Tenant's water running orange

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    Tenant's water running orange

    Let me set the scene,

    One day the hot water runs bright orange, I let the letting agency know. 3 days later a man in a van pulls up and tells me it is just sludge from having the boiler set to high and it will run off in a few days.

    I have to move out for a few days as I have a 2 month old in the house and cant do washing, have a bath, etc.. In this time an employee of the letting agent comes in when I am away and runs a bath to see if it has cleared. She says it looks fine.

    I come back it is still orange so inform them. 4 days later another man in a van comes and tells me the tank needs replacing. another 4/5 days later they come and do the work.

    All the time I am ringing them, telling them this is not on and they say they are dealing with it.

    When the work is done I tell them I want rent back (not travelling expenses etc..)for the period I was without hot water as it is in their contract that they will provide me with this. They tell me the landlord does not agree and they see 3 weeks as reasonable time to diagnose and sort the problem.

    On advice I have with held rent for the 3 weeks untill the matter is resolved and informed them of this. They are now sending letters demanding the arears and are charging me for each letter. They also say they will deduct this from the bond.

    Can anyone tell me the best way to proceed, I feel like I am being bullied into paying. Surly 3 weeks is not a reasonable time frame for hotwater. Any help would be appreciated.

    #2
    You are entitled to some sort of compensation. Work out logically exactly how you have been inconvenienced and the cost to you. You then need to negotiate.

    I would also have a word with your local authority tenancy relations officer about this. They can talk to your LL about it and let them know there obligations more fully.

    The downside to this fuss is that you will be labelled as a problem tenant(even tho its not your fault)...and could find they give you notice; so be as polite as possible.
    All posts in good faith, but do not rely on them

    * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * * * *

    You can search the forums here:

    Comment


      #3
      Assuming that this is a residential letting to you as tenant, you have the benefit of section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. Tell the agent, in writing, that you will prosecute L for breach of the section. Amongst other things, this makes it a criminal offence if L fails to "keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwelinghouse for the suply of water".
      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).

      Comment


        #4
        The problem is that a landlord must be given a reasonable time to repair a problem before one can start hopping to the local county court and/or the environmental health trying to claim rent back.

        In this case, it looks like the landlord has tried a repair and its not been effective - sometimes you get water works done by the local water authority and this causes brown/orange water - its reasonable for a landlord to ascertain whether that is the case or if its part of the water system in the property that is defective.

        In any event, being without hot water is not a good reason to demand all the rent back for the period of the defect - its a case for a reduction in the rent charged for that period, and this would have to be by negotiation with the landlord with court as a last resort. I personally would say a reduction of 20% would not be unreasonable for the landlord to offer in this case with a claim made in court if the landlord starts being difficult or refusing.

        You have arbitarily and unilaterally withheld rent - that is the wrong way to go about it as any judge will tell you - you have "awarded yourself damages", so the agency is right to demand you pay and impose fair penalties if you don't (i.e. their additional costs of collection).

        I do not see 3 weeks as an unreasonable time to effect a diagnosis and effect a repair - there is difficulty nationally in obtaining a plumber and parts may have had to be ordered in which causes an inbuilt delay.

        I think that you may be on a loss-leader here and might well have the double whammy of your tenancy not getting renewed because of your actions. Whoever gave you the "advice", don't take any more off them!!!!!!

        By the way - those people who were without water for weeks due to the flooding in Gloucestershire - the Water Authority announced that there would be no compensation - just to put your complaint in perspective!!!!!

        Comment


          #5
          Contact Shelter for advise on their free line for tenants.

          Generally, they tend to advise against tenants witholding their rent in disputes

          "If your landlord refuses to reduce your rent, contact a local advice centre. They can tell you whether you would be justified in withholding rent and explain how to do this. Don't just stop paying or you could lose your home."

          They have a section on how to claim compensation through the courts with the caveat "Remember: Taking your landlord to court is normally only an option if you have strong tenancy rights or you don't mind whether your landlord renews your tenancy."

          http://england.shelter.org.uk/advice/advice-4086.cfm

          Comment


            #6
            Thanks for the info,

            I must explain I have not stopped paying rent I have just stated that for the days I was without hot water I will with hold it untill the matter is closed. The first 5 days of delay was due to the fact the LL was on holiday and could not be reached, should that be my problem. No explination has been given for the next 5 days delay as the company who carraied out the work were given authority to repair the fault at 1700 the day before they came.

            The letting agent manager was on leave for the period in question and I have always got the impression form her (she would never say bluntly) that the office does not function in her absence. I still cant believe that 3 weeks is reasonable time when the contractor had the parts and was just waiting for authority.

            Comment


              #7
              Either way, it is L who has committed a criminal offence.
              Tell your local authority's Tenancy Protection or Env. Health Department- perhaps they will be prepared to prosecute at no cost to you.
              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).

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by davidjohnbutton View Post
                The problem is that a landlord must be given a reasonable time to repair a problem before one can start hopping to the local county court and/or the environmental health trying to claim rent back.
                I think clean water to bathe a 2 month old baby rates very highly in priority for repair. This would rate as an emergency in some councils. HHSRS would have a field day. The LL does not understand his obligations.

                I would agree at this stage witholding rent is inflammatory; while you are in residence you will have a chance to withold rent later if needs be. If you are 'reasonable' you may get your reasonable compensation.

                Please post the outcome.
                All posts in good faith, but do not rely on them

                * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * * * *

                You can search the forums here:

                Comment


                  #9
                  Jeffrey, as a landlord, in my own opinion, a decent landlord at that, I take great exception to your "landlord has committed an offence and should be prosecuted" approach.

                  In this case, we now learn that the landlord was uncontactable for 5 days of the 3 week period. That now drops the repair to just over 2 weeks and becomes even more reasonable. The landlord is entitled to go on holiday is he/she not???

                  In order for the landlord to commit an offence by failing to do repairs, a court would have to see a much, much longer time than 2 or 3 weeks and there to be a wilful delay in executing repairs. There is also a protocol which tenants have to follow before they can withhold rent to cover repairs which involves notifying the landlord in writing, giving estimates/quotations, giving the landlord a reasonable time to effect the repair and then the tenant can do the repair and withhold rent to cover it legally. That has not happened in this case. Additionally, the tenant could have reported the defect to the council who would have sent the landlord a notice to do it (usually a 28 day one but can be less for urgent repairs)

                  With my landlords hat on, I would say that the repair was done reasonably quickly and that the tenant had other means of making water hot (i.e. kettle) and that the withholding of any rent is unlawful. I personally would have offered a 20% reduction in rent to cover any undue delay as a goodwill gesture (which I wouldn't have entertained if the tenant had withheld rent without discussion)

                  As for HHSRS having a field day - even they would have to accept that things break down!

                  Unfortunately I expect the OP has soured relationships with her landlord and will not be offered a renewal unless the landlord is a very gracious sort!

                  Comment


                    #10
                    davidjohnbutton, Obviously things do break and it does take time to get a plumber etc. but surely that's the landlord's problem not the tenants and therefore the landlord should pay compensation.

                    After all the landlord is running a business and this is just another cost. What other business would fail to deliver and still charge their customers full price? Say you went to a hotel for a holiday and had no hot water for two weeks. Would you happily pay full price for the holiday as the hotel owner had trouble getting a plumber to repair his old and badly maintained equipment or would you consider that detail none of your business and want compensation as a customer? I bet you would demand compensation!

                    Why should tenants be any different. I certainly won't pay for a service I'm not getting although I would continuing paying rent during the negotiation.
                    ~~~~~

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Ruth less - please ready my posts again - I said that there should be compensation, but withholding 100% of the rent for three weeks without going through the proper process is unlawful and excessive.

                      This poster has "awarded" herself 3 weeks rent without any negotiation of any sort.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        davidjohnbutton, I did read your post it said:

                        Originally posted by davidjohnbutton View Post
                        I personally would have offered a 20% reduction in rent to cover any undue delay as a goodwill gesture (which I wouldn't have entertained if the tenant had withheld rent without discussion)
                        The point I am making is that the tenant getting compensation is because they have not received the service they are paying for, it's not based on the largess of some goodwill gesture that the landlord would offer to cover any undue delay. Besides:

                        Originally posted by davidjohnbutton View Post
                        With my landlords hat on, I would say that the repair was done reasonably quickly
                        Doesn't sound like you think there was undue delay!

                        The point being the availability of a plumber etc. isn't the tenant's problem any more than it would be the hotel guest's one so any compensation payment isn't due to goodwill it's due to failing to deliver a service and doesn't depend on their being undue delay, the tenant is entitled to the hot water, see the link to Paul's post below.

                        Originally posted by davidjohnbutton View Post
                        This poster has "awarded" herself 3 weeks rent without any negotiation of any sort.
                        Are you certain there wasn't any negotiation of any sort? It would seem strange to withhold the rent without at least some. The tenant has taken advice, I'd guess that included to do some negotiation. sheehan879 did you try any negotiation?

                        Originally posted by davidjohnbutton View Post
                        There is also a protocol which tenants have to follow before they can withhold rent to cover repairs which involves notifying the landlord in writing, giving estimates/quotations, giving the landlord a reasonable time to effect the repair and then the tenant can do the repair and withhold rent to cover it legally.
                        Incidentally the link below indicates the tenant taking action using the rent to pay the 24 hour engineer and not going through all the usual protocol you mention presumably as hot water is important to have:

                        http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums...78&postcount=3

                        Oh and I'd be wanting 25%
                        ~~~~~

                        Comment


                          #13
                          None of your comments above Ruth less makes the tenant right. This is different to the thread you identified where a boiler was inefficient and likely to break down on a regular basis.

                          I made the comment that if one of my tenants decided to withhold rent without going through the proper course of action, I would not allow any rebate of rent because I would be extremely annoyed at this disruption to my income - however,I have never had this happen because I do repairs promptly.

                          I think the repair work could have been done a lot quicker - but that still does not allow a tenant the right to arbitarily award herself damages. I see no record in her postings of negotiation.

                          The protocol for deducting money from rent legally is laid down by law - you cannot simply award yourself 100% rent rebate - you yourself Ruthless suggest 25% - thats only a few quid more than I suggested.

                          I do not concur with PaulF,s ideology that a tenant is entitled to hot water at all times - to take that to its extreme - say the heating broke down one day at 9.am - is the landlord in breach of his duty to repair at 9.01 am??

                          I have never suggested that this lady should not have some compensation for the delay. Actually, she did have hot water - just that she could not use it due to discoloration from the heating system. That still does not prevent her from boiling water to mitigate the problem - albeit that this might be an inconvenience.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by davidjohnbutton View Post
                            I have never suggested that this lady should not have some compensation for the delay. Actually, she did have hot water - just that she could not use it due to discoloration from the heating system. That still does not prevent her from boiling water to mitigate the problem - albeit that this might be an inconvenience.
                            I was talking about this bit:

                            Originally posted by davidjohnbutton View Post
                            I personally would have offered a 20% reduction in rent to cover any undue delay as a goodwill gesture (which I wouldn't have entertained if the tenant had withheld rent without discussion)
                            Given the withholding of rent you would not pay compensation? But that wasn't my point, I was objecting to the compensation being due the landlord's goodwill rather than something the tenant is entitled to, assuming the withheld rent is paid back of course which it sounds like the OP would do "I must explain I have not stopped paying rent I have just stated that for the days I was without hot water I will with hold it until the matter is closed."

                            And this bit is the same:

                            Originally posted by davidjohnbutton View Post
                            I made the comment that if one of my tenants decided to withhold rent without going through the proper course of action, I would not allow any rebate of rent because I would be extremely annoyed at this disruption to my income - however,I have never had this happen because I do repairs promptly.
                            In saying you will not *allow* you make it sound like the payment or not of compensation is your decision solely at your discretion not a right that the tenant can pursue. I am objecting to this as I do not think ultimately the decision to compensate or not is yours as landlord.
                            ~~~~~

                            Comment


                              #15
                              If davidjohnbutton were 100% right, what would ever be the point of Parliament imposing criminal liability on L?
                              It did; T is entitled to clean and potable water.
                              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).

                              Comment

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