Letting Agents Must Take Notice
22 Sep 2015
Letting agents must take notice. When a person (landlord, tenant, agent, trades-person) is ‘put on notice’ they have been made aware and warned of a situation that they cannot later deny they knew about. Once informed there may be a duty to respond. Landlords similarly must take notice.
- This might be a blatant notice with a red hand pointing to it so that it is so obvious no one would attempt to deny being aware of it.
- However, letting agents must take notice especially when notices are subtle, these may still be effective despite being less obvious. It is these that give rise to disputes and negligence claims.
- If a tenant when asked, “When are you paying the rent?” responds, “When I get my student loan, and by the way my gutter is leaking”, the landlord enquiring about one thing has been ‘put on notice’ about another – there is now a duty to attend to the leak.
- Leydon Lettings was informed that water was pouring out from a gutter into the garden. Important, but not an obvious emergency – one might imagine. However, it became an emergency when water began to pour through the first floor ceiling. How? The ball valve had broken (the piston suddenly punctured the diaphragm). What appeared to be a leaking gutter was in fact a leaking ball valve. It was actually the overflow pipe just below the gutter that was leaking – not the gutter. Within a very short time the loft cistern tank had filled up and the overflow pipe could not drain the water away fast enough to prevent flooding the lower floors.
- The point of this anecdote is that the agent was put on notice by the tenant that there was a leak. Tenants are not expected to be experts in identifying the exact nature of the leak nor the urgency or consequences of misleading information.
- Fortunately, I was available and attended to be met by tenants with open umbrellas – indoors! I quickly isolated the water and mopped up and no serious damage resulted.
- Who would have been responsible for the flood had this agent not taken it seriously? I am just relieved I acted quickly.
- Once put on notice there may be a duty, potentially an obligation and a thus a sense of urgency to act, even if the matter appears innocuous and might wait until a more convenient time.
- When put on notice it is best to act without delay and to assume the worst. Drop everything and act! This way one is less likely to be guilty of negligence.