Tenant fire, refusing to fix damanges and pay rent

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    Tenant fire, refusing to fix damanges and pay rent

    Hi all,

    So this is my first post but hoping you can help. A few things i'll need some advice on if you can assist

    Tenant is on an AST.

    1) Tenant moves into property. Within 2 months he starts a fire in the property by leaving a pot on the stove and leaving the house (Negligence) fire brigade arrive to out the fire and in doing so; add further damage to the kitchen (Fire was noticed by tenants cousin who was "staying" with him at the time)

    2) Tenant is living in property with wife but didn't notify me of this (I now have proof she is living there with him)

    3) As a result of the fire the tenant 'claims' the fire alarm wasn't working and there were no batteries. I can't prove there were, he can't prove there weren't. However Section 10.7 of the AST states obligations of the tenant "To keep all smoke alarms in good working order provided they were working at the start of the tenancy; by replacing batteries when necessary"

    At no time before this did the tenant confirm the smoke alarm wasn't working. Neither in writing or by phone.

    4) Tenant has now missed rent payment on the basis that he does not intend to pay rent until the damage (which he caused) is fixed.

    5) Tenant has also put up speakers/photos on the walls without the consent from the landlord

    Basically, I want him out ASAP. His tenancy is up until November and the break clause is in May (The earliest I can give him 2 months notice)

    How do you propose I approach this to get him out?

    P.S - I could also obtain the missed rent payment from his deposit.

    Thanks in advance for any help.. This is driving me mad!

    #2
    Whether or not he caused the fire, if there is damage to things for which, as landlord, you're statutorily responsible, you must get them repaired and claim the cost either from your landlord's buildings insurance or from his deposit (assuming you can prove his liability).

    What exactly was damaged and to what extent?

    You can 'get him out' only by serving correct notice according to the break clause. If he fails to vacate when the notice expires, you must apply for a court order for possession.

    Speakers/photos - if he does not remedy any 'damage' cause dby these by the time he moves out, claim the cost of making good form his deposit.

    Can you please confirm that you protected his deposit and supplied him with the Prescribed Information within 30 days of receiving it?
    '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

    Comment


      #3
      Hi,

      Thanks for the response. So even if in the contract it says that he is responsible or if damage is due to tenant negligence? The fire brigade report will prove how it started (pot on stove)

      Damage was the cooker is completely gone. Cupboards, work surface, ceiling. Damages will be circa £1000+

      In total. Damages and repairs will be more than his deposit. He has also defaulted on the rent.

      His deposit 'is' in a DPS. So are you saying the earliest I can start proceedings is the 29th march (2 months before 6 month break clause)

      Seems odd that a tenant can cause a fire through negligence and the LL is left with the bill.

      Also, do you know what timescales I'd have to adhere to?

      Comment


        #4
        In the AST under Tenant obligations to repair, maintenance and cleaning it states.

        10.1 to take responsible steps to keep the interior of the premises and fixtures and fittings in the same.... Etc etc

        The tenant is not responsible for:

        Any damage caused by fire UNLESS that damage was caused by something done or not done by the tenant or any other person permitted by the tenant to reside, sleep in, or visit the premises.

        Then 10.12 says to carry out any work or repairs that the tenant is required to carry out under the agreement within a reasonable time etc..

        Would you say I'm misinterpreting the info? At the moment I'm probably more subjective than objective.

        Thanks again for your response on this @mind the gap

        Comment


          #5
          Whatever it says or does not say in your tenancy contract, it cannot override your statutory (ie legal) liability and responsibilities.

          You cannot use tenant negligence as a grounds for eviction unless it is recurrent, or wilful damage, and even then the court order for possession would be discretionary, not mandatory. Better to serve a section 21 and be sure of it.

          If you reproduce the wording of your break clause for us someone will be able to tell you when your notice should be served and how it should be worded with regard to dates.
          '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

          Comment


            #6
            Thanks for your responses so far Mind the gap. Really helpful.

            Ok ;so the break clause (in it's exact wording is)

            -Clauses individually negotiated with the tenant:

            1. The Tenant agrees that the Landlord has the right to terminate the Tenancy after the first 6 months by giving the tenant not less than 2 months prior notice in writing to be served by first class post or hand delivery to the address specified in this agreement, to end the Tenancy. When the notice period expires the Agreement shall cease. This does not affect the right of the landlord or the tenant to pursue their legal remedies against the other for existing breach of any rights under the agreement.

            What i also noticed in the contract was this..

            Interrupting or ending this agreement:


            The following clauses set out the ways in which this agreement may be brought to an end by either party. In addition, these clauses set out the procedures which the tenant or landlord shall use when the tenancy is brought to an end.

            It is agreed between the landlord and tenant as follows:

            If at any time:
            a) The rent, or any part of it remains unpaid for 14 days after falling due, whether formally demanded or not: or
            b) if any agreement or obligation of the tenant is not complied with: or
            c)If any of the grounds set out in Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988 (as amended)( being grounds 2,8,10,11,12,13,14,15 or 17 are made out (see definitions); the landlord may give written notice to the tenant that the landlord seeks possession of the premises. If the tenant does not comply with that notice the landlord will bring this agreement to an end and re-gain possession of the premises by complying with his statutory obligations and obtaining a possession order from the county court; and re-entering the premises with the county court bailiff. When the bailiff enforces a possession order the right for the tenant to remain in the premises will end. This clause does not prejudice any other rights that the landlord may have in respect of the tenants obligations under this agreement.

            As the tenant has not yet paid rent (now 6 days overdue) would it be in my interest to wait until it lapses to 14 days and utilize the above remedy. Or wait until I can use the break clause.

            The earliest I could serve the clause is March 29th.

            Thanks again for your help on this. I genuinely appreciate the responses.

            Comment


              #7
              The stuff about evicting the tenant if rent is 14 days overdue is unenforceable.

              My interpretation of your break clause is that you can invoke it to terminate the tenancy after the six month point by serving at least notice two months prior to that.

              Be aware though that if your T chooses not to vacate, you will need to apply for a court order and instruct bailiffs if need be. You could be looking at a further two months or so after the notice expires.
              '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

              Comment


                #8
                Is there a similarly worded clause to allow the tenant to break the tenancy at the 6 month point, as one sided break-clauses that only favour the landlord can be contested as unfair.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by LesleyAnne View Post
                  Is there a similarly worded clause to allow the tenant to break the tenancy at the 6 month point, as one sided break-clauses that only favour the landlord can be contested as unfair.
                  Well spotted. A very good point. If there isn't, I agree that OP may struggle to enforce the break clause.
                  '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

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Thanks mind the gap. So in essence I can issue the notice 2 months before the date as it'll terminate 'after' 6 months and not before. The notice will just be 'before', not the termination.

                    Hi LesleyAnne; there are 2 clauses in the break clause.
                    One for the LL to the tenant (the one I posted) and one for the tenant to the LL which is basically the same but reverse.. So both parties are covered by this clause..

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Also,

                      Can the tenant without rent 'before' a conclusion has been reached?

                      I've received a letter from the tenant saying that he is withholding rent until repairs are done. This was 9 days before the rent was due. I responded asking for information to allow me to assess the damage before I move forward.. Between that time and now no rent has been paid...

                      I received a letter back from the tenant advising he intends to obtain quotes for the work and get the work done with withheld rent. However I have responded within a timely manner and the property (kitchen) is 'in' habitable condition by anyone's standards. Granted cosmetically the damage could be a pain however it's not anywhere near inhabitable condition.
                      Last edited by Anthony Jones; 07-03-2013, 06:12 AM. Reason: Typo

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by Anthony Jones View Post
                        I've received a letter from the tenant saying that he is withholding rent until repairs are done.

                        I received a letter back from the tenant advising he intends to obtain quotes for the work and get the work done with withheld rent.
                        Is your tenant following the procedure below to get repairs done?

                        http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_ad..._doing_repairs

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by Mrs Mug View Post
                          Is your tenant following the procedure below to get repairs done?

                          http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_ad..._doing_repairs
                          I was just going to quote this myself, as it certainly sounds like this is what tenant is doing. If tenant has reported damage to you and you have failed to repair it, following the correct procedure, they are within their rights to use this route to gain repairs.

                          You stated early on that the cooker is completely destroyed and damage to the kitchen cupboards, surfaces and ceiling estimated at £1000+ - then above you are stating the property is not uninhabitable. How have you come to this conclusion? You state this happened within 2 months of start of tenancy, so how long has tenant been living with fire damage - assume tenancy started end of November, + 2 months = end January, its now March. Very surprised they've put up with it this long!

                          You have an obligation to maintain and repair the property, and if the cause of the damage is proved to be tenant negligence, then you can claim the cost of this work from them. Your insurance should cover the work, and they/you can persue costs from tenant after completion.

                          I would think yourself lucky tenant is only withholding rent, as they are also within their rights to get EHO involved. They could condemn the kitchen and force you to make repairs, also making you rehouse the tenant at your cost whilst work is done. I would get this sorted asap! Even if you evict the tenant successfully at the break clause point, you will be faced with the repairs then to make the property inhabitable for next tenants, so just get on with it now, and sort out the cost, blame and claim once its done!

                          All part of the joys of being a landlord ...

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Hi,

                            Yeah either way I need to get it fixed.

                            The cost of £1000 is due to the fact I'd need to purchase an entire work surface to make it cosmetically as it was. With the way the kitchen is designed you can't just purchase on part basically... Then also the ceiling will need re-doing in some areas. So while the cost seems high the damage doesn't reflect it.

                            So after the advice I'm going to get the work done and evict the tenant ASAP.

                            However surely the tenant still can't legally withhold rent after sending me a letter about repairs and withholding the rent 7 working days after the letter had been received. I have responded to take action to assess and repair the damage, so on what basis can he legally withhold rent?

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Also; on that link just provided it says

                              "If you accidentally or deliberately damage your home in any way, you will be responsible. It may be better to get the damage repaired yourself - otherwise you could lose your deposit when you leave. Get the landlord's agreement before any work is started. And always get receipts for any work you have done, and for any parts or materials you buy"

                              So now I'm at a loss...

                              Either way it'll be easier to fix I then get them out and carry on after they've gone..

                              Comment

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