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paulina

Malfunctioning Boiler

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Hi there

My first post after longtime lurking. I am renting @ £850pcm. Tenancy began Nov 1 and the boiler has broken down three times - twice at the w/end so no heat or hot water for 36hrs (it is a combi boiler). Agent has been Ok and sent plumbers each time but basically boiler is shot. Both plumbers have said it needs to be replaced or it will continue breaking down. One plumber has said he will not respond to any future call outs as he has given his professional opinion it needs to be replaced. I am never sure if the boiler will work and most days I have to let water in before it will fire. A week ago I wrote to agent asking for replacement or permanent repair within seven days. Deadline was yesterday and agent phoned to say owner cannot proceed with repair as she has no money. I decided to offer to pay for the new boiler myself (1.5k) and let the owner pay me back in installments over 10 months interest free on condition she did not give me notice till full repayment was made. She turned me down. She is clearly in breach of contract and in breach of Landlord and Tenant Act I am trying to decide how to proceed and currently thinking I will get the work done and then withold rent until I have recovered expenditure. I dont particularly want to move out as could do without the disruption and - apart from the problem - I do like it here. On the one hand I dread the thought of Xmas without heating; on the other hand the boiler is actually working (albeit only just) so how reasonable would it be for me to proceed with replacement? Any thoughts? Suggestions?

Thanks

Paulina

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You have a legal right of offset, which means you can make neccessary repairs and charge the landlord for them. In your case, I would not do so immediately, I would wait until it next fails....quite difficult to justify otherwise. With such a series of failures after the next one, however, it is easy to justify a replacement. When it fails again, follow the steps below:

- Write to the landlord stating you expect a replacement within three days or you will replace and charge to him.

- If nothing done, then get AT LEAST 2 quotes for the replacment, preferably 3.

- Get the repair done, and send a COPY(NOT the original) of the receipt to the landlord.

- Deduct the entire amount from the rent(1 months if possible, 2 months if required).

Technically he can still sue you for the money, but as long as you follow the steps above you should be able to show justification for invoking your right of offset.

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Hi there

My first post after longtime lurking. I am renting @ £850pcm. Tenancy began Nov 1 and the boiler has broken down three times - twice at the w/end so no heat or hot water for 36hrs (it is a combi boiler). Agent has been Ok and sent plumbers each time but basically boiler is shot. Both plumbers have said it needs to be replaced or it will continue breaking down. One plumber has said he will not respond to any future call outs as he has given his professional opinion it needs to be replaced. I am never sure if the boiler will work and most days I have to let water in before it will fire. A week ago I wrote to agent asking for replacement or permanent repair within seven days. Deadline was yesterday and agent phoned to say owner cannot proceed with repair as she has no money. I decided to offer to pay for the new boiler myself (1.5k) and let the owner pay me back in installments over 10 months interest free on condition she did not give me notice till full repayment was made. She turned me down. She is clearly in breach of contract and in breach of Landlord and Tenant Act I am trying to decide how to proceed and currently thinking I will get the work done and then withold rent until I have recovered expenditure. I dont particularly want to move out as could do without the disruption and - apart from the problem - I do like it here. On the one hand I dread the thought of Xmas without heating; on the other hand the boiler is actually working (albeit only just) so how reasonable would it be for me to proceed with replacement? Any thoughts? Suggestions?

Thanks

Paulina

If I was you Paulina I would buy myself a couple of electric radiators & tell the agent you will report them and the landlord to the Office of Fair Trading if they don't have this sorted very soon.

You also have the Environmental Services department of your local council who would be very interested in dealing with a landlord and agent on your behalf.

Naturally you will upset your relationship with them though. Are you sure you're giving them enough leeway to sort this out? They're not miracle workers and some boilers can be tempramental.

Here is a forum you can examine plumbing problems on & you may identify the symptoms & solution of your own boiler problem:

http://www.diynot.com/forums/viewforum.php?f=7

You have a legal right of offset, which means you can make neccessary repairs and charge the landlord for them. In your case, I would not do so immediately, I would wait until it next fails....quite difficult to justify otherwise. With such a series of failures after the next one, however, it is easy to justify a replacement. When it fails again, follow the steps below:

- Write to the landlord stating you expect a replacement within three days or you will replace and charge to him.

- If nothing done, then get AT LEAST 2 quotes for the replacment, preferably 3.

- Get the repair done, and send a COPY(NOT the original) of the receipt to the landlord.

- Deduct the entire amount from the rent(1 months if possible, 2 months if required).

Technically he can still sue you for the money, but as long as you follow the steps above you should be able to show justification for invoking your right of offset.

There's no right of offset. Have you ever read a tenancy agreement? It expressly forbids it.

Edited by Time to raise the rents.

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Time to raise the rents: what utter rot. How can you generalise first of all about all tenancy agreements in such a ridiculous way - if you actually had a clue, then you should know that any AST worth the paper it is written on must be specifically for that property. Secondly, the right of offset is a BASIC right to a tenant, and cannot be taken away simply by saying so in the AST - this would be unfair term, and hence null and void.

Edited by MrShed

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I believe the right of offset is a common law right which has not been repealed. You can write any contract you like, but if it is illegal, it is not enforcable. I could sign a contact to murder somebody, but it is not enforcable. Common law has the same standing as statute law in the eyes of the court.

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You also have the Environmental Services department of your local council who would be very interested in dealing with a landlord and agent on your behalf.

Naturally you will upset your relationship with them though. Are you sure you're giving them enough leeway to sort this out? They're not miracle workers and some boilers can be tempramental.

Good advice TTRTR. Only take a landlord to court at the end of th relationship, otherwise it will be the end of the relationship.

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Time to raise the rents: what utter rot. How can you generalise first of all about all tenancy agreements in such a ridiculous way - if you actually had a clue, then you should know that any AST worth the paper it is written on must be specifically for that property. Secondly, the right of offset is a BASIC right to a tenant, and cannot be taken away simply by saying so in the AST - this would be unfair term, and hence null and void.

MrShed I would like to see a link to that. All my tenancies state that the tenant will not offset anything against the rent. It is my choice to repay them for anything I think they may have legitimately had to pay for that was my responsibility.

The first tenant of mine that tries to force me to accept an offset will be out. Simple.

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I'm sorry but no it is not. It is not your "choice" to repair what you think to be a legitimate repair, it is your obligation to make repairs when legally obligated to do so, and if a landlord refuses then the tenant has the basic right to enforce such a repair. I shall try and find a link.

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Section 11, Landlord and Tenant Act 1985

"SET-OFF / SELF HELP: Tenants sometimes withhold rent on the basis of using the rent to pay for repairs that the tenant claims the landlord should have carried out, but generally the tenant has no legal right to set-off in this way. However in certain circumstances, a tenant may use the rent to pay for repairs or offset rent arrears where the landlord has clearly breached a repairing obligation and has failed or refused to carry out the repairs. This right is provided only in the circumstances outlined above and when exercised according to a clearly defined procedure; the tenant must inform his landlord that he intends to carry out the repairs himself and submit any estimates, in order to allow the landlord a chance to carry out the works himself. "

As I'm sure you are aware, you cannot prevent a tenants right as set down in law by placing a term in an AST.

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Section 11, Landlord and Tenant Act 1985

"SET-OFF / SELF HELP: Tenants sometimes withhold rent on the basis of using the rent to pay for repairs that the tenant claims the landlord should have carried out, but generally the tenant has no legal right to set-off in this way. However in certain circumstances, a tenant may use the rent to pay for repairs or offset rent arrears where the landlord has clearly breached a repairing obligation and has failed or refused to carry out the repairs. This right is provided only in the circumstances outlined above and when exercised according to a clearly defined procedure; the tenant must inform his landlord that he intends to carry out the repairs himself and submit any estimates, in order to allow the landlord a chance to carry out the works himself. "

As I'm sure you are aware, you cannot prevent a tenants right as set down in law by placing a term in an AST.

Yes a nice read and VERY FAR from a RIGHT to offset.

Many of my tenants in the past have mistaken improvements for repairs. Yes a landlord has an obligation to repair, but to improve is another matter. So tenants making changes like one suggested in this thread, removing the old boiler & replacing it with a new one, are definitely improving and therefore would lose all of their money spent on hthe new boiler and be liable to a damages claim from the landlord.

As I said, the first tenant that tries to force me to accept an offset, will be out at the first opportunity. But then mine don't ask, because they know I meet my obligations.

Edited by Time to raise the rents.

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Incorrect again. This clearly is not an issue of improvment, but one of repair. The tenant has a legal right to be supplied with a RELIABLE form of heating by their landlord. If it is unreliable, and IF UPON GETTING ENGINEER REPORTS it is clearly not economically viable to be repaired to such a reliable state, then the landlord has an OBLIGATION to replace, and this is NOT improvement. Yes, such steps should only be taken as the last possible route, and yes should only be taken with severe faults with the property. However, the tenant DOES have this right. And I am pleased that you meet your legal requirements, genuinely I am, but I am not talking about decent hard working landlords like yourself who do keep their properties up to scratch, but ones who neglect their duties. The right of offset clearly allows the tenant to enforce the landlord to perform their duties....remember that if a tenant uses it in a wrong situation, they WILL be sued by their landlord and they WILL lose!

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Dear HPCers

Thanks for the replies. The debate has echoed my own uncertainty - this is a stressful and very inconvenient situation but I am not quite sure it is sufficiently extreme to proceed with boiler replacement without approval of the l/lady.

Having taken all you have said into account I have decided to take the following approach.

I will go in and see the agent tomorrow with the specific goal of agreeing an emergency plan to deal with boiler breakdown over the Christmas period. i will ask to be supplied with number for a plumber who will definitely attend on Xmas day if necessary. If I cannot get a plumber to attend I will book self and son into an hotel (if I can find one with a vacancy) and will deduct expenses from January rent. I am hoping the boiler will not in fact break down over this period.

i will ask plumbers to put their views re the viability of the boiler in writing and will then again request replacment. if no joy I will seek intervention from environmental health officer in the hope this might lead to action.

The next time the boiler does actually break down (rather than just requiring daily attention) I will make a final request for replacment within 3 days. If no joy I will then proceed with replacement and invoke the legal right to offset as specificed by Mr Shed.

Please let me know what you think of this plan.

Paulina

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Might also be worth asking agent/landlord for a written explanation as to why they consider repairs to be un-necessary and have not already been carried out.

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the boiler has broken down three times - twice at the w/end so no heat or hot water for 36hrs (it is a combi boiler). Agent has been Ok and sent plumbers each time but basically boiler is shot. Both plumbers have said it needs to be replaced or it will continue breaking down. One plumber has said he will not respond to any future call outs as he has given his professional opinion it needs to be replaced. I am never sure if the boiler will work and most days I have to let water in before it will fire.

Paulina - I had a problem with a combi boiler a couple of months back. To help out the landlord, who is a good guy, I posted a few messages on the heating and plumbing, diy forums explaining the problem and all replies back lead to the divert valve being at fault and possible cost for replacement. Harmed with info I passed it onto LL and a heating engineer (not plumber) came out. Eventually after a couple of hours the HE said the divert valve needs replacing and he will have to order one. Duh.. invoice sent direct to LL.

What I'm saying is perhaps get an opinion from these guys if you can explain the problem/make model of boiler and use a heating engineer.

You said "boiler will work and most days I have to let water in before it will fire.". Do you have a gauge on the boiler with 'bar' reading? This will need to be 1 - 1.5 bar from info obtained about our boiler.

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I have a new combi boiler in the house I am renting. In the instruction manual it says that a plumber must be called if the pressure gauge falls below 1 Bar. There should be the manual for your boiler somewhere in the house. Check it and if this is the case, you could get a plumber out every morning. That should make your landlady sit up and think. If you are filling up the system daily, the water is going somewhere, probably damaging the fabric of the house. It is in her interest to get the thing fixed. I don't think maintaining the boiler can be considered part of acting in a Tenant Like Manner.

On the same lines as Time to Raise the Rents, if you like the house, don't upset the landlady otherwise you will end up being thrown out at the end of your fixed term.

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"I don't think maintaining the boiler can be considered part of acting in a Tenant Like Manner."

Yep totally correct Imp....it is entirely down to the landlord to maintain and repair the boiler.

Paulina.....that sounds like a good and fair plan to me. However, just ensure that you put EVERYTHING in writing, ie your intention to check into a hotel etc. IT will help your case should the landlord later sue you for the money.

And TTRTR, just to make sure I was right, I have double checked this regarding the term in the AST. I again cannot provide you with a link I am afraid, but it certainly is an unfair term to prevent the right of offset, and as such can be ignored by any tenant. If you do not believe me fair enough, but it is correct. It would be considered an unfair term "as the tenant might only have that remedy if the landlord was either slow or ignored their obligations under S.11 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985. to keep the property in a good state of repair."

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  • 301 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



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