Non-paying tenants and repairs.

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    Non-paying tenants and repairs.

    Good evening, I hope you’re all keeping safe.

    I have tenants (a retired couple) who I’d hoped would have moved out by late Feb, having been issued with an S21 before Christmas. I was just heading down the legal eviction route when the current difficulties struck, so obviously they’re not going anywhere in a hurry!
    Having always been prompt with the rent, they’re now 2 months behind and I think they’re using the present situation to try to avoid paying further rent; I suspect (although I’d be happy to be wrong) that the only way I’ll see any further rent is by taking them to court for it.

    They’ve complained that the water pressure to the property has become poor. Water pressure is fine next door, so it’s probably one of those issues that’s fairly straightforward to fix (duff stopcock, semi blocked connector etc), but likely to be time consuming (eg may involve digging up bits of the garden...)

    It’s my problem, as the water supply is my responsibility from spring to septic tank and beyond.

    I’m just wondering, in this sort of situation how hard would other landlords try to resolve the situation quickly? I’m not too likely to find someone wanting to take on the job given the current situation. It’s the sort of thing I’d normally do myself, but I’m busy at work all day every day at the moment, and will be for a few weeks at least.

    Additionally, although everyone else around here is being ultra careful at the moment (eg getting supermarket deliveries if we can, or going shopping less than once a week) these tenants appear to head out to the shops every day. With vulnerable people in my household, the last thing I want to do is to go anywhere near these tenants!!

    Obviously, if any fault we’re potentially dangerous, it would need sorting PDQ, but if a fault is not actually dangerous (they say they’re getting about half the water they did in the past), would ‘a reasonable time’ to fix the problem be ‘at some unspecified point in the future’?

    In England!

    Hi is there any outside tap, if so you could get one of those combi flow cups and measure it yourself without entering the house (but with there agreement).

    I think the urgency would depend on what impact this is having,

    For instance the shower being unusable would be more serious compared to the toilet takes a long time to fill which would not be serious.

    You should also consider the complaint may be being made as a defense in court, did they complain before or after they stopped paying rent and have you asked them why they are not paying?

    All the above is just my own view I am not legally trained so take advice before acting.

    All the best Stew.


      Hi Stew, no there isn’t an outside tap. I’m not sure whether or not the shower is working. They haven’t mentioned it. There’s also a bath, and as far as I can tell neither of them appear too frail to use a bath.

      They complained nearly 2 months after stopping paying rent (I did point out that I sort of rely on the rent coming in to rectify problems with the property!) They haven’t said why they’re not paying the rent. A few excuses I don’t believe, and a couple of dates when they’ll pay by, which have come and gone..,


        Non payment of rent makes no legal change to a landlord's repairing responsibilities. I'd use nrla draft letter about repairs & be diligent & thorough in my efforts & documentation of all actions, if only for any court case. S21 not affected by repair issues by S8 is. I'd also serve S8 TODAY and continue to serve again for each and every under, missed or late payment.

        Obviously no honourable landlord would provide a decent reference for such tenants. Ensure council had copies of s8s so they get as little help as possible.

        Best wishes to all decent tenants, landlords, agents: and MPs
        I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...


          They are living there for free if they are already 2 months in arrears. I personally would not be working that hard to resolve the problem!! Its not a major issue.


            I would ask them what the impact of the low water pressure is via email that way it's documented

            Also ask them again why they are not paying rent, I would imagine being retired they would (hopefully) have some form of pension so should be trying to pay something at least.

            I think finding out why they are not paying is key to working out the next steps.

            All the best Stew.


              Thanks for your replies.
              davidmartin_uk , that’s kind of what I think; I don’t fancy putting myself (and my family) in a potentially dangerous situation to sort out what is an irksome rather than dangerous fault.


                Stew, they have been asked, but their answers are kind of just flam! I think they’re just irresponsible with what money they have, and I really think that much of it goes on booze!

                They did point out that they had to buy a ‘new car’ a couple of months ago. That’s true but also I have zero sympathy for that as a reason for not paying the rent- the only reason they needed a new car is that they ran their old one for ~6 years without any basic maintenance, or tax, or MOT (or presumably insurance) - not exactly surprising that the back axle dropped off one day! Their ‘new’ car will have cost much less than the amount they’ve saved each year by not doing the basic legal minimum! It was entirely predictable that their old car was not immortal, so why didn’t they put some money aside to replace it?


                  Yes, unfortunately while there are going to be many genuine cases of hardship there are going to be a minority who take advantage of this situation and seeing as they were already in arrears before covid it seems like this couple are those people! I have some as well !


                    I agree help those at risk and those in real need, by helping those abusing the situation all we do as a nation is make it ok to run up debt and not pay. I think it must be hard to be retired and renting but you did not make and are not responsible for their life to this point (or in the future). Equally being retired people they are behaving in a responsible manner.

                    I find it pretty bad that as a reason for not paying rent they use the fact they had to buy a 'new car', personally I've never had a new car and I'm sure they could have bought something with a smaller budget in mind.

                    I find these "types" and I try not to generalise feel entitled to something but not pay for it. I wonder if the car is paid for or on HP

                    I would do as mentioned above and get the section 8 issued each and every month going forward, I'm not sure if you can issue these retrospectively for the missed months but I'm sure someone will advise.

                    Lets hope when the legal process begins to move again they are first in line for removal, no doubt they won't move until baliff action so make a separate application for missed rent and if they don't pay hopefully they get a CCJ which will warn other landlords about them.

                    If on the other hand you suspect any form of ill health , mental physical or otherwise take a complely different stance.

                    The only positive thing you could do that 'may' help you is to check if they are claiming housing benefit if entitled and if not try and make a claim on their behalf, there are threads on here giving you the link to do this.

                    I would still chase for the impact of the low water pressure so this does not come back to bite you. I would also advise the debt is still be acrued (Covid 19 does not give them free rent)

                    Please take advise from someone with legal skills before acting on anything I say.

                    All the best Stew.


                      Stew Thankyou for your long reply When I get a chance I will don as much HAZMAT apparel as I can muster and take a look.
                      I should clarify that when I say their ‘new’ car I mean new to them and not actually brand new. Their new car is at the lower end of the spectrum and can’t have cost very much at all. I don’t have sympathy for that as a reason for not paying rent; we all take a view as to whether we want to run a car (with the costs that entails) or not. These tenants decide to run a car, but dodge much of the cost that entails (tax, mot, insurance, maintenance). Their new car came with an MOT, but they haven’t taxed it (I’m assuming it’s not insured either). I was hoping theyd get themselves moved off to a town etc where a car would be unnecessary. Ho hum!


                        Hi I would not go round I would just ask them the impact of the low water pressure by email, that way they really have to respond is there an issue and you are then aware of this is major or minor.

                        I guess new or not, people should live within there means and if that means using the bus so be it, unless they are disabled and then might get DLA anyway.

                        You have my sympathy if you get to retirement and you still cannot budget there is not much hope,, unless one of them has a major health problem and they are just burying head in the sand but from what you say it does not look like that

                        How long have they rented for and did you get references when they moved in? any sign of this?

                        All the best Stew.


                          I think that’s wise adviceStew .

                          They’ve been renting here for approx 6 years. References at the time had no red flags. I think they’re just subsiding into their older age and they’re pretty outraged and hurt at being asked to move out, but various incidents over the past couple of years meant that it was time to ask them to move on. Their refusal to move and their non payment of the rent tell me that my decision was correct (difficult though it was).

                          I’m not going to get annoyed by it though- plenty going on at the minute! I’ll keep my head down, issue S8s, email them re. the water (fix it if/when I can) and look forward to the day when they move out of the property and I can progress my plans for renovation.


                            So if they have been with you for 6 years and you issued the S21 it's likely you put their nose of of joint I expect. As you say you had your reasons but take comfort in the fact you are far past the average tennacy length so all told you have done very very well as no void periods for six years, no extra references to take seems fantastic. I imagine a lot of landlords would be super happy with that...

                            All the best Stew


                              As long as the shower still works I would tell them it isn't an urgent repair so will be fixed when the lock down ends.


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