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Intermittent heating and hot water, new born at home

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346 views 3 replies latest reply: 17 December 2015
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Tenant

Good afternoon

We live in rented accommodation which is serviced by a letting agency on behalf of the Landlord. We don’t know who the actually Landlord is but have lived in the property for 7 years and have never missed a payment or caused any trouble to the agency.

The boiler has been on its last legs for the last 12 months, twice already this year the engineer has repaired the boiler. The problem is the heating and hot water only works intermittently. To be fair after the last repair the boiler has worked fine for a few months but last Monday it stopped working completely (we have tried the usual, bleeding the radiators, reset the system etc). The boiler is a combi so we should always have hot water. We reported the issue to the agency on Monday via email advising them of the problem and that we have a new born baby at home as well as an 11 year old. They replied on Tuesday advising “they have passed this onto the plumber” we had no word from the plumber by Thursday so sent them another email again stressing that we have a new baby and 11 year old at home who we can’t wash or keep warm. They replied with a very rude response stating they have already advised us this had been passed to the plumber.
The plumber phoned us on Friday and advised he has told the agency the boiler can’t be repaired and has needed replacing for 3 years, he couldn’t do anything without the authority of the agency, he asked us not to repeat the conversation to the agency as he would get into trouble. The boiler kicked in on Saturday evening and is working at the moment, but it is only a matter of time before it stops working again.

It is now Monday (7 days later) and we still haven’t heard from the agency or plumber when they will likely carry out the repairs.

I was just wondering what my rights are and the next step I can take. What is a reasonable amount of time to repair or replace the boiler? I would have thought with the weather and having a baby at home it would be seen as a priority? I read we can report the agency to the council but I don’t want to risk being evicted so close to Christmas. The agency have also informed us they will be increasing our rent in the new year (before we reported the boiler)

Am I within my rights to source my own plumber and have him carry out the repairs?

If the agency plumber is correct and the boiler can’t be repair, can I order a new boiler and charge the agency?

The agency are generally slow to carry out repairs, and are rude and unapproachable, but we like the house as it is ideally location for work and schools and is cheaper than other houses in the area.

Any advice would be much appreciated, at the moment we are ok as it is working but I worried about it dropping again leaving us with no heating or hot water between Christmas and new year.

Many thanks.

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Administrator

Hi Mike

As the agency is being so problematic it’s probably worth getting in direct contact with the landlord. Your tenancy agreement should have the landlord’s name and contact information on. If you can’t find it then you can request this from the agent and they must legally provide it to you within 21 days. You can also look at the Land Registry website and that will show you who the homeowner is (i.e. the landlord). Just to be clear, your agent can’t evict you, your contract is with the landlord not the agency. If the agents did convince the landlord to evict you they would still need to serve the correct notice, which would take at least two months. If you think there’s a danger they might do this then definitely contact the landlord directly – I doubt the landlord will want to pay the agency’s fees for finding a new tenant if there’s no good reason for it so they are more likely to want you to stay.

In terms of the boiler complaints, I would have thought that ‘reasonable’ would be a week. They have the verdict on the boiler so now they need to take action. The tenancy agreement probably requires the landlord to provide a working boiler and – for the entire time they don’t deal with this – the agents are putting the landlord in breach of contract, for which you could theoretically sue him/her. It might be worth making it clear that you will do that if they don’t deal with this before Christmas. After Christmas – in the depths of winter and with a young baby – would definitely not be reasonable.

 You can do all of the things you suggest if you want to as far as I know (I’m not a lawyer) BUT your landlord isn’t obliged to pay you back for any of it and if you get a new boiler installed then you will be liable for the cost of it and for any ongoing repairs. This is why I think you need to make direct contact with the landlord – you’ll be able to let them know the agents are being obstructive and perhaps discuss options such as a free boiler through one of the free boiler grants.

Once you have contact with the landlord and you feel like they understand it’s the agents who are being problematic you could keep that channel of communication open and make a complaint to the agency itself and to any professional bodies that the agency is a member of (ARLA etc). They can discipline their members for unprofessional behaviour like this. It blows my mind how rude agents are over something like this – which is actually just you pointing out that your contractual rights are not being met – try to ignore the intimidation and rudeness as sadly this is standard for many agents. The only power they have is convincing the landlord to remove you and if you have a channel of communication with the landlord yourself then they can’t do that.

Hope that helps. There’s more information on Citizens Advice and you can speak to someone at a law centre if you want legal advice.

Alex 

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Tenant

 

Hi Alex

 

 

 

Many thanks for your reply there is a lot of useful information which I will be using. The agency contacted me today and advised an independent engineer will be coming out on Friday to inspect the boiler. (he is from the manufacturer) with him being impartial hopefully the issue will get resolved once and for all and not just the agency man patching it up on the cheap.

Thanks for the advice on the Landlord I’m going to request his details for future for when the agency start being rude again.

Again many thanks you have been very helpful.

 

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Tenant

Hi Alex

 

I wondered if you had any advice on the following. The plug in the kitchen was sparking so we reported to the agency. They sent an electrian round the next day, he advised there was wear on the socket but it wasnt dangerous put poor quality as it was made in China. He said the spark was probably caused by turning the appliance of at the mains and not the off button.

Anyway the agency has emailed us today stating that there was nothing wrong with the socket and we are liable for the £40 call out charge.

Where do we stand on this? I’m going to contact the landlord direct, but wondered in the agency can legally do ths.

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