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lou
05-09-2006, 23:42 PM
Hi, grateful for some advice. My tenant did not inform my agent of a leaky washing machine and I would guess from the damage that it has been leaking for approx 4 - 5 months. I only found out about it because the neighbouring tenant complained about damp coming through to his property. My agent informed me that he inspected the property recently and saw no cause for concern and there were no signs of damp. However the walls are now black with damp to approximately 1m high, the adjacent wall is wet up to the height of the wall units, the plaster is wet and coming off the walls and the floor was soaking wet. It took my plumber less than 5 minutes to locate the leak (which you could hear dripping as soon as you entered the room!) and fix it!

I guess the tenant did not inform the agent as he is on the only leaseholder but he has 3 other people living in this small one-bedroom flat, however due to this he has now caused a LOT of damage.

What I would like to know is who would be responsible for the cost of the repairs - it is not general wear and tear and he was negligent in not informing the agent of the problem when it was first noticed.

My agent will deal the issue of the extra lodgers.

Many thanks in advance for any advice anyone can give.

Lou

Surrey
06-09-2006, 07:18 AM
...What I would like to know is who would be responsible for the cost of the repairs - it is not general wear and tear and he was negligent in not informing the agent of the problem when it was first noticed...

You need to look at your tenancy agreement, that is the only place you will find the real answer to your question. Depending on how long your tenant has been in and who prepared it you may find a clause along the lines of: "The tenant agrees to notify the landlord or his agent as soon as is practicable of any defect, damage or disrepair which develops or occurs at the premises which might be, or might reasonably be expected to become, a hazard or danger to life or limb or the fabric of the premises itself." (from recent ARLA tenancy agreement)

Although the damage may be something you can claim on your buildings insurance (but check with them) you may still be entitled to recover any excess you have to pay from the tenant who didn't report the problem, again depending on your tenancy agreement. Look for another clause around the Insurance section that may say something along the lines of: "To reimburse the landlord for any excess sum up to a maximum of £250 payable under the landlord’s insurance policy for each and any claim on the landlord’s policy resulting from any action or inaction on the part of the tenant, his invited visitors or guests in breach of this agreement."

So in short, check your tenancy agreement, it should all be in there.

Don't know if you have any claim against the agent though, you might find they have a get-out clause in their agreement with you that in effect lets them off the hook for not noticing a significant leak. If the damage is as significant as you describe one wonders just how cursory their inspection was. I take it you have a full management agreement with them? Do check that agreement to see if they are liable in any way. (Personally I would have thought so but I'm not legally trained, and I am also not a fan of letting agents so I admit to being a bit jaundiced on that question.)

lawstudent
06-09-2006, 08:02 AM
I feel that whatever it says in the tenancy agreement the tenant has been negligent and you have a good case against him for damages. How much you will get out of him, with or without a court order, is another matter. In the first place it might be an idea to try to negotiate a compromise settlement. Any terms you suggest in writing should be headed WITHOUT PREJUDICE. Good luck.