An open letter to my landlord

An open letter to my landlord

So I got a rent increase from my landlord. I’m not going to write how much it is because, although it might not seem like a lot to some people, to others it is.

When we asked our landlord to justify the rent increase, he gave us this letter (which I have handily copied and pasted below). So this is my rebuttal to him.

Dear [housemates names],

I was advised by the Letting Agent 12 months ago to terminate the Tenancy on the basis that the property was being let at well below market rent.  I was advised then that it could be let for £3,200.

I declined to follow the agents advice on that occasion, with a particular focus upon [Housemate1] whose home the house has been since 2013 and who it seemed particularly unfair to ask to leave. And also because substitutions has just been made for people moving out early and new arrivals has only just moved in having incurred costs in replacing the those leaving.

The agent this year has again renewed advice that the house is not being let at a market rate. They have asked for authority to serve notice to quit.

I may be helpful to set out my thinking on the rent rise proposed which you will notice is very far below what the agent has recommended, even 12 months ago.

When the house was let it had no utility insurance. I took that out subsequently and have raised the level with each maintenance issue that has arisen. That is the policy that has been numerously used to call in British Gas or Dynrod or the electrician when issues have arisen.

When the heating failed it was fixed as soon as possible by British Gas but it took repeated visits. That was outside my control. I supplied you all with radiators as soon as I could. The hot water in the house remained functional.

I have sought to carry out some maintenance myself in order to keep costs down but that has an impact on speed. Equally, if tradesmen are called in then that throws the issue of rent levels in to sharper relief because they all have to be paid for and just a call out is £80.

There has been considerable expenditure never the less. 1st shower event (When [old housemate] still a tenant was £700 for regrouting and repainting of both showers) and the 2nd shower event when wall opened up and new tap fitted was £900. Still I did the re tiling to try and keep cost down. I have never done tiling before.  I accept that that fault with the shower was not accurately diagnosed but then the fault was unusual (failure of the downpipe due to it being over torqued on fitting.)

Respecting the single glazing the house has always been single glazed and was let on that basis. It is a Victorian House and they are not built to modern standards as respects draft proofing. Actually the house is well insulated in the lofts.

The Landlords Building insurance has also gone up. That is just inflation but is now significantly higher than when we started out in 2013.

In arriving at the rent rise I have only reflected those 2 rising costs. I cannot always hold the rent at 2013 levels

Finally, the shower renovation is underway. The downstairs is also to be done next.

I concede that the blind has not been done. I think we said we would put a frosting glaze internally on the windows. With the other issues it has been missed. Apologies for that.

It’s a mixed picture of pros and cons on both sides. I have given up considerable amounts of my time unpaid to do maintenance and equally I am not a professional tradesman. I have tried to respond as promptly as I can to issues, and to keep costs down for the benefit of all but that does have an impact on speed.

I hope that is helpful to give my perspective. I have tried to strike a reasonable compromise.

Kind regards,

[Landlord’s Name]

All caught up? Good. Let’s go through this point-by-point.

Point 1 – But I could be making more money!

I was advised by the Letting Agent 12 months ago to terminate the Tenancy on the basis that the property was being let at well below market rent.  I was advised then that it could be let for £3,200.

I declined to follow the agents advice on that occasion, with a particular focus upon [Housemate1] whose home the house has been since 2013 and who it seemed particularly unfair to ask to leave. And also because substitutions has just been made for people moving out early and new arrivals has only just moved in having incurred costs in replacing the those leaving.

Okay so he starts off by saying it’s below market average. While I can appreciate this… Actually no, no I can’t. You know what? No. This is your second home in a city where most people can’t even afford ONE. You have a well paying job (and so does your partner), so I think you make enough, thanks.

You know who doesn’t make enough? People like us. People who got here a year ago and struggle with the crippling prices of London rent. I have no sympathy for you.

Point 2 – But the agent said!

The agent this year has again renewed advice that the house is not being let at a market rate. They have asked for authority to serve notice to quit.

I’ve got news for you sunshine. The agent – who I’ll happily name as Aston Rowe – are fucking DREADFUL. They ain’t worth the cost of the paper the contract is written on.

This letter, the one above, was handily sent to us by one of their property managers a whole EIGHT DAYS after you originally gave it to them. And even then, she only realised because we ASKED HER.

Point 3 – No utility insurance

When the house was let it had no utility insurance. I took that out subsequently and have raised the level with each maintenance issue that has arisen.

That’s just dumb. Even I know that and I’m half your age.

Point 4 – Maintenance issues

There has been considerable expenditure never the less. 1st shower event (When [old housemate] still a tenant was £700 for regrouting and repainting of both showers) and the 2nd shower event when wall opened up and new tap fitted was £900. 

And now we come to the crux of the letter, ladies and gentlemen. The fact that stuff has broken in the house, so we – the tenants – have to foot the bill.

This is the main point that inspired me to write this letter. The fact that something as LUDICROUS as regular running costs of a house is being shifted onto us.

The £700 you quoted is less than 10% of what I’ve paid in the nearly 12 months I’ve been here – and I’m only one of five tenants. So you know what? I think you can afford to shell that out.

Point 5 – But I take to take time out of MY day!

It’s a mixed picture of pros and cons on both sides. I have given up considerable amounts of my time unpaid to do maintenance and equally I am not a professional tradesman.

Yes, yes you did. BECAUSE IT’S YOUR JOB. (I can’t emphasise that point enough.)

We pay you for the house, for the rooms, sure. But you’re the landlord. If stuff goes wrong, or breaks, it’s down to you to fix it. We, as tenants, can’t really be continually taking time off work to fix something that is your problem.

Closing remarks

So there we have it. I hope that’s given you enough to think about. I hope that if you’re reading this as a tenant with problems, this gives you enough gumption or inspiration to go tell your landlord to fucking sort it out.

If you’re reading this as a landlord who charges too much for shitty housing – just know that there is a special circle of hell reserved just for you.