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View Full Version : Can L evict T rather than repairing defective electrics/gas?



laiders
07-02-2010, 15:59 PM
I'm currently renting a student house on an assured shorthold tenancy agreement.

The house is literally falling down, the front wall already has done!

The heating has worked for 3 days this year and we have now got no hot water either.

All sorts of things have gone wrong with the house, some serious others annoying. Our letting agent is rude and aggressive towards us, they literally hang the phone up when they don't like what you're saying and if you go into the office the manager just starts shouting. They seem to completely ignore anything that doesn't suit them and constantly change their story on reported issues. In the past they have come round, fixed a reported problem, then sent us an invoice for an unnecessary call out.

We have major concerns about gas safety and electrical safety in the house.


Gas safety issues

This is the real biggie that reared its ugly head on Friday night!

I went to our students union advice centre to talk about our various on going issues and returned at about 3pm to find the gas engineer carrying out the annual gas safety check on the boiler. We saw that he had striped the boiler down and spent sometime fiddling with bits of it, we have since been advised by several people that this was not part of the gas safety checks. When he left he made a comment that we find disturbing "all is safe but I will get ****** to service it" (referring to the letting agent).

At 7.45pm we found the conservatory, where the boiler is, full of thick white smoke. We called the gas emergency line and an engineer came round to make the gas safe. He marked the boiler 'unsafe' and said he was confused as to why it had been taken apart in the first place and clearly put back together incorrectly. He also replaced a piece of pipe between the gas shut off valve and the meter, which he described as a "museum piece" (says it all really!) and felt was so unsafe he replaced it despite it not being the reason for the call out.

We contacted the letting agent on Saturday morning, who was very keen to get the engineer to come and fix it straight away. We insisted that we would get Gas Safe to inspect the boiler before any work was done, this upset him greatly and resulted in lots of shouting at us, but in the end he couldn't actually say no.



Electrical safety issues

Regarding the electrical side of things our main concerns are:

We have two conventional wall mounted light switches in a downstairs shower room. Is this legal?

The main trip switch and electricity meter is located in the shower room, admittedly it is high up and in a cupboard, but this still defies common sense and is it legal?

We have noticed that the digital meter is mounted on a piece of cork board that feels wet to the touch. There are also two wires hanging down with exposed ends, surely good practice would dictate they should at the very least be taped over, even if they are not live?

The house has a lot of pre-historic looking light switches, some of which emit visible sparks when you turn them on and off. The letting agent has assured us they are safe, we don't think so. Are they also still legal?

One of these old light switches has a crack in the casing, the letting agent has assured us it is safe, again we are not convinced.

The kitchen has 6 downlights, the 250V 50W style ones, we have gone through 9 light bulbs since September, we used to buy Tesco Value 250V 50W bulbs, these would blow within a few days. We have now started buying the expensive 35W bulbs (the light fittings are marked 250V 50W) which last a bit longer. Surely bulb consumption like this is ridiculous, the letting agent again claims there is nothing wrong with the wiring.

We also have sockets that don't work in the house, the letting agents explanation is that these are disconnected and perfectly safe. This seems very unusual to us, why you would want to disconnect sockets seems hard to understand and we suspect they haven't been intentionally disconnected. In any case it seems incredibly pointless and sloppy workmanship to disconnect a power socket and leave it in the wall.

The smoke alarm doesn't work, even with a new battery the test button does nothing.

If anybody has got previous experiences like this or any idea on what laws and regulations could be being broken in our house I'd be very interested.

Our students union advice centre have been very helpful throughout and advised us on several occasions to call environmental health, we never have done because we have tried to avoid antagonising the letting agent/landlord more than we have too. Previously they've always fixed or at least botched up the problems before we've got to that stage. Now though we are considering whether it is worth doing so given that we have now been directly put at risk by the letting agent and their shady sub-contractors. Our main concern is that the result of any environmental health inspection would result in the house being condemned and declared unsafe to live in. If this happens what would happen? Who would be responsible for finding (and paying for) alternative accommodation if it was required? And is the landlord able to simply refuse to do the work and kick us out? We have 4 months of contract left and know the landlord wants to sell the house, so think it is unlikely he will pay for any major work. However inconvenient it may be to end up with no house we are now scared to be in this property.

laiders
07-02-2010, 18:04 PM
I have posted this in the safety forum, but that doesn't seem to be read I think I may be should have posted it here.

I'm currently renting a student house on an assured shorthold tenancy agreement.

The house is literally falling down, the front wall already has done!

The heating has worked for 3 days this year and we have now got no hot water either.

All sorts of things have gone wrong with the house, some serious others annoying. Our letting agent is rude and aggressive towards us, they literally hang the phone up when they don't like what you're saying and if you go into the office the manager just starts shouting. They seem to completely ignore anything that doesn't suit them and constantly change their story on reported issues. In the past they have come round, fixed a reported problem, then sent us an invoice for an unnecessary call out.

We have major concerns about gas safety and electrical safety in the house.


Gas safety issues

This is the real biggie that reared its ugly head on Friday night!

I went to our students union advice centre to talk about our various on going issues and returned at about 3pm to find the gas engineer carrying out the annual gas safety check on the boiler. We saw that he had striped the boiler down and spent sometime fiddling with bits of it, we have since been advised by several people that this was not part of the gas safety checks. When he left he made a comment that we find disturbing "all is safe but I will get ****** to service it" (referring to the letting agent).

At 7.45pm we found the conservatory, where the boiler is, full of thick white smoke. We called the gas emergency line and an engineer came round to make the gas safe. He marked the boiler 'unsafe' and said he was confused as to why it had been taken apart in the first place and clearly put back together incorrectly. He also replaced a piece of pipe between the gas shut off valve and the meter, which he described as a "museum piece" (says it all really!) and felt was so unsafe he replaced it despite it not being the reason for the call out.

We contacted the letting agent on Saturday morning, who was very keen to get the engineer to come and fix it straight away. We insisted that we would get Gas Safe to inspect the boiler before any work was done, this upset him greatly and resulted in lots of shouting at us, but in the end he couldn't actually say no.



Electrical safety issues

Regarding the electrical side of things our main concerns are:

We have two conventional wall mounted light switches in a downstairs shower room. Is this legal?

The main trip switch and electricity meter is located in the shower room, admittedly it is high up and in a cupboard, but this still defies common sense and is it legal?

We have noticed that the digital meter is mounted on a piece of cork board that feels wet to the touch. There are also two wires hanging down with exposed ends, surely good practice would dictate they should at the very least be taped over, even if they are not live?

The house has a lot of pre-historic looking light switches, some of which emit visible sparks when you turn them on and off. The letting agent has assured us they are safe, we don't think so. Are they also still legal?

One of these old light switches has a crack in the casing, the letting agent has assured us it is safe, again we are not convinced.

The kitchen has 6 downlights, the 250V 50W style ones, we have gone through 9 light bulbs since September, we used to buy Tesco Value 250V 50W bulbs, these would blow within a few days. We have now started buying the expensive 35W bulbs (the light fittings are marked 250V 50W) which last a bit longer. Surely bulb consumption like this is ridiculous, the letting agent again claims there is nothing wrong with the wiring.

We also have sockets that don't work in the house, the letting agents explanation is that these are disconnected and perfectly safe. This seems very unusual to us, why you would want to disconnect sockets seems hard to understand and we suspect they haven't been intentionally disconnected. In any case it seems incredibly pointless and sloppy workmanship to disconnect a power socket and leave it in the wall.

The smoke alarm doesn't work, even with a new battery the test button does nothing.

If anybody has got previous experiences like this or any idea on what laws and regulations could be being broken in our house I'd be very interested.

Our students union advice centre have been very helpful throughout and advised us on several occasions to call environmental health, we never have done because we have tried to avoid antagonising the letting agent/landlord more than we have too. Previously they've always fixed or at least botched up the problems before we've got to that stage. Now though we are considering whether it is worth doing so given that we have now been directly put at risk by the letting agent and their shady sub-contractors. Our main concern is that the result of any environmental health inspection would result in the house being condemned and declared unsafe to live in. If this happens what would happen? Who would be responsible for finding (and paying for) alternative accommodation if it was required? And is the landlord able to simply refuse to do the work and kick us out? We have 4 months of contract left and know the landlord wants to sell the house, so think it is unlikely he will pay for any major work. However inconvenient it may be to end up with no house we are now scared to be in this property.

tom999
07-02-2010, 18:44 PM
Given your description of events, and on health and safety grounds, you should contact the EHO asap.


Our main concern is that the result of any environmental health inspection would result in the house being condemned and declared unsafe to live in. If this happens what would happen?
The LL may be required to provide alternative accommodation whilst repair works are carried out.


And is the landlord able to simply refuse to do the work and kick us out?If the property is found to be in a dangerous state of disrepair, then the local authority may take legal action against the LL to complete the works. No, he cannot just kick you out.


* Above advice assumes that the tenancy is an AST in England and Wales.

westminster
07-02-2010, 18:51 PM
Our students union advice centre have been very helpful throughout and advised us on several occasions to call environmental health, we never have done because we have tried to avoid antagonising the letting agent/landlord more than we have too.
Call the environmental health officer immediately.



And is the landlord able to simply refuse to do the work and kick us out? We have 4 months of contract left and know the landlord wants to sell the house, so think it is unlikely he will pay for any major work. However inconvenient it may be to end up with no house we are now scared to be in this property.
The landlord cannot evict you before the end of the fixed term unless there is a break clause in the contract or you stop paying the rent. The environmental health officer will order the landlord to do the repairs - he won't be given the choice. If he fails to comply, the council may do the repairs and charge the LL. He may also be prosecuted like these landlords...

http://www.residentiallandlord.co.uk/news2161.html
http://www.burtonmail.co.uk/burtonmail-news/displayarticle.asp?id=479405

More info
http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/repairs_and_bad_conditions/repairs_in_private_lets
http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/repairs_and_bad_conditions/is_the_place_fit_to_live_in

laiders
07-02-2010, 20:00 PM
Thanks a lot for that. Having read your link I think we should be safe from eviction because we are on a fixed tenancy period of 12 months ending on 7th June. In practical terms does anybody know how long it is likely to take the EHO or Gas Safe to inspect our boiler and at least get to a stage where they can allow the landlord to fix it and return our heating?

westminster
08-02-2010, 00:54 AM
In practical terms does anybody know how long it is likely to take the EHO or Gas Safe to inspect our boiler and at least get to a stage where they can allow the landlord to fix it and return our heating?

Note that 'Gas Safe' isn't an organization who will send someone to check your boiler. Gas safety checks (and any work on gas appliances/pipes etc) must be carried out by a Gas Safe Registered contractor.
http://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/about.aspx

Your landlord doesn't need anyone's permission to fix the boiler - all he needs to do is hire a Gas Safe Registered contractor. You can verify their licence number on the above website.

As for the EHO, I think it varies a lot depending on the council. I suggest you stress the urgency of the situation - that you are concerned for your immediate safety, describe the boiler incident & the electrics in the bathroom - and be insistent if they try to fob you off with an appointment weeks away.

I also suggest you write to the landlord and formally report all the disrepair (if you haven't already). Post first class, keep a copy, and get a free certificate of posting. Do this with all communications with the landlord or agent.

Do you know if it's an HMO and if so, whether it's meant to be licenced? I ask because it may be another law the landlord is breaking. If you don't know, call HMO Licencing Dept at the council.

Also, you mention you "returned at about 3pm to find the gas engineer carrying out the annual gas safety check on the boiler". Was this appointment arranged in advance with you, because (assuming you and the other students are renting the whole house on one tenancy agreement, as it sounds like), neither the landlord nor his agents or contractors can enter without your permission or giving you reasonable notice.

laiders
08-02-2010, 07:28 AM
We were informed of the gas safety inspection in a letter on the 1 Feb, and obviously didn't object to it. We sent the letting agent an e-mail in which we clearly requested that no one was to visit the property to work on the gas without our consent. When we phoned the letting agent at 9am on Saturday morning we found the engineer was already on his way and were initially told we had no right to prohibit the engineer from doing his job because "it isn't your house", when we went through it with him that it was our understanding we had to be reasonably informed he just started getting aggressive over the phone. We finally convinced him that if he or his engineer turned up on our door step they would be asked to leave and canceled his engineer. We have also put some unusually coloured tape/sticky film on the boiler and stuck large notices asking anybody who has been contracted to do work on it to please not open it and contact the tenants.

I would not put it past the agent trying to sneak round whilst he knows we are out and doing it. When he had finished on the phone to me he told me he would phone the engineer to cancel his call out. A couple of minutes later my housemate was rung by the agent who was just causally checking that there would be no problems with the engineer coming round. Unfortunately for the agent my housemate had been in the same room all along and wasn't going to fall for it.

What is an HMO? It is a semi-detached privately rented 4 bedroom house, we are renting on a joint tenancy basis.

westminster
08-02-2010, 13:04 PM
We finally convinced him that if he or his engineer turned up on our door step they would be asked to leave and canceled his engineer.
This isn't the right way to deal with it. Ask the agent/LL to arrange a Gas Safe registered contractor to fix the boiler. When he arrives, ask to see his Gas Safe Licence, and CHECK the number on the Gas Safe website. If okay, let him work on the boiler.

Assuming the agent is attempting to send round a Gas Safe registered contractor, it would explain why he is getting frustrated with you, because you're complaining about no heating/hot water, but refusing to let someone repair the boiler. I understand your concerns about the contractor being a cowboy, so as I said, check the credentials of anyone who is sent to make sure they are registered with Gas Safe. If they are legit, they won't mind you doing this, so don't hesitate to ask to see his licence.

Yes, you are entitled to reasonable notice in advance of the visit, and for the duration of your tenancy, the house is "your house", effectively. The essence of a tenancy is that the tenant gets exclusive possession.


What is an HMO? It is a semi-detached privately rented 4 bedroom house, we are renting on a joint tenancy basis.
A House of Multiple Occupancy. Basically, several unrelated people living in a single property. Different councils have different rules for which ones have to be licenced (depending on how many storeys in the house, how many people living there), and there are slightly stricter laws regarding safety requirements. LL can be fined for not having a licence, not complying with safety requirements.

So as well as calling the EHO, call the HMO licencing at the council and describe the set up, saying you want to check whether it's an HMO and whether it has to be licenced, because you're concerned about the safety of the house.

kayak
08-02-2010, 15:09 PM
Even if additional HMO licensing does not apply to your area the Management of HMO regs will still apply.

A short and easy to read document if you wish to know your legal position before you talk to your LA etc.

http://www.opsi.gov.uk/SI/si2006/20060372.htm

rajeshk4u
12-02-2010, 16:29 PM
The house is literally falling down, the front wall already has done!



So why rent a property where the wall is falling down?

The rental market is pretty competitive, if a property has problems why not walk away instead of signing a tenancy agreement?

I don't like bad landlords who spoil the good name of good landlords, but if a landlord is not fulfilling obligations, then why sign a contract to rent the place?.

When I show tenants around, some can be pretty through and check and spot everything etc... .they will even check if the hot water is running....

mind the gap
12-02-2010, 21:47 PM
When I show tenants around, some can be pretty through and check and spot everything etc... .they will even check if the hot water is running....

The true sign of an enquiring mind would be to run the hot water in two places at once, since that is the real test of whether the plumbing is up to anyone/anything but a Trappist monk living in the property.