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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71042
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I have just rented a property where the heating and hot water

Customer Question

I have just rented a property where the heating and hot water for the apartment is covered by the service charge. The tenancy agreement does not state that I have to pay for the service charge but the landlady is asking for me to pay for the heating/hot water costs. The advert for the property states 'other benefits include communal heating'. Do I have to pay this?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 5 years ago.

What type of contract is this?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Assured short hold tenancy agreement
Expert:  Jo C. replied 5 years ago.
Does the AST say that anybody else is liable for the cost of utilities?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
It states the following

You must register (in your name) with gas, electricity, water and phone companies…

But no gas company is involved as the heating is covered by a communal bill. The AST does not mention who should pay the service charge or communal heating.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 5 years ago.

It obviously depends upon the agreement that you have with your landlord.

However, generally on an AST the tenant is liable for all bills. You have exclusive possession of a property on an AST and so cover all bills arising from the upkeep of the house.

The use of the term 'other benefits include communal heating' does not seem to amount, of itself, to a statement that you will not be liable at all to pay for heating.

If you agreed that there was to be a service charge which covers heating and hot water then you are liable for the service charge I'm afraid.

I'm very sorry if thats bad news.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Even though in the AST it does not mention the service charge? The AST does state that I am responsible or liable for quite a few things which I accept but does not include the service charge.

If it is not mentioned in the AST then how can I be liable for it?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 5 years ago.

Because with ASTs the presumption is generally that you are liable for utilities unless there is specific provision for the landlord being liable.

You are usually liable for heating and hot water on an AST I'm afraid and that would be included in a requirement to register for gas, electricity and water as the AST does demand.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
However if I cannot register for gas as the heating is via a communal heating service how can this be applied?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 5 years ago.
With communal heating often it is represented by a service charge.

Communal heating is often a bad deal unfortunately if you are generally more careful than others around you.

However, the fact that the AST is silent on how pays for utilities does not mean you are not liable I'm afraid.

Its different with a lodger's agreement. But if you rent the entire premises as an exclusive occupier you are generally presumed to be liable for utilities unless there is an express agreement to the contrary.