tenants who simply refuse to clean, put things away or put the bins out. But talking to them, explaining your own perspective and occasional visits can work wonders.
It took about 6 visits over a year for one family to clear all their rubbish, but eventually they did it.
Another property with tenants who don't know what soap is, or what cupboards are for, I gave them one month notice of an inspection and the house was cleaned and everything put away. Not to the level I want, but to a level that I can tolerate.
I was finding that I didn't want to go and inspect either property because of how the tenants were treating them, and doubtless the two properties will get scruffy again, but talking to the tenants did improve things sufficiently. Both properties are on my list of those to be visited far more often now.
I just hope that when Section 21 is repealed, the new powers to evict can include where tenants cause disrepair simply by not taking care of their properties, otherwise, in my two examples I would have had no leverage with which to encourage my tenants to tidy and clean up.

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