Advice needed on drainage issue that cannot be resolved

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    Advice needed on drainage issue that cannot be resolved

    So we are first time landlords, and we rented out our property using a lettings agent who specialises in 5 bedroom rentals. The story is below:
    - Rented out with a 2 year fully managed contract in place, with an 18 month break clause
    - Every month the tenants have a number of complaints which we will always attempt to fix (bearing in mind this is a newly renovated property)
    - There is a foul drainage smell in one of the upstairs bathrooms, we have had 5/6 contractors out over the 8 months the tenants have been in, and spent numerous thousands of pounds investigating the issue. These have been a mix of the agent contractors and my own. Not one of them has been able to give us a clear answer on the issue, and all have had different approaches to it. Continued investigation will cost tens of thousands of pounds and there is no guarantee it can be resolved.
    - We as landlords are not in the country, but believe there is a smell. We have no idea what to do as next steps, as we do not want to spend more money on pointless investigations and would like for a contractor to give us the actual solution. None are forthcoming. They seem to see us as a cash cow for ongoing investigating of the problems- particularly the agent's contractors.
    - The tenants are now complaining that the smell is affecting their eye sight and their quality of life (no evidence has been provided) which I do not believe tbh
    - The agent is advising us to provide compensation but I feel this would open the floodgates for more compensation requests and does not resolve the issue we have
    - The tenants are seeking legal advice
    - we have offered them to break the tenancy early if they are that unhappy but they do not want too

    We are at a bit of a stale-mate and have no ideas where we stand. Ideally, we want to tell the tenants we have done everything in our power to get the issue resolved and that no-one knows how to fix it (which is a fact) and that they essentially need to live with it (I lived there and there was a smell but the tenants are making out its super-strong and I know for a fact it is not) or move out.

    How can we move forward without being sued/providing compensation or continuous emails and harassment from the tenants?

    It'll be some crappy plumbing work hidden behind boxing, won't it? See what I found in one of my flats:


      First things first...... it is so bad that given the chance of ending the tenancy..... they decline !!!!

      Do you have anyone in the UK who you trust totally, who lives nearby the property ? If so get them to go round (tell the tenants) and ask them to do the sniff test. Then if said smell is there, ask your good friend if he or she can recommend a good plumber to look at it, totally independent and with a trusted source to recommend them.

      How have you spent thousands of pounds ?? Did you get a breakdown of exactly what all the '' experts '' have been doing whilst in this tiny bathroom...... For that amount of money it looks to me that you could have ripped out the old one and installed a brand new one !!!

      Get someone in you can trust or you will keep getting ripped off.


        As you are abroad and don't seem to have a great agent, perhaps appoint a surveyor to do a Specific Defect Survey?

        Ask them to witness and identify the problem and write a specification for remedial works for tender.

        If they say there is no big problem that will be strong evidence in any claim for compensation.

        Not the cheapest option but should hopefully bring it to a conclusion.
        Assume I know nothing.


          I m not a plumber but the smell must be coming from the soil pipe. Usually what stops the smell is a trap on the basin/shower/bath/WC. The water in the traps prevents the smell getting through. Depending on the order of the traps sometimes a vacuum is created which sucks water from a trap hence smell gets through but a plumber should know this but I bet this is the problem.


            Originally posted by Dreamingofsea View Post
            I m not a plumber but the smell must be coming from the soil pipe. Usually what stops the smell is a trap on the basin/shower/bath/WC. The water in the traps prevents the smell getting through. Depending on the order of the traps sometimes a vacuum is created which sucks water from a trap hence smell gets through but a plumber should know this but I bet this is the problem.
            I agree with this, if the smell is specific to just one of the bathrooms then it can't be a problem with the actual drains.


              If the smell is more problematic in one of the bathrooms, then I would be inclined to start with the soil pipe/ downpipes, by putting some dye in the toilet and see it come to the drain. Then repeat the process in the sinks, and other bathrooms in the property.

              If it has been renovated, it could be a small leak from a joint that is causing the issue. Smells are usually due to blockages, or when u-bends have not been installed, or incorrectly installed.

              Does the T have a pet, as it could be soaked into the floor boards and joist.

              If you don't get it fixed, I would serve notice on the T's to leave and then do a full check on the property.


                Another possibility is if the soil stack terminaties in the loft above the bathroom rather than outside.
                Or possibly an outside stack that is below the eaves or terminates within 3 metrs of the window.

                If that's the case then it's supposed to have an 'air admittance valve'.
                If there is no valve or it's faulty then:
                If it's stuck open (or not there at all) there will be a smell from the drains coming from the open stack itself.
                If it's stuck closed then there will be siphoning of the water from the basin/bath traps, letting smells in that way.

                See this for more information:


                  There is no such thing as an issue that cannot be resolved, there are only things that are more trouble or cost than they are worth.

                  I don't accept for a minute that "further investigations" would take tens of thousands of pounds.
                  You just need to pay someone to sort it out - smelly bathrooms smell because something is leaking or stuck.

                  I would repeat my offer to let the tenant's move out and point out that you are doing your best to resolve the issue.
                  Then find a decent plumber and get them to start stripping stuff out until they find the leak or the blockage.

                  If you're stuck outside the UK, your agent needs to be able to do this, otherwise, you don't have a functional business.
                  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).


                    I think you're probably right about everyone seeing you as a cash cow due to you being out of the country and unable to challenge their opinion. I'm aware of one agent who has made a fortune out of ripping off overseas landlords. He once offered to persuade a foreign owner to sell me a property at a £5k discount if I split the saving with him.


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