Tenant neglect?

28 01 2011

Morning all,

A cold but dry day in Stoke today.

Thought we’d share yet more of the legal advice and help given to our enquiries from private and accidental Landlords recently.

Question
If due to a water leak from the tenant’s washing machine the vinyl flooring and the wooden flooring (green chipboard) are damaged, would this be regarded as neglect and costs down to the tenant?
Answer
If you are going to claim neglect, you would have to show some unreasonable action (or lack of action). If, for example, a rubber hose split on the washing machine so it spilt over the floor, this would not necessarily be neglect as it could happen to any machine. Having a washing machine that flooded every time you used it, and continuing to use it, would be neglect.

Question
Tenant reported that their shower is not working – only cold water, no pressure. Note: they have hot water and a separate bath tub. How should we respond? My view is that as they have hot water and a bath this is not urgent and could be dealt with in the future
Answer
The landlord has an absolute legal obligation to maintain sanitary conveniences (Section 11 (b) Landlord and Tenant Act 1985)  The landlord should definitely get this fixed
Question
To clarify so that this is clear. Although they have a separate bath, hot water and a working WC and Bidet and hand basin the stand alone shower has to be repaired?
Answer
Section 11 says a landlord must: “keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwelling house for the supply of water, gas and electricity and for sanitation (including basins, sinks baths and sanitary conveniences….” Note it is not a matter of the hot tap works in the bath so it does not matter if it does not work in the basin. Therefore having water in one sanitary convenience does not mean another one can be broken. Note the use of the plural of the word bath. It says baths, plural, have to be kept in working order, thereby even if there were two baths the obligation to repair applies equally to both. Applying this I would argue the same applies to the shower.

Question
A tenant is moving into a property, they want loft access but the Landlord is worried as it is not boarded. What can they do?
Answer
As the loft is part of the property, unless you had made it clear that it was not part of the tenancy it is not unusual for the tenant to want access. However, you should write to them emphasising that the loft is suitable for light storage only. Under the terms of the tenancy agreement they are liable for any damage to the property. There could be an opportunity here to sell them tenants insurance which includes indemnity for damage to landlord’s property.

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