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Kitchen appliances left in a rental property

(23 Posts)
Homebird8 Mon 24-Sep-12 05:29:31

We are currently living overseas and have rented out our UK home at least until we make a decision about selling.

Our tenants have been fine but have a problem with the washing machine we left behind in the house. We left written instruction for the agent/management company that although we were not removing the washing machine, dishwasher, fridge and freezer we did not consider them to be part of the rental and although we were happy for them to be used by a tenant they were old and unlikely to work for long and we would not be repairing or replacing them if they broke. I assumed stupid I know that this information was passed to our tenants who were found after we left the UK.

We reiterated this to the agent by email but have been told "Unfortunately if you leave any electrical items/white goods for tenants they have to be maintained by the landlord.  Sorry, no way out of that one." by return email from the agent. If we'd known we'd have ditched the older items before we left.

Anyone know whether the management agent is right? If they are, should they have warned us when we gave them the written statement regarding the appliances when they took on the property management?

Thanks to anyone who can help with this or point me to the information which will clear it up.

parachutesarefab Mon 24-Sep-12 06:03:28

I've no idea legally, but I'd have thought it would depend on whether the white goods were included in the property details. If the home was listed with "kitchen with washing machine", then I'd have thought there was a duty to supply a working one. Do you have a copy of the details, and did you have to approve them?

I definitely think the estate agents are at fault, but they seem to be able to do various things that I don't consider very fair. Definitely complain to them (I presume you have a copy of your written instructions?), and if necessary try the property ombudsman?

Hopefully someone with legal knowledge will be along soon to help.

Japple Mon 24-Sep-12 06:52:46

We are landlords.The appliances and the use of them is in the signed "agreement" we leave with each tenant.It states-these are in good working order,if you missuse,or break one of them...you will be paying for 1/2 of the
expenses to repair them.So far,so good-one of them broke our lawnmower and
bought us a new one.Most tenants don't give doodly-squat to the nice things
you leave them to use.The Law usually states that the Landlord has to fix all of
the broken items (they abuse).However,I make them sign an agreement to fix
Their half.It works for us.I keep Many copies in files to remind them just what
they agreed upon when they were so Hot to rent from us.Jill.

Homebird8 Mon 24-Sep-12 09:14:15

Just looking out the paperwork Parachutes. And Japple, I'd have thought as we gave explicit instructions to the agent then it was their responsibility to include them in the agreement. I'm not even sure we saw a copy of the agreement. The agent is pretty confused by time zones with us on the other side of the world and not good at sending the things we want.

Thanks for your help both of you. Anyone out there with legal knowledge?

SavoyCabbage Mon 24-Sep-12 09:21:04

We had to agree with our tenants what we left behind and it all went into the contract.

We gave them the stuff we wanted to leave behind like the lawn mower and anything they didn't want we got a third party to take to the tip. Otherwise you are just dumping stuff that they then have to pay to get rid of.

It's really hard when you are so far away as you don't know what the agent has said. He might have just said 'there's a washing machine already in there'. It will cost you more to get a new tenant than it will to replace the appliance.

LadySybildeChocolate Mon 24-Sep-12 09:35:31

The agency is right, I'm afraid. I've been here (on the tenant end of things), and had real problems with one landlord (he changed the locks when I was moving out, meaning I couldn't get to some of my things). I ended up replacing all of the white goods whilst I lived there (fridge freezer, cooker after a gas leak, then the washing machine), and my solicitor told me after I moved out (and took all of my white goods with me) that this was the landlords responsibility, even though he had said when I moved in that it was my problem if they broke down. If you didn't want the trouble of repairing/replacing then you should have removed them.

Homebird8 Mon 24-Sep-12 10:23:03

Take your point Savoy. We didn't leave junk and got it all taken to the tip. If we do have a responsibility it'll be fixed but our management agency should have made the situation clear to us when we wrote to tell them (and future tenants) of our original intentions. I think because of this (professional advice is their role after all, and one for which we pay) they should bear the cost on this occasion.

LadySybil, surely your landlord wasn't trying to keep your white goods shock angry. We would never do that. We don't have a problem with our tenant and will get them sorted out ASAP. We just thought we were helping them out. Had we known we wouldn't have left the things in the first place. Silly us confused

CurlyKiwiControl Mon 24-Sep-12 10:26:44

Nice attitude japple hmm

LadySybildeChocolate Mon 24-Sep-12 13:00:15

I'd already taken those out before he changed the locks, luckily. He did take the lawnmower/buggy/fireguard/other bits and bobs though. He told the solicitor that I'd left the house unsecure and he'd had to change the locks as someone had broken in. hmm Strange that there was no damage to the door! Would you believe that he's a Policeman!

Mintyy Mon 24-Sep-12 13:07:57

So what do you expect your tenants to do homebird? Use your ageing appliances until they break down, then replace them, get the old ones removed, and remove the replacements they have made when the time comes for them to move out? If they move on to another rented property then they will end up with a spare set of unwanted white goods on their hands because the vast majority of properties are let with white goods in situ nowadays.

I think yabu. You didn't want the hassle of getting rid of your appliances before you let the property (and wouldn't your kitchen have looked unappealing with great gaps where fridge/washing machine should have been?) but at the same time are unwilling to replace them when they wear out. You can't make out you left them there "as a favour" to your tenants - that's ridiculous.

Japple Mon 24-Sep-12 15:33:39

-"Curly" you bet yer Fur it's a nice attitude.We don't use "rental agencies": I studied law,business(in college);and city and state laws wherever we lived and
owned properties.I call the shots,I write the agreements.Our attorney once said that our "little agreements" were practically Air-Tight.A landlord must simply take the High Ground.It is also Necessary to study these 2 books,(for your state
or wherever you live)..."Landlord-Tenant Law" and "Tenant-Landlord Law". It is
imperative to know Your rights as well as the tenants.Jill.

expatinscotland Mon 24-Sep-12 15:37:35

Japple might not be letting in the UK by her terminology.

Japple Mon 24-Sep-12 15:42:04

Dear "Scot". Bet yer fur...means "Absolutely!".

Peppin Mon 24-Sep-12 16:39:56

I am a lawyer, but a general disputes lawyer rather than a litigator. In the absence of some specific bit of property law on this specific issue, then whether or not you have a repairing obligation will depend - as others have said - on whether the description of the property included the white goods or not.

If you find that you are caught on the hook, despite having instructed the agent that the white goods were not included, then you should tell the agent that you are considering whether or not they were negligent in failing to carry out your instructions by passing on the information about the white goods. You would need a copy of the letter or email in which you gave this instruction, ideally.

I wouldn't pin your hopes on the success of such a claim, but it may get the agent to cooperate a bit and offer something. Damages would be the amount by which you are out of pocket as a result of being caught on the hook for this, i.e. the agent should pay for the repairs or replacements. With negotiation, you may be able to get the agent to pay maybe half, if you make the right noises (and have evidence of your initial instructions re the white goods).

Good luck.

Peppin Mon 24-Sep-12 16:40:43

Sorry meant to say "rather than a property litigator". I am a commercial litigator.

CurlyKiwiControl Mon 24-Sep-12 19:18:05

You seem rather angry japple.

All I can say is im glad im not your tenant.

I don't think id dare even tell you if id broken something.

FrameyMcFrame Mon 24-Sep-12 19:21:37

We had a rented house and the landlord explained clearly at the start that the tumble drier had been left by the previous tenant and although we were welcome to use it if we wanted it was nit part of the rental agreement.

Japple Mon 24-Sep-12 19:44:32

"Curly" dear-We were tenants once-upon-a-time.Paid late,broke things by ac-
cident,ignored some rules,left without proper notice.We were All young once.
The reason we are sought-after landlords,is cause we tend to be on the lenient
side,and our friends & tenants know it.We allow smoking,drinking,some pets,
and we pack our workers Lunches and offer "Room Service" meals and snacks
on Fridays,Saturdays and Sundays,plus all tenants have new flat-screen TVs
and can use our 1000 DVD Collection.We rent to Others like We wish We had
Been treated when we were young and struggling.Jill.

Homebird8 Tue 25-Sep-12 02:06:10

We sent a message to get the machine fixed but have requested that we are informed what exactly is or isn't in the agreement the agent gave to the tenant.

Thanks for your help everyone. We're tenants too!

expatinscotland Tue 25-Sep-12 12:05:15

Japple, may I ask what country you are in and what your first language is?

I'm guessing you are not in the UK in which case you advice may not pertain to the OP.

Japple Tue 25-Sep-12 15:22:10

Dear "Scot"-I speak the universal language of common sense,couched at times
In the local idioms of my surroundings...much like You.And like you,when I read
articles,questions and the general world's Opinions-I take what I can Use,and file away the rest for future consideration.I am an open-minded individual...
Are you? Or is it your habit to "automatically Diss" anything that you don't have
an understanding of? BTW-I and my husband, are in the Hall of Fame on Ask.com.In something like 5-6 months,we answered about 1,300 questions.
We have stopped for awhile,because we are soon to take a Giant World Voyage
and planning is taking All of our time.

Toughasoldboots Tue 25-Sep-12 15:35:30

This would be contract law versus statutory landlord repair law.
It depends what is in the contract. The landlord by law has quite limited repair obligations that pertain to supply of water, external fabric of house etc. That is all quite basic.

I have to dash as I am going on school run but I will try and link later or just google stat repair obligations landlord.

If you have something over and above that in the contract then it would be breached by not repairing them though.

Just by leaving them there, I am pretty sure does not make you legally liable to maintain and repair though.

Toughasoldboots Tue 25-Sep-12 15:41:57

C&P from lawyer blog

This is a bit of a misunderstood area, as a lot of people think that if landlords supply the goods, then they also become responsible for repairs by default. When actually, that’s not the case, as it’s made very clear that White goods do not form part of the landlords repairing/maintenance obligations under section 11, Landlord & Tenant Act 1985.
It should state in the Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement who is responsible for repairing White goods. I personally take responsiblity for repairing White goods, but I generally get 3-5 year warranties on all my products. If they need repair outside the warrenty period, that probably means they’ve lived their life.

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