(updated on Wednesday, August 19th 2020)
I've been advised by the local council that we have a water leak. This has been investigated by our plumber. The problem is that it’s under the concrete floor so it will be a major to fix. Can we give 90 days’ notice to our tenants? (Although that will mean lots of water damage and a large water bill in those 90 days.) Or can the house be classed as unliveable to get the tenants to move out faster?
Note that they will have no bathroom or kitchen while we find the leak and fix it. We are happy for the tenants to move back after that repairs and we will be asking them if they have a possible place to stay while the leak is being repaired. I'm just not sure how to progress.
Our Experts Answer:
You will need to confirm how much time you will need to have the repairs done. This will indicate how long the tenants will need to be away from the property. Then you can discuss with the tenants whether they can move out for that time.
If not, then you may need to end the tenancy, either by agreement with the tenant or by an order from the Tenancy Tribunal. Section 59 of the Residential Tenancies Act states that where a “part of the premises is so seriously damaged as to be uninhabitable”, the Tenancy Tribunal may end a tenancy if it is unreasonable to have the tenancy continue in the circumstances.
However, the best solution all round would be to come to an agreement with the tenants on a timeframe for repair that you can all live with. As an aside, you should be able to get a credit for some of the water charges from the local authority, provided you have taken prompt action to fix the water leak.
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