Whenever I see my tenant’s name flashing on my mobile phone screen, I know it’s not good news. Granted, it rarely happens, but when it happens, I panic. When does a tenant ever call baring good news? “Oh, Hey Landlordy, just calling to thank you for providing this wonderful roof over my head at a bargain price.” It just doesn’t happen.
My tenant moved in just under 2 months ago, and I had yet to communicate with her. So when my phone started flashing the other night at 10pm, I knew it wasn’t to break the ice. So…PANIC, PANIC, PANIC!
I picked up and said, “hey, how are you..etc”, got the formalities out of the way. She had a real quiet voice, almost as if she was scared. But I don’t think she was; that was just her voice. She then said, “waters leaking from the loft, can you get a plumber out”, I was like “Shhhhi…has something burst? Do you know why it’s happening?”
She didn’t know why it was happening. There was no way I could get a plumber out at 10pm. Plumbing isn’t my forte, so I had no idea how to diagnose the problem. Surprisingly, she was perfectly calm, which made the whole situation easier to deal with. Some tenants can be such idiots, she could have stressed out and said, “WATER IS LEAKING, I’M NOT PAYING RENT, YOU SON OF A BITCH!! FIX IT!!”
I explained that there was no way I could get a plumber out at that time. I would call someone first thing in the morning. She seemed understanding. In the mean time, I told her to turn off the main water supply, the stop-cock, which was located under the sink in the kitchen. She turned it off- the leaking stopped after a few minutes. Thankfully we managed to stop the leaking before any damage was done. If the water had continued to overflow, the entire ceiling could have fallen through, and then I would have been in deep shit. However, while the main water supply was switched, she had no access to water, so having a shower or going to the toilet was out of the question. I knew I had to act quickly, because I knew it was unacceptable to leave a tenant without water.
Luckily, my accountant’s husband is a plumber, so he usually attends to my problems promptly, and I know he won’t rip me off. When I got into work the following morning, I told my accountant the problem. Later that evening her husband attended the problem and diagnosed it. He said it was nothing major, apparently the float/ball in the cistern water tank had broken. For the unaware, the float/ball controls the water level in the tank; without it, there’s no control of the water level.
Here’s a visual for your ease:
Fortunately, it only cost me £50 to fix the problem, for both parts and labour. I feel lucky. Very lucky. When someone says that water is leaking through the roof, it sounds like an expensive problem. I feel lucky for these reasons:
a) my tenant called me up as soon as the problem started, so I was able to instruct her to turn off the mains.
b) I know a plumber that acted quickly and didn’t charge me an arm and a leg.
I think the important messages here is that you should always work with your tenant and get issues resolved promptly. If you don’t fix serious problems related to water, heat and electricity quickly, you’re really running the risk of pissing your tenant off. And rightly so. Once you have an unhappy tenant, being a landlord can be extremely difficult and expensive. Secondly, as a landlord, it’s ALWAYS good to build solid relationships with useful tradesman so you can get problems fixed quickly and at good rates. Tradesman aren’t exactly notorious for being the most honest of people when it comes to diagnosing problems, “Sorry Sir, it seems like your entire water tank has broken. £2000, minimum.”
Disclaimer: I'm just a simple landlord blogger; I'm not qualified to give legal or financial advice. Any information I share is my opinion based on my personal experiences as an active landlord, and should never be construed as legal or professional advice. For more information, please read my full disclaimer.