December 04, 2013 05:19 ET

Landlord Discord: Thousands of Tenants Withhold Rent Over 'Delayed' Repairs

- One in 10 private renters who have had a home emergency forced to withhold rent - and one in two would be willing to do so

- 34% of private tenants has faced a home emergency in the last 12 months

- One in four problems take landlords more than a week to fix

WALSALL, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwired - Dec. 4, 2013) - Hundreds of thousands of private tenants a year are taking matters into their own hands and withholding rent from their landlords because of delays resolving emergencies like heating and electrical faults, new research reveals.1

Figures from HomeServe, the home emergency specialists, show that one in three private tenants (34%) has faced a home emergency in the last 12 months, with boiler faults and other central heating problems the most common.

Of those, no fewer than one in 10 (11%) took the extreme step of withholding rent because their landlord had taken what was seen as an unacceptable time to deal with the repairs - and nearly half (48%) said they would be willing to do so.

Despite the urgent nature of many of the problems, only one in three were dealt with even in the same day (31%), while one in four (23%) took more than a week.

One complication for many landlords in dealing with home emergencies appears to be their desire to address problems themselves. Only one in three landlords (32%) employs a managing agent to care of the property on their behalf on a day-to-day basis, while a further third (34%) admit they undertake all aspects of managing their portfolio themselves.

Two in five tenants (41%) say that their landlord arranges the engineer on their behalf, while one in five (20%) say their landlord actually looks to carry out repairs themselves.

As a result, one in three tenants (35%) report having to wait until working hours to contact their landlord to resolve their problem.

Another factor appears to be the size of landlords' property portfolios. A separate analysis conducted by HomeServe reveals that there are some 1.28 million landlords whose portfolios are partly or entirely self-managed, of whom some 45,000 own five or more properties - meaning that around a third of a million flats are managed by private landlords themselves.2

The research also reveals how, with the rental market booming, particularly in London, tenants feel that their landlords should offer more.

Eighty-one per cent of tenants expect dealing with home emergencies should be a key part of the service landlords offer, with nearly two thirds (62%) wanting a 24/7 service from them.

Yet 29% believe their landlord was unable to take the hassle out of dealing with a home emergency - and 41% feel their letting agent failed to make things any easier.

HomeServe CEO Jonathan King said: "Most landlords are responsible and responsive to their tenants' needs. But it's clear that with many determined to manage their properties themselves, either to ensure the quality of the job done or to manage costs, this is creating dissatisfaction among some tenants. Home emergencies can be a hassle to resolve, for landlords and tenants alike. And tenants' feeling they have to take the extreme step of withholding rent is in no one's interest.

"As more and more people rent, and rents increase, landlords need to make sure they are offering their tenants a smooth service. Products like HomeServe's landlord offerings give tenants direct access to 24/7 emergency engineers without landlords facing unexpected outgoings."

HomeServe's landlord gas policies start from £15.00 a month and include an annual gas safety inspection for all fixed gas appliances, with a CP12 record and an annual boiler service, backed by a 24/7 helpline for landlords or tenants and a nationwide army of approved, Gas Safe registered engineers.

HomeServe is also currently offering a £40 Naked Wines gift card to landlords who purchase its landlords Gas Central Heating Cover or Complete Cover for Houses with Gas Heating. For more information, visit

Top tenant emergency call outs

1. Central heating fault 15%
2. Boiler fault 14%
3. Blocked sinks 13%
4. Blocked drains 10%
5. Leaking taps 7%
6. Blocked toilets 6%
7. Leaking pipes 5%
8. Pest problem 7%
9. Electrical fault 2%
10. Other 2%

HomeServe have produced a guide just for landlords to help make a landlords life simpler and keep them on the right side of the law. Download the landlord guide from here

HomeServe have also conducted a survey of tenants to find out their experiences with home emergencies and how their landlord handled the emergency. Click here to view the infographic.

Notes to editors:

Private tenant research was carried out online by Canadean Consumer Ltd among a representative sample of 4,000 UK adults in September 2013.

Landlord research was carried out online by YouGov Plc among a representative sample of 5087 adults in July 2013, of whom 6% were private landlords. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

1. There are 48,844,900 UK adults (ONS). 14% of adults rent privately. Of these, 34% faced a home emergency in the last 12 months, of whom 11% withheld rent. Therefore: 48844900 x 0.14 x 0.34 x 0.11 = 255,271
2. HomeServe figures suggest that there are 30,760 private landlords or partly or entire self-manage their portfolio with five to nine properties and 13,738 with 10 or more.

About HomeServe

With over 2,700 directly employed and sub-contracted engineers, HomeServe is a national emergency home repair service backed by a 24 hour claims handling and repair network.

HomeServe's tradesmen service provides households with access vetted tradesmen who are qualified to carry out hundreds of different jobs around the home.

Homeserve also offers insurance cover for plumbing, drains, electrical wiring and gas central heating.

Contact Information