Tenant withholding rent

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    Tenant withholding rent

    New tenants moved in to my flat on the 27th Feb and are withholding rent because I had agreed to install a shower before their move in date. However, due to a death in the family was unable to so myself. I finally arranged for it to be fitted on 19th March.

    They are also saying that the 1.5m hose is too short and that I should pay for the contractor to change the height of the bracket and buy a longer hose as they are both over 6ft tall.

    On top of this, they are also complaining that the oven and carpets were not professionally cleaned before the move in. My previous letting agent carried out the previous tenants exit and nothing was mentioned to me that they needed to be cleaned.

    When I inspected the flat before the move in I did notice the lounge carpets had indentations and slight marks but the rest of the flats (its less than 3 years old) carpets were perfectly clean so I asked my new letting agent to only have the lounge carpet cleaned.

    My letting agent carried out a video inventory and from this the carpets and oven do appear to be in good condition.

    Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse they then informed my letting agent on Sunday 14th that the hot water had stopped. The letting agent sent someone to look at it on the 15th. The system was re-pressurised and left in working order. Sadly when the tenants got home from work the problem was back. The same engineer went back on the 16th and said that the problem was with a main part in the boiler. The parts were ordered on the 16th but due to not being in stock, they couldn't be fitted till the 18th. The engineer left the hot water working but again, when they got home it was the same problem. The engineer then went round on Saturday the 19th and found that the parts fitted were faulty so arranged to be back on the Monday to fit new ones.

    I know I should of had the shower fitted before their move in but are they being unreasonable with the rest of the complaints?


    From what you have told us, it would appear that you have done everything humanly possible to addres the problems reported by your Ts and in the circumstances it is, in my view, unreasonable of them to withhold rent.

    If they had really wanted an extra long shower hose (being the hieghts they are, presumably it is a problem they have encountered before), they had two weeks in which to request one before the shower was fitted. You could offer to ask the plumber whether it's possible to fit an extension to the existing one, but I would certainly not go to huge additional expense here. When they viewed the property and were told there would be a shower fitted, a reasonable assumption would be that the shower would have a normal length hose, not an exceptionally long one.

    If your video/photo inventory at end of Feb showed clean carpets, oven, etc.,then they cannot suddenly demand at the beginning of April that they be cleaned at this stage. They should have registered their dissatisfaction on Day One, not two months down the line. Tell them this.

    It is up to you whether you grant them any 'compensation' for the inconvenience of not having the shower for a couple of weeks & problems with the boiler, but to be honest they sound painful and I would not give in to any demands - if you do, the chances are high they will start witholding rent and demanding compensation for every little thing.

    Way forward? Speak/write to them or have your agent speak to them (assuming you trust him to do so in an articulate, professional and non-confrontational way); explain that you understand their frustration re the shower & boiler but that you have done everything you reasonably could to get the problems fixed quickly. Explain what you are prepared to do about the shower hose (if anything). Perhaps they would like to pay for the cost of an extra long hose? Tell them they are in breach of contract by witholding rent (there is a protocol for Ts legally to do this in dire extremis, but their situation does not qualify as that, or anything like it). Ask them to pay the rent up to date and agree a date by which this should happen (soon). Tell them that you regret that you have all got off to a bad start with the tenancy but hope that you can put the bad feeling behind you. Give them a bottle of wine?

    If they are arsey about it, serve them a section 21 notice to expire as soon as thier fixed term ends. If they continue to withold rent, tell them you will seek possession sooner than the end of the fixed term via a section 8 notice.

    Good luck.
    'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations


      Just to agree with everything MTG has said. At 1.5m the shower hose is perfectly long enough - standard length in B&Q is 1.25m.

      They can buy a longer hose for themselves, they're easy to fit, but don't move the shower - your next tenant may be a shorty like me!



        If they are going to be that arsey, I wouldn't hesitate but serve a section 21 notice without delay. Pity you have to put up with them for another 4 months.

        Any information given in this post is based on my personal experience as a landlord, what I have learned from this and other boards and elsewhere. It is not to be relied on. Definitive advice is only available from a Solicitor or other appropriately qualified person.


          What a shower your T seems to be. The hose is certainly not L's responsibility under s.11 of LTA 1985.
          JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
          1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
          2. Telephone advice: see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=34638.
          3. For paid advice about conveyancing/leaseholds/L&T, contact me* and become a private client.
          4. *- Contact info: click on my name (blue-highlight link).


            I don't understand how a 1.5m hose can be inadequate? It must be at least 2m high (I mean, if you removed the shower head from its bracket), and 2m = 6 1/2 feet. The riser or bracket may be fitted too low down for the giant tenants, but it is no great inconvenience to use the shower hand-held for hair washing.

            I would write a letter and apologize for the delay in fitting the shower, point out that 1.5m hose is adequate and a longer hose was not originally requested or part of the agreement, state that oven and carpets were in good clean condition at move in as per inventory, note the immediate response to the hot water problem, offer a small rent reduction for the week without hot water, and demand outstanding rent within 5 working days. (Keep copy letter and proof of posting).

            Assuming the deposit is protected, and if rent unpaid by deadline, I would send a s.21 notice, and a s.8 notice if and when there are two months' rent owing and unpaid.


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