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New roof - do I need to compensate tenants for the disruption?

(27 Posts)
RoofIssue Wed 12-Aug-15 11:44:59

I have been renting out my mum's house for a couple of years, as she had to move into a nursing home, sadly following a stroke.

I am having the roof tiles, soffits and guttering replaced. This will take five days, and need scaffolding. The roofers will not need access to the house.

Should I offer the tenants a rent reduction for the week? Although it doesn't really impinge on their enjoyment of the property, I wasn't sure what I should do. Thank you in advance for your advice.

AlisonBlunderland Wed 12-Aug-15 11:47:59

I wouldn't offer, but if they ask for a reduction, I'd give them it.

I wish you were my landlord.
Ours didn't offer us anything when his builders bodged a job which mean our ceiling recieved the bath water from upstairs!

MackerelOfFact Wed 12-Aug-15 11:50:18

It does impinge on their 'quiet enjoyment' of the property though, as I assume there will be some banging and noise, as well as the inconvenience of having workmen blocking access and peering through the windows for a week.

Find out if they're going away any time soon and do the work while the property is empty, if you can. Otherwise, if they're good tenants, a slight rent reduction and/or a small gift (wine, flowers) or apologise for the disruption would probably be appreciated.

PosterEh Wed 12-Aug-15 11:54:00

How will it not impinge on their "enjoyment" of the property?
I'm a landlord and would definitely offer a discount, especially for good tenants.

Superexcited Wed 12-Aug-15 11:54:51

I wouldn't offer them a discount. They will benefit from a well maintained property. Too many tenants complain that the landlords don't maintain property sequately and that is precisely what you are trying to do.
Roof and guttering repairs are just part of cyclical maintenance and especially as all of the work is outdoors and will be completed in under a week I wouldn't offer any reduction.
Councils don't give rent discounts when they disrupt the tenants to carry out repairs or maintenance.

tribpot Wed 12-Aug-15 12:01:39

I would offer them a reduction. Or have the work done when the property is empty.

greenbanana Wed 12-Aug-15 12:01:52

I'm not sure about the rent reduction (not a landlord or tenant), but thought I'd mention you should make it very clear to your tenants they need to keep all windows and doors shut when the roofers are working, in particular any windows that hinge at the top like those small bathroom ones. I owned a flat where we replaced the roof, and the ground floor tenants didn't do this and a window got broken from a small piece of debris. Their landlord had been very clear about the risk of this happening, so they paid to replace the glass.

Roof work does cause some mess. If you don't reduce the rent, I think you should consider paying to get the windows cleaned afterwards unless the roofer will do this as part of the clean-up process.

BerylStreep Wed 12-Aug-15 12:06:09

Agree that you should speak to them about timing, and try to do the work when they are away if possible. You wouldn't know how it could impact them without speaking to them - children's naps during the day, night-shift worker, student studying for exams etc.

I wouldn't offer a rent reduction, but would consider it if they ask. If no reduction, agree with wine / flowers.

RoofIssue Wed 12-Aug-15 12:06:48

Oh dear, a split vote! I guess I was thinking it didn't impinge on their enjoyment, because the work is on Mon to Fri, and they are at work.

Really interesting re mess etc. I will certainly bear that in mind.

Re when the property is empty, the tenants are keen to stay, so that might be years away, unfortunately. (I'd already checked with them, as my mum has recently died, so won't be moving back, and I'd really like to sell.)

PlainHunting Wed 12-Aug-15 12:47:26

If they're at work and it won't really affect them I wouldn't offer a rent discount but would talk to them to ensure the date of the work suits them (not on annual leave or having guests) and give nice wine and chocolates as a gesture.

specialsubject Wed 12-Aug-15 14:53:57

no. I'm in the wine and chocs camp, but as it is all outside and won't affect them, I don't see why it deserves cash. It's called 'property maintenance' and is what good landlords do.

naturally the builders will need to bring their own portaloo for this as the tenants will be out.

tribpot Wed 12-Aug-15 14:57:06

Side issue, but you know you can sell the house with the tenants in if you want to?

Won't the work require scaffolding? Doing my sofits and stuff definitely did, in fact I had to put some in my neighbours' garden, obviously with their permission.

If yes, I think this certainly affects their quiet enjoyment of the property. Good point about getting the windows cleaned as well.

lalalonglegs Wed 12-Aug-15 15:05:25

I'm another one saying wine and chocolates - the same as a decent neighbour would do if they were having unavoidable maintenance work on their home which might cause a bit of dust and noise. Unless the work drags on, I really don't think you need to do more than this.

Superexcited Wed 12-Aug-15 15:57:41

I'm confused about why so many people think the landlord needs to financially compensate the tenants for doing the decent thing and maintaining the property.
If you live in a council house and are due cyclical repairs (roof, kitchen, bathroom, windows etc) they just send you a date telling you when the work will be carried out and expect you to be accommodating and allow the workmen access. They certainly don't reduce your rent for the period that the work is being carried out; why should private landlords be expected to do so much more?
Surely when you live in a house, whether you rent or own it you do expect that maintenance works will need carrying out periodically?

MrsFrancisUnderwear Wed 12-Aug-15 16:08:28

I'm with superexcited on this one completely.

Last house we rented both neighbours had major renovation at THE SAME TIME! (loft extensions). It was a pain in the neck but that's life, that's progress. I wouldn't have thought about "compensation" even although we were "entitled" to quiet enjoyment. I would have liked the builders to have cleaned up the sand when it blew on to our front driveway though!

tribpot Wed 12-Aug-15 16:22:36

But your landlord has no control over what the neighbours choose to do (that must have been bloody annoying). They do have control over what they choose to do with the property which you are renting from them for your personal use. You would (or should) expect all repairs to be done in a timely manner, rather than the landlord saying 'I can't really be arsed, sorry' and conversely you can expect routine maintenance (such a redecorating) not to be done whilst you are paying to live in the property. Given the OP can't wait to do the work, it seems reasonable to compensate the tenants in some form for the inconvenience. This is a business and you aren't offering the exact service you sold. Where people are differing is on the degree to which this represents a loss of service. So the OP wants to offer some goodwill. Good and reliable tenants are not always easy to find. I am a landlord and that's the basis upon which I would offer a discount for the week's rent. Equally I think the suggestion of wine/chocs would be fine too. It all just greases the wheels of commerce a little bit.

The Council clearly take a different view, given they are (presumably) subsidising the housing themselves.

CantWorkItOut22 Wed 12-Aug-15 16:32:57

I was a tenant until recently. Wouldn't expect a rent discount for maintenance work carried out during office hours, but wine and chocs would be a lovely gesture.

Finola1step Wed 12-Aug-15 16:39:30

If the work is being done during office hours, Mon-Fri, I wouldn't compensate. They will actually benefit from the improvements in an indirect way.

Chocs and wine very nice idea.

Wrt to selling, that should be your decision and your alone. Their wanting to stay should not stop you making such a big decision.

Sorry to hear about your mum flowers

Artandco Wed 12-Aug-15 16:48:23

I would give a reduction. If they are home they will be affected by the noise. I know you say they usually work but what if one is ill a few days or on annual leave? That's a noisy house all day. Or if they need to be up early enough to see builders etc or dress so builders don't see them naked through windows of scaffolding. Scaffolding will also I assume block some access/ parking in some way

When we had our roof replaced (rent also), we had 2 weeks rent reduced for 10 days work. Landlord said especially as children in our flat it would cover us spending more in the day if we tried to stay outside and avoid noise. And we did as I had x2 children under 18 months at the time so we ate out each day so didn't have to return home, paid to go in places and they could nap outside as noise was too loud to nap indoors

RoofIssue Thu 13-Aug-15 11:12:44

I didn't think of selling the house with the tenants in place. I'll look into that.

I think I'll refund them the rent for the five days it's supposed to take, as it's a very small amount indeed compared with the cost of getting the roof done. The roof isn't urgent, but I thought if we had to do the guttering and soffits, it made sense to do the roof when the scaffolding is up, rather than wait a couple of years when it becomes urgent.

It's all a bit unfortunate that I've ended up as a landlord! Especially as a big chunk of the money is owed to the council for the nursing home fees.

tribpot Thu 13-Aug-15 11:27:58

Sounds like a good plan to get all the work done at once. Not sure I'd go as far as refunding them all the rent for the week, but as they have got to put up with scaffolding plus mess etc some percentage seems reasonable.

You would need to sell the house to another landlord, obviously, as you can't chuck the tenants out (although you can serve notice but I would check out the option of selling with them in situ first). The price will thus be dependent on what's called the property's yield - how much money it's making annually relative to the cost of the property. It needs to be at least 5% to be attractive to a buyer, and having had a bunch of structural work done should help considerably here (there may also be some useful tax implications as you will have to pay capital gains tax on the sale of the property unless the fact it's an inheritance changes that). So if you multiply your annual rent by 20, do you get to a figure that seems reasonably in line with your expectations? If too low, (a) your rent may be too low or (b) the property might be worth holding on to for now.

Additionally if the fees only become repayable once the property is sold, I would be tempted to consider holding it for that reason, as the value rises so the fees become a lower proportion of the whole. But presumably there's a time limit on how that all works.

RoofIssue Thu 13-Aug-15 11:58:39

Oh dear, no wonder the tenants like the property. I've just done the sums. Besides the guttering, it's in excellent condition with a new bathroom that my mum had just put in before her stroke, and a new kitchen. When she had her stroke, we used an agency to get tenants almost two years ago. And when she died recently, I got the property valued for probate. The yield is 3%. At 5%, we'd sell for a ridiculously low price, although it would cover the care fees.

Looking on Rightmove, the rent does seem very low for the area. Even a three-bedroom maisonette above the shops is on for more! I haven't really been thinking of it in business terms, as we didn't take it on under those circumstances, and it was all very stressful when we were arranging things.

You've been really helpful, especially with:
"Additionally if the fees only become repayable once the property is sold, I would be tempted to consider holding it for that reason, as the value rises so the fees become a lower proportion of the whole. But presumably there's a time limit on how that all works."

There is no time limit, and the interest rate is very low. I guess if we get the roof done, there won't be much more major renovations necessary. I need to look up capital gains tax - my mum's estate was well below those levels, but it would affect me when I sell the house. It is all very complicated! I guess I'll just get the roof done, and then when I have some spare time, look into it more.

Thank you for all your replies.

tribpot Thu 13-Aug-15 12:25:43

Quite understandable that you weren't thinking about this as a business proposition, particularly at such a stressful time. You were presumably guided by the agency as to the rent? They don't seem to have done you a great service, although perhaps your concern was to get tenants in quickly, in which case a lower rent was helpful.

Get the roof out of the way first and then have a good think about what you want to do with the property. You can start a new thread here as well as have a chat with a few agencies, or with other people you know who manage properties. Renting is a numbers game and you need also to factor tax on the income, etc.

It sounds like you should be whacking the rent up to bring it in line with the market. Given it seems advantageous to hold on to the property so you end up with a bigger lump sum at the point where the care home fees need paying, the property should be working for you. I would give the existing tenants first refusal on a whacking increase, but would expect them to say no, or to negotiate a smaller increase in return for a longer contract (since you'll be losing money every month the property is empty). Putting the rent up will also put you in a better position if you do decide to sell it to another landlord in a few years' time. I would be relatively cautious although I think you only need to be able to demonstrate that the increase is in line with the market average. It sounds like even on the low side of the market average you'd still have a significant increase to manage.

The alternative would be to evict the tenants and sell it empty, so you don't have to worry about how the yield affects the price.

specialsubject Thu 13-Aug-15 12:48:41

3%-5% GROSS is a standard yield for rental. That is before tax (if applicable), fixes, fees and maintenance. The idea that rental properties return 10-15% only works for smaller places in London, or for the large-scale landlords in the northern cities.

do you have all the right insurances, including malicious damage, legal and rent guarantee?

also think about how much the rent would actually go up. Is it really worth it for the amount involved, unless you are charging 30% too low?

RoofIssue Thu 13-Aug-15 12:54:26

tribpot I have to say, the agent turned out to be incompetent (and worse) towards both me and the tenants! (I had a thread under another name some months ago about them submitting a false quote.) I no longer use them. It's in a really popular area with schools, and it had been empty for some months while we waited to see how my mum would progress, so there was no real hurry.

The tenants are very nice, and I am not really very business minded - mainly, I guess, because this wasn't a business. In my professional life, it's different! I think I may suggest a rent rise towards more realistic levels when the lease comes up for renewal next year. I know they would like to buy, but are not in a position at the moment.

I think by next year, I will hopefully have some time to think more clearly. It's all been a bit of a nightmare fitting my poor mum's needs around my job and children. Thank you for your advice.

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