Broken Boiler Dispute

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    Broken Boiler Dispute

    Hello. I have never written on here before so I apologise if I am wrong about anything, and also this is very long and I apologise for that. Myself and 6 other first year students live in a private house (the uni didn’t have enough on campus accommodation). About a week and a half ago, we noticed that the boiler was playing up; one person would shower, and halfway through their shower the hot water ran out (none of us shower for very long). Then there was no hot water in any other shower or any of the taps in the rest of the house. It would take about 4-6 hours for there to be hot water again but it would then run out just as quickly (meaning more than one person couldn’t shower in one morning or evening which is a pain as it is cold and there are 7 of us). Just a side note; the radiators were working fine. At the time, our landlord was away, so couldn’t help. He came back last weekend and he came round on Monday which is when we asked him to help us with the hot water because it was quite an inconvenience. He then emailed us later that day to say that he would need us all to email him individually about the problem before he could do anything, even though I clearly explained the problem to him. We did so; the engineer came this Friday evening (8/11/19). Then tonight we got an email from the landlord saying that the engineer said that the
    boiler settings had been tampered with, and that the engineer fixed the problem as he said someone had turned the temperature of the boiler down. The landlord also said he would be sending us the bill for the engineer as tampering with any settings other than the thermostat is against our tenancy agreement (which it is). Here is the issue; none of us had tampered with any of the settings other than the thermostat before it started malfunctioning. We didn’t even know they the boiler had a cover which could be taken off. We deliberately did not tamper with anything as we agreed that this could cause an issue. However, as the landlord was away for a while, we asked one of our parents to help; one of our Mums came and looked at the boiler settings, and turned the temperature UP. Now I understand that this is against the tenancy agreement; however, the boiler was only tampered with AFTER it broke, and the temperature was turned UP (we all witnessed this). We all think we shouldn’t have to pay the bill, however my question is; are we obligated
    to pay it? Because we cannot be expected to go effectively without hot water without asking for help.And the temperature was turned up and not down like he said (which did help temporarily but the issue soon returned). And also we did not cause the boiler to malfunction which is what the landlord is saying; and is he also in breach of the tenancy agreement which says he has to fix urgent issues immediately or pay us for the damages? We were not really that bothered that it took him a while because we aren’t horrible people who expect the landlord to never go away, However he is now accusing us of doing something we didn’t do and would have no reason to. Would anyone please advise me on what I can do? I know I cannot prove that we didn’t tamper with the boiler, however likewise he cannot prove that we did. Is there anyone that we could contact? We are 18 and we can’t afford a lawyer but we also don’t want to pay the bill because we did
    nothing to the boiler. Thank you for any help and sorry if I sound angry but I just don’t understand how this is our fault.

    First of all wait and see if the landlord does send the bill, they may not.

    If they do, simply respond (in writing - I'd suggest an actual letter and stamp) that none of you touched the boiler settings, that you didn't know there were any such settings and that you suggest that he gets in touch with the previous tenants who might have done this.

    You can reasonably point out that, had any of you known that it was possible to adjust the temperature of the boiler, you would have checked that first before asking for an engineer to call.

    The most likely thing that will do it kick the issue until the end of the tenancy, when the landlord will probably try and recover it from your deposit.
    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).


      What exactly did the engineer fix? It is hard to see how changing usual settings could cause the boiler to malfunction -- but it could of course cause a lack of hot water. OP does admit that the boiler was altered, so claiming that it was not (albeit perhaps in the opposite direction) would be a lie.

      Something doesn't follow here. Was the hot water sufficient before, then it was not, and then the engineer came and said a setting has been changed (engineers don't usually say that repairs are simple when they are not -- they like to engineer).

      There is also usually a thermostat on the cylinder which can be fiddled.


        Thank you both for replying. I have done as you said and written to the landlord informing him of this. And the engineer just turned the temperature up just as we tried and assumed it was fixed as it worked at the time; however the same problem has now resumed, so the engineer in fact did not fix it as we now again have no hot water (this does however prove that we didn’t make it malfunction so it’s kind of positive )


          Your posting is very clear - was it this clear to your landlord in your email? If it was, you can plainly see that you are saying that there is not enough water for 6 people to shower and furthermore the hot water was not available after you had showered.

          I am not sure why he wants all 6 people to email him- do you not have a lead tenant? In any case I guess he will leave this to the end of your contract and deduct from your deposit, which you can challenge. Disputed deductions are subject to adjudication so you will have a chance to have this thrown aside.


            Somewhere there will be a control box telling the boiler what to do. Is the hot water set to continuous? I presume there is a hot water cylinder? How big is that? If nobody has a shower for say 2 or 3 hours, is the water hot and how long does it run in minutes (at a reasonable shower temperature) before it turns cold (when the tank is emptied it will be cold)? Is there a thermostat on the cylinder - what is that set to?

            How many people are on the tenancy agreement and how many bedrooms are there (for example did the landlord have 4 people on the tenancy and 3 have girlfriends)?

            Sounds as if you have a lousy setup, but sometimes young students used to living at home don't realise that you can't stand in the shower on full blast for 10 minutes, and if resources are scarce, 3 or 4 minutes is sensible (and more than enough).



              You can if the Landlord has fitted a system suitable for 7 tenants, such as a combi-boiler and/or electric showers, that allow for unlimited hot water without having to wait for a stupid tank to heat up.

              The landlord probably just kept the existing system from the 3-4 bed house they bought and chopped up into a 7-bed HMO, without concern for the issues this could cause.

              Frankly, if all 7 tenants cannot have a shower in close proximity (such as in the morning before lectures!) then the heating system is not appropriate and the house shouldn't get HMO licensed.


                Yes but as always it's swings and roundabouts. Despite not having to store heated water -- a short period under an electric shower costs 46 pence, but for gas heated water about 26 pence for the same duration. It is not particularly reasonable for any home (even one that houses 7 people) to support 7 lengthy showers one after the other (that really is a first world problem). And even a combi boiler can only support one outlet at a time -- so 90 minutes of continuous showering would mean that the heating would shut down. There is also the environmental impact of replacing perfectly good boilers for no reason other than indulgence.

                Best keep the state out of the affairs of ordinary people involving ordinary things (such as the right to shower at any point in the day no matter what). Free choice sets most things at their proper balancing point.


                  To counter that, why should my landlord tell me when I can shower?
                  Why wouldn't you assume all tenants in a house have 9-5 commitments and need to shower before that commitment? It seems like a fair assumption to me. If you can't engineer a workable solution, then your house should have fewer tenants.

                  Here's one workflow that would solve the heating-showering situation of a combi-boiler:

                  1. Heating comes on at 5am-6:30am to get the house to temperature.
                  2. Tenants begin using two showers in two different bathrooms simultaneously between 6:30am-8am before heading off to work/lectures, showers use thermostatic mixers to avoid temperature changes when either shower is switched on/off.

                  In the 7-bed HMO I live in, we have 2 showers supplied by the combi boiler and 2 electric showers. It's a 4-shower 7-bed house because our landlord knows we all need to get to lectures in the morning. It's a nice quality of life thing that has definitely been appreciated.


                    Originally posted by oscarandjo View Post
                    To counter that, why should my landlord tell me when I can shower?
                    Why wouldn't you assume all tenants in a house have 9-5 commitments and need to shower before that commitment? It seems like a fair assumption to me. If you can't engineer a workable solution, then your house should have fewer tenants.
                    Putting aside the particular issue in this thread (whether this *particular* house is suitable - which it might not be) - then no, they can't tell you when to shower (or if to shower at all). It is your choice if you choose to use the house in an inappropriate manner you can have a cold shower at the time you want. When you viewed the house you would know what it had and would have made decisions accordingly. Not every aspect of life can be regulated and imposed.

                    Most people who know about these things think we wash our skins far too often for our skin health anyway, but that's a different issue. If occupants feel that they need to shower multiple times per day or even every day, or they have weak bladders, or can't climb stairs, then they choose and pay accordingly. That leaves scope for people with fewer needs to expend their resources on the things they choose to spend them on.


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