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Relocate
01-06-2006, 21:23 PM
Hello. Just joined up. Interesting to see everyone's point of view. I run the rentals dept in a relocation company so have the pleasure of dealing with all the tenants and the Landlords gripes. I'm still amazed at the odd situations that come up. Even after 6.5 years of doing the job, something new and unusual comes up every week.

Anyway, I am a tenant too and have a problem with my own letting agents. My property has a wood burning stove, which I had been using over winter. Like a good tenant I arranged to get it cleaned after 3 months of use only for the chimney sweep to tell me that although the flue had been cleaned within the last year the soot box hadn't and it had years worth of soot build up (bad fire hazard). If this wasn't bad enough, the throat plate which should be in place on the roof of the burner to stop flames going up the chimney wasn't in place, so combined with the soot build up was a fire waiting to happen. Unfortunately from doing my job, I know that there is no tenant / landlord legislation in place to cover wood burners but felt this was a serious safety issue which should be addressed. When I spoke to the agents they stated that they had only been managing the property for 2 years, there was no history of problems with the burner and they had no reason to believe it wasn't safe. I felt that they should have an obligation to my safety even if it is not legislated especially with items in the property involving fuels/fires .They disagreed and said that if there had been a fire it would have been my fault for using it!!! As there is no legislation they do not feel they are at fault and I cannot get them on it. Is there anything I can do or has anyone else been in a similar situation? Vicki :

Poppy
02-06-2006, 07:56 AM
I know nothing about wood burning stoves, so here’s a few silly questions that spring to mind:

Do you think that the chimney sweep is trying to drum up more charges for himself? If you were getting the chimney cleaned at the time he mentioned these possible drawbacks, why didn’t you instruct him to complete the job there and then? Did he put his observations in writing before he left?

Unfortunately from doing my job, I know that there is no tenant / landlord legislation in place to cover wood burners but felt this was a serious safety issue which should be addressed...

I felt that they [the agents] should have an obligation to my safety even if it is not legislated especially with items in the property involving fuels/fires...

As there is no legislation they [the agents] do not feel they are at fault...
If that’s the case why aren’t you remedying the problem right here right now if your safety is seriously at risk?.

pms
02-06-2006, 12:26 PM
I know nothing about wood burning stoves, so here’s a few silly questions that spring to mind:

Do you think that the chimney sweep is trying to drum up more charges for himself? If you were getting the chimney cleaned at the time he mentioned these possible drawbacks, why didn’t you instruct him to complete the job there and then? Did he put his observations in writing before he left?

If that’s the case why aren’t you remedying the problem right here right now if your safety is seriously at risk?.

Sorry to tell you Vicki but there is legalistion in place and I would have thought that you would have known that.

Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 Section 11 Landlord responsible for installations.

Defective Premises Act (1972) Section 4 which imposes a duty of care on a landlord.

Building Regulations although this could be retrospective.You could always call in another sweep and see if the recomendations tally with both.

RichieP
02-06-2006, 12:47 PM
If another sweep agress, get them both to put it into writing, and how much it will cost.

Send copies to the agent, saying that if they don't get the work done within 7 days, you will get it done and subtract the money from your next rent payment.

Relocate
02-06-2006, 13:55 PM
Hiya. Thanks for the replies. I did get the sweep to complete the job whilst he was there. He fitted the throat plate in place for me but it was back to front and as the grill to hold the wood into the burner had had the transit screws left in place (which had now welded themselves to the metal frame due to heat from use) so couldn't be removed to put the throat plate in the right way. The sweep has said that although it is not in correctly it does make it safe to use. The sweep didn't change me any extra money for putting it right as he was worried about my safety and wanted to help out (he was the local sweep for the area and been doing the job for 30 years so I am confident that he was genuine and trustworthy). Anyway, i'm not taking the chance of using the fire again and am so fed up with my agents now because of this and other issues that I have served Notice now.
I ran it past our solicitor who said that the LL and Tenant Act section 11 did not apply in this case. I also spoke to my local MP who spoke to the minsister for Trade and Industry who also said that there wasn't anything I could do as all the legislatoion applies to gas and electrical installations and whilst they appreciated it was a serious issue, they had no plans to update it to include solid fuels. Not aware of the Defective Premesis Act and no one else has mentioned this before so will do a bit of research on this to see if I can get them on this. I was sure that there must something out there to help me out. Thanks for your help.

Poppy
02-06-2006, 15:56 PM
So, are you saying the job is complete at no additional cost but you don’t trust the chimney sweep’s opinion?

If so, what is the problem at hand - because you’ve lost me?

Relocate
05-06-2006, 13:29 PM
Maybe I haven't explained myself clearly. It is the fact the agents knew nothing about the wood burner and had not checked it for safety or ensured that it had been set up correctly (and therefore had not advised me of the fact that it should not be used). If the sweep is to be believed, I am lucky that I am not dead because the amount of soot build up combined with the throat plate not being in place was a fire waiting to happen. I appreciate that it didn't but as a tenant, I should not have my personal safety put at risk and have the house burn down or be involved in a fire myself before nobody bothered to check an appliance which involves wood and fire. Is it not common sense that this should have been checked even if there is no legislation in place or am I being unreasonable here?

Poppy
05-06-2006, 15:30 PM
Why do you keep insisting that there is no legislation?

If as you say there is no legislation, what would compel the agent to maintain the wood burner’s safety in the first place?

If as you say the agents did not know of the wood burner’s existence, how exactly could they advise you not to use it?

How long after moving in did you decide this was an issue?

Why did you accept the property without proof of the wood burner’s safety or evidence of the bill for the previous sweep?

Sorry to bounce questions back at ya, but you don’t actually appear to have a problem at present. Are you simply looking for opinions?

Relocate
07-06-2006, 08:24 AM
Thanks for your replies. I am interested in opinions on the situation as I don't think that I should ever have been put in a situation which affects my personal safety. In answer to your questions below

Why do you keep insisting that there is no legislation? - I ( and various others I have been in contact with inc solicitor and MP) cannot find anything which covers solid fuel appliances to say that they must be checked for safety. There are regulations for gas and electrical safety of which the LL would be held responsible if not safe but cannot find anything for my situation.

If as you say there is no legislation, what would compel the agent to maintain the wood burner’s safety in the first place? - Common sense. If they took on management of a property with an appliance which involves fire, surely they should have either made me aware that it had not ben checked and advised not to use it (which they didn't, they said that it was there for my use and gave me no indication that it wasn't safe or not checked) or they should have checked it out because as we later found out, it has 2 sections which should be cleaned (of which only one had been done) and the guard to stop the flames going up the chimney wasn't in place.

If as you say the agents did not know of the wood burner’s existence, how exactly could they advise you not to use it? - They knew the burner was in the property but it was installed by the previous owner of the property before it was sold to my Landlord and they took over management.

How long after moving in did you decide this was an issue? - I didn't know it was an issue until I got it swept, I had been using it in the manner advised and got it swept after 3 months use as instructed. It was the sweep who picked up on the problems and very kindly sorted them out for me.

Why did you accept the property without proof of the wood burner’s safety or evidence of the bill for the previous sweep? - Partly assumption on behalf. The agents had conducted all the electrical safety checks etc (of which the elctrics to the shed outside had failed and there was a big sticker on the plug saying do not use). I guess I just assummed that as it was an appliance provided within the property and didn't have a do not use sticker on it, that it was ok. When I asked for guidence on how to use it, nothing was said in that it hadn't been checked etc. The last occupant had had the flue swpt but not the soot box, agents were not aware of the soot box until I told them.

Sorry to bounce questions back at ya, but you don’t actually appear to have a problem at present. Are you simply looking for opinions? - I know I don't have the problem anymore as the sweep sorted it out. I am after opinions and advice as feeling miffed that there was a real risk of a fire in the property which could have put my personal safety at risk through no fault of my own. It really scared me that there could have been a fire and the agents have just dismissed the problem as they feel that there is no legislation in place so have not been negligent (technically correct). I suppose my question is should there be a common sense obligation to tenants safety. If there had been a fire and I had died or been injured, surely they would have been seen to have some obligation. What do you think?

Relocate
07-06-2006, 08:27 AM
Thanks for your replies. I am interested in opinions on the situation as I don't think that I should ever have been put in a situation which affects my personal safety. In answer to your questions below

Why do you keep insisting that there is no legislation? - I ( and various others I have been in contact with inc solicitor and MP) cannot find anything which covers solid fuel appliances to say that they must be checked for safety. There are regulations for gas and electrical safety of which the LL would be held responsible if not safe but cannot find anything for my situation.

If as you say there is no legislation, what would compel the agent to maintain the wood burner’s safety in the first place? - Common sense. If they took on management of a property with an appliance which involves fire, surely they should have either made me aware that it had not ben checked and advised not to use it (which they didn't, they said that it was there for my use and gave me no indication that it wasn't safe or not checked) or they should have checked it out because as we later found out, it has 2 sections which should be cleaned (of which only one had been done) and the guard to stop the flames going up the chimney wasn't in place.

If as you say the agents did not know of the wood burner’s existence, how exactly could they advise you not to use it? - They knew the burner was in the property but it was installed by the previous owner of the property before it was sold to my Landlord and they took over management.

How long after moving in did you decide this was an issue? - I didn't know it was an issue until I got it swept, I had been using it in the manner advised and got it swept after 3 months use as instructed. It was the sweep who picked up on the problems and very kindly sorted them out for me.

Why did you accept the property without proof of the wood burner’s safety or evidence of the bill for the previous sweep? - Partly assumption on behalf. The agents had conducted all the electrical safety checks etc (of which the elctrics to the shed outside had failed and there was a big sticker on the plug saying do not use). I guess I just assummed that as it was an appliance provided within the property and didn't have a do not use sticker on it, that it was ok. When I asked for guidence on how to use it, nothing was said in that it hadn't been checked etc. The last occupant had had the flue swpt but not the soot box, agents were not aware of the soot box until I told them.

Sorry to bounce questions back at ya, but you don’t actually appear to have a problem at present. Are you simply looking for opinions? - I know I don't have the problem anymore as the sweep sorted it out. I am after opinions and advice as feeling miffed that there was a real risk of a fire in the property which could have put my personal safety at risk through no fault of my own. It really scared me that there could have been a fire and the agents have just dismissed the problem as they feel that there is no legislation in place so have not been negligent (technically correct). I suppose my question is should there be a common sense obligation to tenants safety. If there had been a fire and I had died or been injured, surely they would have been seen to have some obligation. What do you think?

pippay
07-06-2006, 08:59 AM
Have you actually thought about getting advice from the Local Fire Prevention Officer? They are ususally pretty up to date regarding legislation covering ANY type of property so they may well be able to assist you or guide you to the right place?


Thanks for your replies. I am interested in opinions on the situation as I don't think that I should ever have been put in a situation which affects my personal safety. In answer to your questions below

Why do you keep insisting that there is no legislation? - I ( and various others I have been in contact with inc solicitor and MP) cannot find anything which covers solid fuel appliances to say that they must be checked for safety. There are regulations for gas and electrical safety of which the LL would be held responsible if not safe but cannot find anything for my situation.

If as you say there is no legislation, what would compel the agent to maintain the wood burner’s safety in the first place? - Common sense. If they took on management of a property with an appliance which involves fire, surely they should have either made me aware that it had not ben checked and advised not to use it (which they didn't, they said that it was there for my use and gave me no indication that it wasn't safe or not checked) or they should have checked it out because as we later found out, it has 2 sections which should be cleaned (of which only one had been done) and the guard to stop the flames going up the chimney wasn't in place.

If as you say the agents did not know of the wood burner’s existence, how exactly could they advise you not to use it? - They knew the burner was in the property but it was installed by the previous owner of the property before it was sold to my Landlord and they took over management.

How long after moving in did you decide this was an issue? - I didn't know it was an issue until I got it swept, I had been using it in the manner advised and got it swept after 3 months use as instructed. It was the sweep who picked up on the problems and very kindly sorted them out for me.

Why did you accept the property without proof of the wood burner’s safety or evidence of the bill for the previous sweep? - Partly assumption on behalf. The agents had conducted all the electrical safety checks etc (of which the elctrics to the shed outside had failed and there was a big sticker on the plug saying do not use). I guess I just assummed that as it was an appliance provided within the property and didn't have a do not use sticker on it, that it was ok. When I asked for guidence on how to use it, nothing was said in that it hadn't been checked etc. The last occupant had had the flue swpt but not the soot box, agents were not aware of the soot box until I told them.

Sorry to bounce questions back at ya, but you don’t actually appear to have a problem at present. Are you simply looking for opinions? - I know I don't have the problem anymore as the sweep sorted it out. I am after opinions and advice as feeling miffed that there was a real risk of a fire in the property which could have put my personal safety at risk through no fault of my own. It really scared me that there could have been a fire and the agents have just dismissed the problem as they feel that there is no legislation in place so have not been negligent (technically correct). I suppose my question is should there be a common sense obligation to tenants safety. If there had been a fire and I had died or been injured, surely they would have been seen to have some obligation. What do you think?

Ericthelobster
07-06-2006, 09:10 AM
I think the point is that the only specific certification required for a rented property is a landlord's gas certificate, if indeed there is gas in the property. That's a specific case because the consequences of dodgy gas work or failure to maintain equipment can be very real and serious.

As I understand it, everything else would be covered by the Defective Premises Act, including your stove. I have no doubt that if there were dozens of people being killed every year as a result of defective solid fuel stoves, then specific legislation would be brought in to cover that, too.

You could argue that landlords should be compelled to obtain annual safety certificates for electrical wiring.... integrity of the roof (it might collapse on the tenant)... safety of the floor (might have woodworm and a tenant could fall through)... Maybe you'd like a Certificate of No Asbestos In The Building? The list is endless! (God, nobody tell Prescott....)

The point is that yes the stove should be safe, and the absence of a specific legal requirement to have it inspected/certified does not absolve the landlord of his liability if something bad had happened.

King Amdo
07-06-2006, 10:19 AM
...I had to keep setting fire to the twigs that fell down the chimney...otherwise the chicks would be vunerable later on to incenderisation. Its amazing how persistance the crows were...they even tried coming back with some mates to try and 'retake' the chimney by force of numbers!