PDA

View Full Version : No heating for 3 months, what can we do?



Sizzla
14-03-2010, 19:14 PM
Hi,
We have had a problem where our heating has not been working for the last 3 months.

We informed our estate agent 3 months ago, but there was a period of 3 weeks during the Christmas and new years period where the estate agents were closed, and thus we were only able to leave a message on their answering machines.

We also have no contact with the landlord as we have been informed by the estate agents that the landlord pays them to deal with all the problems.

The estate agents has basically told us that there is nothing that they can do to fix the problem as the property is privately owned ex-council flat and so the council is responsible for all the maintenance, and so we would have to chase up the problem with the council

We have thus also been contacting the council whom have been sending their contractors to try and fix the problem yet it is now 3 months later and the problem is still unfixed.

We feel that it is greatly unfair that we have been paying our full rent every month on time and felt that we should be entitled to some compensation due to the huge hassle that we have had to put up with with the cold flat (there was a 3 week period during new years where we moved out because the flat was so cold). We therefore decided to put forward our views to the estate agents who basically said that the landlord is not willing to pay us any compensation as the problem his not his fault or in his power to fix.

Could anyone provide us with any advise to what possible options we have in order to try and get some compensation for the huge hassle and inconvenience we have been put through. Additionally we are all students and so are in a situation where we are most likely unable to afford any kind of legal action.

Any help will greatly be appreciated

mind the gap
14-03-2010, 19:59 PM
I am really sorry to hear about this - it sounds completely unacceptable. I am not sure why the council are sending workmen round if they are not your LL - it sounds most odd.

I can only suggest that you get onto the Environmental Health Officer of your local council and tell him about it. He can require the LL to effect repairs under LL's statutory obligations.

In your situation you would be justified in demanding some additional electric heaters (e.g. convector heaters) from the LL via the agent. If agent fails to respond as a matter of urgency, write to them saying that unless they provide some within 48 hours, (give a date) you will buy some yourself -one per room - (£20 from Argos or similar) and deduct this from your next rent payment. Then do it.

Do you have hot water for showers etc?

islandgirl
15-03-2010, 09:17 AM
Unless heating is communal it will not be up to the council to fix it - Why therefore are the council sending contractors? What is the link between the council and the privately owned flat (except that it USED to belong to them??!!) If we understand we may be able to help you more.
I also reccommend a portable gas heater - cost around £80 (again deduct) but cheaper to run! I know MTG doesn't like them much but I love them!

jeffrey
15-03-2010, 11:49 AM
We have had a problem where our heating has not been working for the last 3 months.
Take action against L, at once. Read-up about s.11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.

westminster
15-03-2010, 15:11 PM
I own an ex-LA flat in a large block, which has communal central heating (over which I, as LL, have no control). Having said that, while your agent cannot force the council to take action, he should be offering to provide temporary heating and a rent reduction for the period without heating would be appropriate. The LL can then seek to recover this money from the council (but that's not your problem).

As MTG suggests, contact the EHO and they can perhaps encourage their own housing department to sort this out.

And I second MTG's suggestion that you write to the agent and state that you will be deducting £x from next month's rent to pay for the cost of freestanding heaters (if they don't provide them). Emphasize that you have not had heating as from [insert date] and this is unacceptable. (Keep a copy of the letter, post first class with a free certificate of posting, then file copy+certificate - do this with any letters you write to the LL or agent. You never know when you may need to produce evidence of this or that).

You could also seek advice at a CAB or community law centre as regards pursuing a claim for compensation for being without heating for three months. It would be a small claim so you would not need a solicitor to do this. Calculate the compensation as a portion of your rent, e.g. something like a 15% reduction (just a guess) for 13x weeks. You would also need to support your claim with evidence of how long the heating has been broken, and of your communications with the agent/council about it.

See also
http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/repairs_and_bad_conditions/repairs_in_private_lets

Sizzla
16-03-2010, 09:35 AM
Hi there, thanks for all your help.

I did forget to mention that the heating is communal and that is why the estate agent on behalf of the landlord has said that there is nothing that he can do and is therefore not responsible.

Also we did speak to the estate agent about a reduction in rent to compensate us for the period with no heating. The estate agent said that after speaking to the landlord, he is not willing to compensate us anything as the problem lies with the council, and so we should contact them for any claims.

The landlord and estate agent has also made no effort in contacting the council and left it up to us to get the problem resolved, having just asked us to keep him updated with the problem.

An update to the situation is that after the last visit from the repair men, we have been told that they need to replace the pipes in the flat which would be a 3 day day job and would commence in 3 or so weeks time. The only problem is that we are all final year university students, and so the work would occur right in the middle of our exam period. We would therefore (having now bought heaters and as it is now nearly summer) prefer it if the work did not take place as it would be a huge disruption to our exams. Do we have the right to refuse the work to take place?

We have also visited CAB and the only thing they said we could do was take it to small claims court, but we thought the best option was not to take the legal rout due to fear that the landlord my serve us notice and evict us during our exam period.

We are thus at the point where we are not concerned if the heating gets fixed, as our contract will finish in 3 months time, and the flat is no longer that cold as the weather is now much better and we have bought heaters. We are now just wondering if there was any ways to get some compensation for the period the heating was not working, obviously excluding the period where we will now refuse for the work to take place.

Thanks again for all your help it has really provided us with a lot of guidance guidance.

jeffrey
16-03-2010, 11:24 AM
Ignore the Estate Agent. Your rights are against your L. Assert them direct.

westminster
16-03-2010, 20:27 PM
We would therefore (having now bought heaters and as it is now nearly summer) prefer it if the work did not take place as it would be a huge disruption to our exams. Do we have the right to refuse the work to take place?
Yes, you can refuse access. The LL could, equally, apply for a court order for access, but that would take time. It's far more important to get through your exams.

See also
http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=26719
(n.b. last part of first paragraph should read "I do not think it is in fact the law").


We have also visited CAB and the only thing they said we could do was take it to small claims court, but we thought the best option was not to take the legal rout due to fear that the landlord my serve us notice and evict us during our exam period.

We are thus at the point where we are not concerned if the heating gets fixed, as our contract will finish in 3 months time,
Assuming this is a fixed term assured shorthold tenancy in England/Wales, and you mean that the fixed term expires in 3 months' time, the LL cannot evict you before then unless you breach the contract by, say, not paying the rent (note that you would have to owe 2 whole months' rent in order for LL to have a good chance of succeeding in getting a possession order).

Also, there is nothing to stop you making a claim after the tenancy has ended. Assuming you are joint tenants on the contract, I think perhaps all of you would have to be co-claimants. Unless you are paying a massive rent, it's probably not worth the hassle as the award wouldn't be huge, and in all probability, after you've done your exams and left you'll just want to move on...

jeffrey
16-03-2010, 20:33 PM
note that you would have to owe 2 whole months' rent in order for LL to have a good chance of succeeding in getting a possession order.
Better: "Note that you would have to owe an amount equivalent to 2 whole months' rent in order for LL to have a good chance of succeeding..."
Why? Because it's not necessary that rent be unpaid for two months- e.g. if T paid only half a month's rent for four consecutive months.

mind the gap
16-03-2010, 20:37 PM
Better: "Note that you would have to owe an amount equivalent to 2 whole months' rent in order for LL to have a good chance of succeeding..."
Why? Because it's not necessary that rent be unpaid for two months- e.g. if T paid only half a month's rent for four consecutive months.

However, notwithstanding and purely in the interests of pedantry, it has to be admitted that the statistical probability of this ever happening in the average Assured Shorthold Tenancy situation is 0.0000001%.:rolleyes:

jeffrey
16-03-2010, 21:22 PM
Not so, particularly where rent payments come from more than one source (e.g. employment/pension + HB/LHA).

mind the gap
16-03-2010, 21:27 PM
Not so, particularly where rent payments come from more than one source (e.g. employment/pension + HB/LHA).

If you say so!

jeffrey
16-03-2010, 21:29 PM
Yes, I did. You are well aware that non-payment of HB/LHA is a very frequent cause of arrears.

westminster
16-03-2010, 23:22 PM
Better: "Note that you would have to owe an amount equivalent to 2 whole months' rent in order for LL to have a good chance of succeeding..."
Why? Because it's not necessary that rent be unpaid for two months- e.g. if T paid only half a month's rent for four consecutive months.
Isn't that the same as owing 2 months' rent?

jeffrey
16-03-2010, 23:28 PM
It is; but earlier wording suggested that, for L to use g8, T would have to owe two whole months' rent (i.e. rent of two whole months) which is not so.

mind the gap
16-03-2010, 23:32 PM
It is; but earlier wording suggested that, for L to use g8, T would have to owe two whole months' rent (i.e. rent of two whole months) which is not so.

Another 'through a glass, darkly' moment.

westminster, I think the most useful wording is 'two whole months' worth of rent'. The difference is as a drop of dew on the toenail of a troll.

jeffrey
16-03-2010, 23:36 PM
Actually, the best is just what the Act says (with my underlining):

Ground 8
Both at the date of the service of the notice under section 8 of this Act relating to the proceedings for possession and at the date of the hearing:
(a) if rent is payable weekly or fortnightly, at least eight weeks’ rent is unpaid;
(b) if rent is payable monthly, at least two months’ rent is unpaid;
(c) if rent is payable quarterly, at least one quarter’s rent is more than three months in arrears; and
(d) if rent is payable yearly, at least three months’ rent is more than three months in arrears;
and for the purpose of this ground “rent” means rent lawfully due from the tenant.

mind the gap
16-03-2010, 23:39 PM
Actually, the best is just what the Act says (with my underlining):
unpaid;
(b) if rent is payable monthly, at least two months’ rent is unpaid;

Er...isn't that semantically the same as what westminster said the first time?


you would have to owe 2 whole months' rent ...

Please note : the question above is purely rhetorical :)

jeffrey
16-03-2010, 23:42 PM
No. It's that unbased reference to 'whole' that misleads people.

mind the gap
16-03-2010, 23:56 PM
I cannot imagine how anyone could be misled by it.

westminster
17-03-2010, 00:02 AM
No. It's that unbased reference to 'whole' that misleads people.

It's a colloquialism, not intended as a legal term.

Le sigh.

islandgirl
17-03-2010, 08:55 AM
Le sigh...is that a gallic shrug?

mind the gap
17-03-2010, 11:58 AM
Le sigh...is that a gallic shrug?

No, it's a lump of wood used to bludgeon pedants with (in a metaphorical sort of way, of course).

westminster
17-03-2010, 12:05 PM
Le sigh...is that a gallic shrug?

Yes, pretty much. It originates from the Pepe Le Pew cartoon character skunk, who was always love-struck, so the sigh was one of romantic yearning. Now used to express mild frustration with life.

jeffrey
17-03-2010, 12:13 PM
I cannot imagine how anyone could be misled by it.
Your lack of imagination is to blame.

mind the gap
17-03-2010, 13:21 PM
Your lack of imagination is to blame.

...that, from the James Joyce of conveyancing :rolleyes:









(not]

jeffrey
17-03-2010, 14:11 PM
That from someone who never sleeps- more awake than Finnegan.