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Currently have 3 joint tenants on a 6 month AST (not HMO) but having constant issues with them and they're mentioning distress, compensation and other costs due to condensation damp which they caused as they don't turn the heating on or have it on very little (can't prove but maintenance chap said flat alays cold and they have said they can't afford elec bill). They also moved out for 5 days of their own accord back to their parents.
I have a joint AST 6 months signed / official via letting agents (find tenant service). Deposit properly protected with DPS. I have signed inventory with photo graphs all signed as good condition with only a small comment about damp in bathroom noted. photo provided.( this was a couple of weeks after they moved in). No other items flagged as not working (i.e. windows / window vents, cooker hood)
1st floor Flat was freshly painted before they moved in, heating fully works, windows and windows vents worked, bathroom extractor fan worked. No ingress water, no water leaks or rising damp (as 1st flr flat).
After 2.5 months i have sent a maintenance guy in a few times but the last time he cleaned the walls and apply special damp paint as they started talking about health issues from the condensation damp (they appear to be damp specialists ) They also flagged the cooker hood wasn't working (but only after 2.5mths in the flat). i'm getting hood fixed asap part order, waiting access from tenants.
No of my previous tenants (over 10 years) had no damp, the last tenants in flat for 2.5 yrs. Tenants in an identical ground floor flat below have no damp issues.
It is condensation damp as it cleans off.
So... my question after all the above WHAT IS THE BEST ROUTE TO TAKE? as no matter what i do they're not heating the flat so condensation damp will return and its a vicious circle as the walls are cold and moisture will be attracted to the cold walls / windows?
A) Section 8 against Tenancy clause - As they have not kept the property aired and warm to avoid build up of condensation. How good is it to use clauses for Section 8?
B) Section 8 against part or full non rent payment if they default on the next payment (expecting as they've already mentioned withholding rent for distress, days at parents, dry cleaning and many many other points. Is S8 payment reason better or worse as they could suddenly repay any outstanding rent?
C) wait for 5 weeks and apply a section 21 as 6 Mth AST?
The letting agent has a solicitor able to apply the paperwork. although i can do it myself i thought that may look more official and avoid making any minor mistake for £150 charge and then continue to use if i need to proceed to courts.
Any help or advice appreciated
Is this electric heating - if so what type exactly - you say tenants are saying they cannot afford Elec bill?
Were their incomes marginal when they signed TA?
Is this their first rental away from home - young adults have a learning curve to go through on realities of how to live in a property?
Yes flat is just electric so no gas. So heating and Water on electric standard tariff (has been since purchase and for all previous tenants) no previous issues.
When i mentioned ensuring the flat had sufficient warmth they returned with a lengthy email stating not enough ventilation, and said they received an electric bill more than 4 times predicted saying its unreasonable to make an assumption on how much heating they used. Going on to say "Asking us to spend this much on heating on top of all our other bills and rent isn't helpful. They also mentioned changing the meter to run on cheaper night time electric.
Letting agent did credit and referencing via third party which passed ok so i didn't see their incomes. They did offer 6 months up front rent but i couldn't demand this after the credit reference ( i think this may have been money from parents).
I do think this is their first rental home, especially as they have all just up and moved out for 5 days back to their parents. 2 moved from parents to rented property the third was a student from scotland now with full time job.
No gas in flat - so what was EPC rating?
Econ 7 metering I believe has a sting in tail - in that whilst the 7 hr rate is about half the normal elec rate - all other usage outside the specified 7 hour period would be charged at around twice the normal rate - so it needs careful thought on tenants part.
That said if they are leaving soon it becomes academic - and as far as their complaints around costs go - they are splitting Rent/Bills 3 ways.
I assume heating is convector heaters - as otherwise Storage heaters would be on Econ 7?
Heating / Water is via GAH Electrastream system which serves usual wall mounted radiators, installed brand new by builder.
OK so electric boiler - does the job - but likely to be up to treble cost of GCH at a guess.
Do you have an idea of typical annual elec bills for the property out of interest?
I assume most householders pay for domestic fuel via monthly DD (cheapest method) - which does tend to cloak the fact that winter usage is far higher than summer - though anyone with a brain will realise that on a pay as you go basis the winter months will cost 2 or 3 times some of the summer months.
That will be further exacerbated if one or more of the tenants are at home all day and wanting heating - so a friendly discussion around all that may go some way to placating them for the 3 month remainder of their stay.
i don't have typical bills only the EPC but no previous tenants have raised issues to date?
OK was just wondering what an electric boiler would cost to run in a real world situation.
It would be helpful for you to know too - as this informs your future discussions with the tenants.
From memory average dual fuel bill is around £1300 pa - with anything up to 60/70% of that arising in winter months - eg £150 pcm split 3 ways.
If the ??9 kw boiler is on for 6 hrs daily in working week and 15 hrs at weekend @ say 18p per Kw hr that could potentially be costing some £50 to £100 weekly in really cold weather - depending both on EPC rating and how much time tenants are at home.
Is the elec meter a credit meter or the PrePay key type?
I had the same problem .. never had any damp problems, so requested a independent damp surveyor to do a report ( cost £38 ) .. from readings and investigation it showed as condensation from tenant failing to open windows and use vents provided .. it also pointed out that heating was turned off and washing on cloths horses and room with no airflow ( I kept a copy for my own evidence ).
The tenant failed to acknowledge any fault resulting in major damage .. I issued a section 21 notice and took me 8 months to get him out .. I found this report invaluable, as it provided information and evidence for the deposit mediators to make a desision ... hope you get this resolved soon .
I haven't had a report done but i do have the following evidence
1) previous tenants confirming no condensation damp issues
2) ground floor flat (identical) have no damp issues.
3) never had damp issues since owning
4) all windows vents working, windows were working but now starting to swell with damp. Nothing marked on inventory as not working
5) letting agent confirmed no damp before paint refreshed
6) damp IS condensation damp and it easily wipes off as maintenance guy just cleaned down last week before apply special damp paint to help situation but its not magic.
I think they'd move back to their parents is notice issued but trying to figure out the best option. thinking section 8 as quicker before they cause more condensation damp