Here is a question to the blog clinic from Tony who is a landlord
I have a problem and I am not sure how to the address it, I would be grateful for any advice which you can offer.
I am a landlord, recently the gas safety check came up for renewal at my property. I have been using the same agent for the past nine years, they have always organised the gas checks on my behalf and arranged with the tenants directly.
The current tenant is a single lady with two young children, she is refusing to allow any contractors unless they are accompanied by a certain member of staff from the agent.
The agent is not duty bound to do this and has said either I need to attend myself, which is not feasible because I live several miles away, or In pay an extortionate fee to attend for me.
The tenancy agreement states that the tenant must allow access for contractors etc whenever necessary and my agreement with the agent says nothing about accompanying contractors onto the premises.
No progress has been made and the certificate has now expired, my agent has sent me an email saying that because of this, they cannot take any responsibility and I must address the matter myself.
My question is, can the agent do more in this situation, after all I am paying them to manage my property? And if I do pay them to accompany the contractor, can I pass this cost onto the tenant?
This is an unfortunate situation which needs to be resolved otherwise you are open to prosecution for failing to comply with the gas regs.
Getting the annual gas inspection and certificate done is something which comes within the general duties of a letting agent and I would suggest that this would be implied into the agreement even if this is not specifically set out.
However when push comes to shove it is YOU who will be prosecuted so you can’t just sit back and blame them.
I think your agents probably should be doing more to get this situation resolved.
Standard things to do are to write to the tenant explaining the reason why a gas inspection is needed at all – to keep the property safe for her and her children. Does she know that tenants have died due to ill maintained gas appliances? Why is she putting her children in this position? Etc, etc.
It could also be made clear to her that you will not be willing to renew the tenancy at the end of the term unless she c0-operates and that if she does not, and if you are requested to provide a reference to future landlords, her unhelpful attitude will be notified to them.
Turning to the agents, I am unhappy about the extortionate fee being charged for the lady member of staff to go along on the inspection. Surely if this is going to resolve the situation they should just arrange for her to attend without using this as an excuse to get another fee out of you?
I am also interested to know why the tenant will only allow this particular member of staff along. Is it because the other people at the agency have upset her in some way?
The general wisdom on ‘tenant failing to allow access’ situations is to make three documented attempts to get access and then inform the Heath & Safety Executive (who police the regulations). So you need to find out how many documented attempts have been made by your agents.
At the end of the day, your ultimate remedy is to apply for an injunction to allow access against the tenant (the threat of this may make her see sense) and also to say to your agents that unless they do more to resolve this situation, you consider that they are not acting properly as your agents and that you will be taking your business elsewhere once this tenancy has come to an end (or even earlier).
Finally, if you do pay the agents the extra fee, I don’t think this is something you are entitled to claim from the tenant as it is not covered in the tenancy agreement.
However, if several contractors have been booked and you have had to pay extra call out fees due to her failing to allow access, this is probably something that could be charged.
What do readers think about this and what would you do in these circumstances?