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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 47376
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I am an absentee landlord, I let my house to loc.,housing.org

Resolved Question:

I am an absentee landlord, I let my house to loc.,housing.org who then sublet to a tenant on housing benefit. The lease is for 3 years and my rent is fixed though they get the increases in housing benefit, in return they agree to return the property as was and to do maintenance if need to the interior. The lease has been running for 2 years now. I am responsible for external repairs and heating. I have always fixed any that were reported to me immediately. I was notified that a wall cabinet had come away from the wall and fallen onto the worktop and then to the floor.
This damaged the worktop and some floor tiles as well as the cabinet. The tenant investigated and informed me that it was caused by water penetration. They discovered a leaking gutter and rising damp. The gutter was in good working order when the house was first leased and there was no sign of rising damp I instructed the works to be carried out to rectify the situation, Rising damp cannot reach the level of the wall cabinet and so any dampness which affected the wall cabinet must have been the result of a faulty gutter. The walls are cavity walls which were insulated by British gas. My problem is that in order for any dampness to reach the inner wall as a result of a gutter must have been the result of a longer problem that had not been reported. Had the faulty gutter been mentioned then it would have been repaired and penetration would not have occurred to the extent of loosening fittings. Am I legally responsible for this when I had no knowledge of this fault and are there any legal precedents for this judgement.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hello, my name is***** am a qualified solicitor and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. What are they trying to claim from you?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The cost of a replacement wall cabinet, a new worktop , 7 floor tiles and labour. I have already paid for new guttering and rectifying rising damp . the cost of the first is £630 plus vat, the latter was £3000.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
The starting point is that you, as the landlord, would be responsible for dealing with rising damp issues because there would be a term implied into the tenancy agreement which says that it's your responsibility to keep the exterior and structure of your home in repair. Saying that, you need to have been made aware of the problem first and you cannot be expected to fix something which you were not aware of. So the key to your responsibilities is that you should have been made aware of the issues first and only then would there have been an expectation for you to fix them.
Even if you were liable for the repairs because you knew of the issues, that does not automatically make you liable for the damage incurred to the cabinet and tiles. Any damages incurred must be reasonably foreseeable so you would have an argument that it may not necessarily have been reasonably foreseeable that a cabinet would fall and I turn damage tiles.
Finally, I am not too certain they would take this all the way to court if they wanted to challenge your decision not to compensate them. They may threaten you but actually proceeding with the claim may be something they won’t go to.
I hope this has answered your query. I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating (3, 4 or 5 stars) as that is an important part of our process and recognises the time I have spent assisting you. If you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me on here and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I assume that if they then deduct this cost from the rent (which they have stated they will do) then I have to take them to court for the monies. As I am presently in China this would prove problematic.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Do they have a deposit with you?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No, as stated they are tenants who then sublet to a tenant on housing benefit. They are an organisation , no deposit was given except a guarantee that the house would be in the same repair (less fair wear and tear) as when they took over the tenancy.
Which gives rise to the question is it their responsibility for the replacement and repair. Incidentally you keep long hours.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Oh yes when it is busy I can be here all day....at least I can work from home which helps. So you are correct that if they refuse to pay rent then you are looking at the small claims court as the only realistic way of pursuing this. A deposit would have covered such issues but in this case it won't be relevant. The fact that you are in China won't help but it does not make it impossible. You can still make the claim if you have a UK address for correspondence and can send someone on your behalf to deal with this. If your original question has been answered I would be grateful if you could please quickly rate my answer by selecting 3, 4 or 5 starts at the top of the page - it only takes a second to do and is an important part of our process. I can still answer follow up questions afterwards if needed. Thank you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
ne final point, in your reply you mentioned rising damp, however the problem was caused not by rising damp but by a gutter that had become defective. Whereas rising damp is not immediately visible and cannot reach the height of a wall cabinet accorind to structural engineers and builders, a defective gutter which was above a kitchen window one level up( it is a 4 bedroomed house) could over time have caused this. However it would have been noticeable that it was defective and the sub tenant never reorted this as an issue. I assume that this fact does not alter my case and may strengthen it.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
yes correct, your right and obligations do not change but as mentioned you are only required to fix things which you are aware of, so if they had known there was something in need of repair, but never brought it to your attention and you have not seen t as you do not visit the property, then they can't realistically claim that you were negligent and left the property into disrepair. They can only really do that if they advised you of the issues, you did not fix them and as a result they suffered damage. Hope this clarifies?
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