Tenants wrongly attempt to
blackmail landlords over repairs
Private rental sector tenants are wrongly taking matters into their own hands and attempting to withhold rent from landlords over delays resolving emergencies like heating and electrical faults, according to new research by HomeServe.
The figures show that 1 in 3 PRS tenants have faced emergency repairs over the last 12 months, with boiler faults and other central heating problems the most common.
Of those, 11% took the wrong action, attempting to withhold rental payments because they claimed that the landlord had taken an unacceptable length of time to deal with the repairs, and 48% of tenant respondents said they would also be willing to withhold rent should the need arise.
- 1 in 4 problems take landlords more than a week to repair
- 34% of private tenants have faced a home emergency in the last 12 months
- 1 in 10 tenants who have had a home emergency withheld rent
- 1 in 2 tenants would be willing to withhold rent if necessary to expedite repairsDespite the urgent nature of many of the problems reported by tenants, 31% of issues were dealt with within 24 hours, while 23% took more than a week to be addressed.
Only 32% of landlords employ property management agents to operate the daily running of the rental property on their behalf, while 34% of landlords undertake all aspects of managing their rental property portfolio themselves.
- 41% of tenants say that their landlord arranges the contractors on their behalf.
- 20% of tenants claim the landlord carries out repairs personally.
- 35% of tenants report waiting to contact their landlord within office hours to resolve issues.
- 81% of PRS tenants expect dealing with home emergencies should be a key part of the services landlords offer.
- 62% of tenants want a 24/7 service from landlords and their appointed letting agents.
- 29% of tenants claim that their landlord was unable to take the hassle out of dealing with an emergency repair.
- 41% of UK PRS tenants claim that their letting agent failed to make things any easier.
Top tenant emergency call outs
- Central heating fault – 15%
- Boiler fault – 14%
- Blocked sinks – 13%
- Blocked drains – 10%
- Leaking taps – 7%
- Blocked toilets – 6%
- Leaking pipes – 5%
- Pest problem – 7%
- Electrical fault – 2%
- Other – 2%
HomeServe also discovered that 1.28 million private sector landlords partly or entirely self-manage their own property portfolios and 45,000 UK landlords own 5 or more rental properties in the UK’s private rental sector.
Jonathan King, CEO of HomeServe said: ”Most landlords are responsible and responsive to their tenants’ needs. But it’s clear that with many determined to manage their properties themselves, either to ensure the quality of the job done or to manage costs, this is creating dissatisfaction among some tenants. Home emergencies can be a hassle to resolve, for landlords and tenants alike. And tenants’ feeling they have to take the extreme step of withholding rent is in no one’s interest. As more and more people rent, and rents increase, landlords need to make sure they are offering their tenants a smooth service.”
Withholding rent is an illegal practice that should not be encouraged, if there is a problem over the length of time that repairs take then this should be resolved with communication between the landlord and their tenants.
If you wanted a tin of beans from Tesco they would prosecute you for shoplifting if you said that you were not going to pay for them until you were satisfied with the quality, so why should rental payments be treated differently?
Often delays are caused by contractor availability or not being able to gain access due to tenants working hours or availability and the threat of withholding rent may result in tenants losing their home.
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