23rd December 2017
Q: We have had a horrendous experience; we were not able to live in the house we rent for 23 days after the boiler failed. The landlady wanted quotes before deciding to have the boiler replaced, but the whole process was long winded and stressful. My husband and I had to chase for updates on a daily basis while, my parents kindly put us up. We have asked our landlady for 23 days off our rent but she has refused stating that she has already lost money by paying for a new boiler, blaming the previous owner of the house for using cowboys. However, I’ve heard that it may be possible to have the 23 days rent off because we could not live in the house, is this correct and how do we go about it?
A: Your landlady certainly has a very bitter view of the world to say the least! You are quite right, you are entitled to compensation for the days when you were unable to live in the property, and are also probably entitled to further compensation for the inconvenience and stress suffered by you. Strictly speaking, if compensation is not agreed between you and your landlady, you are only entitled to payment if it is awarded by the court. However, one course of action is (assuming no agreement is reached) to deduct what you think is right from your rent, and say to your landlord that if she seeks to recover this sum through the courts, you will defend and counterclaim for compensation for the loss of service and stress and inconvenience suffered by you.
If you do this, note that if the landlord then tries to recover this money back from your deposit, you should not agree to have this decided by your tenancy deposit scheme adjudication service, as I understand that compensation for disrepair is not something that adjudicators are authorised to deal with, and they may award the money to the landlord.
As it is possible that court proceedings may be brought in the future, you need to make sure you keep full details of everything that happened. So, I suggest you write it up, so you can say precisely what days you were unable to stay in the property and keep a record of any other issues.
A message to all landlords: This situation is usually easily avoided by a simple apology to the tenants and an offer of portable heaters, discount on rent or something else that shows you are human and not like the lady above. Most tenants are reasonable, and would understand that you need more than the first contractor name that comes up on Google. At Sow&Reap, we arrange this for you, so you do not have to panic yourself with the running around and getting quotes.