My Tenant Isn’t Happy With The Standard Of Repair Work

PEOPLE! It’s been way too long, ain’t it?

No excuses; the dog didn’t jizz all over my homework, and I haven’t been in recovery after donating a kidney to an orphan, but I have been invested in a few ongoing projects, which I recklessly committed myself to (and now massively living to regret). And unfortunately, whenever I get remotely preoccupied this ship is usually the first to lose its captain and plummet to the ground like a carb-loaded turd.

However, right now, I’ve managed to cash in on some spare time due to a sloppy miscalculation on my behalf, which resulted in arriving early for an appointment. But perhaps it was fate, because now I have the opportunity to make practical use of my blunder by reconnecting with the troops. To be precise, I have approximately 2 hours to get this to print, which means there’s a high probability this will result in a painfully clumsy piece of shit. Fair warning.

I’ve hidden myself away in the corner of the local Star Bucks with my laptop, hoping that the shot of caffeine I’ve just catapulted down my gullet will have a devastatingly productive effect. Failing that, I suppose giving me enough focus to blog for an hour or so, without getting distracted by all the ‘people-watching’ opportunities around me, will do just nicely.

On a sidenote, I’m finding it increasingly difficult to do anything without caffeine these days, which means I’m officially one of those assholes that reeks of stale coffee. Who else is in the club? Yet another sign of old age swiftly encroaching! I can toss my caffeine addiction onto the growing list, on top of increasingly saggy ears, rapid nasal hair growth, and my blossoming intolerance for ‘the youth of today’. I don’t even want to know what comes next. Don’t tell me!

Anyways, since time is of the essence and my ears aren’t getting any smaller, I’m going to cut short the dance and start discussing the nonsense situation I recently found myself in.

When a tenant ain’t happy with repairs

It’s finally happened to me. I don’t think it’s happened before. Or maybe it has and I’m just blissfully unaware of it.

I imagine it’s a common occurrence, when a tenant is displeased by the standard of repair(s) orchestrated by their landlord, especially when he/she is a greaseball cheapskate, which so many of us notoriously are.

Landlords love Cowboy builders!

My guess is it happens more than we realise, because in most cases the displeasures go by unreported; complaining generally isn’t an easy thing to do for most people, especially for tenants, with the growing fear of ‘revenge evictions‘ hanging over their heads. Putting the corrupt notion of ‘revenge evictions’ aside, the vindictive numpty that started the trend has probably helped keep many of our tenants’ pie-holes firmly shut. I suppose we all owe him a pint or two.

In any case, my luck has finally run out, because I recently had a fully-pledged Prima Donna metaphorically send a meal back to the kitchen because one of my pubes’ allegedly found itself tangled up in her Tuna Niçoise salad. Lovely.

The complaint

Some of you may remember back in March 2016, when I busted the ‘boring shit’ scales by blogging about the landlord’s responsibility to repair garden fences. That was fun. You should read it. But to cut a long and riveting story short, I paid for the costs to repair a broken communal fence because it was legally my responsibility, according to the deed of the property.

Ok, well, this blog post has nothing to do with that particular fence, but it does have to do with another fence that I recently had repaired. Coincidentally, the damage and circumstances were almost identical (I have no idea what the odds of that happening are, but presumably pretty damn slim). Essentially, two fence panels in the garden had become unstable because of a rotting post that fell victim to the wrath of mother-nature, so it needed to be stabilised.

In terms of the actual repair, I was given the same options as last time, by the same local reputable landscaping company.

  • Option 1: Replace the rotting post, while retaining the current fence panels (which were in perfectly reasonable condition). However, the only drawback with this solution is that a couple of metal brackets would be required to hold the new post and panels together, which weren’t there previously. Total cost: £120
  • Option 2: Take down the entire row of fences (4 panels in total) and rebuild it, in which case the metal brackets wouldn’t be required. Total cost: £375

What would YOU have done?

To give you some perspective: this is for a 2-bedroom mid-terrace, situated on the outskirts of London, which achieves £850 PCM. Respectfully, it won’t get featured in any glossy showroom magazines. Don’t get me wrong, it ain’t no donkey sanctuary either, but it is just an exceptionally average house, in an average neighbourhood, with an average everything, apart from the Landlord. Yeah, that’s right.

With that in mind, I went for option 1, because it made the most sense, and not just because it was the cheapest solution, but in the practical sense, too.

A couple of metal brackets on a garden fence never hurt anyone, right? They’re not going to burn your eyes out, right?

WRONG!

Based on my tenant’s reaction, I clearly underestimated the threat a couple of metal brackets on a wooden post can pose.

After the repair was complete I received a phonecall from a very concerned tenant. She abruptly said the brackets didn’t look aesthetically pleasing, and then she made it clear that she would have preferred for me to stump up the cash for Option 2!

Yeah, I bloody bet Princess would have preferred that. It’s always amazing how easily we can spend other peoples money, innit?

Garden Fence Repair

To be honest, I was left quite bewildered by her reaction. It’s not like I replaced a fence panel with an off-coloured variation, so it stood out like a stoinker in a pair of Speedos. There was nothing alarming about the finished product, in my opinion. But my tenant genuinely seemed mortified by it. The sudden appearance of two metal brackets in the garden was evidently too much change, too soon. Maybe I should have added one bracket per month, to ease her into the formidable transition.

I suppose I could look at the situation in one of two ways: 1) my tenant is extremely house proud (or at least garden proud), and that’s usually always a good thing. When she appears through the kitchen window on a blistering Summer’s day, she wants to admire nature, not half a car attached to her fence. I get it. 2) my tenant is being catastrophically anal, house proud or not, and she needs to be taken down a peg or twenty.

Either way, I genuinely did appreciate her passion for ‘perfection’ (not quite sure that’s the right word to use, but let’s go with it), but that didn’t derail my mind from skirting around the idea of hitting her over the head with one of those brackets for being such a difficult little tit. That would teach her. Unfortunately, I fought against my urges and tried to be empathetic by suggesting tactical ways to mask the hideous and offensive brackets.

I came up with three possible solutions: 1) to paint the brackets the same colour as the fence panels (at my expense) 2) to strategically cover the brackets with hanging baskets/wildlife (also at my expense) 3) to avoid direct eye-contact with the brackets and to ignore their existence forever.

Admittedly, she didn’t seem very excited by my suggestions, but she did discretely mumble, “yeah, I could try painting over them”

There’s a good girl.

In hindsight, the situation was rather more ridiculous than I initially remember it being at the time- because it wasn’t just one quick conversation. She really dragged out her misery; there were follow-up phonecalls, picture messages (of the ‘eyesore’), and a few text messages, all of which emphasised her utter displeasure. I actually think she thought she could eventually break me down and swindle me out of a new fence.

Woman, please! YOU WILL LEARN TO LOVE THOSE FUCKING BRACKETS EVEN IF IT KILLS YOU!

The most she got out of me was a tin of paint. And she’s lucky she got that much :)

I’m pretty sure I wasn’t liable for any wrong-doing, nor obligated to take any further actions. At the end of the day, the garden fence was stabilised… and it was just a garden fence.

Maybe I’m being biased. Maybe I undervalue a good, clean, bracket-free fence. I actually think both parties had valid points in this situation (of course, her point wasn’t as valid. Agreed?), but I know I didn’t fall short of my responsibilities. One thing is for sure though, in the grand scheme of ‘unsatisfactory repairs’, my first taste of it was rather fabulous because it was so minuscule.

BRING ON THE NEXT UPPITY DOUCHE-BAG! I’ll fix your leaking roof with Pritt Stick!

No, I’m joking. Dealing with repairs is soul-destroying. I want no part of it.

Landlord’s responsibility to repair & maintain

In the haste of throwing this blog post together, I realised that the issue of BTL repairs and maintenance is an extremely undesirable topic to craft as an ‘informative’ blog post, even while tanked up on caffeine- not just because it’s boring as all-shit, unless it involves something outrageously comical and psychotic, like patching together a broken front door with cellotape and twigs- but also because there are so many unique circumstances and permutations of every freaking scenario that it’s almost impossible to be profoundly helpful. However, I do want to drop a few general points, which are worth bearing in mind when dealing with repairs that fall short of expectations.

But first…

Under the ‘Repairs and Maintenance Act’ the landlord is responsible for the structure and exterior of the property; baths, sinks and other sanitary items; heating and hot water installations. However, this only applies if the tenant has a fixed tenancy contract for under 7 years, else these issues become the tenants responsibility. The landlord is not responsible for damages caused by the tenants. More details available on the Landlord’s Legal Obligations to repair & maintain blog post.

The landlord is also responsible for keeping any items provided with the property in good repair. For example, white goods such as fridge/freezers. Once again, the landlord is not responsible for damages caused by the tenant!

All pretty standard and straight forward, right? Perfect. Let’s move on…

Points to consider when dealing with unsatisfactory repairs

  • Safety – this is the most crucial point to remember; any repairs or replaced items must be in safe condition, otherwise the landlord can most likely be held liable for any direct consequences.

    Since the garden fence was repaired and left in a safe condition in a timely manner, I’m confident my tenant really didn’t have any legal grounds to cause a fuss. The intended practical function of the fence was maintained, albeit slightly less pretty than its former self. But evidently, as my tenant demonstrated, the lack of legal grounds doesn’t create a defense against someone having a moan about piffling little oddities. Fair play to her. She’s got some hefty balls on her.

    Of course, if the mumbling little dick-weasal steps to me like that again, she’ll be on the streets faster than she can say Section 8! No, I kid. She’s actually a rather good tenant.

  • Improving the property – the landlord is usually only responsible for carrying out repair work, and NOT for improving the property. Again, this is quite important to bear in mind.

    I think many tenants get lost by this concept, or just don’t consider it at all.

  • Like-for-like – usually, replacing and/or repairing items on a like-for-like basis is the best policy, unless the original item was complete bullshit and vastly under performing.

    This point reminds me of the time I gave one of my dippy tenants’ the responsibility to replace a tired pair of £30 window curtains (a set provided with the property). Sounds like a simple enough task, right?

    WRONG!

    I initially gave her the green light to replace the curtains because I assumed she was capable of finding suitable replacements to match her ghastly furnishings, which I’d later reimburse her for.

    Unfortunately, I quickly discovered there’s clearly faulty wiring in her melon, so even the most basic of tasks were challenging. She thought it would be appropriate to get quotes from luxury curtain retailers, one’s which send out ‘sales executives’ to the door for a ‘personal experience’. I don’t know if she was just stupid or incomprehensibly lazy, or a deadly combination of the both.

    The psychopath came back to me with a preposterous £300 estimate to replace a set of £30 IKEA curtains, in a property achieving £700PCM. Fuck me sideways! I was almost flawed by her proposition. Thankfully I’m short, round and sturdy like a Rhino, so my low centre of gravity kept me upright so I could laugh hysterically in her face.

    Seriously though, what a delusional nincompoop!

    Just to clarify, when I say “like-for-like”, I don’t necessarily mean replacing faulty items with the exact same model. For example, if you’re in the process of replacing a 10yr old boiler, it probably shouldn’t be replaced with the exact same model, even though you could (assuming it’s in safe working order). Getting a modern equivalent which serves the same purpose will almost always make the most economical sense.

  • Your tenant might be right – it just hit me, I might be coming across as one of those landlords that’s willing to fight tooth and nail to avoid digging into their pockets and taking responsibility for their obligations, or at least in favour of opting for the bodge-job solutions. That’s definitely not I.

    I want to make two points abundantly clear:

    • Landlords should spend the money when and where necessary, and that’s admittedly where landlords often fall short. I’ve written blog posts in the past emphasising how important it is to invest in good quality products/repairs, because they usually end up being the most cost-effective solutions in the long-run.

      In my particularly case, I think it made more sense to use metal brackets to stabilise the garden fence, and by no means was it a bodge-job.

    • My primary point is this though, your tenant might be right. The reality is, tenants are often irritatingly right, whereby the repair work is completed to a totally unacceptable standard, and that’s when you should take another look at the problem. It happens, regardless of whose fault it is.

      And while in some cases the repair might be “safe”, there’s still a possibility that the actual repair is inadequate. In those instances, I would personally recommend readdressing the issue, or at least compromising, particularly if you have a good tenant that pays rent on time and generally looks after your property.

  • Don’t be a pussy – while it’s important to be empathetic and fair, it’s equally as important to remain professional by staying firm if you’ve been reasonable and done enough. Some people try to milk the system every which way, especially with guilt and perseverance- don’t fall for it. Specifically, don’t unnecessarily overspend on repairs.

    I know, it’s hilariously ironic when you talk about landlords overspending. When does that EVER happen? It happens. But maybe not in your lifetime.

    Some people, including landlords, are natural born push-overs. I’m sure some landlords would have buckled under the pressure and splashed out on a new fence if they were in my position – the type of people that would rather lick their own dick than face confrontation.

    But rolling over would have been the wrong move for two reasons 1) you set the wrong ‘weak’ precedence 2) it’s an unnecessary expense, and too many of those can be fatal to any business.

    Stay strong, and rationally explain your decision if required. Most people are generally understanding.

  • Communication is key – most issues, even issues which are positively irritating beyond belief (which all cases of disrepair are), can usually be quickly and painlessly resolved with good communication. I’m not even saying you NEED to buckle and repair-the-repair, I’m saying the situation can be resolved with communication alone… or a tin of paint.

    Even if you believe your tenant is wrong, it’s still important to communicate. I listened to my tenant, despite how excruciatingly painful it was, and then tried to work with her to provide a solution.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there’s only ONE winner when you leave a frustrated tenant in your property. It’s NEVER the landlord.

  • The small gestures make a difference – I kid and joke about the pesky tin of paint, but it’s those tiny gestures which make all the difference, especially when you have a dissatisfied customer. At least I proved I acknowledged the complaint by doing something about it.

    Doing *something* is often better than doing sweet-F-all!

  • Value time – not enough people value their time, and it’s tragic. I value mine, and I also value my tenant’s.

    I could write an entire blog post on why all landlords should resolve matters of disrepair as quickly as possible, whether it be through compromising, communication or throwing money at the problem. And maybe I’ll be bored enough to write it one day. But right now, I’m just going to quickly emphasise how crucial it is to work quickly, primarily for the following reasons:

    • Happy tenants will boost your profits! I could end the list here, right?
    • Even if you’re an inept hermit, I’m sure you can think of better things to do than prolonging disrepair disputes with your tenant.
    • Unattended matters of disrepair (e.g. leaks) can quickly escalate into expensive and crippling dilemmas.

Minimising repairs

As always, the best cure is prevention.

The last thing a landlord wants is to get bogged down with repairs, or even worse, get bogged down with complaints regarding repairs. Dealing with the latter is literally slit-your-own-wrists territory. Equally, I imagine the last thing a tenant wants to do is complain about repairs, and then wait for their landlord to get off his fat lazy ass to make the arrangements. Landlords aren’t exactly notorious for being quick off the mark when it inevitably means spending money.

Now, there are four obvious ways of minimising repairs and eradicating the pain that comes with them:

  • Use appropriate solutions – assess the damage and use the best solution- that doesn’t necessarily mean use the most expensive or cheapest solution. The best solution is usually somewhere in the middle, and the solution should ALWAYS be relative to the value of the property, quality of the tenant, and the rent achieved.
  • Less is more – I want to revert back to another recent post, where I ramble on about minimizing repair costs by providing as fewer fittings and furnishings as humanly possible. The blatantly obvious point to remember is that the more you provide with your property, the more you’re making yourself responsible for; the more reasons you’re creating to be called upon when something falls on its knees and crumbles into disrepair. So cut the supply!

    Just to clarify, I realised ‘less is more’ after the ludicrous curtain incident. But that’s a good example of why providing less is so important; you end up avoiding so many problems… and idiots wanting to replace a broken bath tap with a new state of the art steam-room.

    These days, I literally provide the bear minimum. I focus my energy on providing a clean and practical property above anything else, because that’s typically what tenants look for. Anything beyond that is usually a massive waste of time and money. Generally speaking, you won’t live to see the returns on any frilly ‘extras’

  • Think durability – the problem is, too many landlords pollute their properties with shiny, cheap flimsy shitty fittings, and also get possessed with keeping everything “light and airy”, while losing focus on the realities of buy-to-let and how people (especially tenants) live in the real world. The reality is, BTL’s naturally get a beating, much like any other habituated property, and that’s why landlords should always focus on ‘durability’ when decorating/renovating. Get this right from the offset and you’ll save bundles from the day your tenant moves in.

    For example, don’t paint the walls white or magnolia, because you’ll be repainting the walls between every new tenancy, and believe me, that’s a very displeasing way of burning time and money, particularly if you have a high tenant turnover rate. Here’s a more in depth blog post covering tips on how to decorate a BTL. Enjoy.

  • Fix shit quickly – there’s a vicious rumour that’s been circulating since the dawn of mankind, and that is to delay repairs for as long as possible, because it means more money in the pocket.

    On the surface it sounds like a winning plan, and perhaps there’s some primitive logic to it, but that rumour has been screwing landlords over for generations. It’s a scam. Not a particularly sophisticated scam, because its typically only effective against cheap idiots. Not us. But it’s still worth mentioning.

    Always keep your property in good repair and nip any problems in the bud early. Otherwise you could find that a small [neglected] leak has escalated into a tidal wave, or that small dark spot in the corner of the bathroom has blossomed into a deadly patch of mould, ready to take down every respiratory system that gets in its way.

So, there you have it.

Another blog post down!

So my question to you: have you ever had a tenant complain about repairs? If so, what happened? Let’s gossip!

P.s. I’m approximately 12mins late for my appointment because I didn’t want to abandon this blog post while it was ‘almost’ finished. Dedication!

See you in the comments section! xoxo

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41 Comments- Join The Conversation...

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Scott 5th August, 2016 @ 17:43

Witty & useful as usual. I agree that small gestures like a tin of paint can smooth the way & help a tenant feel valued. My tenants get oven, hob, extractor, & that's it - no point opening yourself up to committing to repair/replace more than necessary

BTW, I presume you hope / pray your tenants never see this blog, or at least have a sense of humour, or I suspect your next blog will be written from a hospital bed after the removal of a (nicely painted) metal fence bracket?

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Benji 6th August, 2016 @ 13:54

As fences don't come under section 11, L&T act and as your tenancy agreement is presumably silent on the matter, you could have told her to sort it out herself if it was bothering her.
Not good for customer relations though.

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 7th August, 2016 @ 08:34

@Scott
Thanks Scott!

... I also provide toilet seats. Not sure if that counts?

Hah, I genuinely do fear that one of my tenants will stumble upon my website one day and piece together that I'm actually talking about them. I dread to think how that would go down! I guess it's only a matter of time. I'll either be blogging from hospital, or somewhere very remote and secure!

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Londongirl 11th August, 2016 @ 06:56

Tots agree with Benji.

Aesthetically pleasing! Whats that? If my husband puts his foot down about Laura Ashley curtains in our house, ("I am sure you can run up some curtains on your mothers sewing machine") aint no tenant getting it either!

I have the same anxiety about my blog and my lodgers, so am constantly re-checking to make sure I cant be sued for libel if they recognise themselves!!

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Alice 11th August, 2016 @ 07:37

Great fun to read your blog, I have a slightly different philosophy and recently replaced entire fence for a tenant when he rang to say he found two of the panels were really rotten whilst he was painting it. He offered to erect new fence and then asked if he could repaint the bathroom by way of thanks. Another has just finished decorating throughout and a third ( a plumber) is replacing their bathroom suite and just charging me for the snitaryware. I am really lucky as my tenants all work with me to improve the properties.

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Landlord with DSS! 11th August, 2016 @ 07:43

I shAre your enthusiasm for repairs... As I'm coming to the end of a mammoth repair / Improvement prone my patience is wearing thin with diy.
After 10 months of work (me doing it full time) in a building we own, the delightfull DSS tenant decided to move out, with zero notice of course. Statutory notice period anyone?

Council had offered him a nIce new flat.

Council Rent stops immediately, but the "tenant" doesn't move out while he paints his new place.

Of course the council Start sending me council tax bills for our now empty flat. "But" I protest " he hasnt moved out yet" he should pay his own CTax. "Prove he hasn't moved out" reply the council.....!

Anyway a month later the scumbag finally moved out. His flat was delightful. Dead insects all over the toilet, kitchen destroyed, the stench of tobacco impregnated everything. Even the GLASS in the Windows was yellow from tobacco along with all the woodwork.

So renovation project 2 starts, rip out everything to replace....

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KStanding 11th August, 2016 @ 08:25

Yeah .... but ..... I just do whatever to keep tenants happy - which will be different from person to person. I really value good relations above anything else. I want to keep them 'on (my) side' .....

I do believe in problem solving at all times, so .... here .... I was thinking maybe the sections or elements could be swapped around so that any work addition, alteration Is at the end of the fence, where it would read as a 'fixing'of some thought. People are funny and have different triggers; I regard it as a challenge to keep them satisfied one inventive way or another. I hoard quite a lot of materials to cover eventualities, save money and save possibly tricky missions and journeys to get stuff when needed.

..... but also I do feel that, nowadays, tenants are shelling out £100s each month so, fair dos, they ought to get what they want to live somewhere happily. I think it's swings and roundabouts anyway. One tenant might bew dead fussy while another might not want something doing - doesn't want the intrusion or kerfuffle ..... just my few thoughts.

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 11th August, 2016 @ 08:37

@Londongirl
It ain't libel if it's true :)

Plus, if you ain't mentioning names or insinuating their identity, I don't think there's much they can do... but assume.

But yeah, I'm sure I'll eventually have a very angry tenant question my association with this website.

That blog post will really be something!

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 11th August, 2016 @ 08:42

@Alice
Many thanks :)

I may have made the tenant sound worse than she actually is. Oops! She really is a good tenant.

Repairs are always relative; if two panels in a row of 3-4 panels were rotting, then I would have replaced the entire row. But the panels were all fine. It was literally just one rotten post which needed replacing. On that basis, it didn't make sense to take down the entire row.

But yes, sounds like you have great tenants. Lucky sausage!

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 11th August, 2016 @ 08:58

@Landlord with DSS!

Jeeesus, better you than me!

I don't know if I could deal with 10 months renovating. My patience just isn't that resilient.

The most time I've spent redecorating/renovating a property has been 2-3 weeks. Typically, after a couple of days of cleaning down the surfaces/walls, applying masking-tape and painting... I'm feeling suicidal.

I usually dread it when a tenant gives notice, because I know there's a good chance I'll have to go through the torture of repainting the entire property again!

The DSS system is broken mostly due to useless policies and the unwillingness of the the Council, just as you described. I gave up on them years ago because it was too infuriating dealing with "the system"

Good luck with project 2!!

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 11th August, 2016 @ 09:04

@KStanding
I definitely value good relations, it just makes life so much easier, especially in this game (landlording).

While I don't necessarily agree that landlords should do whatever to keep tenants happy, I do believe there's usually always a suitable compromise available if you're dealing with rational people.

To be honest, my tenant was cool by the end of it. It didn't taint our relationship. I think deep-down she was happy with the paint solution (which actually did mask the brackets quite well). As said in the blog, the small gestures make a huge difference, and tenants really do appreciate it when you try to resolve their problems (especially when you don't have to), as opposed to ignoring it.

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Tony Billings 11th August, 2016 @ 09:26

I'm also a DSS Landlord (10 years) and can truly say that with the best will in the world most tenants view us as cash rich leeches living the high life on their benefit payments so expect any minor problems to be sorted IMMEDIATELY! Doesn't matter that we've had the fastest rainfall in history (probably never to be repeated) "My flat roof is dripping so I need a trademan here today!" And then they piss off without warning once they've gradually destroyed the property leaving all their shit behind for us to clear up. Unless something is done to reduce this we can expect a lot more homeless people as landlords just stop renting to them.

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 11th August, 2016 @ 09:34

@Tony Billings
I feel you!

But from my experience, MOST tenants think landlords are rich, when that couldn't be further from the truth.

What frustrates me is when tenants think landlords can (and should) get things miraculously repaired quicker than anyone else can! The reality is, we can only contact trades people and work by their schedule- just like everyone else.

The irony is though, if it was their property, they'd probably take longer to arrange repairs. Of course, having prompt repairs is the perk of renting, I'm not denying that, but still, a dose of reality never hurt anyone!

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Fraisy 11th August, 2016 @ 10:27

I read this with some amusement and also dismay as currently we are tenants with a lousy landlord despite paying a premium rent and never being in arrears. Our landlord believes he and his son can 'repair' everything but its usually a 'botch' and needs redoing again a few days later. We usually end up paying ourselves as we can't stand them hanging around the house all the time. The scary thing is his 'botched jobs' includes 'electrics' and they have blown circuits trying to install stuff. There are bare wires around the place. We now insist on a qualified electrician only but often that request gets ignored so we wait and wait.

We found out after we moved in that he never allows downtime between tenants preferring to carry out the repairs/redecoration as and when after the new tenants have moved in, its been appalling.

We took on a 12 month agreement thankfully coming to an end shortly and feel as though we have been living in some one else's renovation project with all the unfinished jobs and unpainted doors etc. Just thought I would share this with you to see the other side.

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Hondababe 11th August, 2016 @ 12:17

Stumbled on your blog the other week and really enjoying it - I inherited a property when my mother died and before she was in the ground the neighbours were asking if they could replace the fence between the properties....it was my responsibility and it was a mess so I said OK....they had it up within 24 hours.

They should have hung on...they didnt know I was going to rent the property and would have replaced the monstrocity as part of the renovation.....serves them right for being so pushy!!!

House now rented and the fence looks great!

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evdama 11th August, 2016 @ 13:14

Keeping repair costs down by minimising fixtures and fittings OR providing them in the first instance so the course tenant doesn't have to drill though your pipes and wires while trying to fit their own.....

eek!

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ex-landlord 11th August, 2016 @ 20:13

My last tenant never reported any repairs until inspection time as they didn't want my agents (useless TW*TS) to see the state of the property in between times but come inspection time when repairs were requested I was always happy to fix anything that needed it.

However when trying to arrange a date - they seemed to think it was acceptable to insist on a workman calling on a SUNDAY! On the one and only occasion when I did arrange a sunday visit to fix the extractor at the time requested by them - they were busy cooking for a dinner party and consequently the repair could not be carried out (without dropping all sorts of gunk in their guests dinner) which she valiantly tried to keep cooking underneath my workman!

Any repair visit was regularly changed (usually at the last minute) so whilst I was happy to keep my property in good repair & my tenants happy - it was not always easy!

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Paul 11th August, 2016 @ 21:31

When it comes to repairs etc as a LL I wish for the amenity value of my property to be maintained.
Therefore appropriate repairs will be carried out.
Maintaining amenity is all I am concerned with
Had to spend £1000 recently on leaking gutters and defective shower installation from Yeats ago.
All fair enough.
Tenants didn't cause the problems
Joys of being a LL
Had a similar fence issue which wasn't my problem but the neighbour asked if I would go halves and if I didn't want to she would have it done at her own expense.
So I coughed up £200 to keep the neighbour happy and of course the fence was fixed.
Don't believe it is my fence, but couldn't be bothered to argue the toss.
A good neighbour relationship was worth £200 for me!
As long as a LL provides the amenities the tenant was originally provided with at the tenancy outset then that is all the tenant can expect.
If the LL improves an amenity that is for the LL to decide.
I provided a dishwasher after the tenants moved in
God I'm such a nice guy!!
My main concern though is that the amenity value of my property is maintained
I don't want leaks etc affecting the fabric of my property.
So I make sure repairs are done to maintain amenity.
As for having to buy a tin of paint to make the metal posts less obvious.
Well for a quiet life I guess most of us would do so.
Lot cheaper than sourcing a new tenant, plus when they leave they might even source new tenants for you.
That has been my experience so no voids for years for me!
Got to consider the bigger picture and not get too wrapped up in the small details

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The Landlord 12th August, 2016 @ 07:16

@Fraisy
Ahh the other side of the coin. I genuinely do sympathise.

Unfortunately, "bodge-job" landlords are a common occurrence.

It's ironic when unqualified landlords try to do specialist jobs to save money. In reality, it's a false economy- those landlords will generally see profits decline in the bigger picture. Not only will they end up having to continually invest time and money fixing the same problems, but they're also increasing the tenant turnover by being so cheap (no one will want to pay a premium for little in return), and that's incredibly expensive!

Glad your sentence is coming to an end! Don't forget to appropriate give notice so you're not subjected to that hellhole longer than necessary! :)

Perhaps a lesson for next time though... look out for tell-tale signs of bodge jobs during the viewings!

Goodluck.

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The Landlord 12th August, 2016 @ 07:17

@Hondababe

Welcome :)

Haha, sounds like you got a sweet deal! If only my neighbours were so quick and eager.

Glad it's all going well so far.

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The Landlord 12th August, 2016 @ 07:26

@evdama
Good point, and I agree with your sarcastic sentiments :)

I didn't want to delve too much detail over one particular issue (i.e. minimising fittings and furniture) when I've already written a dedicated blog post about it, which I kindly linked to ha.

I do mention in that post that I provide curtain rails, mirrors and toilet holders etc. Essentials that tenants will inevitably need that requires installing (e.g. drilling holes). It's better for the landlord's sanity if he/she takes care of those fittings, otherwise it's a recipe for disaster.

See, momma didn't raise no foo'

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The Landlord 12th August, 2016 @ 07:33

@Ex-landlord
I FEEL YOU! I soooo feel you.

Arranging repairs with tenants can be a nightmare, especially when 1) they work 9-5 during the week 2) aren't flexible with their time 3) aren't willing to rearrange their social life to get repairs done 4) refuse to let anyone into the property without their presence.

I had one tenant that didn't get home until 7pm every night and refused to sacrifice her weekend, so she wanted everything to be done after that time during the week. She was generally a good tenant, but she drove me bonkers when it came to repairs. Needless to say, it was always incredibly difficult to get tradesman to work around her schedule.

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The Landlord 12th August, 2016 @ 07:46

@Paul
I agree with your sentiments! Particularly the part about keeping good relations with the neighbours.

Life is so much easier in every aspect, for landlords, when they keep properties in good repair.

P.s. Good to see you still around. I thought you were dropping your entire portfolio like it was hot! Still holding onto some stragglers, that just won't let go? :)

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James 12th August, 2016 @ 12:55

I'm a new landlord and have quickly had to learn the hard way, after spending a few shillings doing the place up, the boiler went within weeks of the first Tennant being in. Luckily it was just a circuit board and not the full thing or I'd of been down the docks prostituting myself for monies. I really enjoy reading your comments on this blog, you remind me of that guy who wrote all the plays in the 1800s... J R Hartley. I think it's important to keep tennants happy as like most landlords, rather than being better off I'm actually poorer in the short term with each property I buy not to mention running the risk of getting a dead beat Tennant, so my tennants are important to me, plus I don't believe in much other than karma

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The Landlord 13th August, 2016 @ 14:17

@James
Thanks, man :)

I had to replace 2 boilers last year! They're the bane of my landlording life. But boilers are one of the areas I don't skimp on- it's worth shelling out on a good quality one, because they'll save you so much time and money in the longrun!

I've had a few circuit boards go out, they cost me £300 a pop!! Some times it doesn't even make economical sense to revive the boiler once the PCB is blown if the boiler is of considerable age.

I hear ya about Karma, I'm also a big believer in it. I'm definitely poorer considering how much I throw back into my properties. But our time will come!

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James 16th August, 2016 @ 14:09

I hope so mate, sometimes I feel like property investment is so long run, I'd have to behead a highlander and experience the quickening to live long enough to reap the rewards. I think I'm something daft like £100 better off with each property I get. I do sometimes wonder am I daft but after having a few businesses in my time, there's literally nothing else I can think of to help me buy stuff I don't need ha ha

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Suzan 24th August, 2016 @ 16:18

I think the reason why she reacted the way she did about the brackets is because if you had lived there yourself you would not have gone for the cheaper option. She feels upset because you are basically implying she is not worth the expense.

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The Landlord 24th August, 2016 @ 20:39

@Susan
I hear what you're saying, and perhaps she did think that. But to be honest, considering the circumstances, I'm not sure I would have actually gone for the more expensive option. But only because those brackets wouldn't have made any difference to me. They actually didn't look messy to me, and it wasn't a bodge-job.

But besides from that, I don't think it's rational or fair to compare how I would spend my own money on my own property.

But I get your point, because you're only saying what she probably thought. As said though, people find it a lot easier to spend other peoples money.

I think the issue of repairs is always a case of picking your battles (but obviously not compromising on safety or comfort), and it's usually swings and roundabouts i.e. last year I replaced the boiler (which could have been repaired), which set me back 2.5k.

In the bigger picture, the tenant should feel looked after and valued.

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Honda-babe 25th August, 2016 @ 11:45

I am a landlord and would actually have done the same for my own fence at my own home, it wasn't at all unsightly, and there was no need for replacement. Too many people live in a throw away society these days, whatever happened to mending things?

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Henry 2nd September, 2016 @ 00:45

To The Landlord and others...

Just a can of paint, not anything else for preparation?
I was told by a property maintenance professional years ago not to just paint galvanised metal (which I assume your brackets are) as the paint won't stick properly. I was told there are two options:
- wait 1 year until the galvanising has weathered (which is what I did with my own galvanised double gate fittings on my own house) but that would have your tenant complaining for a whole year; or
-acid wash the galvanising before painting.

I think your new post and bracket approach, rather than replacing several panels, was right.

You've just reminded me I need to put in several brackets on an ancient fence to keep the rails attached to the posts before the Autumn winds start. I probably won't paint them, or if I do not for a year.

Absolutely no intention of replacing fence sections/ panels though: the fence is of oak posts, rails and boards, and looks like its lasted well, as I think it was the original 1930's fence (the oak lych gate is even better, having a roof over it). Its got great character and looks nice. And has lasted so much longer than modern, cheap fences.

Yes the bottoms of oak posts had rotted some years ago, but those short concrete posts in the ground, coach-bolted to the bottom of the fence posts, had cured that. So I did the same when a fence post at my house rotted.

Age brings character as they say. As I head towards OAP status, I bloody well hope so.

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The Landlord 2nd September, 2016 @ 09:31

@Henry,
I naively assumed that specialist outdoor metal paint (which says it's suitable for fences) would do the job. Judging by your caution, I'm guessing it will quickly weather away? In any case, she has a whole tin, so assuming she didn't bin it, she can paint over it again :)

Yup, I'm more convinced than ever that if the panels don't need replacing, using brackets for extra support is fine!

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David 2nd September, 2016 @ 17:34

@Daisy sounds like my kind of Landlady, always been happy to fix things myself rather than bother Landlord unless involves plumbing, I don't do water!

@Fraisy Your Landlord has crossed the line, time to get onto Council about that wiring. "elf n safetee and all that"

@Landlord with DSS! You should have changed the lock, if tenant bleated then you say oh are you staying extra month on stat periodic, sign here. Any fuss made can lead to paperwork that gives you right to bill them. Is extremely unusual for Council to house anyone not being kicked out so something fishy about your tenant or story. Their first action when someone applies is to ask landlord if they would let them stay on, they then have to register for housing on bidding system and the assessment for that will kick them off if they are housed in private accomodation.

Only thing I can think of is they were moving in with girlfriend who had applied in her own name and was pregnant homeless.

Regarding other comments on this post, I think the issues with some Landlords is they take the word LORD to seriously and think they can lord it over tenants.

I was interested to visit a client recently who was in social housing owned and run by a housing association, it was a newish build about 3 years old. The developers had not tried the usual thing of cramming 23 social flats in the same space they were selling 11 privately, so it was a pretty nice space.

The first thing I noticed was the "industrial strength" fittings, things like doors, flooring, stairs, all vandal proof bit like a school or hospital. This was not just in the communal areas but the flat too. Despite this the flat had been left in a terrible state. The HA sent in their team to do a clean up and repair, this is what shocked me.

They left the place undecorated, holes were partly filled or overfilled. Mould had been treated with killer but was massively stained, they did not bother covering with anti mould paint which is what you need after treatment.

Their contractors did a botch job on the pretty much everything and the tenant has to clean the walls and/or decorate at their own cost.

They also had no cooker and no fridge, no shower curtain or any other curtains/blinds for that matter, no mod cons at all. So if HA's can get away with it so can you; interestingly they had a deal where if the tenant did the labour they would pay for paint.

That building had all of the stereotypical social housing tenants. From teenage mothers already pregnant again to drug addicts who stunk the whole place up.

With no fittings, the tenants end up using "pay weekly" type outfits like bright house, who charge them £7.50 a week for a cooker, for 156 weeks!

http://www.brighthouse.co.uk/cookers/hotpoint-cannon-60cm-double-oven-white/

£1,170, yet a quick trip on eBay or Gumtree will get you a cooker for £30 till you can find something better. Then when you want better one you spend say £70 and stick the old one on Freecycle to save a trip to recycle or you put it on Gumtree yourself for £30.

This client told me he had furnished whole place on Freecycle, good tip for landlords, rent a garage from your local council and start collecting your own stuff to "update" your property from freecycle. Another tip is to look for people selling kitchen units on eBay, you would be amazed at the quality of some stuff and they just want rid of it quickly and they often are also selling appliances.

It got me thinking that all you Landlords who buy new washing machines, Fridges etc are nuts, like with like, should mean clean and functional. I learnt many years ago that giving expectation of high fittings is the mistake, put in basic stuff but be flexible about letting them put their own stuff in and you take yours out. (Remember the Landlord on here who had a tenant bitching about a toaster).

Saw another client at the other end of the scale, his was a lux pad, landlord lives in Far East, agent was flucking up everything, landlord ended up sacking agent and appointing lead tenant to "manage" things. No fee for agent on threat of report of all their cock ups on all agents. Happy ending for all.

@Landlord

You are on the button, I think it is all about attitude and I think yours is about right. I do wonder why you did not do the fixings to the fence at the back to make it more discreet. You could have done the same repair with wood, nip to B&Q where they cut wood to size for you, there is usually a trolley full of offcuts, I got a huge piece for a fiver, most were £1 or 50p and to top it, they cut those offcuts to the size I wanted with their huge saw thing. Once you paint it thing becomes invisible.

Now @Landlord it seems to me you need a bit of inspiration for this blog.

You could create a page asking what subject your readers want you to cover in future blog posts. A few ideas spring to mind...

How to structure yourself to overcome new tax liabilities.

Buyers guide for mortgages and other financing options

How to find reliable contractors, how to spot botchers and sites to stay away from (rated people).

How to find suitable investment properties and a checklist on what to look for in a property and what to avoid.

How to connect with the Council so you are seen as a proactive Landlord.

While you are waiting you could do what all the magazines do, revisit all your existing posts, either clean them up with updated info or write a follow up post and put link at bottom of old post.

We also need a quiet place in one corner of the blog where you do not talk Landlord or Property, just your exploits, from the hooker with the plastic leg who knows your prostate intimately to your Tinder exploits!

As for naming tenants, I am sure you have had relations with one or two!

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The Landlord 5th September, 2016 @ 11:00

@David
I didn't do it at the back because then I would have had to deal with the neighbours, and that would have created more hassle e.g. arranging the repair with both the tenant and neighbour's schedule. And what if the neighbour would have been pissed about it? Too much hassle to contemplate.

I didn't really think about alternative solutions (e.g. using wood). I just called a reputable landscaper (I've used them before) and trusted them to give me the best solutions.

Haha, you're not wrong about my lack of inspiration, but that's because I mostly blog about my experiences as and when they happen. If nothing happens, I have no inspiration/content.

All your suggestions seem like useful blog post ideas, and I'd love to be able to write them, but I either don't have the motivation of experience to do the topic justice. But hey, if you want to give back to the community... go ahead :)

I actually do go over old posts now and then; there's a lot of hand-over-eyes-moments; "DID I REALLY WRITE THAT CRAP?" Then I frantically try to rectify my mess.

Trust me, my exploits don't belong in this blog, I just couldn't make it fit in any shape or form.

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Jenny 15th September, 2016 @ 15:03

I would have used Gaffer tape to fix it, and at the same time increased the rent by £50 pcm.

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Landlord with DSS! 15th September, 2016 @ 16:17

We had 3 student girls move in a brand spanking new flat. I mean everything, sound proof floors, plaster, plumbing, electrics kitchen with island workspace and cooker, everything.

Anyway a couple days ago we get an email ".....smoke alarm going off In kitchen all the time..... Need better ventilation ....ITS AN NECESSITY"

Reply. "...No love, oxygen is a necessity. As for the smoke alarms, take it up with the council building control that say the kitchen needs a hard wired smoke alarm so you idiots don't take out batteries from cheap alarms and burn down the building."

FFS

When I was a student we lived in a total shite hole. Now with student loan every student has access to cheap, almost never to be paid back, money and want to live in some Kensington Russian oligarchs style flat. FFS

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Steve 15th September, 2016 @ 16:22

Hi Two questions if you don't mind.
Why did I get this email on the 15th September when others got theirs in early August?

And, can we see a picture of the fence repair and judge you on it?

;-) Steve

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Ladyland 15th September, 2016 @ 16:22

I'm both a landlord and a tenant. My landlord and his agent are painfully slow at getting things done. The house was renovated immediately before I moved in, so it looked nice and shiny but it's been done on the cheap and no matter how delicately I treat the house, things are already starting to crumble. Not to mention some of the contract work was done wrong and I had to call the landlord in to repair it, which did not amuse them.

On the flipside, I got some new tenants in February. At the time the property needed some minor work, which I agreed to take care of in a timely fashion. The tenants wanted to move in immediately so they agreed to wait. I did the agreed works, but literally every single week my tenants call me up wanting something else done. Currently they want the master bedroom redecorated, despite the fact this was done just before they moved in. They have a list of demands and it's getting out of hand. I always try to take care of necessaries ASAP and to the highest possible standard, but I refuse to bend over when they're making ridiculous requests, and it leaves a sour taste in my mouth even when necessary works need doing. Yes they pay their rent in full and on time, but I literally get a sense of dread when I see their name pop up on my mobile phone as an incoming call.

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The Landlord 15th September, 2016 @ 17:32

@Jenny
It's not like the thought never crossed my mind! Better yet, use her futile little body as the post, and gaffer tape her to the panels! And let's make it a £75 increase!

@Landlord with DSS
Students.

Enough said :)

@Steve
Hi!

I genuinely don't know the answer to that. It seems particularly strange! Everyone should receive the email at the same time (or at least with in the same day). I'll look into it though.

I would post a picture, but I fear it could end up biting me in the ass some day. But honestly, it's just like that awesome comic sketch I posted. Proper professional job, trust me :)

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The Landlord 15th September, 2016 @ 17:36

@Ladyland
Jesus, I know EXACTLY how you feel about that feeling of dread when a tenant makes contact. It's inevitably always bad news. No tenant in the history of mankind has contacted their landlord with good news.

I guess at the end of the day you need to determine whether or not they are being excessively "unreasonable" with their demands, if they are, I would have "the talk" with them and explain your concerns. There needs to be a cut-off point, because tenants can be like naughty children- unless they're told no, they'll just continue running riot.

I had a demanding tenant like that once. At one point she wanted me to splash out on a bespoke cupboard, which would cost £500 (bear in mind, it was an unfinished property). I just politely refused.

She paid on time and looked after the property, but I felt so much relief after she checked out.

On a sidenote, that's always the problem with allowing tenants to move in before the property is ready, they can take advantage of the situation after the work is done. If the work is done before, they have no recall.

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David 16th September, 2016 @ 12:19

@Ladyland

Have "the chat" explaining that your obligations are limited to essential "elf and safety" repairs only.

They signed the tenancy knowing the condition and that you were going to carry certain repairs which have now been completed.

Then say that you are sorry the rent does not include a personal interior design service, however, if they wish to make improvements, subject to your approval per item and contractor, they may pay for and carry out those improvements on the understanding that they remain with the property.

Similar to the way the law now says they can add insulation at their own cost but it stays with the property.

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David 16th September, 2016 @ 12:21

@Landlord with DSS!

Send them a fan, no not the electric kind, the sort Spanish Flamenco dancers use.

Advice on how to empty toaster crumbs might be helpful and advise to cut fat of lamb chops.

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