Two bathrooms. Big damp issue in one. Tenants entitled to rent rebate if not fixed?

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    Two bathrooms. Big damp issue in one. Tenants entitled to rent rebate if not fixed?

    I'm renting a 4-bed Victorian terrace to students, their one year lease expires on 1st August 2020.

    In December, damp and mould appeared on the external wall in the basement bathroom, and, to a lesser extent, in the rear basement bedroom adjoining the bathroom. We had a problem in the same areas before, in 2016, and a remedial damp course was provided. However, the damp has returned The builder has exposed the brickwork in the bathroom and found a) water is penetrating from the balcony above, which means structural repairs there b) rising damp which needs major work - basically stripping out the whole bathroom, and improving the drainage at the rear of the property

    My longterm plan has always been to subdivide the house into two or three flats, and build a rear extension and roof extension (other houses on the road have done this, so no problems anticipated with approval.) The exterior, generally, needs attention, the last work was done 10 years ago. In view of this and the fact that the basement problems have resurfaced, it's obvious that major work needs to happen sooner rather than later. And that it would be better to bring plans to subdivide and extend the property forward. Extending the property would entail demolishing the problem walls and a new drainage system, so any major remedial work done to these areas would be wasted.

    My question is regarding my tenants rights during the remainder of their tenancy (six months.) The property has a second bathroom on the top floor and a toilet on the raised ground floor. So legally, sanitary facilities are present. If only very minimal work is done to rectify the damp patches in the affected bedroom, and the basement bathroom is left in its current state (it's pretty much unusable as the toilet and part of the tiling around the shower has been removed) should the tenants have a refund, during the remainder of the term, and if so how much?

    The builder says the bedroom will be out of use for one week, and I plan to refund 25% of the week's total rent to reflect this. I also plan to provide the tenants with the option to vacate a few weeks earlier, when the academic year ends.

    Fixing up the bathroom to the extent that it's fully usable with no damp showing (but not addressing rising damp) would cost in the region of Ā£6k, fully addressing the problem would be double that. I don't believe my insurance would cover the remedial work.

    Apologies if I'm proving to much unnecessary information, but I might add that the house is on a large mortgage, and I'll need a loan to fund part of the major work I plan to do.

    I'd be grateful for any advice regarding rent rebate due, and whether I'm obliged to fix up the basement bathroom.

    #2
    You are obliged to offer the tenants the facilities that were what they committed to - if they viewed the property with two bathrooms, they're entitled to expect to be provided with two bathrooms throughout their lease.

    I think it's a matter for negotiation (and, if the tenants are on a joint tenancy they'll have to be unanimous). Worst case (for you) is that they insist on the work being done to get the bathroom functional again, so that's your base point for the negotiation.
    But I think that's the default option if they don't want anything else.

    On the plus side, students tend to be short of money, so they may find a rent reduction appealing.
    When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
    Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

    Comment


      #3
      I also think you should put yourself (or your child) in the situation and consider what you think is fair. If my daughter was unable to use one of 2 bathrooms for half her tenancy I would be most unhappy. Although 1 bathroom between 4 is legal it is not what they signed up for and to be fair, you already knew you had a problem.

      I would suggest you come up with a couple of options and negotiate with your tenants - they may prefer a rent reduction, but if they want the bathroom usable you need to find a solution, even if only temporary.

      Comment


        #4
        OP's fault not having sufficient cash reserves to cope with the unexpected. Negotiate with Ts.

        Comment


          #5
          Thanks everyone.

          jpkeates - Yes, of course, they have a choice. The person in the room next to the bathroom will be most affected, so likely they will sway the decision. I'm aiming to make the offer attractive - 15% or so of the rent.

          jpucng62 - Yes, I understand it's not fair, and a temporary solution (even if mainly cosmetic) will need to be found if they don't respond to a rent reduction. But I was upfront with the tenants about a 150 year old house having its fair share of problems, and that this was reflected in the rent. I did think the current issue was resolved, or at least wouldn't reappear so soon.

          mariner - Yes, need to negotiate. But it's not about a lack of funds to fully refurbish the bathroom and remedy the problem. More about reluctance to waste funds and effort on a bathroom that will be demolished after six months.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by HipGeeks View Post
            The builder says the bedroom will be out of use for one week, and I plan to refund 25% of the week's total rent to reflect this.
            Do you really mean that a tenant will have nowhere to stay for a week, and all you intend to do is refund him that week's rent?
            If I was the tenant, I would have something to say about that!

            Comment

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