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Joshua
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 25358
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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My husband and I are having an issue with our tenants

Customer Question

Hi
My husband and I are having an issue with our tenants and wanted to clarify where we stand from the point of view of the Tenancy Agreement and Landlord and Tennant Act.
Circumstances
Over the Christmas period our tenants were away for the holidays for approximately 3 weeks. A clause in the Tenancy Agreement states that they need to notify us if the property left empty or unoccupied in excess of 14 days. This was never dome.
Upon their return on the 5th Jan, the tenants informed us that the property was flooded from the flat above, boiler, wiring and electric were out of commission and flat rendered uninhabitable. We came to inspect the damage same day. By the time we arrived the Managing Agents sent out an emergency plumber who stopped the leak and gave approval to the tenants for emergency accommodation 3 times the price of their current rent per calendar month.
Upon our arrival to inspect the flat the tenants have informed us that they relocated into temporary accommodation which they received approval for from Managing Agents on the basis that building insurance will compensate their costs. We were never asked for approval of the costs and at no point have agreed to compensate the tenants for the difference.
We immediately started seeking insurance company's approval to start repairs, which eventually were completed 45 days later. We moved as quickly as possible to make sure the flat was put back to inhabitable state. At the same time we started looking into Managing Agents' approval of costs of temporary accommodation.
Last week it transpired that despite Managing agents approving the costs of temp accommodation the Buildings Insurance will not cover costs of tenants and only compensate us the owners for the equivalent of rental income. Our tenants were effectively left out of pocket for the difference.
While investigations and approvals were taking place my husband and I did not charge our tenants any rent for January and February (that's longer than the 45 days they spent living in temporary accommodation, so effectively we are not out of pocket for about 14 days that the buildings insurance did not compensate us for and tenants did not pay).
Yesterday we have received a letter from our tenants stating that we are liable to cover the difference between the rent and what they paid for temporary accommodation within 14 days or they will take us to court.
I checked the contract with the Letting agent this morning to see if we have any provisions to provide tenants with temporary accommodation or compensate for the costs, and we do not have such provisions in the contract.
So
- We have already not charged them rent for two months.
- The flat was left empty for 3 weeks without notification
- Tenants never sought or received our approval for overly expensive temporary accommodation
Are we contractually liable to compensate them for the difference and are there any overriding clauses in the Landlord and Tennant Act that would make us liable to pay the difference? Please note we did kick off repairs as soon as it was possible.
I would really appreciate clarification.
Many thanks and kind regards,
Katerina
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.
Joshua :

Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practicing lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.

Joshua :

Thank you for the comprehensive information you have posted. You refer several times to managing agents in your post. May I clarify are these your letting agents which might manage the letting for you or is this the managing agents that manage the entire leasehold block of flats on behalf of the freeholder please?

Customer:

hi Joshua,

Customer:

I refer to both. There are Managing Agents who manage the building and deal with buildings insurance. Also Lettings agents who put together tenancy agreement, they are mentioned in the last part of the email so for most part im talking about the actual Managing agents who manage the building

Joshua :

Thanks...

Joshua :

I be with you in just a moment...

Joshua :

my apologies for the short delay - I just had to take a phone call.

Customer:

no problem at all

Joshua :

Based upon what you say, the position is as follows: the tenants are in breach of their tenancy and in breach of contract for failing to advise you of their extended non-occupation. Such clauses are placed there for a reason because many standard insurance policies will not provide cover for extended vacancy periods and also for the obvious reason that empty properties are generally more susceptible to things like damp and so on. If you can show that the damage caused to your property was exacerbated due to their breach of contract you may have a claim against the tenant for the increased damage. however, if the damage is covered by insurance in any event, you may decide this is not worthwhile pursuing

Joshua :

as regards ***** ***** demand for compensation. Sometimes there are provisions in tenancy agreements for periods where the property is uninhabitable however many tenancy agreements do not contain such provisions and I note from what you say yours does not. Where there are no provisions, there are two options when the property is rendered uninhabitable. In such circumstances, the landlord may no longer charge rent for any period the property is made uninhabitable. The tenant will need to make his own arrangements for alternative accommodation and the landlord is not responsible for paying the costs of that accommodation. The alternative which can be agreed between the landlord and tenant that neither party is required to agree, is that the landlord continues to charge rent and pays for the cost of reasonable alternative accommodation.

Customer:

my concern is also that they rented a very expensive temporary flat without our permission and want us to cover the costs

Customer:

the insurance is not actually liable to pay anything in excess of rent

Customer:

we have not charged them rent but now they are asking to coverthe difference

Joshua :

you say, the managing agent (not your letting agent) advised your tenants that they could move into alternative accommodation and proved that accommodation. if the managing agents did so, this is entirely a matter between them and your tenants. The managing agents do not represent you as your tenants landlord and therefore representations made by the managing agent do not bind you. The tenants may or may not have a grievance against the managing agent for what they were told by them but this is a matter between them not you.

Customer:

ah great! so looks like we fall into the first category where we did not charge them rent

Joshua :

Finally, as landlord, you are not liable for the cost of damage to many of their personal possessions. If any of their personal possessions were damaged, they will need to claim against their own contents insurance policy unless they can demonstrate negligence on the part of the neighbour from his flat there was a leak which case they may attempt to claim against that neighbour

Customer:

Joshua brilliant! thank you very much I think this pretty much answers all my questions!

Customer:

and thanks for a quick answer

Joshua :

accordingly, from your perspective, you can consider applying to your tenants request along the lines that unfortunately you were not able to accede to their requests as you are not liable in law to cover the cost of alternative accommodation in the event the property is uninhabitable. During any period tthe property is uninhabitable, the tenants are not liable to pay rent and you have not sought rent for the period in question. You may also wish to reserve your position in respect of any costs arising from the failure to notify you of their extended absence reminding them that this is a breach of their tenancy.

Joshua :

a pleasure.

Joshua :

I am glad I was able to assist.

Joshua :

If you have no further questions for now I should be very grateful if you would kindly take a moment to rate my service to you today. Your feedback is important to me. If there is anything else I can help with please reply back to me though

Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 25358
Experience: LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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