Landlords – are you falling foul of response times?

When a tenant reports a problem in one of your properties, do you tend to it as a matter of urgency or ignore the problem until you get reminded by the tenant?

 

Repeatedly ignoring requests from your tenants and failing to resolve problems within your property could see you landed in court, your tenant holding onto the rent they owe you or worse still a serious incident taking place within your property as a result of your negligence.

 

Landlords ignoring requests for urgent repairs to be made

 

If you are a landlord who has fallen foul of a tenant repair request then you are certainly not alone. The Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC) reveal that thousands of tenants are awaiting major repairs to heating, electrical faults and water leakages despite repeatedly bringing the problem to the attention of the landlord.

 

In fact one in four notifications of major repair work being needed is not actioned a week or more after first reporting it. Tenants are being left for long periods of time with no hot water, potentially dangerous gas appliances and even condemned boilers.

 

Tenants are being forced to sit in cold conditions with no access to hot water, no running water in the kitchen and water leaks that could bring a ceiling down all whilst still being expected to pay their rent in full on time.

 

AIIC Guidelines on response times

 

Naturally, it would be a common sense approach for a landlord to respond with urgency to the most serious of problems such as a suspected gas leak, complete electrical failure and a burst pipe. Not only is it protecting the safety of your tenants which is a legal requirement, it is also protecting your valuable asset – your property.

 

The AIIC has introduced some guidelines on expected response times when tenants report a problem. Tenants should be given detailed guidance via the landlord or letting agent on what to do to make the property safe whilst the appropriate trades person is organised. This will include information on how to switch off the boiler, the consumer unit or the stopcock.

 

Matters requiring an urgent response within 24 hours:

 

  • Major Gas or Electrical fault which renders the tenant unable to access heating and hot water or complete household failure of electricity.

 

  • Major water leaks involving burst pipes

 

Within 48 hours:

 

  • Cookers

 

Within 72 hours:

 

  • Other appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers, fridge freezers etc.

 

Communication is key

Regardless of the problem reported to you by your tenant even if only minor should be dealt with in a timely manner. Keeping your tenant informed on repair progress and time scales is vital so that you can avoid complaints and disputes.

 

Don't forget your Electrical and Gas Safety Obligations

 

Many major problems can be averted with an annual gas safety check and an Electrical Safety check carried out in accordance with the recommendations.

 

Forego these checks at your peril – this month saw another set of landlords in court for failing to provide any form of gas safety checks for a property they had being renting out for 5 years. After an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive, it transpired that not only was compulsory certification for the property missing, but 2 gas fires were in use that had been previously condemned by the National Grid following a report of of a gas smell detected at the property.

 

The pair received a court appearance and a large fine for failing to follow compulsory requirements when renting out the property. However this could have been far worse as the pair knowingly endangered the lives of their tenants.

 

Tenants can request a copy of an up to date gas safety certificate and EICR at any time.