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Scruffy Tenant - workmen won't do repairs

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Author Topic: Scruffy Tenant - workmen won't do repairs  (Read 199 times)
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« on: August 25, 2021, 06:17:31 PM »

We have a tenant who isn't very clean and tidy but pays her rent on time.  She has 4 young children and another one on the way.   We need to make repairs to the property but our workmen don't want to do it due to the cleanliness of the property.  There is a bad leak in the kitchen cupboard under the sink, she didn't let us know until it was causing problems - the cupboard is filthy, mouldy and rotten - we need to replace it once the leak is repaired but again the plumber wants the cupboard cleaned before he is prepared to work on it.  We have approached the tenant explaining this but she just got upset and said she is doing her best.  We also need to completely gut the bathroom and start again as it smells really bad of urine, its mouldy, dirty and the tiles are broken or missing. 

They are trying to decorate but there is paint everywhere, all over the carpets etc - this isn't too much of problem as they are old carpets. We know we can't make tenants clean up and in an ideal world we would ask her to leave and then completely refurbish the property but some of these repairs need doing now.  We would be grateful for any suggestions on how to deal with this situation. 
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« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2021, 07:01:57 PM »

I would find another plumber.Bearing in mind some of the work plumbers have to do,he is maybe being a bit fussy.He can wear a mask and rubber gloves presumably.That said, why on earth would you want tenants like this one minute longer than necessary? I would get the urgent work done and then you can serve notice. This sounds much worse than not very clean and tidy,and there is no chance that she will return the property to you in the same state it was when they moved in.
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« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2021, 08:52:06 PM »

An option - a serious one - is to agree with the Tenant that she will find a Plumber who will do the work and then bill you. That way of working can be successful. However, if there's urgency to it (water leaking) it might worry you if she's not that capable of handling life's little challenges... that said, who's ever heard of a prissy Plumber like the one you describe? Is he one of these that turns down "toilet jobs"? Good for him if he can... but I'd put effort into finding another who's more professional, I'd say.

You're 100% correct in saying that you can make the Tenant clean up. You have to wait until end of tenancy and see what you've got left. If end of tenancy never comes... well, you're getting all that rent, aren't you? I have been in some similar situations where a feckless Tenant of mine often seems to get into dramas and I really only get access once a year when the GSC is due... she'd changed the meter to pre-pay and one time I turned-up with the Engineer (all arranged with her) and the boiler wasn't on, and (scarily) it wouldn't ignite... but she just had no credit on it! I have my doubts that that tenancy will ever end. Whether there'll be a house at the end of it, I don't know.
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« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2021, 10:21:49 AM »

Ah, what you've done is adopt a rescue tenant. They are for life,not just the term of a 6 months AST.
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« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2021, 12:20:16 PM »

This is very unfortunate for everyone. I do not think there's any point asking her to find other tradesmen but I do think you can find those who would be willing to work with the current situation. Obviously things have got to a point where work needs to be done asap before there's going to be 5 kids around. My honest opinion is if you have tradesmen who are willing to do the work, to agree with them a schedule of what to do perhaps over an estimated timeframe of eg 4 weeks and then discuss with your tenants the whys and hows and what they can  do (if willing and able) to assist with the end goal of hygienic living conditions for themselves and their family. Afterall this is your asset and you simply have to make every effort to maintain it granted under difficult circumstances. I am thinking that if a health visitor came to see her new baby, I am not sure they would be able to ignore the living conditions and it could potentially have consequences for you as the Landlord. Personally I would factor in a cleaner for a minimum time just to get the required areas ready to be worked on by the plumber.
Unfortunately standards of tidiness and cleanliness is subjective and we are not allowed to impose our standards on the tenants. As I understand it, all I can do during inspections is to check for things that are broken/don't work/missing etc and not how often they've vacuumed and dusted. Your tenant is obviously struggling and although it's not your responsibility to improve her personal situation, you are responsible for looking after your property so I believe in this case, extra effort (=cost) is needed to protect your asset.
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« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2021, 03:05:13 PM »

With all due respect to EP,what you describe sounds like a  social work care package for a disabled or elderly person. Once you start on that path, you can't just walk away and expect them to maintain those standards.The tenant is presumably not mentally handicapped,and has chosen to have 5 children.Tenant's rights to live how they wish is a difficult one.If that means turning the place into a squalid stinking slum,then I would not tolerate that. No way  would I be spending time and money getting the place  put right,just to have them ruin it again.There's no easy answer,but eviction would be my choice.
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« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2021, 03:25:01 PM »

With all due respect to EP,what you describe sounds like a  social work care package for a disabled or elderly person. Once you start on that path, you can't just walk away and expect them to maintain those standards.The tenant is presumably not mentally handicapped,and has chosen to have 5 children.Tenant's rights to live how they wish is a difficult one.If that means turning the place into a squalid stinking slum,then I would not tolerate that. No way  would I be spending time and money getting the place  put right,just to have them ruin it again.There's no easy answer,but eviction would be my choice.

I do understand your point of view. I was trying to suggest how the OP could actually get the repairs done within the situation that exists now. My suggestions would be the same regardless of how it came about. Rent is being paid and I should have pointed out that once the repairs are completed or sufficiently completed then he would be in a better position to evict and re-let or whatever he chooses to do. I don't think anyone would spend time and money only to repeat the process some time further down the line.
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« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2021, 04:54:42 PM »

I think the landlord will have to be prepared for a lengthy void period. The logistics of doing things like a new bathroom safely and easily with a big family in situ would be complicated.   
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« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2021, 07:56:11 AM »

My point may have been missed, but that's OK... I find I'm losing my straight-talking abilities these days... when you obtain the Tenant's agreement that they'll happily source a contractor it has multiple positive effects.

Tenants will often agree to this if they're very private, or lead a hectic lifestyle... having the Landlord as piggy-in-the-middle can be a frustration. Sometimes they like to take it on their own shoulders and arrange something that suits them. But - then - if the problem the OP described is real (and it's not just the Plumber's sensitivities) the Tenant may get a reality-check and may even make moves to change.

This thread is actually about people, not mouldy cupboards.

All the Landlord needs, at the end of the day, is confirmation from the Tenant the problem has been fixed... a photo will do for that. A Landlord isn't going to inspect a leak under a cupboard in any more detail themselves.
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« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2021, 10:32:05 AM »

I don't think this would work with some tenants.I often pass on the contact details of my chosen tradesmen to reliable tenants,the invoice then gets sent to me. This particular tenant would not make the effort,and the next thing the landlord gets could be an inspection by the Environmental Health with threats of legal action.Even if the tenant does not report it, someone pointed out that a midwife or social worker would assume this was a slum landlord and take action.   
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« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2021, 11:06:23 AM »

It definitely wouldn't work with some Tenants... but it is, as yet, unknown whether it would work with this Tenant. There is no evidence this particular Tenant wouldn't make the effort... the lack of awareness on the part of the Landlord could be down to the Tenant not wanting to 'kick up a fuss' or bother the Landlord... people are weird... but once the Landlord gives her approval to get the issue resolved, she might be on it like a ferret up a drainpipe.

"Truth is, I thought it mattered. I thought that music... mattered. But does it bollocks! Not compared to how people matter."
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« Reply #11 on: August 27, 2021, 04:42:16 PM »

What a mass of contradictions you are.The purveyor of harsh words,with the soul of a poet. "Ferret up a drainpipe",so beautiful.No wonder I have a crush on you.
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« Reply #12 on: August 27, 2021, 04:53:20 PM »

Thank you. Reciprocated, of course.
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« Reply #13 on: September 06, 2021, 01:27:26 PM »

Thank you to everyone who has commented.  Our plumber isn't prissy - he has never complained before, just done any work necessary and carried out the gas safety etc but this time it is bad.  He just wanted the cupboard emptying and cleaning.  He isn't the only person who has refused to do any work in the property due to the state that the tenants live in.  We have tried to explain to the tenant that she needs to clean the property so that any remedial work can be undertaken but she doesn't seem to be bothered.   Apparently she has now cleaned the cupboard so he is going back to repair the leak.  We are looking at our options for the future.
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