Non payment of rent
I have three student tenants who did not pay their rent and then moved out of the house 8 weeks earlier than the tenancy agreement because their university course finished.
They claim they will not pay the rent owed unless a rent reduction of those 8 weeks is agreed. They claim a number of reasons regarding cleanliness of the house, boiler pressure issues, poor decor, a gas leak.
I had already discussed the cleanliness of the house and the decor upon their arrival at the house which was exactly as they had inspected the house when they viewed it 6 months or so prior. I gave them a rent reduction of £50 each as a gesture of goodwill and to pay for take-out food and cleaning products that they said they had to buy in the first few days. I also went through a list of their grievences and set timeframes for completion of all tasks. This was adhered to bar the re-painting of the bathroom which has small patches of flaking (newly painted in 2015) due to poor prepaeration of the plaster before painting. The reason for not completing this task was the death of my mother in December 2017. The non completion of the task over the Christmas break when the tenants would be away on holidaywas agreed by all three tenants.
There was a gas leak which I had had checked by a gas engineer who advised that the tenant call the gas supplier. The leak was fixed immediately and there was no disruption to the tenants.
The boiler pressure continuously dropped which meant that the tenants had to go to the outside boiler room and top the pressure up unless (as they explained) they kept the boiler on continuous. I agreed to keep the boiler on vcontinuous as I pay the gas bills. Meanwhile the gas boiler engineer made several visits and attempts at fixing the boiler. At least two seperate parts had failed in the boiler that were suspected as causing the leak.
I kept in contact with the tenants verbally and updated them on the engineer's progress and asked each time if they were OK with the situation to which they always replied that they were OK. At no time did they say that the situation was unbearable and unliveable and that they required a rent reduction to compensate or that they wished to move out.
The have written me an email to state that they will withold payment of the rent until I agree to am 8 week reduction in the rent each.
Do you have any advice for me as to how I should proceed?
This is my second year as a student landlord and unfortunately my landlords insurance did not include legal cover as this was an addable extra which I didn't realise until too late.
Thank you for any advice.
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