Boiler Problems - Negligent Landlord?

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    Boiler Problems - Negligent Landlord?

    Hi,

    Please could somebody offer some advice about a problem we have had with the boiler at our rented property. Just over 2 weeks ago, the electrics on our boiler tripped and it couldn’t be reset. It turned out that the person in the flat above ours had gone on holiday, done something to his water/boiler that had caused their boiler to effectively act like a tap and just stream water out of their PRV pipe that goes to the outside of the flats. This water ran down the outside of the building and straight into the steam outlet vent for our boiler, back into the actual heating chamber, into the gas values, and leaked out of the chamber all over the electronics of the system causing it to blow O_o. It took just over two weeks to get the boiler up and running again as they had to source and replace various parts incrementally. They would fix one thing, then find out about another problem. In the end, they had to source and replace three separate parts.

    Okay, a pretty run of the mill situation so far. However, when the engineers showed me the parts that they replaced, I actually recognized them. The reason for this is that I found exactly the same damaged parts in a cupboard when we moved into the flat. I still have these, and when I showed them to the engineer he confirmed that they were the same parts, and that they had had to change over the last two weeks, and that it was obvious that this problem had occurred previously. The sister of the person upstairs did say that they had had this problem with the water flooding out of their system before (grrr), but when I initially asked the landlord about it, they said that they had not had any problems like this is in the past, although this now seems to be untrue. The engineer advised that if they had been advised about what had happened previously, they would have ordered exactly the same set of parts that were replaced previously, rather than ordering them one at a time.

    Please can you advice what I can do about this? If this was during the summer, I could probably tolerate up to a few days without hot water, but the weather during the last two weeks has been unbearable. We moved out of the flat briefly when it was snowing as my wife and daughter couldn’t cope without hot water. When we have been home, I’ve had to spend each evening shuttling them around London in Taxis to friend’s houses for showers. To add to all of this inconvenience, my daughter has some GCSE exams in a few weeks, and I too am study for some exams, but our study/revision plans have been out of the window since this happened.

    Neither the landlord nor the person upstairs have done anything to stop this reoccurring, and the landlord did nothing to help resolve the situation by failing to tell us about the previous problems. I have been paying my rent promptly for the last 6 months, but have had to suffer two weeks without hot water and will end up out of pocket following large taxi and electric heating bills. Am I am completely few up about this. There are also a number of repairs that the landlord agreed to make shortly after moving in, but 6 months later they still haven’t been done.

    Please can you advise what I can realistically do/ask for regarding any compensation for lack of service/expense/inconviniece. Has the landlord behaved irresponsibly/negligently by not stopping this from happening again? The people upstairs are still on holiday, but for all I know this will happen again as soon as the come home and switch on the water. If the boiler does break down because of inaction by the landlord, would I be in my rights to leave the flat?

    Many Thanks.

    #2
    I think you are fairly limited in what you can do, after all the landlord has acted fairly promptly and has replaced the problematic points. I don't think it's simply enough to prove that the incident has happend once prior to you living there if it was frequently happening then it maybe a different problem. I think its important that you bring it to the landlords attention the exact causation of the problem.
    [I]The opinions I give are simply my opinions and interpretations of what I have learnt, in numerous years as a property professional, I would not rely upon them without consulting with a paid advisor and providing them with all the relevant facts[I]

    Comment


      #3
      Isn't 16 days a but long to be without hot water? I understand that things can be difficult to fix, but the tenant is paying the landlord for a service (ie, a flat at an expected standard), and if they cannot provide the service, shouldn't the tenant be compensated for lack of service + any additional expense incurred?

      Comment


        #4
        If it happens again, it would be reasonable for your LL to pay for some convector heaters (plus additional cost of electricity to run them) and if you are without hot water for more than a few days next time, I think you would have grounds to get tough with him. It's not acceptable to leave tenants without heating or hot water, and to do so puts him in breach of his statutory obligations under the Landlord and Tenant Act; if the fault is due to incorrect action on LL's part, it is more serious.

        This is the 21st century and you shouldn't have to be boiling kettles in order to get washed.

        He can be reported to the Environmental Health Officer, who can force him to effect repairs. You could, if the breakdowns were frequent or prolonged, sue him for compensation, but that is a last resort.

        Let's hope the repair is a good one and you won't need to go down that path.

        In the end, it has to be seen in relation to what any householder would consider a reasonable wait for repairs to heating and hot water, but I agree that two weeks is stretching it a little.

        Landlords who want to keep their tenants would offer to pay for the cost of washing clothes and showering elsewhere, but they are not legally obliged to do so. It's worth asking!
        'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by LandlordProbs View Post
          Isn't 16 days a but long to be without hot water? I understand that things can be difficult to fix, but the tenant is paying the landlord for a service (ie, a flat at an expected standard), and if they cannot provide the service, shouldn't the tenant be compensated for lack of service + any additional expense incurred?
          Well you said that it wasnt until 16 days that it was completed solved. The landlord hired a professional to undertake work on his behalf. If like you say it was a case of 16 days without anything being done then it would be slightly different from 16 days of trying to resolve the problem, your landlord probably has no specialist knowledge of boilers or how they operate. Whilst you do have a right under s11 of lta 1985 to working space heating and water heating, the same act gives the landlord the right to repair the problems in a reasonable time frame.

          Originally posted by mind the gap View Post
          He can be reported to the Environmental Health Officer, who can force him to effect repairs. You could, if the breakdowns were frequent or prolonged, sue him for compensation, but that is a last resort.
          I dont think environmental health would assist in this matter, they tend to deal with nuissance issues... I personally wouldnt attempt to sue him for this because ultimately you would be hard pressed to prove any physical loss especially if it happens over the course of a few days as mind the gap is suggesting.
          [I]The opinions I give are simply my opinions and interpretations of what I have learnt, in numerous years as a property professional, I would not rely upon them without consulting with a paid advisor and providing them with all the relevant facts[I]

          Comment


            #6
            Water was coming out of the prv upstairs as it seems they have opened the filling loop to increase the pressure and left it open, thus making the extra pressure constantly release. Your landlord should be pressing those idiots for the fault to your boiler.

            If it did leak into your boiler i would have to say it would be the most unlucky situation i have ever heard of.

            If it ever happens again get your landlord to use British Gas for a one off fee and they fix it and it would probably be quicker and cheaper.

            If it was your own place and you had called these engineers i would presume you would still be in this situation, so in my view i would not think the landlord has been negligent

            Comment


              #7
              Hi. Thanks for the comments. Yes, the PRV was expelling water straight into the steam outlet pipe and straight into our boiler. Definately an unlucky situation, but given it has happened at least twice, maybe not as unlucky as it would first seem. If it were my own flat, I would:

              a) read the riot act to the idiot upstairs
              b) Do something to stop it happening again. Ie, fit something to the upstairs PRV to diver water away from my steam pipe, or fir something to stop water getting into my steam pipe.

              The bit that really annoys me is that this has happened before, and if they were honest about it and let the engineers know what they were dealing with from the start, we probably would have been able to shave a week off the whole process rather than have the engineers incrementally fixing things.

              Would it be unreasonable to deduct incurred expenses from my rent? I spent over £200 on taxis (~£15 per day) so that could take my wife and daughter could have a shower each day, and had to take a days leave (spread out over the two weeks) to be present for the engineers.

              Thanks.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by LandlordProbs View Post
                the PRV was expelling water straight into the steam outlet pipe and straight into our boiler. Definately an unlucky situation, but given it has happened at least twice, maybe not as unlucky as it would first seem.
                From your description it sounds anything but unlucky; unless upstairs do something it sounds a dead cert that it will happen again.

                If it were my own flat, I would:
                a) read the riot act to the idiot upstairs
                b) Do something to stop it happening again. Ie, fit something to the upstairs PRV to diver water away from my steam pipe
                As your LL is presumably paying for repairs each time it's going to be in his interest to sort this out. As you've indicated, all that's needed is a push-fit 90-degree bend over the end of the pipe: it's not rocket science.

                Would it be unreasonable to deduct incurred expenses from my rent? I spent over £200 on taxis (~£15 per day) so that could take my wife and daughter could have a shower each day
                That sounds very insurance-claim-like. You actually spent that amount, or that's the amount it could have cost you?

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by LandlordProbs View Post
                  Would it be unreasonable to deduct incurred expenses from my rent? I spent over £200 on taxis (~£15 per day) so that could take my wife and daughter could have a shower each day, and had to take a days leave (spread out over the two weeks) to be present for the engineers.

                  Thanks.
                  I think you're asking for trouble. Its a bit of a pre-conception that people actually think they have a right to with hold rent in lieu of payments. If this is going to be your choice then you have to make sure you notify the landlord of your intentions and don't simply do it, even then it's a very risky practice. Which is why if you have suffered actual loss you need to proceed to take it through the courts. Again I think you'd find yourself recieving very little from a court case.
                  [I]The opinions I give are simply my opinions and interpretations of what I have learnt, in numerous years as a property professional, I would not rely upon them without consulting with a paid advisor and providing them with all the relevant facts[I]

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by LandlordProbs View Post
                    However, when the engineers showed me the parts that they replaced, I actually recognized them. The reason for this is that I found exactly the same damaged parts in a cupboard when we moved into the flat. I still have these, and when I showed them to the engineer he confirmed that they were the same parts, and that they had had to change over the last two weeks, and that it was obvious that this problem had occurred previously. The sister of the person upstairs did say that they had had this problem with the water flooding out of their system before (grrr), but when I initially asked the landlord about it, they said that they had not had any problems like this is in the past, although this now seems to be untrue. The engineer advised that if they had been advised about what had happened previously, they would have ordered exactly the same set of parts that were replaced previously, rather than ordering them one at a time.
                    Have you actually checked with the LL that he had exactly this situation before? All you have here is heresay from the sister of the owner/tenant upstairs. The parts could have been sat in the cupboard from long ago. (Who keeps old dead boiler parts anyway?)

                    The engineer who fixed it this time wasn't the same as the person who left these broken parts. Would he really have been happy to order parts & diagnose a problem based on old parts someone else had left?

                    Comment

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