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Remus2004, Barrister
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 71051
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice.
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My father owns a property in Southampton, which he has

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My father owns a property in Southampton, which he has been renovating, with the intention to sell.
He receives a lot of junk mail, most of which he ignores. Several of these letters were from British Gas, however, he didn't open them, as he had no contract of service with British Gas, nor had the Gas been turned on at the property at any point.
Recently, my father returned from holiday to find that British Gas had entered his property with a locksmith and installed a pay and go meter. Furthermore, he noticed that 2 of the floor tiles in the kitchen were damaged.
Understandably, my father is very upset.
After having opened the letters, my father has read that British Gas gained a warrant from West Hampshire Magistrate Court, to enter the property and install the new meter, under the Rights of Entry (Gas and Electricity Boards) Act 1954 - Section 2.
I have read the above legislation and can comprehend it, however, I find this very unusual, as my father has never agreed a contract with British Gas.
Given the information above, could you please tell me whether British Gas have acted lawfully, and what remedial action my father could take?
Thank you.
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
Who does he think was providing gas?
Does he accept it was British Gas?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
He's not sure - it's not something he had considered.
I should add, he's also been handed a bill of 206 pounds to cover the costs BG installing the new meter.
Yes, he will.
The trouble with this is that somebody must have been providing his gas and ultimately he is liable to pay for it. There is no way around it. He does have a contract with the person providing gas that he is using. I realise that he may not have known that British Gas were his contractual partner but he must have known he was using gas.
If that is not being paid for then they are entitled to seek a warrant.
They should have notified him of their intention to seek a warrant so that he could attend and make representations. If you are saying that he doesn't always read his post though then they may have done that.
If the arrears were substantial though they would have receive a warrant anyway unless he could repay it within only a few months.
If they have to enter then they are able to charge for the cost of doing so.
Unless British Gas were not the supplier or they didn't notify or there is no debt there is no challenge i'm afraid.
Sorry if that is bad news.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Well, this is where it is interesting. The gas was turned off, meaning there was no gas usage, nor therefore any fees to pay. I am sure this is why my father was in no rush to read the letters.
Having opened and read the letters, the bill they sent (originally for £284.21) was based entirely on estimates.
Does this change things?
Were there any arrears?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
There were no arrears as a result of his actions - only through their projected calculations, based on their estimates. This is why it seems very unfair to me.
It might be that the amount is wrong.
The place to contest that would have been court though.
If he has been notified and just didn't read his post then that is a problem.
If they didn't notify he could try to get it reopened.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
That he admits - he didn't open this mail. But he receives so much that he doesn't have time nor inclination to read it all - especially those that he knows he owes no money to. He does pay all other bills on time and has an excellent credit history.
That being said, understandably, he is upset, as his property has been entered against his will. Furthermore, he feels unsafe in the property now, as they did not change the locks, therefore he suspects they could have a key to his property and enter it at any point.
Finally, two floor tiles from the kitchen were broken, which must have been as a result of the visit from BG, as no one else accessed the property during those dates.
What legal recourse can he take against BG, with regards ***** ***** issue with the lock and the floor tiles?
He could still try to reopen it. There isn't really a basis but you never really know what will be allowed at the Magistrates Court.
In terms of damage, he may as well complain to them. They may cave in.
You will need to prove that the floor tiles were damaged by them. The fact that they are the only culprits is something you will have to demonstrate.
The lock may have bene necessary if they couldn't get access any other way.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
My father intends to claim damages against BG for the tiles. Should he demand payment and they refuse, in your opinion, what chance would he stand of winning, should he use the small claims court?
Furthermore, as the lock was not changed, nor damaged, my father suspects they created a key to open the lock to the front door. He feels insecure in the property, therefore will change the lock. Similar to the point above, should he claim reasonable costs from BG for this, and they refuse, what chance do you think he would have of succeeding in the small claims court?
It wouldn't be a bad idea to send in the demand. They may cave in. I'm afraid I could not agree there is a strong chance at the small claims court. The issue is the time delay. He cannot really say it was them. All he can say is that he presumes it must have been. They will obviously deny it.
He hasn't got a claim for the lock . They had a court order and had every right to enter by these means.
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