Very cold flat - advice from landlords wanted!

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    Very cold flat - advice from landlords wanted!

    Ok so here goes: this is going to be a long post so …
    Tldr: Our flat is extremely (unsafe) cold and too expensive to heat – what can we reasonably ask our LL to do?

    Full version:
    Our flat is a ground floor flat taking up the back half of a ~1850-1900s house, one bedroom plus a kitchen/living room and ensuite. It’s registering very cold temperatures – I’ve got one of those heat strips from my office and the bedroom was 15C (or lower, that’s the coldest the strip measures) in day time when it’s been 10-15C outside and we can often see our breath! It gets colder at night and probably will as winter progresses. My partner has a respiratory infection which just isn’t clearing up and we’ve been getting patches of mould along the skirting boards and lower walls – I don’t know if this is rising damp or due to condensation but I’m assuming the latter because it’s mostly occurring on outside walls.

    A bit more about the property…
    Communal house front door has a hole for a letter box and a gap under it, all the doors in our flat have gaps – we’ve done our best with draft excluders but there are gaps at the top too! Flat is mostly double glazed except for one single pane sloping window above the shower (can’t cover else it will get mould). No idea about insulation but I think as it’s old, all there is is brick and plasterboard. Our kitchen is L shaped, so there’s a maybe 3x3m space unaccounted for which I believe might be the cellar door, boarded over and plastered, so presumably an empty cellar underneath us also sucking out heat. Floor is carpeted in the bedroom and fake wood in the kitchen but both are still really cold.
    LL has provided us with vertical strip blinds which do nothing to keep heat in and conveniently fill the alcove around the window so I can’t put in an extendable curtain rod. External PVC door and window above have no curtain/blinds.

    Heating:
    Our flat is all electric, on a pay per use meter. We’ve got two small wall mounted electric heaters (1 in b/room, one in kitchen) which aren’t fan assisted. They’re also very expensive to run – putting one on med-high cost 50p/hour.

    My plan is to start by bubblewrapping as many window panes as I can, I can probably get an extendable curtain rod to go above the back door and maybe the bedroom window.
    What can I reasonably ask my LL to do, and what are my rights as a tenant? We do have heaters but can’t afford to run them – even if we could, it’s impractical and probably a fire hazard to have them on while we’re asleep but without them the flat is cold to the point of being unsafe.

    I’m hoping if I write to the LL/estate agent and outline this fact, I can ask them to fit draft excluder to the front door and gaping ‘letterbox’ and ask for curtains to be installed. Preferably, we'd have some form of insulation put in! As a landlord, what would you be willing to do?
    Help/advice very much appreciated – this is my first experience renting and so far it’s not going well!

    Edit: just to add, we weren't given the EPC info when viewing or once we'd signed the contract - I have no idea what the rating is.

    #2
    Originally posted by Rh350 View Post
    As a landlord, what would you be willing to do?
    Provide you with a S21 notice once you've been there 4 months.

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by JK0 View Post
      Provide you with a S21 notice once you've been there 4 months.
      Helpful...
      We're only there 6 months so he would effectively be evicting us from a property we were just leaving...

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by Rh350 View Post
        Helpful...
        We're only there 6 months so he would effectively be evicting us from a property we were just leaving...
        Just because your initial (I presume 6 months..) fixed term is ending doesn;t mean you must leave, nor that the tenancy ends. If you remain (as you have every right to) the tenancy continues, rolling on, month-by-month (assuming monthly rent payments) forever...
        I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

        Comment


          #5
          Only three comments at this stage

          a) If you are leaving anyway what is the issue?

          b) Presumably you factored the fact that electric heating costs about twice as much as gas heating into the equation when accepting the tenancy. (Gas costs about 3 times less per heat-unit, but gas boilers are only around 75% efficient versus electric radiators which are close to 100%)

          How much more rent would you be prepared to pay?

          c) Heating cost per hour is not meaningful. It costs a lot more (per hour) to raise a property from 15C to 19C (when the heating thermostat will be continuously ON), than to maintain it at 19C (when you would only be pumping 3kw/hour into the place about 1/3 of the time). You might be talking about 25p/hour, which is, I am afraid what heating a property costs. Our own home (which is perhaps double your size) costs £6 - £10 per day for gas heating in winter. Heating is expensive, and electric heating is somewhat more expensive.

          It is however very reasonable to ask L if he will fit curtain rails (or if he is happy for you to do that) and if he is happy to help with some of the draft exclusion issues at front door.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by AndrewDod View Post
            Only three comments at this stage

            a) If you are leaving anyway what is the issue?

            b) Presumably you factored the fact that electric heating costs about twice as much as gas heating into the equation when accepting the tenancy. (Gas costs about 3 times less per heat-unit, but gas boilers are only around 75% efficient versus electric radiators which are close to 100%)

            How much more rent would you be prepared to pay?

            c) Heating cost per hour is not meaningful. It costs a lot more (per hour) to raise a property from 15C to 19C (when the heating thermostat will be continuously ON), than to maintain it at 19C (when you would only be pumping 3kw/hour into the place about 1/3 of the time). You might be talking about 25p/hour, which is, I am afraid what heating a property costs. Our own home (which is perhaps double your size) costs £6 - £10 per day for gas heating in winter. Heating is expensive, and electric heating is somewhat more expensive.

            It is however very reasonable to ask L if he will fit curtain rails (or if he is happy for you to do that) and if he is happy to help with some of the draft exclusion issues at front door.
            Thanks for the reply

            a.) We will be leaving, because my job in this city is only a 6 month contract. The issue is that the time we are here for is over the winter, and it's already pretty unpleasant to live in in October!

            b.) We did, however we were very limited for choice on properties as all that would do 6 month tenancy, had white goods, were in the right area and price left us with very few options - I relocated to where I live now, so could only really come up for 2 days to look around properties - all but one that I shortlisted were electric only, and the one with central heating was in a dodgy area and the security was very much sub par. We had no idea until I arrived to move in that the property was PAYG meter - I wasn't shown the meter cupboard and had no idea that privately rented properties even used them!

            c.) That is true - I hadn't considered that once the room is 'warm' we just have to maintain the temp.


            Our main issue with the LL is that he lives in Thailand - so any correspondance has to go through the estate agents, unless we want to wait for the letter to get across the world!

            Comment


              #7
              As its clearly a short term let I would come up with 'self serve' solutions rather than trying to get the landlord to do anything.
              Make sure anything you do is reversible and doesnt damage the structure of the property, as I am sure you want your deposit back!

              Get some thin clear perspex (rigid), wrap it in bubblewrap and 'plug' the window openings with it. Done right it should just be an interference fit. This makes quite a difference and still lets (most) light in. Heavy well fitted curtains/thermal blinds are also a huge help. Same as when dressing yourself for cold weather, think layers.

              See if you can figure out where any drafts/cold spots are, and either fit a bit of sticky backed draft excluder or some other simple/low cost solution to plug the hole.

              As above, heat the main living room all the time, and heat the bedroom(s) before bedtime to take the edge off.. Lots of blankets on the beds etc so you dont need those heaters on all the time.

              Good luck!

              Comment


                #8
                You can buy and fit letter box covers for about a tenner.
                That'll help with drafts.

                I'd buy some additional heaters, you're not there for long and there's not much incentive for the landlord to do anything.
                If the property is too cold to be inhaboted, the council well stop you living there, which is even more inconvenient.
                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


                  #9
                  before you keep your heating on all the time read this https://www.uswitch.com/energy-savin...-all-the-time/ and consider that you are living in an old and probably poorly insulated place that will lose half of the heat you pump into it.

                  As a first step invest in extra bedding for the bed and some time switches that will turn a fire on before you get up. An electric radiator is not noisy but they do take a while to warm a room.

                  Consider removing the vertical blinds. We have some of these and the slats are fairly easy to remove. Curtains thick enough to keep in heat are likely to be too heavy for an extendable rod but you can fix persex/bubble wrap/film more readily.

                  It's possible to fit draft excluders all around a door - however you'd need the landlords permission or risk losing some of your deposit. Something like this will block the bottom and with no deposit risk. http://www.lakeland.co.uk/25344/Dott...161014154420:s

                  (Edit to add - you will need to store slats if removed and replace when you leave)

                  Comment


                    #10
                    The temperatures you have stated are not 'unsafe'. If they were then no one would leave their buildings during winter.

                    I very much doubt you'll get anything out of the LL before you leave at expiry of the contract. So unless you're going to take on some morale crussade then I suggest you undertake some practical measures to serve yourself.

                    Firstly. Nowt wrong with wearing a jumper indoors.

                    Secondly. A second duvet or blanket.

                    Thirdly. Dressing gowns. a onesie and slippers.

                    When it comes to the building you need to be careful with blocking up drafts and lining things. All buildings need air changes. Without them the atmosphere becomes stale and it is wonderful breeding conditions for moulds etc..... Now if you're leaving in a few months it is unlikely that you are going to cause anything more than supperficial damage if you tape over the window openings (no point just doing the glass) with bublewrap. I would wipe up and condensation as you see it and clean down with a bleach mix.

                    If having a very warm, efficient home is a priority for you then you need to be looking at properties 20-years old or newer. The newer the better.
                    There is always scope for misinterpretation.

                    If my posts can be interpreted in two ways, one that makes you feel angry and one that doesn't, I meant the latter.

                    Everyday is an opportunity to learn something new.

                    Comment

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