CO poisoning, withholding rent, need advice urgently!

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    CO poisoning, withholding rent, need advice urgently!

    Hi my partner and I are foster carers and have rented a 4 bed detached property so we can take 2 foster children as well as our own 18 month old son. We moved in to the property on 1st July 2009, but it took the letting agent over a week to supply a gas safety certificate for the property. After only a few weeks we had a carbon monoxide alarm go off in the room where the central heating boiler is situated. We turned off the appliance and aired the house. We then called the letting agent who got the gas engineer back who did the safety certificates for the LL. He tested, cleaned and serviced the boiler.... strangely he claimed to have done the same thing only 2 weeks previously. At this point we were only using hot water and no heating. The engineer gave us a new Co alarm just in case it was just a faulty alarm. The boiler was 23 years old and an open flu type with the flu exiting through a ridge tile on the roof. Then in November myself and my fiancee stared getting headaches, sickness and I got chest pains. On 19th November both Co alarms went off at 7am and my son was found by me to be all floppy and lethargic and I had an enormous headache. I got my son and fiancee out of the house, opened all doors and windows and turned the gas off. I called the Letting agent who took 24 hrs to get the engineer out again. This time a rep from the Letting agency came too, the boiler was not tested but the guy did a smoke test on the flu. While he went out to his van his own Co tester went mad bleeping whilst myself and the letting agent were in the room. He returned and just said, "oh it's spilled again!" and went to leave. The letting agent and engineer told me to keep the door to the utility room closed to stop the Carbon Monoxide getting into the rest of the house and that was all they would do. I called HSE in due to the fostering and other peoples children being in my care. The engineer then decided to get the boiler RIDDOR by the National Grid. So the LL's own gas engineer had the boiler cut off and not us. For 8 weeks we had no central heating or water, throughout this snow and freezing weather. I nearly died a week before christmas when I got a chest infection and had the worst asthma attack I have ever had. Finally the boiler and Flu were replaced by the LL after 7 weeks of only being able to use 3 rooms at any one time due to only having 3 small fan heaters. Most of the house was so cold it was nearly the same temperature as outside.
    The LL, the letting agent and the LL's father came round yesterday, for what we thought was to see the new boiler and check we are okay. How wrong we were, it was to demand we pay the months rent we withheld due to the lack of heating and most of the property being uninhabitable for 8 weeks. The day the heating came on I paid this months rent, but was asking the LL to pay for the extra electricity used by the immersion heater and fan heaters they supplied. We weren't asking for compensation or anything unreasonable, just for them to pay the extra electricity cost.....
    We were ambushed with all three of them insisting we have no legal right to hold onto this money, saying that it is our fault for calling the HSE in, that we insisted the boiler was replaced when we only asked for it to be made safe, the father swore at us and it was all put onto us that they have to pay £3000 for a boiler and they need the rent money to pay for it, basically this is all our fault!
    I am now too ill due to this all to do too much and don't know where to turn for help. My fiancee was in tears and just wants to move now....
    I am so angry that we are being blamed for their taking 7 weeks to do anything, told we are unreasonable withholding rent for a freezing cold house that has made us ill and had at least 2 carbon monoxide spills that could have killed us....
    Oh and the original Gas Safety Certificates are missing some apparently legal details, they are Corgi and Not Gas safe, they don't have the LL's name and address on them and they don't say where the boiler is situated. I believe these were filled out after we moved in and on an old corgi pad as the engineer couldn't backdate certificates in his gas safe pad as they would be out of date order....?
    Can't prove it..... But nobody wants to say if these meet the legal requirements, not the HSE or Gas Safe......

    Can anyone help please as I don't know whether to pay the outstanding months rent and then try to get the electricity money back later, or keep hold of it and let them try and get it back???

    We didn't even hear from any of them to see how we were, nothing..... My 18 month old son and I were in A&E due to CO poisoning and they don't even care.... the way they spoke to us yesterday was nasty and completely money motivated......

    #2
    Your post is slightly confusing but I gather that the boiler was very unsafe or not working for eight weeks, but is now safe and working?

    And you are currently withholding one month's rent?

    Although LL is clearly at fault, it doesn't automatically entitle you to withhold rent. You may, however, have a case for claiming compensation for endangering your lives. It also sounds as if the LL's father's behaviour was extremely inappropriate.

    I think it would be best to pay the rent, then explore your options.

    I'm not sure where the best place is to start, but you can try: 1) the private tenancies officer and/or environmental health officer at the local council, 2) a law centre, 3) Citizen's Advice Bureau, 4) Shelter, 5) it's possible a solicitor may take on your case on a no-win-no-fee basis.

    http://www.lawcentres.org.uk/

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by veilside01702 View Post
      The LL, the letting agent and the LL's father came round yesterday, for what we thought was to see the new boiler and check we are okay. How wrong we were, it was to demand we pay the months rent we withheld due to the lack of heating and most of the property being uninhabitable for 8 weeks. The day the heating came on I paid this months rent, but was asking the LL to pay for the extra electricity used by the immersion heater and fan heaters they supplied. We weren't asking for compensation or anything unreasonable, just for them to pay the extra electricity cost.....

      .....the father swore at us and it was all put onto us that they have to pay £3000 for a boiler and they need the rent money to pay for it, basically this is all our fault!

      Can anyone help please as I don't know whether to pay the outstanding months rent and then try to get the electricity money back later, or keep hold of it and let them try and get it back???

      We didn't even hear from any of them to see how we were, nothing..... My 18 month old son and I were in A&E due to CO poisoning and they don't even care.... the way they spoke to us yesterday was nasty and completely money motivated......
      Sorry to hear about the problems with CO and being ill. Thankfully you are ok now.

      Westminster has given you good advice.

      Its the LLs duty to maintain the GCH system, and unfortunately, there were problems, but these have been resolved. Likewise, it is also your duty to pay rent, so I agree that you should pay the rent.

      Have you actually costed the extra electricity and given them a bill for it?

      Your comment about them being money motivated ... is valid. Private landlords are in it to make money not lose money!! Where is the LL to get money from to do repairs if there's no rent coming from the property? £3K is not a small amount to shell out without warning!

      I think what is not widely known is that there are a lot of LLs out there that are struggling to keep it all together, and probably on the financial edge. The number of rent defaulters (working and HB) is on the rise, so for some LLs rental income is but a trickle. Therefore, big repairs such as boiler replacements can't be done just like that. When you add pressures from council or HSE, the result is unfortunately the verbal that you've experienced. Don't get me wrong, I am not defending the LL and I don't know if this particular LL is struggling or not. At least they provided electric heaters for you to use during the time the boiler was out of action.

      Pay the rent, so you get some peace for now, and you are seen to be doing the right thing. Then try and go through the avenues already pointed out to you, to get some compensation. At the very least give them the bill so there's something to work with.

      And if you are really unhappy there, look for somewhere else to go.

      Comment


        #4
        I am afraid I would not pay the rent yet (speaking as a LL). This was a serious situation and he is unlikely to pay anything towards the electricity without a fight. However you must act fairly and quickly. Write to him explaining your case. Ask him for his suggestion as to a reasonable amount he would wish to give you. Struggling or not (who isn't) LL has no right to endanger life. HavensRus - at least they provided electric heaters? 3 small fan heaters? For 8 weeks? You and I have a very different view of helpful LLs I think.
        Unshackled by the chains of idle vanity, A modest manatee, that's me

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by islandgirl View Post
          HavensRus - at least they provided electric heaters? 3 small fan heaters? For 8 weeks? You and I have a very different view of helpful LLs I think.
          each one to their own.

          Comment


            #6
            They did all they could; they had a gas safety certificate, the boiler was properly serviced, they provided CO alarms which worked, you didn't die from CO. And you now have a working CH boiler. I really don't see what your problem is. You have no right to retain any rent.



            Having said all that:

            I think you were incredibly good to your L waiting 8 weeks. A complete pushover, in fact. However, you did. And you owe them the rent. It's too late to complain about it now. Simple as that.

            Possibly you have a case for the extra cost of the electricity, but I don't think you can prove that. And in any case you saved a fortune on gas. So I doubt you're out of pocket. You can only sue them for actual loss, and your actual loss is probably nil anyway.

            Comment


              #7
              Well the boiler was replaced as it was 23 years old and an open flu type system. The LL's own engineer agreed with us and told us his readings were 5 times the limit within the flu....
              The boiler even spilled Carbon monoxide whilst the engineer and letting agent were present testing it, the day after we were poisoned. The LL's engineer and the letting agent reconnected the boiler and told us to keep the door to the utility room closed so when it spilled again it didn't just fill the rest of the house with carbon monoxide. Basically leaving a dangerous boiler connected and refusing to do anything!
              The HSE inspector refused to reconnect the boiler as he told us it would spill again and he would not be responsible for killing someone.
              I don't agree we have no right to withhold the rent, but we are repaying it to be reasonable to a LL that has no regard for the lives of their tenants.
              In 7 weeks we didn't even have a call to see if we are alright from either the LL or the LA......
              The LA refused to talk to us and refused to give us the LL contact details or ask them to contact us......
              The LA and LL's gas engineer put my family at risk by reconnecting the appliance, knowing it was spilling carbon monoxide into the property.

              We have lost over £7200 in money from fostering alone.......

              The LL and LA are responsible as the gas safety certificates that are dated June 2009 and are CORGI not gas safe, don't have the LL's details on them.

              The LL even admitted to the HSE that she had suffered from headaches before she moved out, when we moved into the property.....
              When we moved in we found her CO alarm didn't work as it had no batteries in it.......

              I know I am emotionally involved and upset, but even the most jaded LL on here must admit they would be if their child were put at risk and then the LL tells you that you are unreasonable.....

              We didn't want any claiming compensation, american style suing everyone....
              All we wanted was them to ask if we were okay and talk to us...
              All they actually did was verbally attack us and tell me that our lives are worth less than a months rent..... Is that what a tenants life is worth?

              Comment


                #8
                From what you have told us, it would appear that your LL has behaved very badly. However strapped he is financially, it is not your fault and he should not treat you like that. LLs like him give the rest of us a bad name and I'm sorry you have been subjected to this.
                '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


                  #9
                  know I am emotionally involved and upset, but even the most jaded LL on here must admit they would be if their child were put at risk and then the LL tells you that you are unreasonable.....
                  I agree totally. I am afraid I would be giving notice now and acting tough on the compensation (but putting the rent aside in case I had to pay it in the end). As is said above, each to their own and we all differ in our views. However I would be furious if my life and the lives of my family had been put at risk. Even then, if I had a proper response from the LL I would be willing to accept that these things sometimes occur. However given their response I would not be willing to compromise. But that's just me. I agree with MTG that it is awful that you have had to be put through this and I wish you a better LL next time - I assume you are looking for an alternative property.
                  Unshackled by the chains of idle vanity, A modest manatee, that's me

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by Telometer View Post
                    Possibly you have a case for the extra cost of the electricity, but I don't think you can prove that. And in any case you saved a fortune on gas. So I doubt you're out of pocket. You can only sue them for actual loss, and your actual loss is probably nil anyway.
                    Dreadful story, and I'd dearly love to see an LL like that get his come-uppance. Agree you can't sue for what might have happened, even if you nearly died (which sounds not implausible). But I'd certainly have thought that there would be a case for being compensated for the illness and sickness you've all suffered as a direct result of CO poisoning. You should be able to get a report from A&E to back that up.

                    If I'd been put in this position I'd be going for the jugular...

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by Ericthelobster View Post

                      If I'd been put in this position I'd be going for the jugular...
                      Me too. With a big meat cleaver. And I'm a vegetarian!
                      '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


                        #12
                        I think that those who are expressing sympathy with the landlord here are losing sight of something important. We are not talking about something like a leaking roof, draughty windows or mould on the walls - all of which are unacceptable - or even just the fact that the OP had to make do for far too long without central heating in very cold weather - also unacceptable - but the fact that the OP and his family ran the very real risk of dying of carbon monoxide poisoning. Instead of complaining of the cost of installing a new boiler and behaving unacceptably towards the OP, the landlord should be thankful that he is not facing a manslaughter charge.

                        Even if, as I think is being suggested, there was no dodgy dealing concerning whether the boiler was properly checked and/or the gas safety certificate correctly issued and the landlord reasonably believed the boiler was safe, he ought not to have been in the position where, the danger having been identified and the boiler condemned, he was unable immediately to replace it. Too many landlords attracted to btl have acquired sub-standard property and operate without sufficient funds to carry out essential repairs.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          landlord's boiler out of action for eight weeks

                          go to a CAB. They may well take on the case for damages against the L/L at no cost to yourselves. The judge isnt going to be sympathetic to the L/L. More enlightened landlords have their gas equipment covered under British Gas Service Contracts, or the like, and they do not accept open flued appliances into their scheme. Depending on how energetic you may feel, it may be worth contacting Gas Safe (previously known as Corgi) as I find it quite hard to believe that a Gas Safety Certificate could lawfully have been issued for the old boiler. You may find, for instance, that the tester was not properly qualified. Fat on the flames if you do decide to litigate for special/exemplary damages!

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by veilside01702 View Post
                            The LL and LA are responsible as the gas safety certificates that are dated June 2009 and are CORGI not gas safe, don't have the LL's details on them.
                            There are obviously a number of issues here, however I should point out that landlords gas safety records can still be issued if they have the CORGI logo on them as long as the registration number matches the Gas Safe registration number and the installer is permitted to carry out works on that appliance.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Hi Red40, I checked the registration number and the Corgi one isn't the same as the gas safe one.... the engineer is gas safe registered and permitted to work on the appliance according to gas safe....
                              But nobody seems to want to tell me for sure if the certificates we were issued are correct / legal.... it appears the regulators Gas Safe are unwilling to say one way or the other...

                              Comment

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