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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’.
So, the property "should" have been in good repair for when you started to live there. You would be able to claim compensation for the period of time without heating (October). It is also reasonable to pursue the landlord for the large bills as you have evidence from the engineer that the hot water was valve was faulty - this is a foreseeable loss and you should include that as part of the compensation.
I would therefore contact your local council (the housing department) in the first instance to report the matter and you can do that here:
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. You also have a justification to withhold rent for reimbursement.
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