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Utility payments during repairs & addressing condensation with my tenant

Questions & AnswersCategory: General QuestionsUtility payments during repairs & addressing condensation with my tenant
rachel wood asked 3 years ago

I have been renting my house since September 2014. It has come to light that a new damp course needs to be put in and I have arranged for this to be done. During the month this will take, I'm naturally not charging my tenant any rent. I will also pay for any electricity used during this time as the work requires dehumidifiers to dry out the walls before the damp course can be injected. The tenant has since written to me and asked me to pay the following:
1) Their council tax for the month
2) Their virgin media package- WIFI / TV
3) Gas
4) Water
I feel that my good nature is being pushed to the limit with my tenants! Electricity yes for sure (although as they're pushing things, I would love to know if I've any LEGAL or just a 'moral' obligation to this?!) - the gas has to be switched off during this time so no issue there. The media package, water and council tax - again, would appreciate the legal vs. moral response!
The tenant advised me they had sourced alternative loggings during this time. They've only now come back to me and advised that they're liable for the utilities.
The tenants moved in September 2014. I lived in the house for 8 years without the 'vicious and health threatening' mould (according to the tenant) that is now growing on the walls. Having seen photographs of said mould and the new layout of the house and excess in furniture, I think much of the issue is condensation - there is not one spare inch of space on any wall and everything seems to be packed the rafters with books and furniture - particularly along the external walls. The house is double glazed but all windows open (safety catches) etc. I'm not surprised air can't circulate let along people! This aside my builder says that yes the damp course needs doing but we need to address with tenant the condensation issue. This is something I need to address with the tenant.
Since the tenant has moved in (so we're talking 2 months) I've had issues with them:
1) New window keys as their 3 year old son has managed to open a window. I replaced the keys AND put a child lock on the window - 60 quid
2) Called an electrician to sort an issue with a dimmer switch - 50quid for a 5 minute job
3) Called someone out to look at a boiler issue - there was nothing wrong with it and the heating works perfectly - another 90quid
4) Now the damp course, which I think has been exacerbated by the condensation but I've no concrete proof - lost rent - 1250, electricity and damp course - 4000.
Prior to the tenant moving in they also asked me to:
Fix the wobbly path in the back garden in case their son fell, enclose the end railings at the front of the house. I also went two steps further and put new latches on front and back gates. Another 300quid.
I have a estate agent, but they're less than useless and only wish to collect money it seems. I've written to the agent to ask their advice, but as usual, I'm still, days later waiting for their response.
The tenants are intelligent people, but everything appears to be a huge drama - particularly with the damp issue - they have to 'evacuate' the building, their health is suffering - their allergies are preventing them from working etc. etc... they talk of going to the charity 'Shelter'. I'm a new landlord (written all over my face I'm sure) and want to do the right thing, but I feel that I'm being taken for one very expensive ride. I need to respond with facts and be kind, but firm.
Any advice would be much appreciated!

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