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False Call Outs


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I am a very inexperienced LL (probably apparent to any that read my other posts).

This post prompted by a friend of mine (honestly not me!!) recent experience as a LL of even less time than me. Property via a LA 2 hours drive from friends home. One evening receives a call at home from T

T. I have no electric power

F. What do you mean no power?

T. No lights working anywhere

F. Do you have power to your sockets?

T. Yes

F. Then you have the ability to at least see using our plug in lamps. I don't know what you can expect me to do about this at this time of the night but please phone LA to get issue sorted.

Next day LA sent out their contractor who finds that the RCB had tripped due to a light bulb failing in the living room – reset the RCB and even replaced the light bulb. From what I understand the LA has said that they will not charge him for this their contractor doing a lot of work in the area. Lucky him but I would expect my LA would be wanting to charge for this!

It does seem to me that there are T's out there that seem to think that they are staying in a hotel and the slightest problem or failure of any system is the sole responsibility of the LL.

Hopefully the LA will understand this situation but after recent problems I feel the need to make my position clear on this i.e. I will not be responsible to pay for call outs that prove to be false and could/should have been dealt with by the T and financial cost incurred will fall with the T

As I can imagine the potential for my T to be of like mind (to the T above) I am wondering how you deal with this type of situation?

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As I have good technical knowledge I would expect to be able to talk a T through the issue, if I'm available.

As I don't expect my T's to have great I.Q. I'm not sure I would blame a T for not having enough nounce to resolve such themselves, and I would fear their dabbling with my kit.

Of course resetting a circuit breaker isn't complicated but many fear electric.

Truth is I'm not sure how to view a call out for this.

I don't guarantee lamps (bulbs if you prefer) and T's replace at their own cost.

A lamp going down and tripping a CB is a common occurrence (especially an RCB), that's what the CB is there for, to detect faults, even if only momentary.

Should we be responsible when the equipment acts correctly as designed ??

I tend to think that the T should be responsible for the every day running of the house, and this is what the situation is ??

Others opinion is of interest.

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We have had similar situations and now ensure that tenants receive a 'Help Sheet' when they move into one of our places.

There is an increasing amount of documentation supplied to tenants now....AST, extra clauses, S21, deposit protection, RGI, guarantor, EPC etc.....one more that attempts to summarize the important bits wont hurt.

Here is one of our sheets, this ones for leasehold but, obviously you can modify to suit your needs:

Tenant Help Sheet

This sheet summarises the main Do's & Don'ts of your rental of…………………


  • You can arrange to have a water meter fitted if you wish. You should contact Essex Water to arrange. They will ask you to obtain written permission from your landlord….I will supply this on request.
  • You can change you gas or electricity supplier but must advise the landlord of any change of supplier.
  • You are NOT permitted to have a pre-pay meter installed.

    Letter/ Notices addressed to the Landlord/ Owner

    • You MUST deliver/ forward any letters or notices addressed to the landlord/ owners to the landlord promptly.

      Regular Tasks expected of the Tenant

      • Keep the oven & hob clean.
      • Ensure the fridge/ freezer is defrosted regularly.
      • Check smoke alarm batteries regularly.
      • Clean / Change filters on washing machines & hob extractors as required.
      • Clean shower head as required.
      • Fit new vacuum cleaner bag when required.

        Repairs/ Maintenance

        Tenants are responsible for carrying out small repairs themselves. Here is a list of examples:

        • Changing light bulbs.
        • Replacing batteries in smoke alarms, clocks, door bells etc.
        • Replacing fuses.
        • Fixing tap washers.
        • Unblocking sinks & toilets.
        • Tightening loose screws or hardware.

      You should contact the landlord if you have any difficulty or if there is anything you are unsure of.

      Restrictions contained in Property Deeds or Lease

      [*]No aerials or satellite dishes.[*]No window boxes.[*]No trailer, caravan or boat to be parked on the estate.[*]No vehicle maintenance to be carried out.[*]Parking is for private motor vehicles only.[*]No commercial vehicles are to be parked on the estate.[*]You are not to obstruct entrances stairways or corridors (with or without bicycles).[*]You are not to exhibit any notice or advertisement on the premises.[*]No music, radio or other instrument or singing between 11pm & 9 am[*]No dog, cat or other animal or reptile to be kept at the property.[*]Not to carry out any business at the property.[*]Not to store flammable liquids (other than in the tanks of motor vehicles).[*]Not to hang washing or other articles outside of the premises.

      Restrictions contained in Tenancy Agreement

      [*]No sub-letting of the property is permitted.[*]No decorating, no alterations & no additions are permitted without the landlord's written permission.[*]Do not affix anything to the walls without the landlords permission[*]Heating must be left on at all times during winter months.[*]Tenants are responsible for ensuring adequate ventilation to minimise condensation & prevent damage by mould. See pamphlet 'Controlling Condensation & Mould' already supplied.

      Your Tenancy Agreement should be referred to for more detailed information concerning do's and don'ts.

      If you fail to comply with any of the items it may result in a financial claim against you or your guarantor and may affect the amount of deposit that is returned to you at the end of your tenancy.





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COR, In a case like this and if it had been my T I would hope that I would have been able to talk them through reset of RCB – in this case my friend did not think this through and advise the T. Seems that the LA staffs are not able/willing to offer advice preferring to send out a contractor. Cynical side of me would think that this could be a money spinner for LA but in this case no charge so ....

Richlist, thank you for taking the time to provide your T Help sheet much appreciated. I did in fact provide a similar document to the T after reading David Lawrensons book prior to starting to let. Rather pompously titled The House Guide. Although not as comprehensive as yours along similar lines – perhaps need to revisit this and rewrite.

I notice that no mention is made of T financial responsibility for false call outs. In your opinion should this be made clear or is it likely to be seen as trying to duck LL responsibility and put the T off the whole idea?

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I guess I am lucky or forunate that my rental properties are all but 5 minutes drive away so I can sort out problems fairly quickly but with Tony W's friend blown light bulb saga I guess I would talk the tenant through the procedure of resetting a tripped CB....funny enough I had this happen to me this afternoon in my own property.


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I notice that no mention is made of T financial responsibility for false call outs. In your opinion should this be made clear or is it likely to be seen as trying to duck LL responsibility and put the T off the whole idea?

In my situation most of my properties are all relatively local so, either I or very reliable people I know can quicky call round and provide hands on assistance. Because of this, call out charges are never ever incurred. But, I can assure you that if a tenant did call someone out to fix a minor issue such as you describe then I'd be happy to insist, thru the courts if necessary, that they pay.

I am of the opinion that the law requires tenants to affect minor repairs themselves. A blown light bulb and tripped RCD ca ONLY be described as minor.

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I am of the opinion that the law requires tenants to affect minor repairs themselves. A blown light bulb and tripped RCD ca ONLY be described as minor.

Minor work for one person can be a larger issue for others, as a T becomes responsible (in theory) where they do or authorise a job I have some sympathy and even respect where they resist the temptation.

Having had too many occasions where they do as they wish and I get lumbered with the result I think I prefer the inconvenience of them keeping their hands to themselves.

Some time ago there was discussion (the old forum) on our responsibility to provide instructions, manuals and such like, for equipment in our properties, legislated I believe.

This should clearly be for boilers, ovens, alarm systems and more.

I don't and hope never to be in a position where I must or suffer penalties. This is because like the Gas Cert they would rarely be found in the property at the end of a tenancy.

The chew and expense of providing new (or copies) for the next tenancy is more than I am willing to deal with.

But worse you give a manual for the boiler to a T and he may well perceive that you have authorised him (therefore the result is your responsibility) to 'dabble'.

After all anything that requires more complex instruction than fold the paper 3 times prior to wiping is too complicated for them to touch.

My general instruction to T's is what ever you want to do don't.

My answer to those regular questions of "can we just" is to say I don't give authorisations and the responsibility for anything done lies with them.

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I understand your point and in principle I agree BUT, I think its easy to go to far.

Clearly, changing a light bulb & resetting an RCD trip, as was required in this case IS the tenants responsibility......if they can't do it then they should get some help at their cost. Its difficult to see how even the most incompetant person could screw up the repair......although someone, somewhere probably has!

Jumping every time they call out frog and repairing / paying the costs will just result in them taking complete advantage of you.

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Though the tenant normally only has a contract with the landlord we also have a short contract they sign with us (the agent) which lists charges the tenant will (not always charged if we choose not to) pay for such as failed call outs, section 8 served for rent arrears, contract renewals etc..

On the few times we have had a contractor called out when it wasn't necessary most times the contractor hasn't charged but when they have i have asked for the invoice to clearly state there was no fault and then asked for the tenant to reimburse us which they have.

The last time was a very stroppy tenant complaining the kitchen waste pipework was backing up and he wanted someone out NOW. It turned out he came back pxxxxd the night before and was sick in the sink. My plumber wasnt very happy but the tenant did pay up.

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In my case the property is probably about 40 minute drive on the motorway when traffic ok. While I am not averse to visiting I have to date left the LA to sort out problems using their contractor. I would imagine that I would be charged for a call out even if false - understandably so IMO and in that case I believe the T should be responsible for the cost.

COR, you raise a very good point about capability of T's I did provide photocopies of all the appliance manuals and boiler manual thinking that T's should check first to troubleshoot and ID the problem - time will tell if this a good idea

Richlist, I certainly do not want to get into the situation in the future of the T thinking they can take advantage and I would certainly expect them to pay for false call outs - need to speak to LA to get their take on this

Grampa, the short contract specifying T charges for false call outs etc. sounds ideal. Will check with my LA if similar is in place.

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COR, you raise a very good point about capability of T's I did provide photocopies of all the appliance manuals and boiler manual thinking that T's should check first to troubleshoot and ID the problem - time will tell if this a good idea

Good idea or not........ the tenants are responsible for small repairs.

It matters not wether they are capable of changing a light bulb......the law says they are responsible and so they are.

If that means bringing in help then thats what they need to do.

If that means paying someone to do it then thats what is needed AND

If that results in damage or further repairs being required then they are responsible.

Perhaps everyone is just getting confused. Just because someone is paying rent it doesn't remove the need for them to spend money in areas that are their responsibility.

It all seems quite simple to me.......am I missing an important fact ?

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The ideal's that legislation attempts to create ( he says cynically and sarcastically) very often have no bearing on many real world situations, mine for example, and they are unworkable.

Where there is often difficulty in having rents paid on time, where HB is paid, the ideal that the T is responsible will have no advantage when there is reason to claim on that responsibility, from they or G'tor.

Prevention of the f up is better.

The more intelligent, professional T has great advantage if they are attainable. For me they aren't, these types invariably have their own place.

The majority of my T's struggle financially day to day, the main reason they are T.

I view that I have many more dependants they're just called T's.

It is risky enough trusting them to fold 3 times,

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