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JimLawyer
JimLawyer, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 6498
Experience:  Senior Associate Solicitor
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I'm wondering what rights I have regarding a hot water

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HI I'm wondering what rights I have regarding a hot water heater that was faulty before my tenancy began. I have been being charged double what I should have from the gas company. I didn't realise the fault was with the boiler until my second submission of 3x monthly meter readings and the huge bill triggered by the latter, as I assumed it would be in good repair, having just moved in.
JA: What steps have you taken so far? Have you prepared or filed any paperwork?
Customer: I have asked the landlady for compensation via the estate egency who manage the property. She has offered £25 but we are £300 in debt to the energy company
JA: Where is the property located?
Customer: Norwich
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: The estate agency are arguing they are not liable for maintenance until they are informed. Firstly I want to know if I can claim against them for the March-Oct period when I assumed the boiler was in full working order and the high bills were just because it was a bigger house than we were used to. Secondly, the landlady took three weeks to get back to the estate agency when they informed her of the fault at the beginning of October, plus another week before it was fixed- this is the basis I am currently arguing, that she should compensate us at least for that month.
Customer: replied 7 days ago.
An engineer attended on 5th November and said a valve on the hot water heater was stuck open, meaning it had been boiling water 24/7. Energy bills show excess usage, the one bill that arrived since it was fixed was at a much more normal range.

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’.

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:

https://www.norwich.gov.uk/info/20201/tenants_in_the_private_rented_sector/1394/private_rented_sector_advice_and_support

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.

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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Customer: replied 7 days ago.
Thank you. Just to clarify, there was no period when we were without heating, just that we were being overcharged since we moved in. The month of October was when they were aware of the issue but their delay in attending to it meant we were continuing to be overcharged