Tenant's rights after chip pan fire

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    Tenant's rights after chip pan fire

    Hi all!

    I'm new to the forum, and as might be expected, have come here because I have a problem and am unsure where I stand. Hoping all you experienced 'lords out there might be able to help

    On Saturday my tenants' chip pan set fire to the flat they rent on a 12 month AST. I believe this is likely due to their negligence, and thus they will be liable for the buildings' insurance excess and cost of replacing the limited furnishings I provided (two beds and two sofas, all of which were quite old and not worth more than the deposit so not covered by any contents insurance). However I am unsure where I stand on my requirement to provide alternative accommodation or waive the rent if the property is uninhabitable.

    With it being a major fire (**** chip pans), the fire brigade has obviously gone in all guns blazing and thus there is a lot of water damage to be repaired so it's likely to be uninhabitable for some time. The tenancy agreement states I have to provide alternative accommodation if the property is uninhabitable, but also states that the tenant is liable for the costs I incur if they cause damage to the property. I'm wondering how these two requirements can be reconciled - it would seem odd if I provided alternative accommodation to the tenant and then charged them for the cost as they caused damage to the property. But then it would also seem a bit unfair if I have to pay for an expensive short term or waive the rent for a few months because the flat is uninhabitable due to their negligence.

    Does anyone know of any cases, regulations or legal guidance which can help me understand where I stand?

    It may not be relevant, but I understand the tenants are currently staying with their parents. So they are not incurring any additional costs, but I don't want them trying to claim some rent or compensation off me if I fail to offer them alternative accommodation when I am supposed to.

    Thanks

    Swarbs

    #2
    Call LL association - if a member - helpline (might be worth joining if not..).

    I would involve your insurers promptly, ..but READ THE POLICY CAREFULLY 1st...

    I would investigate alternative accommodation but not offer it. Maybe tenant would agree to a "deed of surrender" to end the tenancy right now..

    Were there smoke and/or heat alarms??

    I would rather water damage from fire service than he place burned down when the arrived 10 minutes later...

    At least, by the sound of it, nobody hurt...
    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


      #3
      Open chip pan fires are invariably the fault of the occupier.
      Sounds like Ts have already found adequate temp accom.
      Legally orig rent is still payable, even if property is uninhabitable and you found temp accom.
      Have you contacted your buildings insurer yet (hopefully LL Ins policy)?
      Get loss adjuster's assessment for time to re-instate property, inform Ts of time and fact orig rent is still payable, if they wish to continue the T. If not, accept their offer of early surrender by both signing dated Deed of Surrender. Proceed with claim from deposit for any attributable T damage via DPS ADR. (Hopefully deposit was correctly protected in an Approved Scheme within 30 days of receipt and PI provided).

      Comment


        #4
        Lord knows why you have that clause in your tenancy agreement.
        What do your insurers say?
        Allow tenants to protect their own deposits. I want free money when they do it wrong

        Comment


          #5
          I believe this is likely due to their negligence, and thus they will be liable for the buildings' insurance excess and cost of replacing the limited furnishings I provided (two beds and two sofas, all of which were quite old and not worth more than the deposit so not covered by any contents insurance).
          A blanket requirement for the tenant to pay any excess is probably an unfair term.

          The tenancy agreement states I have to provide alternative accommodation if the property is uninhabitable
          A most unwise provision from the landlord's point of view, but great for the tenant.

          ...but also states that the tenant is liable for the costs I incur if they cause damage to the property.
          A bad provision all round. It looks good for the landlords, but is quite wrong. Insurance is a contract for indemnity. If a third is under an obligation to make good any damage the insurers can tell you to look to them first. Any obligation should be restricted to where the insurers withhold payment because of some act or omission of the tenant.

          For the future, what an agreement should provide is for the rent to be suspended during such period as the property is uninhabitable. Any question of whether the tenant can require alternative accommodation should be left to the general law and for the tenant to argue. Another possibility (perhaps not generally considered necessary for short term tenancies but still worth considering) is to provide for either party to give notice ending the tenancy if the property is likely to be uninhabitable for a specified period. The points mentioned above also need to be addressed. A competent landlord and tenant lawyer will be able to draft appropriate provisions. In fact, given what is in the agreement it has to be worth getting it checked out.

          You must also make sure that your tenancy agreement dovetails with your insurance policy.

          Comment


            #6
            Arguably a cost that you incur includes the cost of alternative accommodation.

            The key issue here is not that it happened but proving fault and negligence as accidents happen, negligence is quite another thing.

            Notwithstanding lawcrunchers comprehensive advice an appropriate kitchen extinguisher and fire blanket in your next rental are cheap and wise investments.
            Based on the information posted, I offer my thoughts.Any action you then take is your liability. While commending individual effort, there is no substitute for a thorough review of documents and facts by paid for professional advisers.

            Comment

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