Water damage from baby sock?

by Readers Question

9:05 AM, 9th November 2020
About 2 weeks ago

Water damage from baby sock?

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Water damage from baby sock?

Due to a tenant’s baby sock being stuck in the filter, the washing machine didn’t empty, and the kitchen got flooded which also caused water damage to the flat below.

The tenant denies responsibility saying where in the AST does it say he is responsible for cleaning the washing machine filter? Or adding salt to the dishwasher or cleaning the cooker extractor fans/change carbon filters for that matter. And he’s right – there’s no mention of this responsibility in the AST

Can a clause be added to all new ASTs to say that tenants are responsible for limited ongoing maintenance of white goods along the lines of the above?

This will prolong appliance lives and avoid unnecessary breakdowns and repairs. This has happened before and was just accepted as ‘one of those things’ but tenants surely have to accept some responsibility here. Does anyone have some sample wording that can be inserted?

Any and all suggestions gratefully received.

Jonathan


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Comments

steve p

9:24 AM, 9th November 2020
About 2 weeks ago

I think even if you added those clauses nobody would pay any attention and if you relied upon it to make a claim was the incident poor maintenance or an accident.
.

Adrian Matthews

10:22 AM, 9th November 2020
About 2 weeks ago

I assume you have legal cover with your property insurance, what advice do they give?

John

10:34 AM, 9th November 2020
About 2 weeks ago

For me this is a case of could it realistically happen to you in your home ? The answer is yes. So the tenant is not really to blame.

If this type of thing happens again and again then yes you have a case.

But i would just leave it, repair the flood (hopefully insurance will cover it) and move on.

Ian Narbeth

10:52 AM, 9th November 2020
About 2 weeks ago

Hi Jonathan
There is implied in tenancies a duty to act in a tenant-like manner which means taking care of the property. It is not necessary to have an express provision. Unless the machine was faulty and that caused the problem, the tenant is responsible.
See from Shelter's website: https://england.shelter.org.uk/legal/housing_conditions/responsibilities_of_landlords,_tenants_and_occupiers
To behave in a 'tenant-like manner' - implied term
There is an implied term for the tenant to maintain the property in a 'tenant-like manner'. In one case this was described as meaning that s/he is obliged to avoid or repair wilful or negligent damage, and do the minor acts necessary to keep the premises in a reasonable state. Examples were given of repairing the electric light if it fuses and unblocking the sink if it becomes blocked by waste. The tenant's duty includes turning off the water and emptying the boiler if going away for the winter, but not if going away for a relatively short period. The duty does not cover fair wear and tear, which is the landlord's responsibility.
Suggest you tell the tenant that even Shelter will consider the tenant responsible. I would also not admit anything to the occupiers of the flat below but explain that the tenant's child's sock has caused the problem and they should sue the tenant.

David Price

10:53 AM, 9th November 2020
About 2 weeks ago

Do what I do. Do not supply any white goods, in fact I go a great deal further and do not supply anything, no white goods, no furniture, no appliances requiring PAT certificates, no curtains, no nothing.

I learnt the hard way that anything which is supplied is wrecked (often deliberatly) or stolen, so now I supply nothing at all.

john glynn

10:59 AM, 9th November 2020
About 2 weeks ago

It would be completely unrealistic to add such a clause to an AST. How on earth would you police it? Your tenant could check filter is clear but the same thing could happen again during the washing cycle. Accidents like this happen which is precisely why you should have good landlord insurance.

Ian Narbeth

11:05 AM, 9th November 2020
About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by john glynn at 09/11/2020 - 10:59It may or may not be the case that this was an accident. However, I am suspicious because the immediately tried to wriggle out of accepting responsibility. It may be hard to prove but I suspect water also leaked onto the floor. What did the tenant do? Think: "O, there might be a blockage. I'd better investigate" or watch the water disappear "O well, out of sight out of mind".

A few years ago we had an idiot tenant (claimed to be a builder) who regularly watched the water drain from his shower room floor but did nothing. Eventually the plasterboard ceiling below became saturated, water got into the smoke detector and set off the fire alarm at 11pm!

JohnCaversham

11:19 AM, 9th November 2020
About 2 weeks ago

My view is the same as David, i do not supply any white goods or furnishings etc-once bitten and all that! I used to spend my Saturdays removing and replacing washings machines and fridge/freezers up and down stairs as tenants moved in who had their own or they broke down so needed replacing, or even worse getting a call at some unearthly hour telling me the WM was broken and could i drop everything there an then and come fix it etc-never again! TBH a new WM is £200, and FF's are very cheap too these days, and i find most tenants are more than happy to supply their own.

Jonathan

11:26 AM, 9th November 2020
About 2 weeks ago

Thank you all for your replies which have helped to inform how to cover this off in our tenancy management documentation

Ian Narbeth

11:28 AM, 9th November 2020
About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by JohnCaversham at 09/11/2020 - 11:19
John, with the greatest respect to you and David Price, the question was not about whether a landlord should supply white goods but about dealing with a water leak.

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