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So...last week's plumbing trauma sorted and report duly sent by the plumber, suggesting that the air lock was caused by tenants draining the system etc, etc.

Having been told by the agents that under no circumstances should the tenants ring us direct, and that there is an emergency number for them to ring out-of-hours, we get a frantic phone call from the tenants tonight - they have come hom to find water coming through the lounge ceiling from a leak somewhere in the bathroom.

Hubby says he will do what he can to find an emergency plumber....tenant screams at him that the house is unsafe and she will be witholding rent, threatens to leave etc. Hubby re-iterates that he will do all he can to fix the problem as soon as possible. He then tries to ring the agency answerphone to get the emergency number - at the point he is asked to "press 2", there's nothing. No info on what tenants need to do in an emergency, no answerphone, no messaging sysem , nothing.

We ring half a dozen "24 hour, 7 days a week" plumbers, but it's Saturday night and no-one can/wants to come out.

Hubby goes round to the house, manages to shut down all the water, works out roughly where the problem is...and the tenants leave to stay with their parents.

My question is do we have a complaint with the agency? I'm at a loss as to what we are expected to do on a Saturday night, when our mangement fees are meant to pay for the agency to deal with all day-to-day problems with the property. Hubby has a job that takes him away at weekends and unsociable hours ,we have 2 young children - 2 of many reasons why we decided absolutely NOT to manage the property ourselves.

One of the tenants' father was at the property when hubby arrived. He himself said he will be taking this up with the agency, as they have issued no emergency numbers of any sort to the tenants, nor instructed them as to how to deal with any emergency. (he has been a landlord previously, so some experience).

We actually pay a total of 12% management fees (10% +vat), and yet we've spent 2 weekends now having to sort out emergencies with the tenants, with the agency nowhere to be found.

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Depends on how bad the leak was and did it make the property uninhabitable.

You have 2 issues here, one with the agency and 1 with the tenant.

Yes the tenant shouldn't have fiddled about with the plumbing but there wasn't a instruction manual and if the leak wasn't their fault you have to make a commercial decision and decide how much you want to chase the tenants for or you want to give them a bit of discount for the inconvenience.

Regarding the agency you do have a valid argument with them and you could try to change agency or negotiate a deduction on the fees on the understanding you will move to another agent if the problems are not resolved.

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First thing I would want to know is where is the leak? you don't mention how or where? were your tenants responsible for the leak... ie overflowing sink, bath etc.

If the leak is not down to them then yes you have to re-imburse them until such time as the house becomes habitable again.


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Couldn't be foreseen, not your fault just a misfortune for the T's.

Insurance should cover alternative accom 'IF' the house is uninhabitable, but the T's have taken that decision and must live with the result of any insurance decision regarding this.

T's have a responsibility toward the property. The Agents failing does not relieve them of the responsibility to take or instruct remedial actions to prevent further damage.

Any remedial action authorised b the T's then becomes their responsibility.

Rent is still due.

You have a right to your life and don't give it over to them when they become T's, tell 'em to grow up and accept life 'aint always nice (professionally of course).

If you were on holiday what then ?

More T's that think they've checked in to a hotel and when reception don't provide 'house' service as they demand they want o check out, immature pillocks.

They are T's for the 6 months unless you allow otherwise.

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Thanks for your input, guys.

Until the plumber goes in later today, we don't know what caused the leak - from what I understand, something has happened with the pipework to do with the shower (while the tenants were out) and they came home to find water coming through the lounge ceiling. They took the bath side off, to find the underneath of the bath awash with water.

Hubby went down and drained down the 2 cold water tanks in the loft (there is a seperate one for the power shower), but the tenants had left to sleep elsewhere by that time. (I should say at this point that the tenants are first-timers - 20 somethings who are living together for the first time, possibly naive in their expectations? Seemingly, they haven't got around to getting contents insurance yet - maybe that goes some way to explaining why she screamed abuse at us...perhaps panicking that her stuff might get ruined in the "flood"??)

I'm assuming that last week's plumbing incident and this weekend's are unrelated.

I feel a battle with the letting agents coming on - they have been fairly unhelpful throughout the 11 weeks we've had the house on their books.

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Hubby has just spoken to tenants, to say that he thinks the plumbing will all be sorted, bar the shower perhaps, by 6pm today. Tenant's father has stated that they will not be returning to the property tonight because they consider it uninhabitable.

I give up. I have no real idea how to deal with this, other than to stick to what we think is reasonable and take the issue to the agency asap.

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Hopefully your contract makes the T's responsible for insurance of their own belongings. While we often have to practice education of the T's I don't see it as our responsibility. We are biased anyway and there are many independent sources open to them, if they haven't insured "oh dear".

Your bricks and mortar insurance should cover your losses but if they decide the property is uninhabitable I see it as their problem to show this.

Involving the authorities would scare me there are too many jobsworths about. As an option you might offer to employ an independent surveyor to report, if habitable they pay. Of course the insurance assessor will have an opinion on this anyway.

I would have to tell them that making a phone call to you doesn't absolve them of further responsibility. It seems you have done more here than many, they are fortunate that you were available. Many LL's don't go through an agent there is no requirement to. Had they made contact with the agent the response may have been slow anyway.

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Thanks Grandpa and Cor.

Our entire weekend has been ruined now - hubby spent 3 hours dealing with this last night, and has been at the house for nearly 2 hours so far today, with probably 2 more hours to go.

According to him, there is a small damp mark on the lounge ceiling but not any other damage to speak of. Tenants are trying to say they are worried the ceiling may collapse!! From what I can gather, water wasn't gushing through the ceiling - it was trickling through the light fitting. Assuming that they hadn't been away from the property for longer than a few hours, I can't see how a standard leak could render a house uninhabitable in that time - unless they consider it uninhabitable because we've turned the water off? Hubby offered to isolate the shwoer so that they had running water throughout the rest of the house (including bath) but they weren't interested.

What they don't seem to have got yet, is that their investment amounts to 2x £525....but ours is £33K and counting. When hubby explained that it was not in our interests to leave a leak undealt with, the female tenant accused him of being patronising.

We have now arranged for her father to meet with us, to take all issues to the agents.

Our agency agreement says that we are tied in for an initial sole agency period of 6 months, whereafter both parties have to give 3 months notice to quit UNLESS the agency breahces their agreement with us (which, IMO, they have by not providing the service we are paying for). My question is: what will happen to our tenants if we part comapny with the agency before the 6 month tenancy agreement is up? Would another agency take them, us and the property on? and would their 6 month let have to start again (I'm assuming it couldn't)?

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Apologies - another update.

So...it seems that the leak is all to do with the hand shower on the bath. It seems that they left the diverter switched to the hand shower and left the taps on slightly - they last used it on Wednesday. In addition, the hose to the hand shower head wasn't screwed in properly so the water has been leaking away under the bath....and eventually through the floor and into the lounge.

My first instinct is that, again, this is a tenant problem. I don't see how we can be expected to police whether they've turned taps off properly etc.

They are still refusing to return to the property, and hubby has now been there for nearly 4 hours :(

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The cause is a little difficult for me to understand, but so was the previous cause. Dribbles normally go down the plug 'ole.

I wouldn't expect an agency to provide massive effort over a w/e, some action to arrange an emergency response by a tradesman ok, but if that tradesman fails to turn up what then?

I wouldn't enter into a 3 way slanging match with you in the middle. I would take the reins and negotiate separately with T's and Agent. It's your property and your decision, the A is under your instruction, but have they seriously gone wrong they have a life to.

If you ditch the A the T's are still T's for 6 months no matter. I would seriously consider if you would like them after this period, if they are still around that is.

It starts to sound as though the T's have decided to stay away w/o good cause. There could be value in requesting their issues in writing, then very often their silliness shows and you are able to use as evidence for a claim / counter claim. Either way you then start to see where you 'may' need a defence.

All action you could take has been taken I don't see where you could be held liable here, and besides I don't see that they have demonstrable losses (i.e. hotel receipts).

They're just silly

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I'm puzzled by the cause of the leak.

If the hose under the bath was loose and leaking thats a landlord responsibility. If the tenants failed to turn a tap off its difficult to see how that could cause a leak because water usually .....as CoR says....goes down the plug hole. Which was it ?

My advice is first get the property sorted/ repaired, then get the tenants moved back in, then deal with the failings/ dispute with your agents.

What sometimes happens with young people who have never had a place of their own before is....they don't have any idea about how to do anything because mother always did it for them. This couple seem to fall into that category.

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Sorry if I'm not explaining the leak issue very well - it's difficult because I'm only able to relay what my husband is telling me.

In a nutshell (and from what I understand), the bath has an overbath shower (which is entirely independent of the bath taps), but it also has a hand shower with the hose coming up through the top edge of the bath - the shower head sits pointing up to the ceiling when not in use and you pull it up to reveal the hose when you need to use it.

You divert the water from the bath taps to feed the hand shower by a diverter.

Seemingly, the hose connector to the hand shower head was unscrewed to the point of hanging by a thread. Therefore, when water was run to the hand shower, the water would escape at the top of the hose joint - NOT a problem if you were trying to use the hand shower, as you'd realise what was happening and turn it off/fiddle with it (and the water, as you rightly say, would simply trickle down the plug hole).

However, it sounds like the tenants put the hand shower back into it's hole in the bath top (ie vertically) AND left the taps on slightly, so that water was still feeding to the hose but trickling down it through the hole in the top of the bath and gradually soaking through the floor.

They say that the last time they used the hand shower was Wednesday...which means the water has been leaking since then.

My arguement is that while I accept a faulty shower hose connection *may* be seen as our fault (although I used the hand shower myself to clean the bath before they moved in and it was working fine then), surely a simple job like screwing it back tight shouldn't be beyond tenants? More importantly, the loose connection alone wouldn't have been a problem IF the tenants hadn't left the taps running for 3 days.

The plumber who's dealt with both plumbing issues says he thinks they are a bit thick. I suspect that they've messed about with things they know nothing about, caused a problem and have decided to blame it on us in their panic.

I also wonder if they are having second thoughts about taking on the responsibility of a house - female tenant decided to announce in her fury last night that she has just found out she is pregnant, so maybe she's relaised they can't afford to live there without her wage? At the start of the week, she was talking about how much she loved the house and whether maybe they could buy it from us in a few years time blah, blah.

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The design of the hand shower sounds to be a problem very likely to be a future issue, shower over an open hole ??

These T's could well be high risk. If they wish to surrender a negotiated settlement may well be to your overall advantage.

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Cor, it's a standard design - we have the same thing in our own bathroom. It's not a design fault - simply that the hose drops down into a hole, so that it is concealed beneath the bath and the head sits in it's holding when not in use. It's a very common feature when your over-bath shower is a fixed head - the hand shower is there for when you only want to wash your hair over the bathside, say, or when you want to use it to rinse the bath when cleaning etc.

I agree with your feeling that the tenants are possibly high risk. I think the best we can hope for is to find a way of letting them go and letting the agents go too.

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Tracey I have a similar shower in one of my flats. I was of the opinion that it was far to risky to leave as designed and so removed the hand shower and hose. The hose connector was suitaly capped, you could do the same and have the hole plugged with a grommet . It'll never leak again.

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Fair point, Richlist.

It's a bloody pain because the bathroom is brand new and very attractive - probably what attracted potential tenants in the first place. We've had our bathroom done in our own home for 3 years now and even with 2 small children who mess about with the shower, never had an issue.

Anything can be a problem if the people using it are so dumb that they can't use it properly :-S

Apparently, the tenants are going to be taking a list of complaints to the agents first thing in the morning...watch this space!

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If this had been their property how would they have dealt with it?

Would they have moved out to a hotel?.... of course not.

I think your in for a bundle of problems with these two which will be exaggerated out of all proportion with them trying to blame you for a simple problem that could have happened at anytime to anyone and not just a Landlord.

Stand your ground tell them the leak has been repaired and for them to move to back in. Stand-by and wait for events.


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I think by now there is enough info given on how things might work out for you with the T's.

A very common error is for LL's to believe that T's will live as they. They more often soon learn.

Property designed to luxury standard often leave the LL with a greater management / maintenance problem.

I removed all the waste disposals at the flats, the things T's used them for would amaze, never their fault.

For example 'pull down' dining lights, they would be soon enough.

Your T's use the hair wash as a body shower and the water is free to go where not desired. I design for idiots, but they still prove to be ingenious idiots and catch me out.

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Surprise, surprise - the tenant went straight into the agency this morning and told them that there had been a burst pipe under the bath, despite being told what the problem was by the plumber last night.

The agency director wasn't there this morning, so we had to put our complaints to one of the other lettings staff. They are slippery as hell - for eg both hubby and I signed the letting agreement when we put the house on their books, but they only put my name on the tenancy agreement. Also, I looked back at the letting agreement and it says that management charges are 10% (incl. vat), but they've taken 10% PLUS vat. When we took it up with them this morning,they tried to say the wording was unclear and meant 10% plus vat!!!!

We have told them we are not happy to pay our management fees this month and that we will get a full plumber's report for both incidents to show that the fault was not ours. We have also said we will have no furthr contact with either the tenants or their parents.

For their part, the agency says that they expect tenants to look after themselves out-of-hours and do as they would do if the house was their own. Apparently there is an option to leave a message on the phone out-of-hours but the particular staff member we dealt with said she had no idea what else was on the message, because she'd never rung it - she'll have to find out what should be on there.

I think I made it very clear that we were completely hacked off with the whole situation - she said that we'd been very unlucky, and very few tenancies go like this.

Funnily enough, the tenants were back in the house having breakfast when we last spoke to them...

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I agree with some of that.

1.) The agency haven't performed very well eg.confusion on charges, incorrect names on AST etc.

2.) Tenants are young inexperienced and fall back onto their parents as soon as there is a problem.

3.) Everyone has maintenance issues and I agree you have been unlucky.

From experience I will say that the vast majority of maintenance issues are likely to be in the following order :

* Plumbing related......taps, bath seals, immersion heaters, ball valves etc.

* Electrical......electric showers, switches etc

* Heating

* Everything else.

Therefore I find its a good idea to build a relationship with a good plumber & electrician.....one who isn't going to rip you off over time & cost for repairs. Getting repairs done by or thru the agency may make life easier for you BUT its going to cost you dearly for that privilege. The plumber will be on the agency books and may already have inflated his prices. The agency will then probably add an admin fee to his bill and the amount you end up paying will be high.

Good luck.

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Thanks Richlist.

I agree - I'd rather have plumbers and other trades working for me as the customer and know what the back story is, than have the agents call someone in who perhaps adds a "problem" or 2 to the bill for good measure.

Unfortunately, the story has taken another, more worrying turn this afternoon.

I've just been on the agent's website to double-check that they are in fact members of the NAEA. On their website, there is a link to the NAEA's site with the wording, "as members of the NAEA, we..." etc. However, a quick check of the members list on the NAEA site shows no details for the agency. So, I called the complaints department and bingo - our agents are claiming to be members of the NAEA when they clearly are not.

NAEA are now going to be contacting them, and have told me to contact trading standards to make a complaint.

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