Practical Repercussions of Not Doing Repairs When Awaiting Eviction of Tenants

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    Practical Repercussions of Not Doing Repairs When Awaiting Eviction of Tenants

    I have a flat where the tenants had got behind with the rent by about three to four months just before lock down. They were making some payments and the arrears had built up over a couple of years, and as it was being managed by an agency, I had let it slip a bit. Also to be frank they had a young kid so I wasn't keen on playing Mr Tough.

    But it had clearly got to the point where I had to evict. The agency served a s21 just before lock down and obviously they subsequently haven't paid a penny or communicated. I knocked on their door with a view to offering them a few quid to leave but they didn't take the bait. They said to me that they couldn't get any Universal Credit as the husband was doing irregular work. Even if they were, I guess that it would be more or less impossible to get the rent component paid to me without their consent, and as they are EU citizens.

    So like many other landlords I am awaiting August - assuming that there is not the next inevitable extension (bless the BBC and Guardian and their endless stream of stories about how poor tenants suffer from unfair evictions by cruel rogue landlords).

    Anyway, they have now got a broken window and a non locking front door to the internal corridor. They have told the agency that we need to repair - apparently through their social worker as presumably they are too embarrassed to speak to the agency.

    I know that I have a legal obligation to keep the property in good repair - but obviously I don't want to make them too comfortable and spend money on repairing a flat which they will possibly wreck when they eventually get evicted. And as I am using an agent the quotes are silly money for the repairs.

    I have read that s8's can be refused or money deducted on the basis of disrepairs. But I am using a s21 route. Also I know that there is legislation about revenge evictions for tenants requesting repairs - but clearly we have a good paper trail establishing that this is not the case.

    Does anybody know what the practical repercussions would be if I don't authorise these repairs?

    #2
    How did the window and door lock get broken? It sounds as though this might be something they caused, and therefore is their responsibility? However your concern perhaps should be if the property is insecure it's very difficult to hold the tenants responsible for any subsequent damage caused by a trespasser/thief.

    Comment


      #3
      Practical repercussions? Judge decides that by your not doing repairs you are harassing tenant (criminal), cost of repairs deducted from arrears (tenant's estimate of cost) so eviction for arrears fails. Or judge simply gives tenant more time.

      Arrears built up over years? Why didn't you evict years ago.
      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...

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        #4
        Originally posted by DaddyofTwo View Post
        IDoes anybody know what the practical repercussions would be if I don't authorise these repairs?
        If they write to you advising that there are repairs needing doing and you fail to give a satisfactory response and they then contact the local authority who order you to make the repairs (with a notice of sufficient seriousness), the s21 can be made invalid as retaliatory.

        You're going to have to make the repairs at some point, it's only a matter of timing.
        The broken window is probably the tenant's responsibility.
        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).

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          #5
          Originally posted by jpkeates View Post
          If they write to you advising that there are repairs needing doing and you fail to give a satisfactory response and they then contact the local authority who order you to make the repairs (with a notice of sufficient seriousness), the s21 can be made invalid as retaliatory.
          I think that's only if the tenants letter pre-dates the s21 notice. However, if the OPs current s21 times out before use, it might prevent the service of a second valid notice.

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            #6
            Many thanks for this.

            I guess that best response is to delay the repairs, and see if the Council writes to me before the s21 can be exercised (believe that it is now Oct and if so, I'll have to do the repairs then). In the meantime I will possibly offer them some more money if I can contact them. (Obviously got no idea of how window got broken)

            Comment


              #7
              No. Best response is to have a prompt plan to fix things, documented to tenants, keep copy, then do repairs to avoid your eviction being chucked out of court.

              But, hey, free country, your choice!

              Did you read the comments please?
              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...

              Comment


                #8
                Thanks Artful, I think that you were trying to be helpful, but the s21 notice was dated considerably before the broken window so it is hopefully most unlikely to be interpreted as a judge as a retaliatory eviction (see DPT57's post). Naturally, I served the N5B Application when the courts reopened at the end of Sept - but this is a Tier 3 area - so presumably the bailiffs / HCEO are going to have a massive backlog - so guessing the eviction is not going to be until the Summer at the earliest realistically.

                In twenty years of being a landlord of a smallish portfolio in somewhat insalubrious areas, I have fortunately had under half a dozen bad tenants, and this is actually my first eviction through the courts. Unfortunately, I have been so busy at work that I have had to rely on letting agents to manage most of my portfolio, and that given the current situation, will inevitably lead to bad tenants due to the "professionals" doing the vetting instead of myself. Through my work, I have several hundred landlord customers, some with very substantial portfolios

                So, I was not surprised to hear that my tenants just smashed a second window. But to be a bit honest, was a bit taken aback at the naivety of those who questioned my reluctance to delay the repair the first window. Tenants who stop paying rent and presumably have the stress of an impending eviction and money problems, and also know that they have forfeited their deposits, are more likely to smash things and don't look after properties. One guy I know had all his windows at a terraced house smashed in by his tenant. When he spoke to the Council about this - they told him "tough" so that he was forced to repair them before serving a s21. .

                Does anybody actually know if I still have an obligation under The Defective Premises Act 1972, 4(6) to keep the property in good repair - ie do they have a "right of occupation" after a court eviction order, or is that they have no right of occupation but I cannot evict under the Protection of Eviction Act 1977 but instead must await a bailiff / HCEO.

                And if I have an obligation, presumably the remedy of their trying to sue me for the repair and deducting it from the rent is not practicable. But is there a realistic risk of the Local Authority serving enforcement notices?

                If evictions are delayed for over a year from serving s21.s then this is going to be a real issue for other landlords.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Can the landlord just board up the broken windows? Or does he actually have to put new glass in the windows?

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                    #10
                    I would have thought it would be ok to board it as long as this doesn't impinge significantly on some other aspect of HHSRS such as ventilation, light, excess cold, security etc.

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                      #11
                      Tenants have boarded them up themselves. Not sure that this would count as keeping property in state of good repair.

                      I think though that I was raising a more general point / concern than just my windows. I wouldn't be surprised if clearing up this backlog with the courts and bailiffs mean that eviction process will take 18-24 months with the extra 6 month notice period and removing Tier 2/3 restrictions.

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                        #12
                        Forget the Court Corvid time scales, if you do not make timely, adequate repairs aftert T notificaation, Council can serve you with an Improvement Notice, or step in on expiry, to complete the work, at considerable expense to you,
                        So best to have window repaired asap then chase the Ts for a 'contribution'.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Chase tenants for a "contribution"? They are now over twelve months in arrears and refused to communicate for almost that length of time.

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