The issue of costs that are the responsibility of the tenant?

by Readers Question

16:06 PM, 30th July 2019
About 6 months ago

The issue of costs that are the responsibility of the tenant?

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The issue of costs that are the responsibility of the tenant?

Recent legislation prohibits the applying of fees to tenants. Our AST clearly sets out the exact nature of the tenants responsibilities during their day to day occupation of the property. For example if a light bulb fails it is their contractual obligation to replace it, likewise If the sink blocks, they damage internal fittings etc.

Before this legislation we would send in one of our approved contractors, costs agreed and the tenant would be sent the bill. Our managing agents say this course of action is now illegal.

How are we to deal with the issue of costs that are the responsibility of the tenants as they have agreed and understood by signing the AST?

Would really appreciate your opinion and guidance.

Many thanks,

Kevin

 



Comments

JJ

14:10 PM, 31st July 2019
About 6 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Ian Narbeth at 31/07/2019 - 12:16OK..so you have no miracle solutions or things I haven't thought of. The trouble with forever replacing and repairing things that are damaged beyond what would be regarded as normal wear and tear is that you are in effect paying the tenants' living expenses. You're paying for things they should pay for because you can't prove on the balance of probabilities that it was misuse and even if you suspect it unless you can get a report out of a contractor or engineer to say that it is misuse you have no documentation confirming that. The only solution if you have fitted dishwashers, fitted ovens etc. is to put the rent up.

JJ

14:15 PM, 31st July 2019
About 6 months ago

Reply to the comment left by David Price at 31/07/2019 - 12:17
So if you take on a property that has a fitted oven or fitted dishwasher do you rip these out and let the property without them?

JJ

14:47 PM, 31st July 2019
About 6 months ago

Reply to the comment left by anthony smiley at 31/07/2019 - 13:41
I have an issue at the moment with bins. Last autumn I was at my property. All the bins and recycling bins were full of unsorted waste. There were black bags of unsorted waste lying around that had been attacked by vermin. There were maggots and flies. The waste was spilling over into the hedge and blowing through into the neighbour's garden. The tenants don't put the waste out, but there would be no point anyway because if they did the council won't take it as it's unsorted. Because I want to get on with the neighbours I took the waste away. There's no reason for it; what you are allowed to put into each bin is clearly written on the top of each bin in plain English, and the tenants speak English.

I was at the property two weeks ago; all the bins are full of unsorted waste. So if you sort the problem out the tenant has no incentive to change his or her behaviour. So what do you do? Report your own tenants to the council? Wait until the neighbours get upset? You can't charge your tenants for it. Is there any other solution other than putting the rent up?

Freda Blogs

14:56 PM, 31st July 2019
About 6 months ago

Reply to the comment left by JJ at 31/07/2019 - 14:47Serve a S21 while you still can?

The playing field is not level and with the Tenant Fees Ban and possible loss of S21 as well it seems to be a lose/lose for a landlord.

JJ

15:12 PM, 31st July 2019
About 6 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Freda Blogs at 31/07/2019 - 14:56
The tenants pay the rent on time and in full. So in my checklist of:
1. Pay the rent on time and in full.
2. Look after the property
3. Don't upset the neighbours

They are still ticking box number one. I don't get the thing with the bins...there's a clue...what you can put in each bin is written on the top of each bin in plain English.

The point relevant to this thread though is that if the tenant does not look after the property under the present law your only options are (1) put the rent up (2) issue section 21 - and the tenant has no incentive to look after the property. The tenant can quite easily rack up costs that exceed your deposit of 5 weeks rent.

What I've done so far is write to the council and ask them to send the tenants the literature telling the tenants what they can put in each bin and when to put the bins out; I'm hoping that will give them a nudge. Clearing the rubbish to avoid upsetting the neighbours doesn't fix the problem, it just means that the tenants don't have to face up to their own responsibilities. But all that cost that you incur fixing things that you cannot prove are the tenant's responsibility and all that time that you spend trying to address issues you should not have to address add up to a lot of cost.

So if when we approach the end of this tenancy I advise the tenants that they can stay in but only if they accept a 15% rent increase (that would recover my additional costs) would I be breaking any law? And do I have any other option under the present law other than issuing a section 21?

Ian Narbeth

15:21 PM, 31st July 2019
About 6 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Freda Blogs at 31/07/2019 - 14:56
It is not just a possible loss of s21. It's happening: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/a-new-deal-for-renting-resetting-the-balance-of-rights-and-responsibilities-between-landlords-and-tenants
I will post more on this in due course.

lloydbuilders@hotmail.co.uk

15:25 PM, 31st July 2019
About 6 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Ian Narbeth at 30/07/2019 - 17:09
Hi Ian.
Thanks for that, I`m beginning to get the picture.
Our AST contains the following clause -
`Condition of Premises, Repair, Maintenance & Cleaning, the tenant will`
which goes on to set out exactly what the tenant is responsible for
eg- keep premises in good state of repair as of of commencement of tenancy, (save for fair wear & tear etc.), to clear, maintain, replace & repair etc., etc.,
Ensure that all smoke detectors and CO2 detectors are in good working order, to replace batteries when necessary and to check alarms regularly at least once a month. There are sixteen clauses in all but I`m sure you get the jist of it.
There are no specific costs or charges set out at all.
Therefore as I understand it should the tenant not carry out their responsibilities as set out in the AST they, strictly speaking, would be in breach of contract.
Consequently, if the tenant agrees with the landlord that the cost for the works required are reasonable and are the tenant`s responsibility, under the T&Cs of their AST, AND that the tenant asks the landlord to carry out these repairs,
then such costs would NOT be considered `Prohibited Payments` from the landlord but a charge from a tradesman or supplier which in this instance would be the landlord.
Your thoughts please!

Ian Narbeth

15:27 PM, 31st July 2019
About 6 months ago

Reply to the comment left by JJ at 31/07/2019 - 15:12
The Tenant Fees Ban has made it more difficult but you could include provisions in the tenancy that they must (a) sort waste into the correct bags (b) put bags out on the right days (c) only put out the number of bags permitted by the Council (e.g. Colchester Council collects 3 black bin bags a fortnight) and (d) dispose of any excess or uncollected bags within 24 hours.
You can then claim for breach of this obligation. However, you will probably need to employ a contractor and get an invoice. Trying to charge £15 an hour for your own time probably won't work. As we all know the DPS/courts consider a landlord's time is worthless. You can then claim reimbursement of the invoice from the tenants.

JJ

15:28 PM, 31st July 2019
About 6 months ago

Reply to the comment left by at 31/07/2019 - 15:25So under your AST agreement it is the responsibility of the tenant to check that smoke/heat detectors are working.
Is that legal?

JJ

15:31 PM, 31st July 2019
About 6 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Ian Narbeth at 31/07/2019 - 15:27
So the solution is changing the AST agreement. The AST agreement is actually the agent's standard AST.

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