Q. My tenants have been complaining for a while now that there is a foul smell coming from the bath plug hole. I immediately sent a contractor in to check the situation out only to be told that there was no sign of a blockage or a foul smell when they attended. Obviously I am not happy that the tenants continue to complain and are now disgruntled and insisting on another visit to explore further but having paid for a contractor to go out once to investigate only to find nothing, I am wondering legally what my liability is as a Landlord given it is just a smell with no blockages or disruption to the tenants otherwise?
A. I can see your point as the tenants are not actually without hot water or heating or experiencing any type of inconvenience or discomfort other than an intermittent smell due to the problem so you could easily dismiss this as not important. However Pain Smith Solicitors the legal advisors for the ARLA (Association of residential lettings) advice that an issue like this falls under statutory repairing obligations and that if the tenant feels you are not doing enough to resolve he could call in environmental health who would be likely to serve an order making the landlord do something to resolve and on the back of that may enforce other repairs as well. In a nutshell and given the advice from a legal standpoint I would arrange for a contractor to attend as soon as possible and ask them to investigate further or maybe speak to the building manager to see if they can throw any light on the issue, either way it is a real issue and the tenants have a right to insist it is attended to. Better to get this resolved now whilst the property is occupied than have your tenants serve notice and then have a prolonged void period because whilst trying to re let the smell puts viewers off.