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Heating and water issues, landlord uninterested.

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340 views 2 replies latest reply: 09 January 2017
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Tenant

Hi everyone, first time posting here so hopefully I do all right… sorry for the massively long post, just hoping someone could offer some tips or advice, or tell us where we stand!?

My partner and I moved into our one bedroom flat nearly two years ago, it has real issues with the heating and water, and the landlord seems uninterested.

Firstly, the heating, we have economy 7 storage heaters, we’ve had these before and understand how they work, however, all heat is chucked out in the morning, and they’re cold by 12pm. It doesn’t matter what setting they’re on, currently it’s set to input 6 and output 2; its 3pm and they’re cold. There are no off switches, if I set it to input 0 and output 0 it still chucks out the same amount of heat. We can only turn them off at the wall, which we do in summer as we don’t need the expense of heat coming out when we don’t need it.

When we spoke to the landlord about them not long after moving in, he pointed us to the instruction manual and questioned if we knew how to use them properly. He stated that they were brand new, from a refurb ‘a few years ago,’ and should be fine, completely brushing us off. We mentioned it a few more times and again told to check instructions. he came over for the 1 year inspection, commented the flat was cold and that he’d look into it and get back to us, but that was the last we’d heard.

There are 2 radiators in the flat, one in the living room and one in the hallway. Nothing in the bedroom, and the bathroom has a heated towel rack that is linked to the immersion so is only on at 6am.

Furthermore, we only have single glazing. When we moved in he said he’d come round in the summer to look at the windows and maybe repaint them to improve the seals (pretty rotten, bit mossy…), well its two years later and that was the only thing said about the windows lol. We have bought draught excluders and plastic sheeting to go in front of the window but it’s still so cold.

We bought a thermometer, the coldest the flat has been is 7 degrees Celsius.

Now, this might be ok if we could have a nice hot shower or bath… but the water is another story completely. 

The top floor of flats (ours included) was built on to an already existing block of flats, and apparently has rubbish water pressure because of this. The bath takes 45 minutes to fill, and runs out of hot water when it’s not even halfway full. the shower doesn’t work, a trickle of water comes out- we have tried low pressure heads, deep cleaning etc., nothing works. Neighbors say the same. However, they have had power showers fitted.

When speaking to our landlord he said that it’s just the way it is and there’s nothing he can do, he doesn’t think fitting a power shower is a good idea. He has said before he doesn’t want to damage the flat (this includes us hanging pictures lol) and for some reason thinks fitting new radiators or a power shower will damage it.

The water capacity is terrible, the water is cold before a bath is run, and if you do the washing up, or use hot water for anything other than running the bath (including a wash in the morning) you cannot have a bath that day as there isn’t enough hot water (and a shower has been out of the question for the last 2 years).

I do understand that water needs to keep being heated, and we should keep heating the water for when we want it, but surely there should be enough capacity to do the washing up and run a bath?!

Because we are on key meter, this whole water and heat situation is draining our money, we are putting nearly £40 electric every WEEK, topping up £20 every 3 days or so, to use portable radiators, and are paying over £40 water a month for water we barely even use.

(there are also other issues, such as the wiring and electric being done so poorly that the entire flat will blow a fuse if the microwave pings or the kettle finishes boiling, but that’s another story lol)

The letting agents emailed this morning to ask if we want to renew the tenancy, we don’t want to spend another winter here but when I qualify as a nurse in the summer we will have 2 proper salaries, and so we want to move onto something a little better (and more economical) that we can continue to save in. we have said that we don’t want to renew another year, and were asked why so have told the agents about the issues we are having, she wants to speak to the landlord re: changing the contract and these issues and get back to us. We asked her not to mention the issues yet as we are both on shift work this week and cannot be home for the landlord to come around, but we reckon she’ll mention it anyway!

Anyway, has anyone got any tips or advice, or can tell us what to say to our landlord when he inevitably wants to come around after the agents speak to him. Yes, we could have badgered the landlord more, however everything is such a palaver for him, and it’s always ‘our fault’. We contacted him for another set of keys as our front door key was so blunt we couldn’t get into the building, he insisted on coming around and inspecting the key and door, asking how we’d broken it and what we’d done to it, before taking 2 weeks to get another key cut.

Anywho, any help would be appreciated so thanks in advance J

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Tenant

Okay, quite a long story there, but lot’s of issues… 

About the heating:

“We bought a thermometer, the coldest the flat has been is 7 degrees Celsius.”

By law, the minimum heating standard is at least 18°C in sleeping rooms, and 21°C in living rooms, when the temperature outside is minus 1°C and it should be available at all times.

Under this rule, there is no doubt that your property doesn’t have adequate heating. Your landlord is responsible for providing you with enough equipment to heat the property, including the bedroom where there is nothing. 

About the water:

“The bath takes 45 minutes to fill”

“a shower has been out of the question for the last 2 years”

I don’t know what you use to heat water, but it’s not normal to not “do the washing up, or use hot water for anything other than running the bath (including a wash in the morning) you cannot have a bath that day as there isn’t enough hot water”. 

So water pressure is a known problem with buildings which have been consecutively built up further, without review of the plumbing / sewage system. However, it’s your landlord’s responsibility to supply you with a functional means to maintain personal hygiene and meet your daily needs. 

About the electricity:

“the wiring and electric being done so poorly that the entire flat will blow a fuse if the microwave pings or the kettle finishes boiling” 

It’s the same story ! If the property’s electrical network is done so poorly, it’s a hazard and potential injury for you. I can only imagine that a lower capacity wiring has been used than the required – guessing to save money on materials… 

Anyway, these are three major strikes on the landlord’s tab. All of them are their responsibility and you have full rights to request them fixed. 

What you can do about it:

Normally, I’d suggest you contact the council immediately and request an inspection of your property, when you can demonstrate the flaws and faults that prevent you from living a normal life inside your home. 

The council, following the inspection, will serve your landlord with a mandatory improvement notice. A.k.a an order for your landlord to fix the prescribed issues. Not complying with the notice will make your landlord liable for a big fine and possibly compensation to you.

However, the landlord may argue that there are enough means for heating the property, subject to you paying more for heating; AND, that there are enough means for sanitation and hygiene purposes, as you’ve lived in the property for over two years and have managed. Electrical wiring is also subject to some dispute. 

All of this will delay the progress of your complaint and may even halt, if the landlord refuses to comply and the council decide they have other priorities. Given that the process is a bit long and tedious AND you want to live somewhere else in the summer, you might not benefit enough to justify the hassle. 

What else:

Your best bet, as always is to negotiate. However, since you’ve already mentioned you don’t want to stay for a full year, your landlord can lose the incentive to chuck out a fat stack to pay for these improvements. 

I’d advise you to stick with what you have for now. Request that the tenancy be made periodic (thus no renew) and make every attempt listed above to get yourself a bit more for what you’re paying every month. However, start looking for your next accommodation. The periodic tenancy will give you the ability to move out with only 1 month notice, so you’re flexible enough when you find the property you like and can afford. 

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