Intermittent boiler fault – reluctant landlord | The Tenants' Voice
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Intermittent boiler fault - reluctant landlord

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1187 views 1 replies latest reply: 23 February 2015

We’ve had a recurring boiler fault which causes the unit to stop working whilst displaying a non specific error code. It can be inoperable for hours but sometimes a couple of days. Landlord sent a plumber out to try to resolve the issue and he replaced a gas valve. Since that part has been replaced, the boiler has failed again twice in the same manner as before. Plumber attended on the first of these two occasions a week ago, but the boiler restarted whilst he was there (having been inoperable for around 24 hours). He stated that he wasn’t able to diagnose a fault if the fault wasn’t actually occurring at the time he was trying to diagnose it. No parts were replaced on this occasion. 
We are currently experiencing the second of the two faults since the gas valve was replaced. The boiler hasn’t worked since yesterday. Last night and this morning we had no hot water or heating in the house. We got it working when we got home from work. No word from the landlord. For all he knows it’s still broken. We feel a little like we are on our own. If The plumber had attended, it would have been a wasted visit again as it seems the landlord is reluctant to replace parts unless he is certain it will fix the issue. The problem is of course that the nature of fault means that the plumber is unlikely to actually see the fault whilst it’s causing the failure. I appreciate the difficulty in this but surely just accepting defeat is a bit ridiculous? 

Ive suggested getting a brand certified engineer out to look at the unit in more detail but again the landlord seems reluctant. It seems likely this will continue in this pattern for some time. I think we are on now a total of 5 breakdowns and obviously it’s February so it’s growing tiresome. 

Ive looked into it and we should be able to expect a reliable source of heating and hot water. What does this mean in practice? Does the landlord have the right to just allow this to cotinue, on the basis that his preferred contractor is unable to diagnose the fault? We have many emails in which we have kept the landlords representative up to date on the issue and I’ve now sent a letter outlining the above and asking for details on how this will be actively dealt with. But I’m very anxious that we don’t have a lot of power to compel the landlord to do anything. 

I know there’s plenty of info out there but any specific thoughts or advice on our particular situation welcome. Thanks. 

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This is unfortunately a recurring issue for many tenants – and it shouldn’t be, as the heat and hot water is something that you’re paying for with your rent. If the landlord installed a boiler before you arrived it’s their responsibility to maintain it.

One of the quickest ways to compel a lazy landlord to action is to focus their minds on financial loss. So, you might want to point out that they have a ‘reasonable’ length of time in which to fix the boiler. If the plumber can’t find the fault that doesn’t translate to it suddenly becoming your problem. If you’re still suffering with these issues after a ‘reasonable’ length of time then you’re well within your rights to start talking about compensation. This would be in the form of a rent reduction for the periods during which you had no heating or hot water – and for which you continue to have no heat or hot water (30-50% is what seems to be the norm). Sometimes, simply mentioning this is enough to get a landlord to wake up and realise that they’re not fulfiling their obligations under the tenancy agreement by not dealing with the issue. If not, then you need to collect as much proof as possible for how the situation has unfolded, from time and date stamped videos of the fault flashing up to correspondence.

Your suggestion of a brand engineer is a sensible one and surely the next course of action for the landlord if he or she is taking their landlord responsibilities seriously. It might be worth starting with a letter setting out that you will be seeking rent reduction if the situation isn’t resolved within a certain timeframe – that this isn’t the path you’d like to take but you’re not currently getting the full value of your rent as set out in the tenancy and that the inconvenience is considerable (I’m not a lawyer so if you want a legal perspective speak to the Citizens Advice Bureau or visit a law centre). There’s also some useful information from Shelter on getting repairs done.

On a personal note, I had exactly this issue (I hope it’s not the same landlord..) and after the brand engineer finally visited it turned out to be a problem with the flue not the boiler. But apparently only the brand engineer could have spotted this particular issue not a plumber.

Out of interest did you get given a gas safety certificate for the boiler when you moved in?

Hope that helps.


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