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JimLawyer
JimLawyer, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 6144
Experience:  Senior Associate Solicitor
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I am a tenant in a house and the heat and hot water was out.

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I am a tenant in a house and the heat and hot water was out. I could not get ahold of the landlord who was out of the country so I called a plumber. The landlord is refusing to pay this bill because she says I should have waited to get in touch with her. Does she owe me this bill?
JA: Because laws vary from place to place, can you tell me what state the property is in?
Customer: It is an old cottage and works fairly well, but the heat and hot water was out for the second time in a week
JA: What are the terms of the lease? Any issues related to maintenance or upkeep?
Customer: there was no lease, she is a friend and I pay her rent directly
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: My landlord says that I should not have called a plumber before telling her first, but I could not get in touch with her. I want to know who is in charge of the bill.

Hello, my name is Jim and I am a qualified lawyer happy to help you today.

Hot water and heating are essential amenities in a rental property - by law, landlords must provide heating and hot running water to the property. They also have to ensure the property is in good repair under S.11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.

If they do not, they face prosecution by the local council and can be fined. It would also be breach of contract on their part and you would be within your rights to terminate the tenancy agreement.

The Local Authority Environmental Health Officers have powers under the Housing Act 2004. They have a duty to ensure that properties in their area are in a habitable condition, and will serve improvement notices on landlords of properties which are assessed, under the new Housing Health and Safety Rating System as having ‘category 1 hazards’.

Similar powers are available to Local Authorities under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 if the property is considered a threat to public health.

You can threaten to report the landlord to the housing department at your local council unless the landlord reimburses you. If the landlord does not pay or if they refuse for whatever reason, you can sue them in the county court for your losses on the money claim site (http://www.moneyclaim.gov.uk) although I recommend sending the landlord a letter before action to warn them of your intentions first and allow them 14 days to reimburse you. If they do not reimburse, you are free to issue a claim.

To be clear, the court is not likely to penalise you for this - you should pursue the landlord for your money back given you could not contact them and you were therefore forced to arrange a plumber to attend the property.

I hope this helps - if you can please accept the answer and give me a 5 star rating (there should be a button at the top of your screen to do this), I can answer follow up Q&A's at no extra charge and Just Answer will credit me for helping you today.

Many thanks,

Jim


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