Tenant threatening to withhold rent

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    Tenant threatening to withhold rent

    I'm a new landlord so could use some advice.

    I have a new tenant and she is 6 months into the AST of a 12 month contract.

    3 weeks ago she contacted me via my house phone leaving a message saying "slight issue with shower head" can you let me know when someone will be round.

    I didn't hear the message until the following day and contacted as soon as I heard it to say I would contact plumber and would let her know.

    It didn't sound like a emergency just not as much water flowing through the shower head as normal.

    I contacted her 3 days later to try and arrange a convenient time for her. She said that would be good as it was "becoming difficult to take a shower".

    The plumber went down 8 days after the initial phone call, should of been 7 days but she was busy so arranged for the following day.

    The shower was unusable for max of 2 days, she did not mention this but plumber confirmed to me when he went to the property. The shower got fixed that day.

    Rent is now due in a couple of days and she has contacted me to say she believes I did not attend to the matter as quick as I should and therefore she is withholding rent for the 8 days it took to fix the shower.

    I admit I should of acted quicker and gone with a different plumber who could of fitted it in sooner but at no point did she say the shower had stopped working otherwise I would of acted quicker.

    I have said there seems to be fault on both sides and I feel a small rent reduction is in order but I don't think a 100% reduction is due. I initially offered 25% reduction for 8 days and have increased this to 40%. She keeps coming back to me haggling so said I stand at 40% final offer.

    She has now said I am being unfair and decided to cancel the standing order and deduct the original amount of the rent she wanted. (100% for 8 days) and has set up a payment of the rest to go in on the day rent is due.

    What can I do? Can this un agreed amount be deducted from the deposit?

    Or has the agreement now been broken and I can give notice?

    Any advice much appreciated as I do not know my rights.

    #2
    8 days is perfectly acceptable for fixing something that is not an essential. Tell her that if she withhold rent, you will issue her with an eviction notice.

    Comment


      #3
      I'd not give any reduction at all for her cheek, and deduct all unpaid rent from deposit. You might also want to send a s21 notice in lieu of a Christmas card.

      BTW, what was wrong with the shower head? I'm wondering if it was clogged with limescale. Just needs to go in a bit of vinegar overnight, and tenant should be capable of that.

      Comment


        #4
        You have the right to issue an s8g10 as soon as 1p is underpaid if only for 1day. Then take to court (unlikely to get possession order).

        Suggest attempt compromise. If not possible s8 then s21 when valid then see what tenant does
        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


          #5
          Thanks for the such quick replies.

          I looked online and in the AST and it says gas, water, sanitation including shower / bath needs to be fixed within a reasonable timeframe. But I cannot find a definite answer on reasonable time frame. Obviously it's not ideal to be without these things.

          It was a new shower head needed.

          Should I prewarn her that withholding rent is against the AST and rent will be recouped or will start eviction notice if it's withheld. Or wait to see if the threat is carried out?

          I always thought despite being a 12 month contract you could break it her 1 months notice me 2 months notice but I've read unless they have breeched terms that's not the case, can anyone clarify.

          Comment


            #6
            No point pointing this out. You can evict using s8 for arrears - expires in 14 days - then proceed to court, but unlikely to evict for a few hundred.

            Wait & see what happens to her payments & attitude. You will eventually have option to evict for no reason at all at end of fixed term using s21, give no reference, send copy of s8s to council to ensure no rehousing by council. Your choice.

            Next time, 6 months max initially.
            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


              #7
              There's no possible way in practice of ending this tenancy early - so any notice now is just going to serve to annoy/upset the tenant (which might be a point in itself).

              You can claim the outstanding amount from the deposit, but not until the end of the tenancy.
              The tenant will probably dispute the claim, but the adjudication process will probably accept that the offer was more than reasonable.

              Being without a shower is a pain, but it's not the end of the world and eight days rent would be equivalent to the whole property not being available for that amount of time.

              I would send her a polite message that you do not agree to the proposed deduction in rent, and that you are now only prepared to offer a goodwill gesture of (and pick a round figure of about 10%).

              Don't threaten anything, wait another four months and serve s21 notice.
              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).

              Comment


                #8
                Is there a bath in the property that the tenant could have used?

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by SnowyXmassTree View Post

                  It was a new shower head needed.
                  Hmm. Well that's what an idle plumber would tell you.

                  Given that it's a hollow piece of plastic, what fault could it have other than being furred up?

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Indeed, was she able to use a bath? Would she have asked for a significant reduction of rent if there wasn't a shower head when she moved in? I very much doubt it.

                    Say nothing and see what happens. If she does withhold rent, give her 24 hours to pay explaining why she doesn't have the right to withhold rent and informing her of the consequences if she doesn't pay up immediately. Take it from there.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      No bath at the property just a shower cubicle

                      Comment


                        #12
                        That's a bit different then. Still it sounds like she was able to use it, just not to its full power for most of the days so although I would acknowledge that it must not have been a very pleasant situation, you did your best to fix the problems asap in the same manner you would have done if it had been your own shower and you don't consider that a reduction in rent is called for, but maybe you could get her a bouquet of flowers.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          If you get no reasonable response to a polite request to pay rent I would:

                          a) Invoice her for the plumber and new shower head. It is the tenant's responsibility to keep fittings limescale free.
                          b) Send a letter before action regarding unpaid rent, and then proceed to a MCOL if the rent is not paid.

                          You need to send a formal warning and schedule of unpaid rent.

                          Definitely no flowers.

                          In the alternative offer a 0.1% rent reduction for 8 days provided she promises to keep the shower head in good order in future and repay her outstanding rent within 24 hours. Following by S21 4 months from now.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            DO NOT SEND FLOWERS!

                            AndrewDod advice is spot on.

                            Don't let this slide or else it will happen again and again.

                            You saw to the issue and resolved it even thought can be argued the issue was down to her negligence in keeping the shower clean. Tenant has no right to simply withhold rent. Make sure you collect.
                            Any advice I give is my opinion and experience, I am as you also learning.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Plastic shower heads can split, or the moulded thread, where the hose attaches, can break (tenants can break them, too). The problem may be nothing to do with limescale, but I agree that there is no basis for the tenant seeking to withhold rent. The last time I replaced one, it took 30 seconds and cost less than £10. I didn't require a plumber ...

                              Comment

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