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hurlerontheditch

Can my landlord lock my thermostat in a box?

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On Saturday afternoon, the hot water went off in Alex Milsom's shared house in west London. Discussing the problem with his housemates on WhatsApp, one person replied: "It's because there's a cage on the thermostat."

"I said I would put the water back on, but obviously I couldn't get past the new lock box," Alex said..

His landlady had visited the property to install a clear thermostat cover over the Google Nest thermostat - which can control heating and hot water.

Alex, 21, has been living with six or seven others in a semi-detached house in Ealing since August. Rented from a private landlady, he pays £700 a month, and the landlady covers his utility bills.

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this country needs an overhaul in who can be a landlord. She takes in around £4500 a month.. i hope she hasn't been paying tax fully on it and the HMRC see this article

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-50294404?ocid=socialflow_twitter&ns_mchannel=social&ns_source=twitter&ns_campaign=bbcnews

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The key phrase is, and the landlady covers his utility bills, surely?

I am not sure what the legal position is on this. 

Perhaps he can request that he pays his own energy bills and then has control over the thermostat?  But I am not sure he has the right to do this.

Anyhow, isn't the Google Nest controlled via Smartphone?  In which case the physical cover is not relevant, he needs control of the app ?

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I'm surprised the landlord hasn't metered the water, and installed a time lock on the toilet, to discourage excessive flushing. Tenants would be encouraged to urinate etc at work or elsewhere outside the landlord's property.

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15 minutes ago, juvenal said:

I'm surprised the landlord hasn't metered the water, and installed a time lock on the toilet, to discourage excessive flushing. Tenants would be encouraged to urinate etc at work or elsewhere outside the landlord's property.

If I was the landlord I'd probably stick with water rates, not a water meter.  That way you know what your costs are, and you simply pass the cost on in rent.

I can see why you wouldn't want to be stuck with unpaid energy bills if your tenant doesn't pay them.  You have very high liability if the tenant leaves the heating on max 24/7 and then declares bankruptcy.

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4 hours ago, kzb said:

If I was the landlord I'd probably stick with water rates, not a water meter.  That way you know what your costs are, and you simply pass the cost on in rent.

I can see why you wouldn't want to be stuck with unpaid energy bills if your tenant doesn't pay them.  You have very high liability if the tenant leaves the heating on max 24/7 and then declares bankruptcy.

Could always chat with the tenant first.

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16 hours ago, kzb said:

If I was the landlord I'd probably stick with water rates, not a water meter.  That way you know what your costs are, and you simply pass the cost on in rent.

I can see why you wouldn't want to be stuck with unpaid energy bills if your tenant doesn't pay them.  You have very high liability if the tenant leaves the heating on max 24/7 and then declares bankruptcy.

she is renting to 8 people in this house... could leave the heating on 24/7 and still would make profit

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Disgraceful.

If it is actually a thermostat and not just a controller, it's not going to work very well insulated in a plastic box as it won't be measuring the room temperature, so the rooms will end up freezing in Winter. Win-Win Landlord.

Time to get creative - I'd drill some tiny holes from the bottom, then feed a piece of wire in (maybe a bicycle spoke or thinner) and try and operate the control panel.

 

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3 hours ago, hurlerontheditch said:

she is renting to 8 people in this house... could leave the heating on 24/7 and still would make profit

It's easy to end up with massive bills with the cost of energy these days.

If people are provided with something for free, they will tend to use more of it.  Certain people will use A LOT more just because they can.

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48 minutes ago, Andy T said:

Disgraceful.

If it is actually a thermostat and not just a controller, it's not going to work very well insulated in a plastic box as it won't be measuring the room temperature, so the rooms will end up freezing in Winter. Win-Win Landlord.

Time to get creative - I'd drill some tiny holes from the bottom, then feed a piece of wire in (maybe a bicycle spoke or thinner) and try and operate the control panel.

 

There is something that does not add up about this story anyhow.  The thermostat is a Google Nest.  You do not require physical access.

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Landlord should just charge for heating - so that the tenant pays for what they use. That way if the tenant decides they want to heat the house to 23 degrees (insane) and walk around in shorts and a T-shirt all day, they will be the ones paying.

Edited by Errol

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21 minutes ago, Errol said:

Landlord should just charge for heating - so that the tenant pays for what they use. That way if the tenant decides they want to heat the house to 23 degrees (insane) and walk around in shorts and a T-shirt all day, they will be the ones paying.

How would you enforce that?  The only way I can think of is to charge a big deposit at first, so you have the deposit from which to pay a large bill if the tenant does a runner.  But I think we all agree big deposits are undesirable features.

The fair way would be the tenant takes on the gas and leccy accounts in their name, however possibly the landlord is liable for outstanding amounts if the account holder does a runner.  I don't know how this works.

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4 hours ago, hurlerontheditch said:

she is renting to 8 people in this house... could leave the heating on 24/7 and still would make profit

Not enough of a profit obviously ... all landlords are entitled to more than they are currently "earning".

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2 hours ago, Andy T said:

Disgraceful.

If it is actually a thermostat and not just a controller, it's not going to work very well insulated in a plastic box as it won't be measuring the room temperature, so the rooms will end up freezing in Winter. Win-Win Landlord.

Time to get creative - I'd drill some tiny holes from the bottom, then feed a piece of wire in (maybe a bicycle spoke or thinner) and try and operate the control panel.

 

I would cover the box in ice packs. 

Getting it down to -10 should do the trick

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2 hours ago, kzb said:

 

How would you enforce that?  The only way I can think of is to charge a big deposit at first, so you have the deposit from which to pay a large bill if the tenant does a runner.  But I think we all agree big deposits are undesirable features.

The fair way would be the tenant takes on the gas and leccy accounts in their name, however possibly the landlord is liable for outstanding amounts if the account holder does a runner.  I don't know how this works.

Can it not be a term of the Lease Agreement that the tenant pays all electricity/gas bills? If they don't comply you can then terminate the agreement (keeping any deposit).

Edited by Errol

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6 hours ago, kzb said:

There is something that does not add up about this story anyhow.  The thermostat is a Google Nest.  You do not require physical access.

Yes but looking into this you can manually adjust everything using the wall display dial. So LL is remote controlling the heating / hot water and put the cover over to stop having battles with the tenants to manually change things to their liking. 

 

If I was a tenant I would give the landlord an ultimatum. Let us control what we need or I will A) go out a buy a 4kw leccy heater for my room, plug it into a socket and run in all the time I was in the room, maybe one of the common areas too.  B ) threaten to buy a 20L catering saucepan and heat my own hot water for a bath using the Gas / leccy Hob. 

Both of these if done regularly will cost buckets more in leccy costs than the Gas cost using Nest. And as bills are inclusive by contract, unstoppable. Actually TBH with inclusive free leccy I would probably run a 4 GPU Ethereum GPU mining rig 24/7 in Autumn winter. Would pull about 1.2 kw 24/7 and make me money.

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4 minutes ago, markyh said:

Yes but looking into this you can manually adjust everything using the wall display dial. So LL is remote controlling the heating / hot water and put the cover over to stop having battles with the tenants to manually change things to their liking. 

 

If I was a tenant I would give the landlord an ultimatum. Let us control what we need or I will A) go out a buy a 4kw leccy heater for my room, plug it into a socket and run in all the time I was in the room, maybe one of the common areas too.  B ) threaten to buy a 20L catering saucepan and heat my own hot water for a bath using the Gas / leccy Hob. 

Both of these if done regularly will cost buckets more in leccy costs than the Gas cost using Nest. And as bills are inclusive by contract, unstoppable. Actually TBH with inclusive free leccy I would probably run a 4 GPU Ethereum GPU mining rig 24/7 in Autumn winter. Would pull about 1.2 kw 24/7 and make me money.

i would 100% do this, if i get bills included, im using a reasonable amount to be more comfortable than i would be if i was paying for it directly. If the LL was that bothered you could say that anyone in the house share is allowed to use so much money a month on average a heating, any more and they pay for it, any less and they get a refund, anything else is just greed from the landlord.

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Could you just take the front panel off the boiler and bridge connections to leave the heating on permanently, or would the NEST controller detect a fault? Regulate the temperature by opening windows..

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6 hours ago, Clarky Cat said:

Could you just take the front panel off the boiler and bridge connections to leave the heating on permanently, or would the NEST controller detect a fault? Regulate the temperature by opening windows..

I lived in Chicago in the 90’s. It is law that landlords provide heat in winter  and that it be included in the rent -  but not thermostats for the steam radiators that were heated with a furnace for the entire building. The standard way of regulating temperature in many apartment buildings that I and many friends lived in  was to open windows and allow external air (temperature often  -15C) to mix with the indoor air. 

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7 hours ago, bearishonhouses said:

I lived in Chicago in the 90’s. It is law that landlords provide heat in winter  and that it be included in the rent -  but not thermostats for the steam radiators that were heated with a furnace for the entire building. The standard way of regulating temperature in many apartment buildings that I and many friends lived in  was to open windows and allow external air (temperature often  -15C) to mix with the indoor air. 

US is incredibly wasteful with energy.  This example would be an easy hit to reduce their CO2 emissions.

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19 hours ago, Errol said:

Can it not be a term of the Lease Agreement that the tenant pays all electricity/gas bills? If they don't comply you can then terminate the agreement (keeping any deposit).

Well yes that is what I was suggesting.  It's not very desirable for the tenant because of this large up-front deposit needed in case of default on the energy bills.

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13 hours ago, Clarky Cat said:

Could you just take the front panel off the boiler and bridge connections to leave the heating on permanently, or would the NEST controller detect a fault? Regulate the temperature by opening windows..

I think you need to go to the Extinction Rebellion thread for reprogramming.

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16 hours ago, markyh said:

Yes but looking into this you can manually adjust everything using the wall display dial. So LL is remote controlling the heating / hot water and put the cover over to stop having battles with the tenants to manually change things to their liking.

Possibly the idea was to give tenants access via the app?  Has anyone asked?

(Although with eight independent tenants all accessing the control via their phones, I think temperature anarchy will ensue.)

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