Is T liable because gas meter was stolen?

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  • Is T liable because gas meter was stolen?

    On 2 February the day when the whole of London was grid locked due to the snowfall, I had been working from home with the heating on. This was working fine until around 9pm when I noticed that the boiler wouldn't light.

    A little investigation pointed to a burner failure. Resetting the boiler, checking the system pressure etc didn't work. I emailed the LL telling him that the boiler was not working and that if it was not working in the morning then I’d let him know.

    In the morning the boiler was not working and I asked if he could get someone to take a look.

    The LL came round later that morning and took a look at the boiler. He then called out a plumber at a charge of £60.

    The plumber turned up and found that the gas meter that is situated on the outside wall of the property next door had been removed.

    The LL emailed me telling me that the meter had been removed and that I should contact EDF and pay any bills due.

    This was a surprise as I had never received a gas bill and thought that it was pretty unlikely that EDF would remove a meter late in the evening when people were unable to get to work.

    I called up EDF and they confirmed that they had not removed the meter and that there were no problems with the account. The advised me to report the theft to the police and to contact Transco.

    I took the afternoon of work to come back to the flat to wait for the Transco engineer. The engineer turned up and confirmed that the meter had not been removed properly as the end of the supply pipe was uncapped. He said it was unsafe and capped it.

    I told the LL that the meter had been stolen but he was adamant that it must have been EDF.

    I then arranged for a replacement meter to be fitted from EDF and reported the loss to the police. A couple of days later I took another morning off work and a replacement meter was fitted and everything was fixed.

    However the LL charged me £60 for the plumbers call out charge as we asked for someone to fix it and that we didn't check that the gas meter outside (he also didn't check the meter as he wouldn't have called out the plumber).

    Looking at the tenancy agreement he is responsible for the supply of services to the property:

    3.3 To comply with the requirements of section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 which imposes obligations on the landlord to repair the structure and exterior (including drains, gutters and external pipes) of the premises; to keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the premises for supply of water, gas and electricity and for sanitation (including basins, sinks, baths and sanitary conveniences, but not other fixtures, fittings and appliances for making use of water, gas or electricity); to keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the premises...

    Who should be responsible for the plumbers call out charge?

  • #2
    As you say S11 L&T Act requires the landlord to maintain the supply however the meter itself is property of your gas supplier.

    It's an interesting one, by having a meter stolen does that mean the landlord has failed to keep it in proper working order, In practice I don't think it really matters. Just point out your landlords obligations and see what he says... Are you really going to go to court over £60?
    [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]


    • #3
      Forgive me if this seems naive, but shouldn't this be dealt with under insurance? Theft is theft, if the house had gone up in a gas explosion as a result of the theft, the insurers would have been expected to pay, or would they?
      I offer no guarantee that anything I say is correct. wysiwyg


      • #4
        I would agree jta, but that said, would the insurers pay out for someone elses property? ie does insurance cover gas meters. Also as he's only mentioned the £60 I would presume this is all thats payable, in that instance 1) would the insurers even pay out? 2) is it worth paying a 50 quid excess (ish) for a 60 quid bill?
        [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]


        • #5
          s'pose so.......
          I offer no guarantee that anything I say is correct. wysiwyg


          • #6
            Here is the landlords reply.

            "The charge is yours to pay as you requested a plumber to come out which always carries a cost to someone. The landlord would pay it if there is a plumbing problem but in this case you did not need a plumber but had asked for one to come over which immediately costs when someone turns up. The plumber was not needed and if either of you had looked at the meter you would have known this. It is an unfortunate error on your side that needs to be paid for. I can not pay out for your mistakes as. I can not be responsible for your mistakes. If all my tenants were to order washing machine engineers, plumbers, lock smiths etc which were not needed it would cost me a fortune. It is not my responsibility to check what you say is correct. If you order one then it is your responsibility to make sure that they are really needed."


            • #7
              Your Landlord is a Muppet. Of course the first place you would look if you had no gas is your meter to check its still there! ....
              GOVERNMENT HEALTH WARNING: I am a woman and am therefore prone to episodes of PMT... if you don't like what I have to say you can jolly well put it in your pipe and SMOKE IT!!

              Oh and on a serious note... I am NOT a Legal person and therefore anything I post could be complete and utter drivel... but its what I have learned in the University called Life!


              • #8

                It seems pretty clear from what you have said that the landlord has no legal basis to recharge you. You reported that the heating was not working. You were correct. The problem turned out to relate to the installation for the supply of gas (namely it had been disconnected). The landlord might try arguing that the meter is not part of his installation but a) I dont think he would succeed and b) even if he did, the supply pipe (which very definitely is part of his installation) was itself uncapped and very clearly, therefore, in a state of disrepair.

                Furthermore, if the plumber was called out in error, the error lies with the landlord because he attended and made the decision.

                The disrepair was caused by someone; the landlord would probably be entitled to charge that person for the cost, if he can identify who that is.

                Good luck



                • #9
                  The meter and the supply pipe from the street to the meter is and always has been the property of the gas supplier. The meter was obviously stolen and the supply pipe from the street to the meter was left uncapped, Neither the Tenant nor the Landlord spotted this matter. The landlords supply pipe to the boiler was NOT in a state of disrepair, it simply had no gas flowing through it due to the theft of the meter. How no one spotted that the meter was missing and the pipe from the street was uncapped is beyond me, the smell must have been horrendous. The Landlord obviously suggested that a heating engineer be called as unless the LL is a Corgi registered engineer he CANNOT work on the gas installation without breaking the law. I would suggest that the OP meet the LL halfway and offer 30 quid and call it quits.


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