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A trade body claims a quarter of a million private tenants are withholding rent from landlords who fail to make essential repairs to their properties.

The Association of Independent Inventory Clerks claims research shows that 34 per cent of private tenants have faced a home emergency in the past 12 months; only one in three were dealt with on the same day while almost a quarter took more than a week to resolve.

”Landlords have a duty of care with tenants and should be responding in hours, not days.  We had a case where a boiler stopped working for seven weeks during the coldest part of the winter, so no heating or hot water was available” says Pat Barber, the chair of the AIIC.

The founder of tenant repair reporting specialists Fixflo, Rajeev Nayyer, thinks this survey of tenants’ problems may show just the tip of the iceberg.

“The speed and quality of assessing and responding to tenants’ repairs will take centre stage in the next few months. We’re in an age of the Tenants’ Charter and mandatory redress schemes, so repairs have to be taken seriously by landlords and letting agents” insists Nayyer.

Meanwhile the AIIC - which says it offers independent skilled clerks to conduct inventories on behalf of tenants, landlords or lettings agents - suggests landlords should:

    - Attend to any gas, major electrical fault or water leak within 24 hours;
    - Rectify any cooker malfunction within 48 hours;
    - Repair other broken appliances like washing machines or dish washers in 72 hours.

Comments

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    ok, coming from a tenant.
    My shower broken on 21 December last year. it is still not fixed - today is 1 month. My anger is partly with contractor, who says it's a fancy shower, bla-bla-bla... But 75% of my anger is against agency. Maintenance girl ()Jess Knight from Breckon and Breckon, Oxford) can only say sorry, but not track the contractors visits/progress/updates whatsoever! i have to call everyday and remind that shower is still not working.
    This for sure can be handled by law!

    • 21 January 2014 11:11 AM
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    What agents and landlords need to realise it is that tenants are entitled to have repairs carried out within a "reasonable timescale".

    This is the responsibility of being a landlord and the fact breakdowns occur at inconvenient times such as public holidays is just part of that.

    A tenant does not have to go without "space heating" for several days if a boiler breaks down and a part is not available; the landlord should provide convector heaters or similar to comply with S.11 obligations. If not then they should consider a rent reduction for the period the tenant is inconvenienced.

    • 15 January 2014 08:47 AM
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    This is really being unrealistic. Aside from lack of available tradesmen, there are other things which make it impractical to meet this kind of deadline. One property I know of had a gas safety done just before the tenant moved in, but there was an issue with the gas fire so it wasn't usable. The part took over a month to arrive - right in the middle of January when every gas fitter in the county was booked up solid. Nothing is going to magic a contractor out of thin air under those circumstances. Then there are the tenants who won't allow access unsupervised, but complain bitterly that they can't be around at the time the contractor can make - whose fault is it then if the repair takes a month, because the tenant will not compromise or cannot make themselves available to allow the repair to happen? One of our properties had a shower fail, and rather than try to organise the repair by being piggy in the middle between the tenant and the contractor we just gave them a (sensible) budget for a new shower and fitting thereof and told them to get someone in to do it at their convenience and send us the bill for reimbursement. We were happy, they were happy, the contractor was happy and the problem got quietly fixed with a minimum of fuss. Where repairs are concerned it can take 5 or more to tango (tenant, landlord, agent, contractor, part supplier etc) and it only takes one to be difficult to drag the repair out. And the time it can take for a major repair where there's an insurance company or loss adjuster involved doesn't bear thinking about!

    • 14 January 2014 13:55 PM
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    Should the landlord be given the opportunity to get more than one quote?

    If so then it is unlikely that the suggested timetable will be impossible to meet.

    I do though take the point that landlords can be slow to attend to repairs.

    • 14 January 2014 12:21 PM
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    A better title for this article would be, "Stupid tenant repair reporting specialist should be slammed!"

    It is also worth pointing out that if a tenant withholds their rent they are breaking the terms of their lease. If they get too clever they could find they get an eviction notice before they get a repair. It can be a difficult compromise situation.

    I personally do a lot of repairs and a simple thing thing like ordering a difficult to find part can take three days because of postage times.

    There is something tenants can do for themselves. When taking on a lease look at the appliances and judge how old they are and very importantly, what make they are.
    If they are from a company like Bosch (NEF) then they are unlikely to fail at all. I won't give an example the other way but if they are cheap units from a high street DIY chain then expect problems. Boilers are more difficult but if they have 20 years of dirt on them then be suspicious.

    • 14 January 2014 11:20 AM
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    I don't know what percentage of this quarter of a million have unreasonable expectations but as the on-site manager for the private block in which I live (a block of 22 flats, 18 of which are sublet), I have some very unsavoury landlords who continually ignore their tenants requests for repairs, sometimes regardless of the severity. This is in breach not only of their obligtions to the tenant but also in breach of their repair obligations under the terms of the lease.

    As I write this I have a contractor supplied by our managing agent finishing off the new front door he put in my neighbours flat yesterday on the authorisation of the freeholder. The leaseholder landlord, after ignoring repeated requests from the tenant for the door and frame to be replaced as it was letting in water and soaking through her hall carpet was eventually the proud recipient of a second hand door (that didn't fit) and with no threshold!

    This was the icing on the cake as his continual ignoring of the tenant's request had already caused considerable water ingress to the flat beneath, something my attention was recently drawn to by the landlord of that particular flat.

    It is now being done totally professionally and the leaseholder landlord will be billed accordingly. The tenant is needless to say thrilled with a front door that won't leak, that won't need to be virtually kicked in in order to gain entry and won't need to be slammed for it to shut properly!

    It's not the first time we have had interior work done by our own contractors and charged the individual landlord and it won't be the last (that's when we're not passing the property to the council under HHSRS).

    There's a limit to how long a tenant can be expected to wait for repairs that are either never going to happen or are going to be crap when they do and I know for a fact that some on my block play on the vulnerability and the lack of knowledge of their tenants as to their rights.

    Unfortunately for them I know this stuff and there's been more than one landlord who has told their tenants not to deal with me, sometimes even threatening them with all sorts if they do.

    Having said that some tenants are getting more confident in dealing with their landlords when they have my involvement which is I am really pleased about.

    It shouldn't have to be this way but until we find a way of getting these unsavoury characters out of the PRS it is always going to be an issue.

    • 14 January 2014 11:14 AM
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    Clearwater revival?

    (Only people of a certain age will understand this comment)

    • 14 January 2014 10:27 AM
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    Correction

    credence

    • 14 January 2014 09:53 AM
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    The timescale that AIIC is suggesting is commendable but totally unrealistic as a maximum - double it and it could have some credance.

    • 14 January 2014 09:48 AM
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    Are the people who wrote the article homeowners?

    Tenants have every right to expect repairs in a timely manner (and I agree that sometimes this doesn't happen). However, things do break down occasionally and sometimes they take a while to be fixed.

    I can't guarantee that a boiler (whether its in a property I manage or in my own home) will never go wrong, and with the best will in the world, if it breaks down on (say) 24th December and needs a major repair it ain't going to be fixed in 24 hours.

    • 14 January 2014 09:25 AM
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    I once had a tenant who reported that his oven had stopped working. An engineer was sent out the same day who found that a component had failed. Unfortunately it was a NAFF oven so the part had to be ordered from Italy and took three days to arrive.
    The tenant then claimed for a rent refund for the four days he was without an oven.
    I pointed out that, under housing law, a landlord was only required to provide some form of cooking facility and, as the tenant still had a working hob, the landlord was meeting that obligation. I also asked him the rhetorical question of how long he would have taken to have had the oven repaired if he had owned the property?

    • 14 January 2014 09:06 AM
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    They obviously haven't tried to find a plumber recently.

    My shower broke - it took a week to find someone who wasn't too busy to attend as they were all on big jobs installing boilers or working on extensions.

    Half didn't even return calls.

    My daughter suggested I should call a couple of local agents (doh!) and Winkworth in Chislehurt came up trumps for which I was very grateful.

    • 14 January 2014 08:56 AM
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    Morris v Liverpool City Council 1985 (I think)

    CoA decision - a week is not an unreasonable period to allow a Landlord to effect a repair. And this was just a door frame that needed replacing in a council flat.

    So what happens if your boiler (or fancy kitchen work surface) needs a part from Italy?

    Or the boiler packed in during a severe cold snap when all gas engineers were working 24/7

    Or the property was flooded when all hands were on deck at similar properties.

    I don't disagree with the suggested timescales last paragraph - they are commendable targets especially in emergencies. But an agent taking a problem seriously can only do what they can do.

    Question for tenant to ask themselves is always this - if I was the owner living here could I have got this repair effected any quicker?

    • 14 January 2014 08:29 AM
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