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View Full Version : Dangerous electricity supply problems, but I've vacated



djjm
11-03-2009, 13:50 PM
This is a little long winded so please bare with me. I'll try not to waffle and keep it to the bare facts.

Began our AST in February 2008.

LL claimed in around June of 2008 to have corrected a problem that was causing us to be billed not only for our own electricity usage, but also for the usage in the flat above us i.e. the two flats were both connected to the same meter.

Next quarters bill was considerably lower, but then this was based on our electricity usage throughout the summer.

As the days begin getting colder and the nights longer, obviously our electricity usage increases. With this increase, we begin to notice some strange things going on.

Light bulbs are literally exploding every two or three weeks, laptops are overheating and dying, fuse panels are actually becoming too hot to touch, and on more than one occasion I was given an electric shock from the switch on one of the electric heaters. Once, the heater blew as it was turned on causing a black scorch mark to shoot up the wall.

These strange goings on coincided with some truly colossal electricity bills. I won’t break it down in to too much detail but the amount I have outstanding for the period of September 2008 to February 2009 is £884.

This is for a small two bedroom flat with two wall mounted electric heaters and a power shower.

We were both working full time throughout this period, elsewhere on weekends and regularly away with work or on holiday.

I have raised the issue that something is wrong with the electricity supply in the flat to the LL, the council, and EDF (electricity supplier) making sure to mention the fact that I have actually been electrocuted on more than occasion.

The response is always the same “hire your own electrician”. Now, given that the best quote I have had so far is £120, this really isn’t and option. I must concede there is a slim possibility that nothing is wrong, and if this proves to be the case I will simply have thrown the money away.

We have moved out of the property now, but I can’t help but feel it is irresponsible to leave it with a potentially dangerous electricity supply in it. Not to mention the fact that I cannot begin to think about how I will pay the huge outstanding electricity bill.

Do I have anyone I can take the issue to? (I have tried the EICNIC who also gave the same advice.)

It seems incredible given that the equipment on the property is very likely dangerous, that there is nobody who is willing to step in and perform the appropriate tests. More to the point I don’t want to pay an astronomical electricity bill that is based on readings that for whatever reason are inaccurate.

Any advice what so ever on what I can do would be very greatly appreciated!

Thanks.

jta
11-03-2009, 14:03 PM
Well obviously something is wrong. Possibly a serious earthing fault. You must get a qualified sparks to isolate the fault(s). Since you know there is a problem, if you do nothing about it, you could very well be held liable if someone is injured, or worse, as a result of it.

Poppy
11-03-2009, 14:04 PM
I really doubt that you can employ an electrician to assess a property that you no longer have access to.

If you wish to report a problem, all you can now do is contact the local authority environmental health department where the property is located and tell them about your concerns.

jta
11-03-2009, 14:06 PM
a property that you no longer have access to


Sorry, I didn't spot that bit.

P.Pilcher
11-03-2009, 14:12 PM
From some of the symptoms you are describing, it would appear that the voltage being applied to your appliances was too great. The only way that, IMHO this could happen is if, somehow, your landlord had taken two live wires, probably one for each flat and mis-connected them so that your electricity supply was connected across two phases giving you a terminal voltage of something like 400 volts. This is because he had little idea as to what he was doing and had thus left the electrical installation in a highly dangerous state. You have now moved out so that there is little you can now do. However, all gas appliances in rented properties require an annual safety certificate issued by an appropriately certified gan engineer. (I'm saying it that way as I am still unfamiliar with the name of the new organisation that has replaced Corgi). Landlords are expected, in law to certify that their own electrical installations are safe. They can do this by using a qualified electrician, but it is not law to do so. Regrettably this is one the very few cases where, perhaps, it should be.

P.P.

djjm
11-03-2009, 14:16 PM
With regards to being held liable for not informing anyone, I have informed the LL, the local council, and the electricity supplier. To be perfectly honest I don't feel that I can do any more in this respect, and my hopes now turn to the possibility of having grounds to challenge this bill, or rather challenge the idea that the bill is my responsibility given the circumstances.

If the problem is, as you say, possibly an earthing fault. Would this be likely to contribute towards a huge electricity bill?

I know this is made an almost impossible scenario for the fact that I am no longer living there. But I have been discussing the issue with the appropriate parties since last year.

Poppy
11-03-2009, 14:22 PM
I don't see what you can do to prove it now that you have left. How will you persuade your ex-landlord to allow you bring an electrician to the property to assess the circuit and possibly dig into the walls?

jta
11-03-2009, 14:33 PM
With regards to being held liable for not informing anyone, I have informed the LL, the local council, and the electricity supplier. To be perfectly honest I don't feel that I can do any more in this respect, and my hopes now turn to the possibility of having grounds to challenge this bill, or rather challenge the idea that the bill is my responsibility given the circumstances.

If the problem is, as you say, possibly an earthing fault. Would this be likely to contribute towards a huge electricity bill?

I know this is made an almost impossible scenario for the fact that I am no longer living there. But I have been discussing the issue with the appropriate parties since last year.

I agree, you seem to have done as much as you can. I'm not too sure about the 2 phase possibility put forward by P.Pilcher, that would be likely to blow bulbs instantly and fry computers within seconds. Did the lights come on extra bright before they blew, they would have if the voltage was too high! I guess at it's being an Earthing fault because those sorts of faults can cause all sorts of weird symptons.

djjm
11-03-2009, 14:39 PM
Well this is the problem!

I have subsequently vacated the property, but these issues were taken up with the LL long before that was the case. Her advice was that her own electrician had assesed the flat when the meters were 'corrected' and that any future assesment would need to be funded by myself.

Given that I had explained to her the situation, surely this is considered grossly irresponsible?

Not only this but the electricity supply wasn't setup correctly when we moved in, the LL conceeded this (eventually) and had her 'man' look at the meters.
What do I have to prove that anything was sufficiently corrected?

And yes, bulbs were dazzlingly bright throughout this period. I actually got a tan if I stayed in the shower room too long.

thevaliant
11-03-2009, 14:43 PM
Horrible though it sounds, this problem should've been addressed whilst you were in residence. Now you are gone, there isn't much you can do. Regarding the bill.... perhaps sue the landlord, but proving this is going to be a long slow battle.

Poppy
11-03-2009, 14:44 PM
Like I already said, persuade you ex-landlord to let you and an electrician rummage around. I wouldn't hold my breath tho'.

I'm sorry, but there isn't a lot you can do - now that you have left.

Looks like you are going to have to pay that bill.

djjm
11-03-2009, 14:45 PM
I take your point thevaliant, but surely the fact that I was in residence when I first raised the issue (and have evidence of this) should count for something?

I mean I only recieved my final electricity bill on Monday (over a week after we vacated). Obviously there's no way I could have acted on that whilst still in tenancy.

jta
11-03-2009, 14:53 PM
How about you speaking to the resident in the other flat, they might well be having the same sort of problems. In any case, if your old flat went up in flames they would be in danger. If they could get a Sparks around to inspect the system it might solve your problems as well.

djjm
11-03-2009, 14:54 PM
Like I already said, persuade you ex-landlord to let you and an electrician rummage around. I wouldn't hold my breath tho'.

I'm sorry, but there isn't a lot you can do - now that you have left.

Looks like you are going to have to pay that bill.

I am more or less resigned to paying the bill I have to admit. Can't describe how angry that makes me though :mad:.

I mean when does the issue get addressed? When some poor soul goes to turn a heater on and gets 400 volts straight through them?

Poppy
11-03-2009, 14:58 PM
You can try tentatively bringing your concerns to the attention of both flats' occupants. Tread carefully.

In addition contact environmental health.

That's all you can do.

jeffrey
11-03-2009, 15:03 PM
You can try tentatively bringing your concerns to the attention of both flats' occupants. Tread carefully.

In addition contact environmental health.

That's all you can do.
And/or tell Electricity undertaker re risk of death/injury?

djjm
11-03-2009, 15:04 PM
How about you speaking to the resident in the other flat, they might well be having the same sort of problems. In any case, if your old flat went up in flames they would be in danger. If they could get a Sparks around to inspect the system it might solve your problems as well.

This would prove difficult as virtually all of us in the building ended our tenancy at the same time (funny that nobody hung around for another year) and I don't know who is above the flat any more.

I suppose I could just go and knock on the door...

Bel
11-03-2009, 15:21 PM
I suppose I could just go and knock on the door...

Or pop a note through the door. Let them contact you if they want to know more.

djjm
11-03-2009, 15:26 PM
Or pop a note through the door. Let them contact you if they want to know more.

Having looked at the Estate Agents website it would seem that neither our flat, nor the one above have been re-lett as yet.

It seems the gods really are against me on this one.

:(

djjm
11-03-2009, 15:46 PM
I think once I have received my deposit (11 days and counting since vacation, almost certainly unprotected). I will contact Environmental Health and make them aware of the situation.

Clutching at straws, but is there any possibility that they will want to check the place out, and if so, would I be entitled to know the outcome?

Other than that, I think I am resigned to paying this bill.

Many thanks to those who put forward suggestions and advice!

Bel
11-03-2009, 18:49 PM
Having looked at the Estate Agents website it would seem that neither our flat, nor the one above have been re-lett as yet.

It seems the gods really are against me on this one.

:(

You could let them (the agent) know: they have a duty of care to make sure properties they market are safe (Health and Safety at Work Act). So if you tell them of your experience, in writing, they should make enquiries.

Andrew38
11-03-2009, 20:38 PM
You should of asked for help here before you moved out, some of us are sparks and may of come around and tested your supply and checked the wiring for free :)

i have no doubt that you were paying for the power consumption for both flats throughout your tenancy... hard to prove now you don't have access to the flat.

djjm
12-03-2009, 11:26 AM
You should of asked for help here before you moved out, some of us are sparks and may of come around and tested your supply and checked the wiring for free :)

i have no doubt that you were paying for the power consumption for both flats throughout your tenancy... hard to prove now you don't have access to the flat.

I could contact the LL explaining that I have recently received a finalised bill from EDF, once again quoting extraordinary electricity usage and request that she allow myself and an electrician to attend the property.

I could very subtley imply that I may be passing the bill back to her if she refuses to cooperate. (Although I understand I cannot do this if nothing is proved.)

Likewise I could imply that unless she allows us to attend, I will have no choice but to notify the Letting Agents aswell aswell as Environmental Health of the situation.

Worth trying?

Please take into consideration that she only conceeded that there was a fault in the first place after I challenged her for a second time. Surely she is on shakey ground?

Mars Mug
12-03-2009, 11:43 AM
Did you meet the people upstairs ever? There’s a chance they were growing something illegal if your bills were so high. Maybe all the lights used in such a facility caused a shift in the Power Factor which could account for some of the strange effects you describe.

The bill should tell you how many units of electricity you used and you should be able to estimate what proportion was your own use by adding up the power ratings of the stuff in the flat, e.g. fridge/freezer, washing machine, cookers, heaters, they are the big energy users. You need also to estimate the average running time per day of these things to give an overall kWH value. Was the bill definitely based on two readings and not one or two estimates?

djjm
12-03-2009, 15:03 PM
I have just received an email back from my LL regarding the return of my deposit.

She is unhappy that we haven't sufficiently cleaned the window frames. (12 days after we've moved out she tells us this. How does that standup legally?)

However, she has given me the choice of cleaning the windows myself, else she will hire a window cleaner.

This does mean that I have an opportunity to access the flat again in the near future.

I am wondering if there are any electricians around how would be willing to attend the flat with me and perform the neccessary tests.

As a part-time student, I simply cannot afford to fork out £120 or there abouts, especially when there is a possibility that everything is as it should be.

But if any fault is found then I stand to save £850, so I would make sure it was worth taking the time to come over! :)

The flat is in the Holloway area of North London.

In reference to the previous post, I am fairly certain that we have not been paying for anyone elses electricity as we checked and the meter does indeed stop moving when we cut the electricity inside the flat.

My concern is that the electricity is somehow miswired or unearthed, as people have talked about earlier in the thread.

As always, many thanks to those who have offered advice.

mind the gap
12-03-2009, 15:07 PM
I am wondering if there are any electricians around how would be willing to attend the flat with me and perform the neccessary tests.

As a part-time student, I simply cannot afford to fork out £120 or there abouts, especially when there is a possibility that everything is as it should be.

But if any fault is found then I stand to save £850, so I would make sure it was worth taking the time to come over!

The flat is in the Holloway area of North London.


.

So you want a qualified electrician to attend and check the installation for you pro bono, as it were, on the offchance that it might be faulty, in which case you'll eventually pay him, but if it is not, you won't?

Go to hand it to you for your cheek:D

djjm
12-03-2009, 15:18 PM
So you want a qualified electrician to attend and check the installation for you pro bono, as it were, on the offchance that it might be faulty, in which case you'll eventually pay him, but if it is not, you won't?

Go to hand it to you for your cheek

I am genuinely sorry if that's the way I came across.

I actually had this in mind when I made my post...


You should of asked for help here before you moved out, some of us are sparks and may of come around and tested your supply and checked the wiring for free :)

i have no doubt that you were paying for the power consumption for both flats throughout your tenancy... hard to prove now you don't have access to the flat.

Any visit would quite obviously be subject entirely to the convenience of the electrician.

I just thought somebody who lives\works in the local vicinity might be decent enough to take ten minutes to stop by.

I would offer some sort of financial recompense regardless of outcome, I was actually implying that should said outcome fall in my favour then £120 wouldn't seem like such an extortionate rate.

Poppy
12-03-2009, 15:26 PM
Right. This is your chance. Get it organised to clean the windows and have the electrician round simultaneously.

jta
12-03-2009, 15:34 PM
djjm. You could get yourself a little tester for a few quid from any electrical retailer, then you could check the voltage for yourself, they come with instructions.

Poppy
12-03-2009, 15:41 PM
Djjm could possibly test the circuit. Then what? How do you persuade the electricity company that you are not responsible for such a big bill? You need documented evidence, otherwise what's the point?

djjm
12-03-2009, 16:12 PM
I'm in the same boat I was in when I was tenant.

Bite the bullet and risk throwing away an additional £100?

Or, forgot about the whole thing and start paying off the £850.

The fact that nobody, not the LL, not the local council, not the electricity supplier, nobody was willing to step in, even when I told them about the electric shocks. That's what really irks me. :mad:

Poppy
12-03-2009, 16:21 PM
You have an opportunity here. Focus on what you can do. Can we hear from you what steps you will take please.

djjm
12-03-2009, 16:29 PM
You have an opportunity here. Focus on what you can do. Can we hear from you what steps you will take please.

You're right, this is certainly an opportunity.

I would happily pay an electrician £120 for documented proof that there is something wrong with the way the electricity is setup.

Unfortunately, it's not as clear cut as that. If an electrician were to come and find no fault (a possibility I simply have to allow for) I would be left with not only a bill for £850, but a fee of £100 or so in addition to this.

Given my financial situation, I don't think I can take that risk.

On a slightly seperate note, would anyone be able to tell me whether the LL's request for me to clean the windows 12 days after then tenancy has finished is in line with the current legislation on returning deposits?

She has not provided us with proof of protection, and on one occasion refused to provide such information when I requested it.

mind the gap
12-03-2009, 17:11 PM
You're right, this is certainly an opportunity.

I would happily pay an electrician £120 for documented proof that there is something wrong with the way the electricity is setup.

Unfortunately, it's not as clear cut as that. If an electrician were to come and find no fault (a possibility I simply have to allow for) I would be left with not only a bill for £850, but a fee of £100 or so in addition to this.

Given my financial situation, I don't think I can take that risk.

On a slightly seperate note, would anyone be able to tell me whether the LL's request for me to clean the windows 12 days after then tenancy has finished is in line with the current legislation on returning deposits?

She has not provided us with proof of protection, and on one occasion refused to provide such information when I requested it.

I would check with all three tenancy deposit schemes and if they have no record of it I would throw the book at her and sue her for the 3x penalty. She should have supplied you with the precribed info within 14 days - you might have a case there!

If she has protected it, then I would just go in and clean the windows and take the electrician in with you if you can get one.

I wouldn't go to the gallows over the window cleaning business if that's the only thing which is stopping her returning your deposit - is it?

djjm
12-03-2009, 17:38 PM
I would check with all three tenancy deposit schemes and if they have no record of it I would throw the book at her and sue her for the 3x penalty. She should have supplied you with the precribed info within 14 days - you might have a case there!

If she has protected it, then I would just go in and clean the windows and take the electrician in with you if you can get one.

I wouldn't go to the gallows over the window cleaning business if that's the only thing which is stopping her returning your deposit - is it?

As far as she has stated thus far, the windows are the only thing stopping her returning the deposit in full.

If the deposit is protected then as you say, I will go in and clean the windows. Be that with or without an electrician.

If the deposit isn't protected it would be very tempting to try and throw the book at her. I have made reference to only a fraction of the issues that we've had at this property, it was a real nightmare of year. I'll have to read up on law around this...