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How to: difficult conversations with your landlord

Posted on 2015-07-16

If you’re having problems with your rental property that fall under your landlord’s responsibilities, then getting in touch with them or your managing letting agent is vital. However, having these conversations, particularly if damage has occurred through fault of your own, can be difficult, and many tenants put off the conversation as a result. Here we’ll look at how to approach these conversations, why they’re important and how you can get a mutually beneficial result.

Why it’s important to discuss it right away

Problems need to be mentioned immediately to prevent them from worsening. If, for example, you notice that you’re starting to get mould in a bathroom, it could lead to the entire bathroom becoming consumed by damp if left untreated, making the property uninhabitable and costing a considerable sum of money to fix. If noticed promptly and the landlord’s informed, action can be taken to prevent it spreading.

Likewise, if you’ve damaged the carpet by spilling red wine, notifying the landlord immediately may mean that you stand a better chance of getting the stain out with a professional cleaner rather than having to replace the entire carpet.

How to approach the conversation

It’s understandably difficult to approach the conversation with your landlord or letting agent if you’ve caused the damage. However, by making contact, you’re attempting to rectify the problem and are making the correct move. If you’re notifying them immediately and you’re informing them about an issue with their property, they’re much more likely to be responsive, helpful and understanding than if the problem goes untreated.

Before you contact your landlord or letting agent, take a look at your tenancy agreement. Your tenancy agreement should tell you who to contact in case of problems or emergencies, making it the ideal place to start. Contacting the wrong person may only compound the problem. The tenancy agreement will also tell you how to contact them and whether to do so by phone or email.

Once you know who to contact, make sure you know who’s responsible for solving the issue in line with the tenancy agreement. If there’s a structural problem with the property, for example, then that would be the responsibility of the landlord (in most tenancy agreements), but if you’ve caused damage through negligence, such as breaking a window with a football, it may be your responsibility to fix it.

Even if it’s your responsibility, you should still inform your landlord about the issue and how you intend to rectify it. If it’s done incorrectly, or to the wrong standard, it could cause a problem at the check-out stage. In listed properties, you also may only be able to make changes in a certain way. Above all else though, letting your landlord or letting agent know about the issue is common courtesy and best practice as a tenant.

What to say

Firstly, be clear about what the problem is and how it can be solved. Plus, if the problem is your fault, be sure to apologise. If you’re nervous about phoning the landlord or letting agent then compose yourself first. Make a note on a pad about all the things you intend to say, as this will help keep you on track and provide accurate information.

It’s really important to provide accurate information, so even if you have caused damage, be open and honest about it. Your landlord or letting agent is much more likely to be understanding of the issue if you’re open and honest. If you’ve caused damage, it’s usually helpful to offer a solution, too.

If the problem or damage isn’t your fault, then make sure you’re as accurate as you can be and do some research. For example, if there’s a leak, can you locate exactly where it’s coming from, or could you describe the rate it’s leaking at? Any additional information you can provide will be helpful in resolving the issue.

By keeping these tips in mind when you speak to your landlord or letting agent, you stand the best chance of reaching a successful conclusion. Remember, if you do encounter problems, report them immediately to stop them from worsening, and ensure you’re open and honest about what happened. This way it can be resolved quickly and with minimal disruption.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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