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No Heat!!

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289 views 1 replies latest reply: 20 April 2016
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Tenant

Hi All, So i’ve been on a month to month lease for my apartment for about 3 years now and we’ve run into several issues with our landlord. Initially everything was included, heat/ hot water/ electricity, for 1,250.00 ( 4 bed room, 1 bath). It was just one roommate and I at first with two spare rooms and the aggreement was that if we found someone to fill a room, rent would increase $50 to combat not paying utilities which was fine. After a bit, we added a roommate so rent went up to $1300.00 between three with one spare bedroom. A few months go by and all of a sudden the landlord tells us that we have to find someone for that spare room or he will?? We were pretty taken back but did as we were told and found a cousin of my roommate that wiould be attending a college down the strret that could use the space so we gave her the landlords number to work things out. In the midst of this, the landlord put the New roommate (for the 4th bedroom) on her own lease separate from the other two roommates and I, each of us paying $375.00/month, now making that apartment $1500.00 a month between us and now electricity was our responsibility to pay?! This seemed really messed up but being just out of school and in our first apartment we really weren’t sure what or if anything could be done so we rode it out. The newest roommate quickly realized this wasn’t working out especially for the quality of the place vs the amount we are now paying. She left. The landlord again tells us “it is our responsibility to fill that room or he would find a roommate for us? Thats exactly what he did. He brought some really weird choices for roommates that really would never work until we finally said yes to one that seemed okay (since we were told that this was mandatory). He was an awful roommate.. not only was he coming into a fully furnished apartment with people already living there, he was disgusting and never cleaned up after himself, left trash around, and after his short stay at our apartment, he left with out paying his duties to the electricity and we in turn had to pay his portion and argue with our landlord about the fairness of that.. that’s neither here or there.. In the midst of this, one other roommate had just had enough and opted to move out as well, so now there is just two of us after two years. (Mind you this whole time there have been issues like not having heat several different times throughout the winter for days at a time, the pipes freezing and bursting leaving us without water and heat, the number of electrical issues to the point that we have to plug the microwave in the hallway so that it doesn’t trip the circuit..) So year three and we are pretty ready to leave at this point but I had some family circumstances come up where I had to take in my 1 year old niece and 2 year old nephew as foster children begining January 2015.. So now I really couldn’t just up and leave. At first the landlord was very reluctant about this and kept asking about inspections and what the state would require and what not. I told him they really only checked for fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors working and what not and after I said that he seemed to be at ease.. I thought this was odd especially since right after that he finally brought us a new lease like we had been requesting, but he was very adamant about us checking off that we’re ok with the condition of the house? hmm.. weird I thought. At one point, he had his contractors working on the heating issue and I guess one of the main issues was that there is only one thermostat for the whole house (its a three story house, first floor is one apt, 2nd and 3rd flr is my apt) and it was located in my roommates room? Also weird, they ended up removing it and reinstalling it on the first floor so now the only thermostat that dictates the temperature for the whole house is on the frst floor.. You can see where the problems in this would be.. But now the difference is I have two small children that cannot be exposed to freezing cold temps in the middle of the night. The issues were on and off through the rest of winter and the landlord kept telling us that he had a plan to rip out the old heating system because that was the problem and he would install a new one and blah blah blah.. it is now January 2016 and I’ve had the kids for a year. The heat wasn’t an issue early on because it was oddly warm in mass until Chrismas.. But right aftere Christmas, temps dropped and the the first floor tenants left for vacation, turning their heat off in the process.. It got to the point where I had to have the kids sleep at a different house for 3-4 days before it was taken care while I slept upstairs with a space heater (killing my electric bill) in sweeat pants, a hoodie, and two blankets. But even after it was fixed, they had not fed the boiler water for such a long time that the pipes and furnaces made the loudest clanking noises for threee days after until he “resolved” that issue.. I guess I’m writing this out of complete frustration and lack of knowledge as to what I can do if anything and also am thinking that the landlord should compensate for the amount of electricity that the space heater uses up since both my roommate and I had to use them for several days each, often time tripping circuits because there clearly are some electrical issues as well that we don’t know about in that house.

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Agent

Hi Jean,

There’s a lot to address here. Without seeing the contracts and communications I can’t really give case-specific advice.

However, what I can give you is helpful tips that would apply to most people unsure of their rights and obligations.

Always start with your Contract

If a Landlord does something or requiires something of you that you dont think is just- always consult your contract or tenancy agreement first. This should set out both a Landlords and Tenants obligations and some rights in fairly plain english. Before reacting or responding in disagreement, unless you know, check to see what the contract states. This may quickly resolve any questions regarding rights & terms of access, maintenance issues and so on.

If this does not make clear how to proceed, or you think the applicable clauses in the contract may not be legally valid, your next step would be to confirm this. Alot can be found searching online through various blogs, there is a lot of information and courses on this site and coming soon, you can contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau, you can check websites such as gov.uk arla.co.uk the DPS/TDS deposit regulators and many more.

As soon as any matter with a Landlord or Letting Agent becomes contentious or heated, insist that any and all communication is undertaken in writing. You must commit to thius always. Again, bullish or aggressive attitudes can quickly evapourate when everything is on record.

Be reasonable. The media love to portray Landlords and Letting Agents as the devil and, whilst this is sadly true for a tiny percentage, the vast majority want to have a good and fair relationship with a haooy tenant in a well managed property. You dont catch flies with vinegar, so always try to start any discussion or request in a friendly and polite manner. Ensure any serious repairs are undertaken in a timely manner but do understand that (unfortunately) the bigger the issue, the more complex, or costly (or both) it is likely to be and, as such, may take a few days to resolve. Some issues can even take weeks or months at no fault of an agent or Landlord. However, always maintain a good and open communication- that way everyone remains informed and up to date at all times.

You are well protected! Despite the stick it often gets in the press, the UK rental sector is one of the best on the planet in terms of quality and safety regulations and tenant rights. The industry has changed dramatically in the last 10 years with a lot of legislation and regulation that ensures properties are safe and suitably maintained. There are strict penalties for Landlords who do not adhere to the regulations and councils also have power to enforce essential repairs, apply fines and more.

Great Letting Agents are Great! I would say this, of course, as I am one. However, a good (or even great) Letting Agent (and there are plebnty of us) is your best chance of letting a quality property that is well run. Check out Agents from the ESTAS who have won in the Tenants Award categories, check out review sites like freeindex.co.uk allagents.co.uk  rateragent.co.uk and (of course) Tenants Voice approved agents on this site.

Hope this is helpful & Good Luck

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