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View Full Version : Tenant's complaint re leak- how to react?



jackboy
28-04-2008, 17:46 PM
I had a tenant phone me up on sunday night saying they had a water leak coming through the kitchen ceiling and could i go round. They had run a bath earlier and noticed water coming through downstairs. They bath was all sealed and boxed in so i had to pull it all out and in the process cracked a few tiles. However, once i had gained access it was apparent that nothing under there was leaking. Further investigation showed that the cause of the leak was the lever that switched between taps and shower was not full over and so when the bath taps were on and filling the bath the shower was also half on. The shower was spraying water onto the boxed in section at head of the bath that was leaking down onto the floor and through to the kitchen.

I am a little annoyed because the tenant has called me out on a sunday and in an effort to find the leak as quickly as possible have damaged the bathroom and pulled off all the sealant in order to gain access and now have to return in the week to repair and reseal and all because my tenant accidentally ran the shower over the edge of the bath. Afterwards they said the water was only coming through whilst the bath was filling, so surely most people would check obvious things like the shower head?

Anyway, what are ppls thoughts:

1. Part of the landlords job and just one of those things

2. Not really fair and above and beyond what's expected


Cheers

Colincbayley
28-04-2008, 17:50 PM
Have to agree with both 1 & 2.
Difficult one to call, if you want to put any cost onto the tenant then you would have to weigh up the possibility of replacing those tenants.

If it were me, I would cover the cost.

attilathelandlord
28-04-2008, 18:22 PM
1 and 2 it just goes with the territory. At least they had the sense to call you out.

I've had tenant's leave stuff running until the council have had to kick the door in and turn off taps to overflowing sinks etc.

ah84
28-04-2008, 21:44 PM
Part of being a landlord.

SEB
29-04-2008, 01:51 AM
I had a tenant phone me up on sunday night saying they had a water leak coming through the kitchen ceiling and could i go round. They had run a bath earlier and noticed water coming through downstairs. They bath was all sealed and boxed in so i had to pull it all out and in the process cracked a few tiles. However, once i had gained access it was apparent that nothing under there was leaking. Further investigation showed that the cause of the leak was the lever that switched between taps and shower was not full over and so when the bath taps were on and filling the bath the shower was also half on. The shower was spraying water onto the boxed in section at head of the bath that was leaking down onto the floor and through to the kitchen.

I am a little annoyed because the tenant has called me out on a sunday and in an effort to find the leak as quickly as possible have damaged the bathroom and pulled off all the sealant in order to gain access and now have to return in the week to repair and reseal and all because my tenant accidentally ran the shower over the edge of the bath. Afterwards they said the water was only coming through whilst the bath was filling, so surely most people would check obvious things like the shower head?

Anyway, what are ppls thoughts:

1. Part of the landlords job and just one of those things

2. Not really fair and above and beyond what's expected


Cheers

Are you a professional tradesperson?

If not, then these results are the unadvertised and unspoken consequences of being an amateur trades-person or DIY-er, results which may not have happened if a proper trades-person had been called and who would have been in charge of diagnosis.

The tenants didn't direct you to take out the bath, so the blame isn't really on them. They were somewhat concerned to see water leaking and you likewise upon being told this and so, this caused you to respond in a kind of knee-jerk fashion as is the way of amateur people.

I think I would have checked to see if the water was still leaking with the bath fully drained and then go from there.
If water was pouring out on sight without any water being used, then an emergency plumber is your only hope, even though most are 100% cowboys and with zero morality.

Just in case you think I know it all, I panicked in similar circumstances many years ago, although the damage was not permanent.

Take it as a learning experience and be pleased that its only a few cracked tiles and re-sealing and re-fitting the bath and not anything more serious.

As ATL mentioned, it could have been much worse.

Once, all my tenants had gone away for most of the weekend and the ball valve on the cold water tank had failed, causing water to pout out of the overflow for the best part of 2 days, non-stop - Niagra Falls!. Thankfully, the damage was not serious and most of the water poured outside safely.

After this experience, I removed all water storage from my properties and have had top combination boilers ever since (the Worcester Highflow combi is tops for me).

jackboy
29-04-2008, 10:55 AM
Are you a professional tradesperson?

If not, then these results are the unadvertised and unspoken consequences of being an amateur trades-person or DIY-er, results which may not have happened if a proper trades-person had been called and who would have been in charge of diagnosis.

The tenants didn't direct you to take out the bath, so the blame isn't really on them. They were somewhat concerned to see water leaking and you likewise upon being told this and so, this caused you to respond in a kind of knee-jerk fashion as is the way of amateur people.

I think I would have checked to see if the water was still leaking with the bath fully drained and then go from there.
If water was pouring out on sight without any water being used, then an emergency plumber is your only hope, even though most are 100% cowboys and with zero morality.

Just in case you think I know it all, I panicked in similar circumstances many years ago, although the damage was not permanent.

Take it as a learning experience and be pleased that its only a few cracked tiles and re-sealing and re-fitting the bath and not anything more serious.

As ATL mentioned, it could have been much worse.

Once, all my tenants had gone away for most of the weekend and the ball valve on the cold water tank had failed, causing water to pout out of the overflow for the best part of 2 days, non-stop - Niagra Falls!. Thankfully, the damage was not serious and most of the water poured outside safely.

After this experience, I removed all water storage from my properties and have had top combination boilers ever since (the Worcester Highflow combi is tops for me).

I disagree with you post. I didn't respond in a knee jerk fashion. I was told that the bath was leaking so had to remove the side panel to gain access to see for myself. Are you suggesting i should have had a plumber, carpenter and tiler there in order to do this? That's nonsense, i am not a tradesperson but have plently of experience of plumbing, carpentry and tiling. The bath was installed by the previous owner and he had nailed the bath panel down then boxed it in. I tiled it myself to make it look nicer. They only way to remove the bath panel was pull the boxing in out because it had been nailed down. Whether i'd done it my self or used 3 professionals as u suggest the results would have been the same.

In this instance i am going to bare the cost myself in order to promote good relations between myself and the tenant. But as for accountability, this clearly rests with the tenant for calling me out when there was nothing wrong. If you call a plumber out under these circumstances does he say there's nothing to fix so there's no charge. No, he says dont be so stupid next time, here's my bill :)

The one good thing is, as you say, it wasn't anything serious in the end

Colincbayley
29-04-2008, 11:13 AM
One way to avoid the problem in the future is to write into the AST your 'terms of business' of the such terms could be a 'false call out fee' payable if the tenant calls you out for something that they should be dealing with.
I doubt the clause would hold much water in law, but you could always refer the tenant to it when they call again.

SEB
29-04-2008, 11:14 AM
I disagree with you post. I didn't respond in a knee jerk fashion. I was told that the bath was leaking so had to remove the side panel to gain access to see for myself. Are you suggesting i should have had a plumber, carpenter and tiler there in order to do this? That's nonsense, i am not a tradesperson but have plently of experience of plumbing, carpentry and tiling. The bath was installed by the previous owner and he had nailed the bath panel down then boxed it in. I tiled it myself to make it look nicer. They only way to remove the bath panel was pull the boxing in out because it had been nailed down. Whether i'd done it my self or used 3 professionals as u suggest the results would have been the same

When you arrived, was the bath drained? If not, did you drain it before deciding what to do?
If bath was drained, did you look to see if water was still leaking?
If it was still leaking, was it drip-drip, or a small but continuous flow of water?
Was there a stain at the point in the ceiling where the leak was reaching or was the area just damp?
Did you ask the tenants if there had been any previous leak?
Did you ask them if they observed anything else?
Did you ask them anything?

These and other questions and observations are what I would look to before deciding if and how to respond.
You were told that the bath was leaking by lay people and not by someone who had assessed the situation.

I am suggesting that you could have done more things before ripping out the bath & before even considering if a trades-person should be called.

jackboy
29-04-2008, 19:48 PM
When you arrived, was the bath drained? If not, did you drain it before deciding what to do?
If bath was drained, did you look to see if water was still leaking?
If it was still leaking, was it drip-drip, or a small but continuous flow of water?
Was there a stain at the point in the ceiling where the leak was reaching or was the area just damp?
Did you ask the tenants if there had been any previous leak?
Did you ask them if they observed anything else?
Did you ask them anything?

These and other questions and observations are what I would look to before deciding if and how to respond.
You were told that the bath was leaking by lay people and not by someone who had assessed the situation.

I am suggesting that you could have done more things before ripping out the bath & before even considering if a trades-person should be called.

ha ha, i think you're over complicating the situation somewhat :D

Of course i didn't just go clumsying in there with my sledge hammer and start smashing things. I didn't take the bath out, i took the side panel off so that i could see underneath the bath. Unfortunately the previous owner had nailed the bath panel in and then boxed it in and sealed everything in. I had then tiled it. So it wasn't until i tried to get the bath panel off that i realised i would have to pull some of the boxing in out to get round the back. The tenant was worried about the electrics as the leak had come throught one of the light sockets. It really wasn;t possible to see where the leak originated until after the panel was removed and i stuck my head under and i could plainly see that the leak had originated not from the plumbing but from the boxing in section, leading to the deduction that the shower had been left on, which it had.

I'm no idiot and have years of plumbing experience. If you want to call out a plumber for every little problem then of course that's your choice, but i prefer to be more hands on. I think you've slightly missed the point of the thread anyway. The tenant called me out through lack of actually bothering to see what had happened. They just thought, 'oh call the landlord out'. Obviosuly i'd rather know if there really is a leak than not being told, but if they've just left the shower head hanging over the side or splashed a bit of water on the floor then it's not really fair to call me out, is it?

SEB
29-04-2008, 22:25 PM
ha ha, i think you're over complicating the situation somewhat :D

I'm no idiot and have years of plumbing experience.

I think you've slightly missed the point of the thread anyway.

I think you want people to agree with how you responded (and to blame the tenant) and you don't like it that a sensible alternative has been suggested that detracts from the position you have taken.

I see that you haven't answered any of my pertinent questions or referred to them.

I haven't misunderstood your post nor have I over-complicated the situation - I think you rather did this to yourself by not considering several key points before any action and as someone who claims to have lots of plumbing experience, this is even more eye-brow raising and head-shaking (like trades-people do) than it would be for a straight lay person.


The tenant called me out through lack of actually bothering to see what had happened.

And you didn't bother to properly assess the situation before taking action.

Not seeing how you could have avoided the work that you have to now rectify and which has you miffed, is what you can't seem to recognise here.

Please note:
I'm not trying to be funny or anything when I say that I'm not on this site to play message-tennis with people without good reason and so unless you are going to put forward sensible arguments or any points that you haven't already made, I won't be taking any time to respond, sir.

I think it would be beneficial for you to think about what I have written.

Anyway, I hope it all works out with the bath and that it doesn't cost too much money.

jackboy
29-04-2008, 23:48 PM
.

I think you want people to agree with how you responded (and to blame the tenant) and you don't like it that a sensible alternative has been suggested that detracts from the position you have taken.

I see that you haven't answered any of my pertinent questions or referred to them.

I haven't misunderstood your post nor have I over-complicated the situation - I think you rather did this to yourself by not considering several key points before any action and as someone who claims to have lots of plumbing experience, this is even more eye-brow raising and head-shaking (like trades-people do) than it would be for a straight lay person.



And you didn't bother to properly assess the situation before taking action.

Not seeing how you could have avoided the work that you have to now rectify and which has you miffed, is what you can't seem to recognise here.

Please note:
I'm not trying to be funny or anything when I say that I'm not on this site to play message-tennis with people without good reason and so unless you are going to put forward sensible arguments or any points that you haven't already made, I won't be taking any time to respond, sir.

I think it would be beneficial for you to think about what I have written.

Anyway, I hope it all works out with the bath and that it doesn't cost too much money.


I'm not psychic, i can't KNOW what happened by closing my eyes and breathing in the aura of the room. I couldn't possibly know UNTIL i looked under the bath and got a little more information on the subject. How could i possibly find out from the tenant that the leak was caused by the shower if they didn't even know... If u'd actually bothered to read my posts properly then u'd see that WHOEVER looked under the bath would have to break a tile to get access because it was all sealed in. I think you're just being argumentative for the sake of it.

The tenant WAS to blame, that wasn't in question and wasn't what i asked. I was just interested to see how other people would respond to this, and i did get some sensible answers to the original question i asked, thanks anyway tho :rolleyes:

SEB
30-04-2008, 02:22 AM
I'm not psychic, i can't KNOW what happened by closing my eyes and breathing in the aura of the room. I couldn't possibly know UNTIL i looked under the bath and got a little more information on the subject. How could i possibly find out from the tenant that the leak was caused by the shower if they didn't even know... If u'd actually bothered to read my posts properly then u'd see that WHOEVER looked under the bath would have to break a tile to get access because it was all sealed in. I think you're just being argumentative for the sake of it.

The tenant WAS to blame, that wasn't in question and wasn't what i asked. I was just interested to see how other people would respond to this, and i did get some sensible answers to the original question i asked, thanks anyway tho :rolleyes:

"By Their Fruits, We Shall Know Them"

ah84
30-04-2008, 07:52 AM
ha ha, i think you're over complicating the situation somewhat :D

Of course i didn't just go clumsying in there with my sledge hammer and start smashing things. I didn't take the bath out, i took the side panel off so that i could see underneath the bath. Unfortunately the previous owner had nailed the bath panel in and then boxed it in and sealed everything in. I had then tiled it. So it wasn't until i tried to get the bath panel off that i realised i would have to pull some of the boxing in out to get round the back. The tenant was worried about the electrics as the leak had come throught one of the light sockets. It really wasn;t possible to see where the leak originated until after the panel was removed and i stuck my head under and i could plainly see that the leak had originated not from the plumbing but from the boxing in section, leading to the deduction that the shower had been left on, which it had.

I'm no idiot and have years of plumbing experience. If you want to call out a plumber for every little problem then of course that's your choice, but i prefer to be more hands on. I think you've slightly missed the point of the thread anyway. The tenant called me out through lack of actually bothering to see what had happened. They just thought, 'oh call the landlord out'. Obviosuly i'd rather know if there really is a leak than not being told, but if they've just left the shower head hanging over the side or splashed a bit of water on the floor then it's not really fair to call me out, is it?


I hear what you are saying, but most tenants in my opinion are stupid when it come to plumbing and heating. I get called countless times by tenants that the heating is not working when they do not understand what a thermostat is. They touch their rad and because it is cold they think heating is not working.

attilathelandlord
30-04-2008, 08:24 AM
Ah yes the old thermostat routine! I once had a tenant where I was round there (in winter) about a completely different matter and the house was freezing, the tenant was sitting on the sofa wrapped in a duvet and had a small electric heater on the go. I asked what was wrong with the heating, was told it hadn't been working for a week. I was horrified, asked why she hadn't called me. Didn't get much of an answer. Went thru the usual checks and voila, the thermostat was set to zero. I put it to 22 degrees and on came the heating! (This tenant had been shown what to do around 5 times during a 3 year tenancy!).

I just can't get over what people will put up with rather than make a quick phone call!

TenantsLuvMe
30-04-2008, 09:39 AM
Ah yes the old thermostat routine! I once had a tenant where I was round there (in winter) about a completely different matter and the house was freezing, the tenant was sitting on the sofa wrapped in a duvet and had a small electric heater on the go. I asked what was wrong with the heating, was told it hadn't been working for a week. I was horrified, asked why she hadn't called me. Didn't get much of an answer. Went thru the usual checks and voila, the thermostat was set to zero. I put it to 22 degrees and on came the heating! (This tenant had been shown what to do around 5 times during a 3 year tenancy!).

I just can't get over what people will put up with rather than make a quick phone call!

Well, perhaps they are scared to call you 'coz your name is Attila and they fear retribution?

attilathelandlord
30-04-2008, 09:55 AM
No they were great tenants, all art students justs a bit dozy at times!

I remember going round there to wait for a workman and I had a massive hangover and had two nice greasy bacon sandwiches in my bag. They had a staffordshire terrior which looked mean but which was soppy as hell!

Damn thing had the sandwiches out of my bag and down its gullet while my back was turned. I thought I'd gone mad and only sussed it out when I saw the dog had bits of paper bag stuck to its mush!

Ruth Less
30-04-2008, 23:35 PM
I'm not psychic, i can't KNOW what happened by closing my eyes and breathing in the aura of the room. I couldn't possibly know UNTIL i looked under the bath and got a little more information on the subject. How could i possibly find out from the tenant that the leak was caused by the shower if they didn't even know...

Call me stupid if you like but this reads to me that it wasn't obvious to anyone, neither the tenant or yourself that the shower was the culprit until AFTER you had looked under the bath. Therefore looking under the bath was necessary.

If the tenant had spotted the shower was spraying water, and then turned it off without telling you and dried the wall/top of the bath boxed section/floor puddles or wherever the water went thus removing evidence then the tenant would be to blame. Otherwise if the tenant really didn't notice then they did right to call you out preventing further damage. If you didn't spot the shower was still on or the wet where it had sprayed either then this is just one of those unfortunate things.

Oh and it is not the tenant's fault that the bath panel is boxed in. Where a bath panel is removable by a couple of screws then the tenant can remove it and check under the bath for themselves. If that were the case they could have resolved it themselves. So the bad design is your responsibility not theirs.

Maybe the thing to take away from this is to ask the tenant to double check all taps, shower levers etc. are turned off/on before you come out should anything similar occur again.

Rule one is surely to make sure the offending unit is switched on or off? Rule two is that everyone overlooks rule one at some time or other.


I just can't get over what people will put up with rather than make a quick phone call!

Yes as a tenant I think twice before notifying the landlord of faults especially intermittent ones as I do not want to be blamed should nothing be found wrong.

Take the boiler here, the ignition is dodgy. It will be faulty for several days, then works OK for a week or so then goes bad again. At the last gas service it was on a good day but I still mentioned it to the gas man. I wouldn't ask for a repair as chances are when the man arrives it will be working and I'd get done for a call out fee...


One way to avoid the problem in the future is to write into the AST your 'terms of business' of the such terms could be a 'false call out fee' payable if the tenant calls you out for something that they should be dealing with. I doubt the clause would hold much water in law, but you could always refer the tenant to it when they call again.

Posts like the OPs do illustrate why tenants are reluctant to complain, they don't want a bill if they are mistaken. A clause like that would risk faults going unreported leading to more damage.

Ericthelobster
01-05-2008, 07:32 AM
Take the boiler here, the ignition is dodgy. It will be faulty for several days, then works OK for a week or so then goes bad again. At the last gas service it was on a good day but I still mentioned it to the gas man. I wouldn't ask for a repair as chances are when the man arrives it will be working and I'd get done for a call out fee...So you just tell the landlord that you have an intermittent problem and ask for it to be sorted. Everybody knows there are problems like this, especially with boilers; it's just one of those things. No reasonable landlord would try to make you pay for the call-out under such circumstances.

(One of my own tenants had such a problem not long ago; the engineer came and looked at the boiler which was working fine at the time; did some work on it, but the problem reoccurred so he had to come back. Next time he replaced something else, more expensive, and that did the trick).

attilathelandlord
01-05-2008, 13:29 PM
Exactly, mostly tenants won't call out the landlord and let the problem get massive, because they are frightenend to death they'll have to pay for stuff that's the landlord's responsibility anyway.

That's just sheer laziness and stupidity.

Also, if the tenant knows there is a problem but just leaves it and it gets worse, then yes, I'd expect the tenant to contribute as it is their fault because they didn't report it when it was only a little problem.

No decent landlord would expect a tenant to pay for fixing routine wear and tear stuff.

Ruth Less
03-05-2008, 15:21 PM
So you just tell the landlord that you have an intermittent problem and ask for it to be sorted. Everybody knows there are problems like this, especially with boilers; it's just one of those things. No reasonable landlord would try to make you pay for the call-out under such circumstances.

As I said I am not going to ask for a repair. Neither am I going to ask for "it to be sorted" as I am not qualified to do so. As already explained above I reported the fault to the landlord's gas man when he was here doing the boiler safety check and it is that man who decides on any repairs or not.
That he didn't seem bothered indicates that if I make a fuss I will get landed with a call out fee, he is the expert after all.

Some of you do seem to want it both ways - problems reported but the tenant charged if they are wrong. Tenants may not diagnose or report a problem accuracy and so if they make a mistake they should not be charged. Charge them, or have clause that says you will, and nothing will get reported in future, I would have thought that's obvious.

attilathelandlord
04-05-2008, 13:13 PM
No, you report it to the landlord, that's who's assets you are using. The gas man will only act if the item is dangerous.

I wouldn't want a tenant who won't report intermittent problems.

If there is a problem with the boiler then unless you had deliberately broken it, why on earth would you think you would have to pay for the call out?

Ruth Less
06-05-2008, 02:19 AM
No, you report it to the landlord, that's who's assets you are using. The gas man will only act if the item is dangerous.

I wouldn't want a tenant who won't report intermittent problems.

If there is a problem with the boiler then unless you had deliberately broken it, why on earth would you think you would have to pay for the call out?

Because the landlord's gas man that did the boiler safety check and who I explained the problem to thought it didn't much matter. Therefore although it sounds wrong to me I defer to the gas man's judgement as he is the expert. If a call out was done I do not expect the gas man to have changed his mind and thus I would be at fault for being too picky. I did expalin the issue to him in as much detail as I was able.

Ericthelobster
06-05-2008, 07:51 AM
Because the landlord's gas man that did the boiler safety check and who I explained the problem to thought it didn't much matter. Therefore although it sounds wrong to me I defer to the gas man's judgement as he is the expert.Of course it's wrong! I really don't understand your reasoning I'm afraid... you, me, your landlord and the gas man all know that it's not right for a boiler's ignition to fail every week or so. There's simply no "judgement" for him to make here. There IS something wrong with the boiler, end of story.

I suspect you've got a fitter who's got better things to do than mess about tracing an awkward intermittent problem - they can make their money faster and easier, so he's just fobbing you off. Either that or he's just plain incompetent and can't fix it. I certainly wouldn't accept such an outcome if it were my own boiler, and nor would I ever expect a tenant to do. Just tell your landlord the problem is still there and his gas man can't or won't sort it.

attilathelandlord
06-05-2008, 08:14 AM
Agree with you totally there ericthelobster, I wouldn't expect my tenants to put up with it, that's why the landlord needs to be told as then they can chase after the gasman, they can be a little "lazy" at times.

The tenant hasn't got a leg to stand on if they haven't told the landlord about the problem. The gasman would probably "forget" about the problem.

Ruth Less
08-05-2008, 02:10 AM
I suspect you've got a fitter who's got better things to do than mess about tracing an awkward intermittent problem - they can make their money faster and easier, so he's just fobbing you off. Either that or he's just plain incompetent and can't fix it.


Ericthelobster, The fitter was here ages. Normally the gas safety check is 20-30 mins and this time he was here well over an hour. I am pretty sure he did more looking/dismantling than normal due to my mentioning the problem but it's hard to tell. (He's the LL's fitter not mine and I got the impression he doesn't like the make of boiler here, I got a history of it's pro's and con's, not that I wanted one I was trying to get on with something else).

Ruth Less
08-05-2008, 02:11 AM
Agree with you totally there ericthelobster, I wouldn't expect my tenants to put up with it, that's why the landlord needs to be told as then they can chase after the gasman, they can be a little "lazy" at times.

The tenant hasn't got a leg to stand on if they haven't told the landlord about the problem. The gasman would probably "forget" about the problem.

attilathelandlord, Well if he forgets maybe I will too ;)

I will check my AST to make sure there are no clauses like Colincbayley mentioned about 'false call out fee' and then decide. If I get into trouble with a false call out fee will you chaps advise? I'll send the LL over here!

Ericthelobster
08-05-2008, 06:26 AM
I will check my AST to make sure there are no clauses like Colincbayley mentioned about 'false call out fee' and then decide. If I get into trouble with a false call out fee will you chaps advise?If you're really worried about it and want to cover your rear end, then keep a running log of exactly when the problem occurs, which you can report to the landlord when you ask for the boiler to be fixed.