Repairs to white goods
I have had the same tenants renting my house since September 2016. We are currently on our fourth one-year lease term. All lease agreements have been Assured Shorthold Tenancies. The current one is based upon the RLA May 2019 edition.
Prior to my tenants moving in to the property I made improvements to the house, including remodelling the kitchen and installing brand new white goods. Before the tenants moved into the property I photocopied all of the instruction manuals for the new appliances and provided them to the tenants for their advice.
I regular walk around the house – twice a year, approximately once every six months. When conducting those house visits I have noticed that the standards of hygiene observed by my tenants are what I consider substandard, although I don’t regard it as my place to be judgemental of their living standards provided that the structure of the house is not compromised by their actions. I am satisfied that no structural damage has been caused to the property by my tenants.
Since they have lived in the property there has been a series of problems with the white goods. Firstly it was the washer dryer, then it was the gas hob and most recently is was the electric oven. When the issue with the gas hob was reported to me I scanned the pages of the instruction manual concerning the manufacturer’s advice regarding care and cleaning of the hob and informed them that I had no problem paying for repairs to be made to the hob, provided that the repairs were due to a defect with the device and they were not caused by their negligence due to improper care. I didn’t hear back from them following that incident. When I next inspected the house I question them about it and they said that it still wasn’t working correctly but that it didn’t matter as they didn’t use that part of the hob anyway. As it had evidentially recently be cleaned, I told them that I would pay for repairs. After I returned to my office I contacted the manufacturer’s service agent and arranged for them to go to the property to conduct the repair. I then passed on the case number to my tenant and suggested they contact the service agent to make a convenient appointment for the repairs to be made. They never followed up on this.
Recently they reported to me that the oven wasn’t working properly and asked me to arrange to have it repaired. I am suspicious that the issue may again be their neglect although I do not know whether or not that is the case for sure. As they are reliant on the oven for day to day use I instructed them to contact the manufacturer’s service department to arrange for repairs and to keep me informed. I didn’t hear anything more from them until a few days ago when they paid the rent for the month of November. They informed me that they had deducted the cost of repair and provided me with a screenshot of their bank records for the charge. I do not dispute the amount of the charge. I believe the charge to be accurate from my previous discussions with the manufacturer’s service agent. Importantly, they have not provided me with the service engineer’s report and I thus do not know what the cause of the defect was and whether or not it was caused by their negligence.
I shall write to them shortly and inform them that they have an obligation to pay the rent in full and only after they have provided me with the service engineer’s report will I pay for the repair. Prior to corresponding with them I am keen to establish the legal position. I’m confident that my demands are not unreasonable but I do not know on precisely what legal basis.
I should be most grateful if you would please provide me with your insights. I’m especially interested in any legal references that you may be able to offer.
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