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Asking on behalf of a work colleague


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I'm only a part-time landlord so I'm asking this on behalf of a work colleague at my 'day job'.

He has a number of items that haven't been fixed around the house that he rents (like cracks in the walls etc), despite multiple promises that they would be fixed. I advised him to get the managing agents (Martins) round to show them the problems, and if they weren't done to threaten to withhold rent.

Apparently Martins have been round and told him 'put up with the issues and keep paying the rent or move out.' (Isn't it lovely how they put us landlords in such a good light.... )

Martins say that they are going to try get the landlady to sort the issues out but he's been down this road before and doesn't think anything will be done. When he mentioned withholding the rent until the work had been done Martins said that they would be evicted (again, a nice, caring supportive touch there by Martins...). 

What options does my colleague have here? I don't want to mis-advise him....





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Well the agent is technically correct in what they are saying but there are ways of saying things without being argumentative.

1. If the cracks are thin hairline movement type cracks they are likely to be cosmetic and the landlord has no obligation to rectify. Any sensible landlord wishing to keep a "good" tenant would be foolish not to at least consider some decoration. But if a tenant was considered a labour intensive pain in the backside person who moaned about everything the landlord may not be so obliging.

2. Normally the agent would have to get permission from the landlord to instruct contractors so if a non emergency task/job doesnt get done dont blame the agent unless they are not keeping you informed.

3. Withholding rent is very likely to mean getting served notice at the first convenient time by the agent/landlord which will then have a impact on the ability to easily rent again. 

Your colleague has a number of options open to them:

1. Move out and find somewhere else.

2. Accept the situation 

You could formally request the address of the landlord which legally has to be provided within 21 days I think. But contacting the LL direct could go either way.

You could take photos of the issues send to the agent and request a response within 7 days and timescale of repair and or add 2 quotes to rectify and state unless they are fixed by xx you will instruct works to fix yourself and deduct the amount from the rent THOUGH THIS COMES WITH RISK.   


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You don't give much detail on what the issues are.

Presumably what he wants are the issues fixed, a landlord that is happy for him to stay and no increase in his rent.

Unfortunately he doesn't have many options that will result in what he wants.

What all tenants need to do is report defects in writing and in as much detail as possible to their landlord or lettings agent. Providing that has been done and none of the repairs are safety related you may find that they won't get fixed. Forcing an unresponsive landlord may well result in receiving notice or a rent increase.

The bigger picture here is that tenants have a duty of care to themselves to check out a prospective landlord.....after all, you just don't know what you might get.

Tenants also have a responsibility for fixing smaller items themselves such as replacing batteries & light bulbs, cleaning filters etc

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The key to the situation here is that the problems have been reported and promises have been made that the repairs would be completed and they have not been done.

You don't mention what the other issues are and if they are very minor then perhaps the tenant should fix them? Cracks in the wall perhaps need more information like are they big cracks? or light crazing cracks?

Withholding the rent will achieve nothing except escalating the problems between landlord and tenant.

I have to say though if this was me I would be on the case in a flash especially if I had a very good tenant....... and I would be....... but that is me.

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If a landlord reported that there were problems with their tenant and then it was discovered that the landlord had not done any checks before letting the property we would probably say landlords fault.

Why should that be any different for tenants. Very few make any effort to determine the suitability of the landlord ?

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Withholding rent is not the answer - it is likely to get a Section 21 notice which means eviction.  Insist on having the name and address of the landlord -legally tenant is entitled to know this and write, on paper to the landlord setting out the issues.

Martins like most agents suffer a degree of communication blindness when it comes to dealing with minor issues like this.

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