Thousands of tenants are suffering at the hands of landlords who delay, or fail to make major repairs to heating, electrical faults and water leakage, according to the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC).
Recent research shows that a quarter of a million private tenants a year are taking matters into their own hands and withholding rent from their landlords because of delays resolving emergencies repairs. One in three private tenants (34per cent) has faced a home emergency in the past 12 months, with boiler faults and other central heating problems the most common. The research also shows that despite the urgent nature of many of the problems, only one in three were dealt with even in the same day (31per cent), while one in four (23per cent) took more than a week.(Source: Homeserve, November 2013)
Pat Barber, Chair of the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC), is urging landlords to listen to tenants and deal with repairs quickly. “Landlords have a duty of care with their tenants and should be responding to emergencies in hours, not days. We had a case where a boiler had stopped working for seven weeks during the coldest part of the winter, so no heating or hot water was available in the property. The tenants were not even offered free-standing heaters and the landlord ignored all requests. The tenant was too nervous to complain.
“We have seen similar problems with front door locks that don’t work for weeks; leaks from showers that eventually bring a kitchen ceiling down; and taps that don’t work and never get repaired for the whole tenancy, causing the tenants to use a bathroom tap to get water for the kitchen!”
AIIC has put some guidelines on response times for landlords:
- Landlords and agents have a duty of care to advise tenants on the correct course of action while contractors are organised, such as turning off gas taps, water stop cocks or main electricity supplies, to ensure that any problem does not cause danger to life and property.
- Any gas or major electrical fault is classed as urgent and should be attended to within 24 hours or less. This also applies when heating or hot water is affected, especially during cold weather.
- Water leaks – within 24 hours
- Cookers – within 48 hours
- Other broken appliances – washing machines, dish washers etc should be attended to within 72 hours.
- Communication is key and the landlord or agent should keep the tenant informed of the action taken to solve the problem that has been reported.
Pat Barber, Chair of the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks. For further information on AIIC, please visit www.theaiic.co.uk.
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