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Glovidge
14-10-2009, 18:21 PM
I moved into a property about 3 months ago and was told AFTER I had signed the contract that the heating and hot water was shared with another property. The split of the property is a shared house on 3 storeys with over 5 persons (students) within and a self contained flat at the rear occupied by me.

Anyway as the winter approaches I am starting to realise that the flat is not all I expected it to be...

I have no direct access to the central heating system as it is located in the main house. I was under the misapprehension that I would have some control over when I put the heating/ hot water on such as a switch system. (I have lived on/off in rental accomodation for 18 years and this is the first occasion I have experienced this situation)

As I work different shifts on a 6 week basis it is impossible for me to put the heating on a timer without disturbing my neighbours on a regular basis. Also the timer system is not electronic.

If I go next door and ask politely to put the heating on this then means that the whole of the house is heated up, which the students are not too happy about due to the inherent cost. Also as I am away quite regularly I'm not too happy about paying for their heating and cooking costs etc

The students were not explained that they may have to share the gas bill costs with me.

What happens at Christmas when I'm working and they are away? I have no way of accessing the property. In fact when I phoned the letting agent to enquire about how I put the heating on they let slip they had problems last Christmas with previous tenants

Basically do I have any rights when I ask the letting agency/ landlord for a separate meter and heating system to be put in, or even a control system?

Thanks in anticipation

In fairness to the letting agent they gave me a week's grace to change my mind about any aspect of the contract but due to relocating, with work, from another part of the UK I didn't properly occupy the property until the middle of September although I was there intermittently for a night here and there from signing the tenancy on the 7th July. I didn't need to put the heating on in the summer though!

westminster
14-10-2009, 19:41 PM
What does it say about heating/hot water, utilities bills in the TA?

My instinct says that if you have a self-contained property you must have a right to control your heating system, and get heating and hot water when you need it. Payment-wise it must be a duty to inform you you would be sharing the gas bill with five students! (misrepresentation - ? try contacting Office of Fair Trading)

It might not be the right statute to cite, but I do know that LL has statutory obligations as follows:


The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (LTA) states that where the landlord has granted a lease of less than seven years, or a periodic tenancy, the landlord will normally be responsible:

(a) to keep in repair the structure and exterior of the dwelling, including drains, gutters and external pipes,

(b) to keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwelling for the supply of water, gas, electricity and for sanitation (including basins, sinks, baths and sanitary conveniences) but not other fixtures, fittings and appliances for making use of the supply of water, gas or electricity, and

(c) to keep in repair and proper working order the installation in the dwelling for space heating and heating water. (Section 11, LTA 1985)

If you can't get heating/hot water at any particular time, then that is arguably a breach of this obligation. The installation doesn't work when the students turn it off at Christmas...

I would firstly try to negotiate with the LL to come to a reasonable solution to the problem - i.e. install a separate system in your home. Any reasonable LL would see the necessity.

Failing this, try contacting the environmental health officer at the council, who will have guidelines (hopefully) on this issue and has powers to force the LL to comply.

Worst case scenario, you could take legal action to ask the LL to carry out the installation...
See http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/repairs_and_bad_conditions/repairs_in_private_lets/taking_court_action

Sorry I can't be of more help.

Glovidge
14-10-2009, 21:45 PM
Cheers for the advice. I will be attempting the "nice" approach tomorrow! If unsuccessful I will then put my complaint in writing as at my age and the fact I have a well paid job I'm not prepared to live like this.
Ultimately the LL is going to have to put in a separate system one day as I'm sure this won't be the first complaint about the heating arrangements.

I also found this on another website (see below) and I assume this is part of the gas safety regs? I patently do not have ready access to the meter or the gas cut off valve as I have to pester the students to allow me entry into their property.

"Ensure that tenants have emergency instructions and ready access to the gas meter and the gas cut-off valve. - Provide copies of all appliance manufacturer's operating instructions to your tenants."

mind the gap
14-10-2009, 22:29 PM
Cheers for the advice. I will be attempting the "nice" approach tomorrow! If unsuccessful I will then put my complaint in writing as at my age and the fact I have a well paid job I'm not prepared to live like this.
Ultimately the LL is going to have to put in a separate system one day as I'm sure this won't be the first complaint about the heating arrangements.

I also found this on another website (see below) and I assume this is part of the gas safety regs? I patently do not have ready access to the meter or the gas cut off valve as I have to pester the students to allow me entry into their property.

"Ensure that tenants have emergency instructions and ready access to the gas meter and the gas cut-off valve. - Provide copies of all appliance manufacturer's operating instructions to your tenants."

I agree that it is highly unsatisfactory that you cannot access the heating controls. LL should sort out a separate system - and soon.

Perhaps one solution in the short term would be for the students to give you a key when they are away so you can get in and change the settings if you need to?

Alternatively, LL should provide you with convector heaters and foor the bill for the extra energy costs, until he gets it sorted.

Ericthelobster
15-10-2009, 06:46 AM
Perhaps one solution in the short term would be for the students to give you a key when they are away so you can get in and change the settings if you need to?But that means the students then have to pay for their house to be fully heated over the Xmas break while they are away, which also seems unfair. Agree - totally unsatisfactory arrangement.

mind the gap
15-10-2009, 06:50 AM
But that means the students then have to pay for their house to be fully heated over the Xmas break while they are away, which also seems unfair. Agree - totally unsatisfactory arrangement.

Sorry, didn't spot that bit! Yes, in that case it would be even more ridiculous. Is this LL stupid, or just very lazy and mean?

jta
15-10-2009, 09:39 AM
Just a thought, but why can't the radiators in the student part of the property be turned off if they are not in residence? or at least set to minimal levels to protect against frost etc.

mind the gap
15-10-2009, 09:56 AM
Just a thought, but why can't the radiators in the student part of the property be turned off if they are not in residence? or at least set to minimal levels to protect against frost etc.

I would be amazed if this LL had bothered to invest in (or even heard of) anything as newfangled as thermostatic radiator valves!

westminster
15-10-2009, 11:56 AM
I also found this on another website (see below) and I assume this is part of the gas safety regs? I patently do not have ready access to the meter or the gas cut off valve as I have to pester the students to allow me entry into their property.

"Ensure that tenants have emergency instructions and ready access to the gas meter and the gas cut-off valve. - Provide copies of all appliance manufacturer's operating instructions to your tenants."

That's likely to be one of the things that would be noted by the environmental health officer.

Were you given a copy of the gas safety certificate - for your home, not the student house? Is there a gas cooker/appliance in your home?

Telometer
15-10-2009, 12:46 PM
You are living in an HMO.

http://tinyurl.com/yljmybt

Clearly you should have access to the controls. Talk to the council's environmental health department and tell them you have no access to the CH controls and are living in an HMO. They'll send somebody out within a few days.

Alternatively, tell the landlord that you intend to do this, and he'll release you from your tenancy.

Also see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=300&page=2

Glovidge
19-10-2009, 15:26 PM
Cheers for your replies. Much appreciated, didn't realise how popular this site is!

Firstly I went into the letting agents on Thursday. I was very polite and asked if there was any possibility of having separate heating controls. The students have also been into complain.

The man who runs the agency suggested I purchase an electric heater with a timer for my shifts that I plug into the mains.
He also said that the split for the gas bill should 20 (me) /80 (students) I left the agency without making due recourse to the fact I was livid as I didn't really want to "kick off."
In fact I was expecting Jeremy Beadle to appear and then I realised he'd passed away a few years ago.

Anyway that night I went out and returned and the flat was boiling. Indeed so hot that I couldn't sleep even after turning all the radiators in my flat off. (as the students had left the heating on all night heat obviously rises right through into mine!))
Peeved I left a message on their answer machine at 5:30am to express my disgust and ask someone to call me back to sort it out. Noone yet has.

I was not given a copy of the gas safety certificate though I was assured that all properties covered by the letting agency were certified on an annual basis.