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rhayadersax
24-10-2009, 19:09 PM
Hello everyone. Firstly a bit of background...

We are not property "magnates." Our small house is rented out through a management agent because we now live in a different part of the country.

T has been in the house for about 3 years & doesn't speak English. This delays communication as an interpreter or T's English speaking teenagers have to be involved. T is in receipt of housing benefit although we don't know if it's paid direct to Agent or if T gets it first & passes it on.

T has NOT reported any problems with the property. It was only when the Agent went in to carry out the annual inspection that it came to light that the central heating boiler was not relighting after being completely turned off. This sounds like a thermocouple fault to me. It was certified 7 months ago with no problem.

Agent sent gas plumber in who condemned boiler. House has gas fire & immersion heater which are working fine so T does have heat & hot water - although NOT central heating so we really do want this problem fixed and told Agent to act as soon as they informed us.

We have instructed Agent to send tradesmen in & quote. This has dragged on for a month - partially because when a tradesman called at a pre-arranged and agreed time T was either out or wouldn't let him in.

Two quotes have come in for replacement boiler (£2500 & £2750) which we think are steep - possibly due to plumbers imagining fat wallets when a property agent asks for a quote!

We found a gas fitter in the area who also thinks this is steep, says the boiler may be repairable & will quote for replacement if it's not.

We asked plumber & agent to liaise 8 days ago to get this sorted. We've heard nothing back until today when we got a message from the Agent that T is threatening to with-hold rent.

I feel that T hasn't taken due care by informing the Agent of problems & they were only discovered on routine inspection. Agent is paid to manage the property but it seems that both Agent and T are responsible for this dragging on.

We just want reasonable quotes from competent fitters and to be able to appoint one to get the job done ASAP.

Where do we stand:
(a) on forcing T to allow tradesmen access to quote?
(b) with T's threat of with-holding rent?
(c) on holding Agent accountable for managing the property?

mind the gap
24-10-2009, 20:40 PM
Where do we stand:
(a) on forcing T to allow tradesmen access to quote? You can only 'force' access in a life and death emergency, but if you can show that you have made every effort to arrange a time convenient to T and T has not allowed access, then any claim T makes for disrepair is substantially weakened.


(b) with T's threat of with-holding rent?T cannot do this if you are attempting to effect repairs (and can prove this). Keep all letters, emails, texts, written record of all phone calls to T.


(c) on holding Agent accountable for managing the property?That will depend what it says in your contract with A.

P.Pilcher
24-10-2009, 20:58 PM
What I don't understand is how a boiler can be "condemmed" when it has a valid gas safe certificate. The prices quoted are steep and you should proceed as rapidly as possible to get independent quotes and get the central heating repaired or the boiler replaced as quickly as possible. I would be talking to the engineer who condemmed it when it was carrying a valid certificate and also to the engineer who certified in the first place. He may be more willing to effect a repair (replacing the thermocouple) than make an arm and a leg (+ commission to the agent) with a complete repair.

The bottom line is that your tenant needs his central heating (a service he is paying for) pronto!

P.P.

mind the gap
24-10-2009, 21:03 PM
The bottom line is that your tenant needs his central heating (a service he is paying for) pronto!

P.P.

Nobody would disagree with that, but if T is refusing access to LL's tradesmen, I fail to see how the LL can provide him with that central heating.

rhayadersax
24-10-2009, 22:02 PM
Nobody would disagree with that, but if T is refusing access to LL's tradesmen, I fail to see how the LL can provide him with that central heating.

We would dearly love to have had this all sorted within days of finding out about it but as I said, T has made it difficult for tradesmen to access. We've left it in A's hands to get quotes & let us know ASAP yet the message from A today was asking US what was going on & telling us that T was threatening to with-hold rent.

Of course, this now has to wait until Monday when A's offices are open. I'm tempted to tell A to forget pussy-footing around & post a letter through the door of the property giving T 24 hours notice of the tradesman calling.

As it's dragged on & the weather is now cold I would consider central heating to be emergency work and 24 hours notice of "A" letting tradesmen into the property reasonable. It's in T's interest after all! Am I right or wrong?

As A & T are taking so long to get this sorted I'm also tempted to tell A to get some electric heaters up there pronto.

silvercar
24-10-2009, 22:36 PM
If you give electric heaters you will never persuade tenant to allow access for tradesmen.

We don't know what your quote includes. I paid that sort of money for a back boiler to be replaced by a combi, so it involved rerouting pipework etc.

rhayadersax
25-10-2009, 01:12 AM
If you give electric heaters you will never persuade tenant to allow access for tradesmen.

We don't know what your quote includes. I paid that sort of money for a back boiler to be replaced by a combi, so it involved rerouting pipework etc.

That's only if the heaters are smaller than the letterbox - T would have to be in & answer the door to accept them. Perhaps I could smuggle a gas engineer in by cunningly disguising him as a Dimplex? :D

In all seriousness though, we are tenants ourselves - we rent where we live & rent out the house we own. Daft as it sounds the £'s work out better that way. We're not rolling in it & £2.5k to find for a new boiler is a huge blow. Saying that, we understand our responsibility & don't want to discomfort our T. We just want to sort it out & not get screwed in the process. If we lived on the doorstep we'd sort it ourselves but we live a long way away - which is why we employed "A" to make sure both "T" and us were happy.

"A" seems to be failing in this - add the communication problems with "T" and the whole thing is a bit of a mess with us being left responsible. By the way: "A" is an established one with several branches in the area so should know what they're doing.

mind the gap
25-10-2009, 07:50 AM
"A" seems to be failing in this - add the communication problems with "T" and the whole thing is a bit of a mess with us being left responsible. By the way: "A" is an established one with several branches in the area so should know what they're doing.

Yes, in principle, if agents are paid to manage they should get on and manage. However in this case they will probably say that they are trying to do this but that you are not happy with the boiler engineers they have come up with and you haven't organised anything else. It's the line of least resistance, in some ways.

Send a stiff email to both the manager and the tenants saying:

(i) you are trying to get your own gas engineer into the property to give a second opinion as the ones found by the agents do not seem to represent the best value for what will probably be an expensive repair, if boiler must be replaced
(ii) tenants are not co-operating by refusing access
(iii) until they do (co-operate), you cannot instruct your engineer to go in and assess what needs to be done - your hands are tied
(iv) that it is in everyone's interests for this to be sorted out before the cold weather sets in, so you would be grateful to either agent or tenants to let you know convenient dates/times when your plumber/fitter may have access and you will organise it.
(v) by threatening to withold rent, Ts are in clear breach of contract since you are doing all you reasonably can to organise a repair. If they continue to refuse to pay the rent you will serve a section 8 notice and require them to leave.

I do not see what more you can do.

davidjohnbutton
25-10-2009, 10:05 AM
When you send a letter to the tenant, run it through one of the online translators to change it to a language he understands. Maybe this is half the problem - the guy does not know what is going on.

Send the letter in English as well - the translators will do it sufficiently for the tenant to understand, but it is there for him to pass on in english as well to anyone english speaking that might help him.

mind the gap
25-10-2009, 12:50 PM
When you send a letter to the tenant, run it through one of the online translators to change it to a language he understands. Maybe this is half the problem - the guy does not know what is going on.

Send the letter in English as well - the translators will do it sufficiently for the tenant to understand, but it is there for him to pass on in english as well to anyone english speaking that might help him.
I would strongly agree that to send the letter in both languages is a really good idea, but the chances of his understanding a version spawned by an automatic online translator are virtually nil. They are hopeless, tending to produce translations which make no sense at all, or they mangle the intended meaning to the point where even greater confusion is created.

What is your tenant's first language? There is probably someone in his community who can go through your letter with him and/or translate it for him.

davidjohnbutton
25-10-2009, 13:32 PM
A few years ago, a friend of mine was taken ill in Tenerife and was hospitalised there. On his return, he was given a letter written in Spanish to bring home.

When he required further intervention here in the UK - no-one at the hospital could understand what the spanish letter was about, so I ran it through an online translator and it (although it sounded a bit off on the grammar) was sufficient for the NHA staff to understand what went on in Tenerife.

So they have their limitations yes, but its better than nothing.

mind the gap
25-10-2009, 13:46 PM
A few years ago, a friend of mine was taken ill in Tenerife and was hospitalised there. On his return, he was given a letter written in Spanish to bring home.

When he required further intervention here in the UK - no-one at the hospital could understand what the spanish letter was about, so I ran it through an online translator and it (although it sounded a bit off on the grammar) was sufficient for the NHA staff to understand what went on in Tenerife.

So they have their limitations yes, but its better than nothing.

I am afraid you will not convince me. A medical resume translated into English from Spanish is less likely to be mis-translated than a letter about refusing to pay rent and to allow access to one particular lot of gas fitters (rather than ones who have already been), from English into an as yet unknown language. This is partly because medical Spanish contains many English cognates, and also because it will have been written by someone with a high degree of training in writing clearly and concisely in their own language.

With the letter which OP needs to write, it will be important to strike the correct tone and to be clear about the business with tenants allowing access and not witholding rent. To some extent it will depend on which language is being targeted, but automatic translators are generally incapable of picking up on the pragmatics of a communication of this kind and rendering tone and meaning clearly without confusion in another language.

I teach some ESL to Polish students and they tell me that they have yet to find an automatic translator which does not produce gibberish in Polish.

rhayadersax
25-10-2009, 15:21 PM
As it happens the language in question is Polish. A is supposed to be liasing with the tradesman I found to arrange a convenient time for T - which I'll be reminding A of on Monday with a fixed timescale for them to let me know what's going on. I'll also contact tradesman to see if A has attempted to contact him.

There is a translator (the human variety) that A uses. In addition, Ts teenage kids speak English so, whilst communication isn't straightforward, it really shouldn't be as hard as it has been. Considering that T doesn't work due to disability he seems to be out rather a lot.

Why didn't T report the boiler fault? It was only discovered during an inspection. It's not only that. The inspection also found the patio door has jammed & won't open. If T had reported the problem it might have been fixable but it's been in that state for so long that it's siezed completely. We're quote worried that T isn't taking care of, or looking after our house.

It's funny that he manages to convey with-holding rent successfully. I have found out that he's on a Council Housing waiting list as our house it really too small for 2 adults & 2 teenagers. We didn't know they had kids - A told us they were a couple.

Maybe T thinks that with-holding rent & being evicted will get him a Council house? I'll be asking A to point out that Councils aren't obliged to re-house people that make themselves intentionally homeless.

I'll let you know how my phone call goes on Monday but I fear I'll be back with a whole new set of questions!

tom999
25-10-2009, 15:40 PM
Maybe T thinks that with-holding rent & being evicted will get him a Council house? I'll be asking A to point out that Councils aren't obliged to re-house people that make themselves intentionally homeless.In many cases where the LL evicts a tenant who is in rent arrears, the Council do rehouse them - it may not be in a Council house, but in temporary accommodation, e.g. a hostel.