Property has a leak. What are my obligations?

25 03 2010

Question

My tenants have discovered a leak. A broken drain is causing water (not waste) to flood into the property. I have made arrangements to have the problem fixed as soon as possible. However, it will likely take some time.

About a quarter of the property is affected. The tenant has requested I re-house him whilst the problem is being sorted. What are my obligations in this situation?

Answer

The answer to this depends on whether the property is still habitable. This is a judgment call (ie, for the council to decide). If the flooding prevents reasonable movement around the property, or if it is causing a dangerous situation (to the electrics for instance) then it may not be habitable.

However, if the house is non-habitable due to flooding you as the landlord do not have any legal obligation to re-house. This obligation falls on the local authority. Unfortunately you will not be able to charge rent on the property until it is returned to a habitable state.

Follow up question


Question

The tenant is now requesting that his belongings to be removed and stored until the drains are repaired. Is this my responsibility, as he is asking that I pay for this?

Answer

You do not have any legal obligation to provide storage no. Although it would almost certainly be worth working with the tenant on this one. Remember, if the tenant decides to leave at the end of their tenancy, you will have the costs of vacancy, and a re-letting fee. It is always worth trying to keep a good tenant.

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