Sold after 28 years

by Readers Question

11:02 AM, 22nd August 2019
About A year ago

Sold after 28 years

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Sold after 28 years

I purchased my first Buy To Let in Paddock Wood Kent on 5th July,1991 and completed on the sale yesterday (21st August, 2019). Basically, it has gone up in value 10 times in 30 years.

The house was a regulated tenancy and became a de-regulated tenancy (an Assured Shorthold Tenancy) prior to sale with vacant possession.

It had been a good investment, but three years ago in 2016 the local council served a Notice on myself because the Boiler was not working and he had no Hot Water! I should explain a Regulated Tenant had the right to install his own boiler. This particular tenant had Warm Front install it and it, therefore, was not my boiler. It reverts to the landlord only at the end of the tenancy.

The Notice was issued under the Housing Act 2004 which requires the Local Authority to attend with the landlord. I trotted along to the house. I said it is the PCB, but pointed out it is not my boiler. Warm Front installed it and has the repairing responsibility. Quite simple. Just put a new pcb in.

I said “By the way, this is called an immersion heater. It is located within the cylinder. Just push the switch to on and you have hot water!”

“Really?”

“Yes that is the function of the immersion heater!”

The Council withdrew the Notice!

A week later they were back. “The Heating Engineer says the Boiler is not man enough for the job. It needs a new boiler.”

“Really, read my lips. It is not my boiler!”

“We wish to put in a Boiler of larger capacity for the house.”

“Take it up with Warm Front. Has the tenant ever complained about a lack of heat?”

“No, but the engineer says it is suitable for a 2-3 bedroom house and the one he suggests is suitable for a 3-4 bedroomed house.”

“But it has 3 bedrooms! Have you seen that programme Rip Off Britain?”

This takes me to the one on the Panorama Programme. The Notice was issued under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 which was essentially replaced by the Housing Act 2004. The important thing was it deals with the Hazard and Health Hazard Rating System HHSRS and requires the Council Officer to attend with the Landlord.

The Council Officer did not do so. The tenant asked for her Notice! Rather odd for a tenant to ask for a Section 21! Oh dear! Oh Dear!

We all know that means 5½ months in temporary accommodation.

At the end of the day the Council withdrew the Prosecution because it was out of time!

The next tenant moved in and switched on the immersion heater and then complained the water was too hot!

If a Landlord receives a Notice or communication by letter then he should ask for a meeting at the property. Normally the Council suggests a meeting. I have always found it is some form of electrical deficiency. In plain English the immersion heater has not been switched on.

If the Officer writes to say “The water is cold” the question is what was the temperature? This is important because some tenants with Boilermates say the temperature is too low (i.e cold) and then put on the immersion heater to heat it up to a higher temperature. Where is the Corpse? Where is the Smoking Gun?

The point is that the immersion heater is the back up. As far as the Hot Water is concerned the source of the energy is academic. If the tenant has hot water available by immersion heater then the requirement to provide hot water is complied with.

Finally, make sure you keep all your emails.

Fergus Wilson



Comments

homemaker

14:51 PM, 23rd August 2019
About A year ago

Fergus first of all congratulations on a very shrewd investment. I'm not sure about some of the points made though. My understanding is that unless the tenancy has specific conditions attached to it the landlord is responsible for maintaining the property in a regulated tenancy including the facilities for heating and hot water. Wouldn't the general provisions of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 apply in any case? A few years ago one of my tenants had a condensing boiler installed with grant provision. This was however a periodic shorthold tenancy. Regardless, I have taken the view that although I didn't purchase it I am responsible for its ongoing maintenance and for the gas safety certificate. With regards to local authority action both the Environmental Protection Act and the Housing Act remain on the statute book. The Housing Act 2004 has not replaced the Environmental Protection Act and the council can choose to use the most appropriate action. The former being more concerned with personal hygiene and food safety issues and the latter with exposure to the hazard of 'excess cold'. The provision of an immersion heater should avoid action under the EPA but would not prevent action under the HA if appropriate. The local authority is not required in either case to attend with the landlord although in my experience an invitation to the landlord is often made. Formal action under the Housing Act can only follow a 'notified inspection' though.


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