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Joshua
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 25954
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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Hi All, My Partner and I moved into a small two bedroom

Customer Question

Hi All,

My Partner and I moved into a small two bedroom bungalow on the 1st of February. The property operates from a boiler that uses calor gas bottles. After being in the property for 10 days and having the heating on for a reasonable amount of time per day (3 hours) the boiler subsequently used 2 x 47Kg bottles at a cost of £130. This works out a monthly gas bill of nearly £400. Upon viewing, a corgi registered gas man advised the system very old and needed replacing.

At a worst case scenario, on the 12th of February, our letting agent informed that 'due to the unreasonable amount of gas usage by the boiler, this would be terms to release us from the contract', however the letting agent would liaise with the landlord and a sort a rent reduction on the property until system was changed. Subsequently, we have been offered a small reduction (£60 on a property totalling £760) per month. Furthermore we have been advised the landlord would not be replacing the boiler.

We have now found further accommodation and wish move out of the property at the earliest possible date. The letting agent has now retracted their earlier offer to release us from our contract due to end on July 31st. To add a little more worry to the situation, my partner is due to give birth on the 9th of August, we are both now in a very desperate state as we cannot afford to pay the extortionate monthly gas bills with the baby due.

The offer to release us from contract was made over the phone so we have nothing tangible. However, prior to moving into the property we were not made aware of the deficiency of the gas system. Do we have any case??
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Joshua replied 3 years ago.

Joshua :

Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practicing lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.

Joshua :

may I ask was an energy performance certificate given to you prior to your moving into the property please?

Customer:

Yes, unfortunately for us, the EPC was stapled to the back of the contract.

Joshua :

Thanks. There are a number of laws that serve to protect the tenant in respect of both repair and maintenance of a property and which regulate minimum standards for things such as the boiler.

Joshua :

Would you like to continue?

Joshua :

The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 places an implied term in every tenancy that the landlord must keep in repair the structure, sanitary installations and exterior of the property which means he must maintain and repair the boiler or hot water provision. this includes maintaining a boiler that functions reasoably efficiently. Landlords can also be held liable if they have failed to provide a safe and healthy environment for their tenants. You could consider using or threatening to use the HHSRS inspection system and ask the environmental department at the local council to carry out a health and safety assessment of the property. They have the power to serve improvement notices on the landlord to remedy any areas which do not come up to standard.

Joshua :

There is a raft of legislation and regulations to protect tenants in respect of landlords repair obligations. The landlord provides for duties under statutory legislation. The Environmental Protection Act 1990 provides that the Landlord has a duty of care to provide adequate and safe conditions in their properties and the Housing Act 2004 introduced the Housing Health and Safety Rating System which shifted assessment towards health and safety impact. Each council is responsible for developing its own policy but most have a substantive list of requirements that address mould, damp structure and so on. There is a useful guide to the same here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/9425/150940.pdf

Joshua :

you will note the HHSRS requirements include the provision of an efficient heating system appropriate for the property

Joshua :

in addition to the above, if the boiler is not functioning as it should due to age or inefficiency, you may have a claim against the landlord under the provisions of the supply of goods and services act on the basis that the boiler as equipment supplied by the landlord under the tenancy is not of satisfactory quality and not fit for purpose.

Joshua :

it is not possible to leave the property unilaterally unless you can demonstrate that the property is not fit for occupation however, you can use the above rights as leverage against the landlord to encourage and to allow you to leave early.

Joshua :

In order to do so, you can consider emailing the lettings agent advising that you consider that the boiler is not fit for purpose nor of satisfactory quality and accordingly, you reserve your rights to make a claim against the landlord in respect of the difference between the gas consumption that is reasonable to expect from such a boiler and the gas consumption you are presently being forced to use. In addition, you consider that the boiler does not satisfy the requirements of the Housing act HHSRS provisions and accordingly, propose to invite the local authority to conduct an HHSRS inspection. You could go on to say that you will consider not enforcing or that you above rights if the landlord is content to release you from the tenancy but unless you hear from the letting agent with confirmation within the next seven days, you will proceed as above

Joshua :

is there anything above I can clarify for you?

Joshua :

Does the above answer all your questions or is there anything I can clarify or help you with any further?

Customer:

Hi Joshua,

Customer:

Thank you for your time. Most helpful. I'm currently at work, hence it's a little difficult to read through the https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/9425/150940.pdf. I've downloaded and will read this evening.

Joshua :

A pleasure.

Customer:

What I'm gathering, and have been advised is there is very little we can do as a EPC was provided. The boiler works, however, it is extremely inefficient. Unless we can find anything defective we have no case. Is that correct? The Gas man stated reasonable gas consumption of £130 per month, we're paying £390 per month.

Customer:

The gas man based his estimation on the size of the property and the amount of time we have the heating on.

Joshua :

No not at all. If you can show that the boiler is not working as it should and consuming horrendous amounts of gas as a result, you have a claim potentially under the Supply of goods and services act for the difference between what you should be using in terms of gas and what you are using. In addition, if the boiler is an inadequate given its current state to heat the property in an efficient manner, the council can order that the same is repaired or replaced under HHSRS provisions as above. accordingly, you have some considerable potential rights you can exercise

Joshua :

is there anything above I can help you with any further?

Customer:

Thank you so much Joshua. Light at the end of the tunnel! I'll leave some positive feedback for you now.

Joshua :

Many thanks. If I can assist any further as the situation develops please do not hesitate to revert to me

Joshua and 2 other Property Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Will do. As a stroke of luck my partner has a friend on the local authority who works in the environmental office.

Expert:  Joshua replied 3 years ago.
You will need an HHSRS officer to assist you.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Sorry, typo....trying to work at the same and copied the wrong part, yes, HHSRS officer!!

Expert:  Joshua replied 3 years ago.
Thats great. I hope you achieve some success in resolving your dilemma. Do remember that you may wish to delay contacting the council until after you have given the landlord the opportunity to release you from the tenancy as from what you say, this is your primary goal and therefore you may consider using the threat of an HHSRS inspection as leverage to achieve this end
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Exactly, that is our primary goal. It is very clear the landlord will not replace the boiler in the current situation, hence the threat of HHSRS might convince them to let us leave. Quite frankly, this is causing so much stress to myself and pregnant partner, we would just like to move out and draw a line under the situation. Knowing we have someone to call on in the local authority should we need to, would serve only to settle our minds.

Expert:  Joshua replied 3 years ago.
Best wishes