View Full Version : 63 days without a boiler Late september till November

02-12-2011, 04:02 AM
Our boiler broke down fully on the 25th of Sept, we had this confirmed when the agency sent someone round 2 days later. We were expecting a fairly quick resolution but plumbers just kept coming round to over a space of 2 weeks with nothing done. On Oct 14th I rang the agency when I got back from holiday to find my flat mate had not chased them up. The guy incharge who is a bit pathetic told me he would pass on our concerns to the landlord. He had left a message with us 2 days later to inform us that heaters were available for collection should we need them. I emailed him the next day to confirm the conversation and to explain we would be looking into withholding rent. I said that heaters were not adequate replacements as they were very high costs and did not resolve the inconvenience of boiling the kettle to clean.
The landlord never came (they live in a different part of the country) when arranged, instead another plumber visited on another day. We had done all the chasing up we could and quite clearly stated that we would be withholding rent. It was in their hands, we just had to stomach the conditions and look to get compensated when rent was due. Interestingly nothing was said when we did not pay rent when it was due.
Early November came and I decided that the cold weather was unbearable even with the electric heater we had acquired from my mum. Both of us work from home and having showers and stepping into the cold was a real concern for me especially since I play poker for a living and I did not want to get ill and have to forfeit the 10k trip I had qualified for abroad that week all because the landlord was too selfish to get it mixed on time.
I called the agency again and got through to a girl who was covering while our guy was on holiday, i explained the situation to her and that it was taking the piss. A week later and I got a call from our guy who in an upbeat manner told me that he had managed to move 6 other appointments to get a plumber out to us for the Monday....saying it as if we should be grateful! Obviously the reality of this was that it would be the FOLLOWING Monday when this would actually get booked in and eventually it got fixed!
So we went a total of 63 days without a boiler. The boiler had even broken in the past but patch up jobs were done to keep it going.

My housemate went to court over unpaid rent in August as well as some other complaints which were ridiculous and never stuck.

Do we have a right to withhold rent or not? We have just had a letter for outstanding rent which threatens the usual stuff.
We have been to court in August because my hosuemate was in arrears and that we had inconvenienced other residence with noise and rubbish, both of which had no grounds and didn't get close to sticking.
The landlord tried to guilt trip us before that his wife was pregnant and close to giving birth and our rent problems were causing them grief. I don't know whether this is their way of pay back but I have never heard of a landlord taking this long to fix heating.

Anyway sorry for the essay and its 4am so I am incoherently waffling but I would love to know exactly what to do now. I am half way through writing a email but am not sure what direction I should take. Do I say we want a rent reduction? I don't want to say 50% and get lowballed into less! I'm not sure how much of a case we do have as the solicitor who represented us says withholding rent would be the worst thing we can do and we're better reclaiming it after. We move out at the end of December, thoughts?

02-12-2011, 08:57 AM
Obviously agent is not functioning properly so you need direct access to your landlord to see what he is going to do. Lack of fixing boiler suggests that you may need a new one.

With-holding rent is the last straw but you should have made more efforts to contact landlord before now. Many posts on here about similar problems - search the archive.

02-12-2011, 13:02 PM
Have thorough read of http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/repairs_and_bad_conditions/disrepair_in_rented_accommodation/repairs_in_private_lets