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No heat or hot water for over 3 weeks

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314 views 2 replies latest reply: 26 November 2015
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Tenant

Can anyone offer me any advice as to my legal rights please? I rented a flat through a lettings agency and paid 6 months upfront; a total of 13,000 pounds. A week after moving in I was informed that no gas safety certificate was in place. The previous one expired 4 days after I moved in. British Gas attended and deemed the boiler at risk (because the engineer could not get proper access to the flue); he put a warning label on the boiler and told us not to use it. It took 2 more weeks to get the necessary work done so that the flue could be accessed, however British Gas have still not been back to assess it. We have been without heat or hot water for 23 days. The lettings agency are ignorning me. What are my rights? Can I legally end the tenancy? Can I stay in a hotel until a gas safety certificate is in place? The flat is freezing. Thank you in advance for your help.

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Tenant

You need to conact your local council ASAP. No gas safety cert is illegal as far as I am aware and means they are breaking thier end of the agreement, so yes, you can end the tennancy but I would tread carefully as you have paid so much up front.

Contact the council.

Look on Shelter website

Contact Citizens Advice

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Administrator

Hi Juliet

In terms of the lack of gas safety certificate, you can report the landlord to the Health and Safety Executive for this and they may fine them. With respect to the repairs, it’s the landlord’s legal obligation to keep a boiler in repair and he’s currently in breach of the tenancy while this situation remains – as well as in breach of Landlord and Tenant law. There’s information here on repairs obligations.

I’m not a lawyer but I think you need to start by putting this in writing, setting out the issues, the timeline, quoting the clauses in your tenancy that the landlord is in breach of and the legislation mentioned in that link I’ve given you. Set out exactly what you want done and when. Say you want compesnation for the 23 days when the landlord was in breach of the tenancy agreement and you’ll pursue this for the entire length of time you remain without your basic contracted facilities. Your tenancy should say that the landlord has a ‘reasonable’ time in which to make repairs and you can point out that 23 days+ is not reasonable. Perhaps mention that if they don’t take action then you will be forced to look for temporary accommodation – that you’re fully prepared to pursue the landlord through the courts for the loss you suffer as a result of having to pay for that temporary accommodation and the pain and inconvenience of not having what you’re paying rent for.

Send a copy to the agents by email and say you’re also sending a copy by registered post to both the agents and the landlord. If the agents inaction ends up getting the landlord into a court situation then the landlord can sue the agent and they know that so you contacting the landlord and threatening legal action should make them get off their hands.

In terms of ending the contract, you can’t get out of it but you may be able to take action for a breach – it might be worth speaking to someone at Citizens Advice or a local law centre to get some advice on what would happen in terms of getting your rent back if you walked away. Certainly if the situation remains as it is you may have a good chance.

It sounds as if because they have your rent payment they think they can just sit back and ignore you but that’s not the case. If it was me I’d also warn the agents that I’ll be making complaints about them. Find out which professional bodies they are members of and then report them for unprofessional behaviour and preventing the landlord from carrying out his legal responsibilities.

Alex

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