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JimLawyer
JimLawyer, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 6581
Experience:  Senior Associate Solicitor
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I started renting privately on 21 Sept. On 6 Oct we tried to

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I started renting privately on 21 Sept. On 6 Oct we tried to use central heating for first time. Since then there have been 21 days without central heating and/or hot water (35 days with central heating and hot water). At least 6 separate occasions of heating/hot water failure. 5 engineer callouts (with delays of 8 and 7 days on 2 of 5 occasions). I wish to move, but I have been informed that I can only end the licence agreement (before end of fixed term ending 21 April 20) if I find a replacement tenant. Is that legally correct? Could the occurrences mentioned be deemed breach of contract such that I am not longer obligated to pay rent and can vacate without having to find a replacement tenant?
JA: What steps have you taken so far? Have you prepared or filed any paperwork?
Customer: I have complained via email repeatedly. I have many emails of evidence and a have produced a timeline of events.
JA: Where is the property located?
Customer: 46 Mast House Terrace, London, E14 3RW
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: no

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

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.

I would therefore contact your local council (the housing department) in the first instance to report the matter and ask them if they can send someone out to do an emergency repair - if so, they will do the work and they will bill the landlord themselves.

You can contact your council's housing department on 020 7364 3558 or by email to [email protected]

If for some reason the council cannot help, you would either have the option of paying it yourself and withholding rent (not applicable here as you have already paid), or to instruct a plumbing and heating engineer to come out and fix the problem and you then pursue the landlord for the money.

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.

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


JimLawyer and 5 other Property Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 12 days ago.
I would like to clarify that over the period from 6 Oct there have not been 21 continuous days without heating/hot water, just 21 days in total (from 6 Oct 19 to now) with periods of heating and hot water. Regarding "It would also be breach of contract on their part and you would be within your rights to terminate the tenancy agreement", can I terminate the 'licence agreement' without having to find a replacement tenant and without having to pay any breaking fees and without having to give them notice of e.g. 1 month? What is the process for this?

Yes, it is an essential term of the contract to have heating in the property which means if it is not working then breach of contract occurs. You need to write to the landlord and confirm they are in breach (you are then within your rights to leave). If you give them a forwarding address then they may sue for rent arrears but you can easily defend the claim (the court sends you the forms) given they are in breach due to no working heating.

Customer: replied 12 days ago.
Many thanks. For the avoidance of doubt, is having hot water also an essential term of the contract? There is a separate system for heating and hot water, sometimes heating works and hot water does not and vice versa. The 21 days is referencing hot water or/and heating failure.

Yes, hot running water is essential and is a basic amenity under a tenancy. You should speak to the council first thing tomorrow morning.

Thanks

Customer: replied 12 days ago.
Additionally, I will likely eventually pursue a compensation claim for loss of time, stress, inconvenience, etc. Further to this, I do not think they provided all required information about deposit protection within 30 days (although I checked and found it is registered with DPS); so I will pursue a claim for this if possible. Do you think there is reasonable likelihood of success with these?
Yes there is and I would encourage a claim to be made. You should send a letter before action before making a claim though. If you’d like to post a new question on this site I can help with that although it will be tomorrow morning now. Just mark it FAO:JIM and I will pick it up when I am online again tomorrow. Thanks