What does a buy-to-let landlord do when a repair goes drastically wrong?

No heating? No hot water? No bother.

What do you do if your tenant reports an issue that clearly makes your property unfit for human habitation? Let’s say, for example, that the occupants include young children, and the tenant tells you that the boiler and central heating has stopped working. It’s the middle of the coldest winter weather we’ve had all year. No heating, and no hot water.

The answer, of course, is that you send your most trusted central heating contractor to the tenant’s home. They sort the problem out, and all is well. Until, just a few days later, the tenant reports that the central heating has again stopped working. Not only this, but also that two of the radiators are now leaking.

This was the issue reported on one of the properties managed by Ezytrac. With the health of a young family at risk, there was no time for pussyfooting. This is the situation that faced Becky, one of Ezytrac’s account managers working directly on repair and maintenance issues. Here’s her story.

First course of action: hire our regular, trusted contractor

“When the tenant first reported the boiler and central heating fault, I was horrified. These were new tenants, with a young family, and had moved into a property that had recently come to market. The property had been untenanted for a few weeks, and the landlord had been happy that we’d found suitable tenants for them so quickly.

“All had seemed fine with the property when it was inspected, but perhaps the void period had caused the issue with the central heating. Whatever the reason, I knew that it was important to get the repair made as quickly as possible. I couldn’t leave a young family without heating or hot water.

“So, I arranged for our regular, trusted contractor to send a technician. We also spoke to the landlord, explained the situation, and gained permission to agree commencing work that needed to be done without referring back to the landlord who would be busy in meetings at work.”

Boiler repaired

Becky continues the story, fast-forwarding a few hours…

“The technician arrived at the property when they said they would. They contacted me, discussed what they had discovered and explained the work that would be required to fix the issue. Having already spoken to the tenant and been given permission to agree work needed, I was able to give the go-ahead for work to be completed immediately. This saves the landlord a second call-out charge, which can be £100 or more.

“The technician did the work, tested the system, and left the property with working heating and hot water.”

When a repair goes wrong – what do you do?

A few days after the repair was made, the tenant reported that they once more had no hot water or heating. This time, though, they also reported that two of the radiators were leaking.

“This was bad,” Becky says. “Clearly, the technician had missed something, or perhaps not made the repair correctly.

“When this happens, the natural course of action would be to request the original contractor to return to the property; for most DIY landlords, this is their only option, as they only have the one contractor on board.

“With more than 1,200 properties on our books, we have working arrangements with several specialists across all maintenance needs. I decided to send a different firm – kind of like getting a second opinion when you’re not satisfied with a doctor’s diagnosis, I guess.

“Again, we arranged the new visit for within 12 hours of the repair report made by the tenant.”

Putting right a bad job

“What the second firm found was a string of issues that should have been taken care of by the first contractor. These included:

  • No filter had been fitted
  • No scale reducer had been used
  • The water in the boiler was black, indicating that there had been no power flush made

“The technician called us to report what he had found, and we gave the go-ahead for the remedial work to be done. This included removing the two defective radiators and capping them off.

“The best news was that our prompt action – on both occasions – made sure that the family didn’t suffer during the cold weather, and that the landlord remained compliant with their obligations and the landlord laws.”

Maintaining contractor integrity

When you manage property, there are many relationships that need to be managed and maintained. There are obligations to landlords and tenants, and good relationships with contractors ensure that work is done efficiently and promptly.

When we select contractors, we check their ability and capability, seek out testimonials, and look for experience. It’s a rigorous process, backed up by continual monitoring of work completed.

“If repairs go wrong – which, thankfully, is a very are occurrence – we always reserve the right to send a second contractor to inspect work done,” Becky says. “In this case, we were able to identify that the first contractor had not done the job to standard.

“Now comes the tough part. I called the first contractor to explain what had happened, what we had done, and that we (and our landlord client) wouldn’t be paying for the poor work their technician had done. I sent photographic evidence.

“The result? No problems. Our feedback helps contractors identify deficiencies, and then act to ensure that their work is the best it can be. If one of their employees has done shoddy work, they need to know about it. Their reputation is as important to them as the reputations of our landlord clients are to us.”

Effortless property management in action

The way in which Becky dealt with the issue typifies how Ezytrac works. Our mantra is ‘Effortless property management’. In this case, the landlord didn’t:

  • Need to spend hours on a phone, arranging maintenance work
  • Have the awkward job of chewing out the contractor for not doing their job properly
  • Have the hassle of finding a second contractor and getting them to the property within hours
  • Need to worry about their property giving cause for the tenant to sue under the Homes (Fit for Human Habitation) Act 2018

Equally importantly, the landlord didn’t have an irate tenant to deal with because we managed their expectations and needs, too.

Hats off to Becky. She did what she is trained and qualified to do, and her experience shined. She helped the landlord have an easy experience, kept the tenants healthy and happy, and ensured that the contractors we use were given valuable feedback that keeps their work at the highest standards.

For effortless property management from a manager that supports both landlords and tenants, contact one of our team today.

Live with passion,

Brett Alegre-Wood

By |2019-04-16T07:08:19+01:00May 21st, 2019|Landlord lessons, Maintenence, Property Management|0 Comments

About the Author:

Brett has over 20 years experience in all facets of property, he owns various companies centred around property and is the driving force behind the education and training at Ezytrac. His companies have sold over £850 million in UK and London property and he manages over 1200 properties through his estate agency chain. Today he shares his time between UK, Australia and Singapore. He is married to Arlene and together they have 4 kids. Brett holds both the Level 3 Property Mark Qualifications for Property Sales and Property Lettings and Management.