Landlord restricting access to heating

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    Landlord restricting access to heating

    Hi there!
    I started renting a single room in September. The boiler is located in my room and was replaced with a new one about three weeks after I moved in.

    Since then my landlord has been controlling our heating with a smartphone app. At first I didn’t worry because there was a manual button I could switch on which would turn the heating on when I wanted.

    The other day I left the house and forgot to turn it back to automatic, not two hours later I get a text from my landlord saying he was in the house for an hour and he noticed the radiators were hot, then went into my room to turn it back to auto. He also stated I had turned on the heating without his permission and he was angry that the house was being heated when no one was in there. I pay an ‘all bills included’ rent of £550pcm and my housemate pays £750 (I think) for a double room and en-suite.

    The landlord regularly comes to the house without notice, and has come into my room without my permission one other time to my knowledge. I asked him politely not to come into my room without permission again and since then he’s said he will do so if “he thinks my actions are effecting his costs”.

    I also have concerns because I was expecting to sign a contract upon moving in, after I paid the deposit, but no such contract has been shown to me. I have also noticed that there is no cover on one of the fire alarms.

    So obviously this guy isn’t an official landlord. My question is, what are my rights in a situation like this? Does he have the right to control our heating? Do I have any legal standing due to the fact I’ve not signed a contract?

    #2
    There's no such thing as an "official" landlord.

    Whether the landlord can come into the house will depend on what you rent, if it's a room with access to some common areas, he would usually able to come into the common areas without asking.
    Whether he can come into your room without your permission would be documented in your agreement.

    Same with the control of the heating (although once turning something off you'd forgotten doesn't sound unreasonable).
    Most bills included agreements have some kind of reasonable use terms.

    Not having signed a written agreement doesn't affect your legal standing, you obviously have some kind of agreement to live there, it's just that the details aren't clear.
    When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
    Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

    Comment


      #3
      How many people are sharing the house?

      Are there three or more? If so are there notices displayed saying who is responsible for management and how to contact them?

      It seems to be common for this sort of issue to arise with shared properties, especially where the bills are included in the rent. The reverse side of this is we get landlords complaining that tenants insist on setting the heating to 25 degrees at all hours.

      If the building is adequately constructed, the cost of bringing the building back up to temperature after three hours without heating should be very little more than that of heating it for three hours, but people often fail to understand this.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by jpkeates View Post
        Whether he can come into your room without your permission would be documented in your agreement.

        Same with the control of the heating
        As there is no written agreement, it would appear not (unless these issues were specifically mentioned before T occupied).

        Comment


          #5
          You live in an HMO if: the landlord does not live there (if so you would probably be a lodger with a licence to live in the property), there are more than 3 people from more than one family in residence, and you share facilites (kitchens, bathrooms, toilets etc). If there are more than 5 people this would mean that the landlord must be registered with the council and purchase a licence. I do not know of any councils that do not have this requirement but that does not mean that some don't enforce the requirement. Thus what I understand that you mean by an 'official' landlord is one who is registered and holds a licence,if the requirement is there.
          So what you should have upon the start of your tenancy is a; contract, gas safety certificate (especially since the gas??? boiler is in your room!) and a 'How to Rent booklet'. If you did not receive these within 30 days of starting the tenancy then I suggest that you have an Assured one. Also that the landlord cannot issue a Section 21 to evict you (if you start becoming 'difficult') and would be subject to a fine if he/she tried.
          Clearly the issue of when to heat and when not needs stipulating. It is not reasonable to state that only for a certain number of hours per day can the heating be turned on if the weather is Arctic outside. I appreciate that the landlord has made an agreement based on a defined cost assumption. More fool him/her if the weather turns inclement and they have not calculated this into the agreement.
          My advice is to have a talk with the landlord and agree terms. Then write in effect a Terms of Agreement document which will form the basis of a contract.

          Comment


            #6
            There's the OP and a "housemate".
            Doesn't sound like an HMO to me (other than for council tax purposes), because there are only two people.
            When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
            Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

            Comment


              #7
              Assuming there's nothing to the contrary in your TA, you can write to the landlord requesting that he doesn't enter your room without your permission unless its an emergency. If he continues to do so then he's potentially guilty of harassment. What does the TA say about use of gas and electricity?

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by SimonRW View Post
                there are more than 3 people from more than one family in residence
                No. It is 3 or more.

                Originally posted by SimonRW View Post
                If you did not receive these within 30 days of starting the tenancy then I suggest that you have an Assured one.
                On what do you base that assertion?
                I know of nothing that says that.

                Originally posted by SimonRW View Post
                Also that the landlord cannot issue a Section 21 to evict you
                I presume that you are basing this on your earlier assertion (which appears to me to be incorrect).

                Originally posted by SimonRW View Post
                and would be subject to a fine if he/she tried.
                Please explain why this would be the case.

                Comment


                  #9
                  MdeB: My apologies, I was not very clear in my rather wordy response.

                  I stand corrected it is '3 or more', you are correct.
                  The most common tenancy agreement is an Assured one rather than periodic and a court would most likely decide that in the absence of any written agreement, the tenancy is an Assured one of some type.
                  Under the Deregulation Act 2015 (England only) a Section 21 cannot be issued if a Gas Safety Certificate has not been issued (technically) before the tenancy commences, however there is a slight confusion in the wording (Gas Regs state that a certificate should be issued (I assume that this means presented to the home owner) within 28 days, it then goes on to say 'but before a tenancy starts'). The 30 days is common practice for a delay in the presentation to the home owner and then forwarding to the tenant and allows (I guess) for a new safety check to have been completed if the old safety check was coming to an end on the date of the new tenancy commencing. In practice that may not stand up in court if there were an issue eg death) caused by a faulty boiler of course! I do not know of any case in law which has proved this so to be absolutely sure I personally follow the presentation of all documents (contract, gas safety certificate, EPC certificate and How to Rent Govt Handbook and deposit scheme, if I take one) prior to the tenancy commencing.
                  My apologies again I should have worded the following; A mispresentation of a Section 21 due to the fact that the deposit has not been taken correctly ie within a scheme and notified to the tenant before 30 days after the commencement of the tenancy, can lead to the Landlord being liable for up to 3 times the deposit. I had assumed that the landlord has not done this since they seem not to have done any of the other correct procedures.

                  I hope that clears up my previous?



                  Comment


                    #10
                    A periodic tenancy can be an Assured Tenancy, they're not alternatives.

                    There's a difference between an Assured Tenancy and an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, and a private residential tenancy in England and Wales would be an AST unless there is a reason it can't be.
                    In the absence of a tenancy agreement, if the tenant is a person, it would pretty much always be an AST.

                    The 30 day deadline for the protection of a tenancy deposit and issue of the Prescribed Information begins when the deposit is received, not the start of the tenancy.
                    When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
                    Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

                    Comment


                      #11
                      How does your landlord know someone is in the house or not? Does he have CCTV to monitor your ins and outs? If it on automatic, what does he set it on? Is it too low, so you have to override it? Do you set it at a higher temperature?

                      Who decides what is a fair temperature level? I have tenants live comfortably with their home being 16C and other others they want it at 24C.

                      The radiator should have individual thermostatic control. A North facing bedroom will be colder then one which is South facing room.....

                      On paper it is n't an HMO, but it seems it has been organised as such....





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