Private Landlord says I must wait for grant to get hot water!

by Readers Question

7:54 AM, 3rd March 2017
About 4 years ago

Private Landlord says I must wait for grant to get hot water!

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Private Landlord says I must wait for grant to get hot water!

I am looking for advice regarding an issue I am having with Private Landlord. I am a lone Parent in a Private Rented Property. I have a Short Assured Tenancy which has been a rolling contract as I have stayed many years at the property.hot tap

My Boiler stopped working properly a fortnight ago, and although I still have heating, I’ve no hot water. My Landlord instructed me to get a Heating Engineer out which I did and paid for myself. I was told the problem cannot be fixed and I need a new boiler. Having told my Landlord the outcome, he said I must wait till he applies for a Grant through the Energy Savings Trust.

I find this completely unacceptable as it is going to leave me without hot water for weeks on end, and even then there is no guarantee he will get the grant. I have been in touch with my Local Council who are looking into it, but they stressed they cannot enforce measures right away.

Meanwhile my Landlord wants access to allow his own Heating Engineer to write up a Green Energy Report, which I am presuming is part of the process to obtain this grant. I feel by allowing him access I’ m somewhat being forced into agreeing that I will be without hot water for a considerable time.

Can you please advise on what I should do? Do I have to give him access for this? Can he legally force me to wait several weeks under the guise that he is ‘fixing’ the issue? Thank you.

Janet

Comments

Janet Carter

23:20 PM, 5th March 2017
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mike " at "04/03/2017 - 01:00":

Hello Mike,

Thank you for your detailed replies. I know absolutely nothing regarding boilers or what constitutes a competent Heating Engineer. Admittedly, I googled and chose a guy that had 42 five star ratings. Perhaps the reviews are from friends/family. When I passed on his findings to my Landlord, at first he was disbelieving and said he was talking p**h. He then said he would have to get his own guy to look at it. His guy then phoned me and asked me to send him pictures of the boiler which I sent by email. I found that very odd, as I thought he was actually coming to look at it in person? When I queried this with my Landlord he said it was so his guy could get make and model number.
What followed is the stuff about grants/green reports/EPC etc...Having read your advice Mike, I decided to bite the bullet and phone my Landlord's Heating Engineer last Friday to arrange access for him to get these reports done. I suggested Monday but he insisted Saturday. I work Saturdays but he said he could come in the evening. I agreed and said I would phone him straight after work which I did, only to be met with no reply! I left two messages asking him to phone me back and have heard nothing...So on to third week of this now.

P.s Thanks everyone for your replies..I think I will just have to get the Local Council to deal with this!!!

James Herd

9:29 AM, 6th March 2017
About 4 years ago

Hi Janet,

Have you tried entering your details into https://www.boilergrants.co.uk/ - they give you an answer straight away to see if you would qualify for a boiler grant. I know the funding is pretty much gone, but still worth a try. If it turns out you don't qualify, then at least you can go back to your landlord/the council with that info.

Good luck!

Seething Landlord

10:25 AM, 6th March 2017
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Janet Carter" at "05/03/2017 - 23:20":

By all means contact the Council but don't expect miracles from them and be aware that it is likely to antagonise your landlord, who probably also feels let down. Make sure that he knows what is going on and that you are now being messed about by his plumber. It's the Landlord's responsibility to get this sorted but you need to cooperate with him rather than being suspicious and obstructive. Would it not have been possible to arrange for someone to be there on Saturday, perhaps a friend or even the landlord?

Mandy Thomson

6:47 AM, 7th March 2017
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mike " at "04/03/2017 - 01:00":

"without which they cannot issue S21 notice to quit" this only applies if the AST is dated on or after 1 October 2015. Older ASTs won't come under the Deregulation Act until 1 October 2018.

Although Janet is a long term tenant, if she has had a renewal (i.e. a new AST) since 1 Oct 2015, her tenancy will be protected by the Act, but to be certain Environmental Health would need to have issued an improvement notice against the property, which would have the effect of preventing s.21 for 6 months.

Mandy Thomson

7:10 AM, 7th March 2017
About 4 years ago

Unfortunately, some tradesmen do mess customers around. When you're an owner occupier, it's annoying and inconvenient, but when you're a decent landlord, the stakes are much higher because your tenant is your customer who is paying (often a high) rent for a comfortable and habitable home for which they have every right to expect basics like hot water, and a prompt repair when it does break down. Moreover we landlords are also under a legal duty under legislation such as HHSRS.

Therefore, if a basic amenity breaks down in one of my properties, I pull all the stops to get it fixed ASAP. Janet's landlord may be short of funds, but he doesn't have the luxury of being able to wait to apply for a grant, he needs to get the existing boiler repaired or replaced straight away if a second opinion shows that isn't possible. I have borrowed money in the past when I've been caught short like this.

However, I agree with everyone else that the council and Environmental Health should be the absolute last resort, not one of the first.

Mike

14:50 PM, 7th March 2017
About 4 years ago

Hi Mandy, thank you so much for updating me on this S21 and EPC requirement, in fact I was actually worried as I set up a tenancy in April 2015 and did not issue my tenant a copy of EPC, and I was not even sure if I had an EPC conducted, which to my knowledge I hadn't engaged any company to conduct one, but then I went on EPC register check site, and was pleasantly surprised that my concerned property had an EPC conducted, then I remembered it was part of Governments Green energy program I think where door to door sales teams put pressure on me to accept free Loft Insulation, in the end i caved in and it cost me absolutely nothing and both my properties where I live in and the one I rent out got free EPC survey done as well!

On one other property I had to hire a company and pay them to conduct an EPC survey.

Mandy I would like to ask you one other question, I heard about another item that when you need to give a S21 notice you need something called how to rent or something to that effect, would you mind please elaborating a bit on this as I only ever gave the standard tenancy agreements and I don't take deposits and so I need not give my tenant any prescribed instructions.
Thank you in advance, much obliged.
mike

Rob Crawford

17:39 PM, 7th March 2017
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Janet Carter" at "05/03/2017 - 23:20":

Hi Janet, I suspect your engineer was actually giving good advice. I fail to see why his/her competence has been bought into question. The work specified would not be cheap and considering the age (over 20 years!) of the boiler I doubt many experienced gas safe (I assume a gas boiler) engineers would advise otherwise. There is likely to be additional costs before a gas safe engineer would certify it as safe. I would expect a good engineer to recommend a replacement and a good landlord to have a budget reserve to do so.
Rob Crawford recently posted...Free Landlord Tax Tutorials

Janet Carter

21:41 PM, 7th March 2017
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Rob Crawford" at "07/03/2017 - 17:39":

Thank you Rob,

I appreciate your comments. As I said, I know nothing regarding boilers. For anyone that is interested it is a Worcester 240. I had no reason to disbelieve what the Heating Engineer said. I think he was quite upfront about it. He stated that he would not be able to fix it because by the time he sourced the parts (if obtainable) and stripped it back, there may well be other parts needing replacing. And then it's going to start becoming very costly. He quoted in the region of £600. On that basis his recommendation was a replacement boiler. He also said that if he were doing a gas safety check he would be inclined to put an 'at risk' notice on it!
When I informed my Landlord, he just got angry and said "Fine, I'll get Transco out right now to shut it down, and then you'll have no heating either." Obviously I wanted to avoid that, so declined his offer..
Anyway, if I have some positive news I will post back.

Regards Janet

Darlington Landlord

22:42 PM, 7th March 2017
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Janet Carter" at "07/03/2017 - 21:41":

Worcester boilers are the Mercedes of boilers, well engineered and top class but expensive so not common. Its probable that the engineer you called out was not very experienced with the brand. Its likely that having charged a callout fee he was reluctant to spend extra time researching and getting parts for an unfamiliar boiler which he would have no future interest in. From experience I agree with others who have said the diverter valve is the obvious cause of the problem and the easy fix is to try replacing that. It would be a good idea to rearrange for your landlords gas engineer to try and fix it.
Having said that your Landlord has an obligation to make sure you have hot water within a reasonable time and should not expect you to wait for a grant application to go through without making an alternative provision. If you do qualify for a free boiler under the various schemes you could negotiate for a reduced rent or free period in compensation.

Mike

2:20 AM, 8th March 2017
About 4 years ago

Once again Janet, just had a look at your boiler on website and parts availability, a brand new diverter valve costs £59.00 and readily available, from many places, labour to replace around £75.00 - £100.00, and should tale no more than about 2 hours at the most.

The engineer you called must be anti-landlord, most of whom think landlords are made of money, but in fact it is the other way around, they can rip off whoever they wish, because they have the monopoly by Gas Safe Council, so everyone is at their mercy, but I never engage anti-landlord engineers, I know at least 4 engineers who are landlord friendly.

The rip off engineer just put unnecessary fear that parts may not be available or other parts might be necessary without even being sure, if that boiler is working on central heating, then it is just a matter of replacing the diverter valve for about under £150.00 to £200.00 cost to fix it. speak to your landlord and ask him while he may be trying to take advantage of a green energy or whatever it is called, he should in fact not be doing this, as a landlord he has a duty of care towards all his tenants and should not be so miser so as to not spend around £2000.00 on a new boiler after receiveing rent for over 19 years from you, some landlords are stingy, and they are the bad ones who have given us good landlords a bad name, same as some heating engineers are genuine and good and not try to rip people off.

He may not get a new tenant as good as you have put up all that nonsense, so do report him to the council as this is now beyond a joke, i am usually on landlord's side as I have suffered many bad tenants and tenants from hell, but you need to tell him if he don't fix this problem in the next day or two, you will be seeking componsation like a few months rent rebate, already I think you can get some rent back for not getting hot water, he don't seem to know that he is a loser, trying to take advantage of a grant, in order to save money, he is actually placing himself in a liable position and could face substantial financial losses through rent rebate to you. you need to speak to him and say enough is enough. (he wouldn't have put up with you if you were several weeks behind on rent) unless you have done that, in which case it is give and take situation.

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