/ A few quick questions for landlords/tennants

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Dan_S - on 19 Mar 2013
I've just experienced 7 days without hot water and heating due to the failure of the boiler in my rental property (which I went through a local letting agency for)

I'm slightly miffed, and only just thawing out, but I do have a couple of quick questions for landlords and possibly other tenants:

1, 2 and 3) The repair took so long as there was a problem getting the parts required, and eventually a bodge was done to get the system up and running again. British Gas claim that the boiler failure was because the system was full of crud which has eaten away the insides of the 13 year old boiler, and suggested either a clean out of the central heating system at 700, or a new boiler at 2000 (the non-commission paid engineers preferred option due to scarcity of parts of existing boiler, and the fact it's been chewed up inside by the sludge running round the system). Do these prices seem reasonable, and due to the age of the boiler, is the engineers advise reasonable? If they are, how best to convince the letting agency/landlord do pay for the works? They currently seem happy to leave things as they are now. Which leads on to....

4) I've been in my place for 2 years now, and I don't want to move as I like the area etc. It was, externally, on the verge of being a bit shabby when I moved in, but no preventative maintenance has been done on the building, and now it's passed shabby and heading towards looking decaying. It seems normal for most landlords/letting agencies (experience: moving pretty much annually between lettings since 1998) I've used to not bother doing any preventative maintenance, and just sort things out when they fail. This seems false economy to me, so why do they do this? E.g. Despite telling the letting agency several times that the upstairs window frames needed repainting, nothing was done, to the point were the wood has rotted and is coming away in large chunks. It now looks like a new window is required.
mike123 - on 19 Mar 2013
In reply to Dan_S:
1,2,3 . 700 to clean out the system seems steep. 2000 for new boiler is about right depending on the make and model of the boiler, lots of installers are now using biasi boilers from easten europe, cheap and cheerfull and not 2000 installed, that should get you a small worcester combi . 13 years with no maintenance, yours could well be shagged.
4. try talking to the landlord directly, tell the agent that you want to and why. judge for your self what you think of them. lots of houses in big cities are owned by big companies , who can be ok but are often awful. as has often been said on here be polite and reasonable and then decide if you think that they are. if they are get them roundand chat through what you would like doing. if they are not or wont talk to you - move.
also -you should nt pay rent for the 7 days without heating and hot water. again write to the agency telling them you are deducting 7 days rent and then guage thier response, get the rpesonse in writing and also confirmation from them and the heating engineers that this happened. if they try to take it from your deposit you should have a good case with the dps. if you dont know what the dps is , they ve broken the law. result.
John Rushby - on 19 Mar 2013
In reply to Dan_S:

I was going to say the boiuler is the responsibility of the landlord - you should not pay for the works.

Unless your lease says differantly and be aware that a landlord can put anything they like in, but if statute says otherwise, statute wins everytime.

This is a good place to start for info.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/8624932.stm
EeeByGum - on 19 Mar 2013
In reply to Dan_S: We had a new boiler, three new radiators + removal of the old header and hot water tank + associated plumbing all done for 2200. 2k for a new boiler seems a bit steep but then you did get the quote from British Gas who are notoriously the most expensive provider of this sort of work.
Cthulhu on 19 Mar 2013
In reply to Dan_S:

1) 700 is massively over the top for a powerflush, although it's cheap for BG - they normally price at 900+. I charge around 500 for a "normal" sized house.

2) Powerflushing such an old system is fraught with risk - old pipes and fittings will be corroded, the walls will have thinned and sealing compounds decayed. Powerflushing chemicals are aggressively acidic and can cause lots of micro-leaks by eating away the weaker sections of pipe.

3) 2K to supply and fit is reasonable for a Vaillant or Worcester-Bosch, for a simple installation. Your system may need adaptations or conversion. At BG prices, I doubt that they are offering you a Vaillant or W-B boiler, as their labour/profit margins are much higher than independents, so for 2000 they are probably offering a lesser boiler.

Hope that helps!
SARS on 19 Mar 2013
In reply to John Rushby:

Really, the landlord can put anything into the contract? Possibly but I doubt it would hold up in court if it came to it.

Landlords are responsible for ensuring a habitable building, and I imagine hot water falls under this.

My landlord should have put new carpets into my place when I moved in, but, they haven't. Pretty sure I have a legal case against them, , just can't be arsed to do anything until my lease is up for renewal - shortly. Personally, as a landlord myself, I can't understand these type of people - surely life is easier if you just do what you said you would!
Blue Straggler - on 19 Mar 2013
In reply to SARS:
> (In reply to John Rushby)
>
> Really, the landlord can put anything into the contract? Possibly but I doubt it would hold up in court if it came to it.

I think that was John's point
SARS on 19 Mar 2013
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Aah, I see. I misread his post. Apologies John!
Dan_S - on 19 Mar 2013
In reply to Everyone:

Thanks for all the advice.

I am confident that the boiler is the responsibility of the landlord, and I don't intend to pay for anything to be done. It has to be one of the few "perks" of renting that it's not my responsibility.

However my concern is that following this breakdown, there's been no suggestion that he's going to do anything about the problems that the gas engineer found (certainly there's been nothing done to the system in 13 years except for a CO check annually), and that in the long term, a potentially more serious fault could occur, leaving me without heat or hot water for longer periods of time, and all this for want of a bit of preventative maintenance or replacement now.

I guess the problem is that he'll be aware of the market where I live, and knows that rental properties are relatively scarce, and don't hang around when they appear, so if I leave because I'm not happy with the state of things, he'll be able to find a new tenant very quickly


tlm - on 19 Mar 2013
In reply to Dan_S:

How long ARE boilers supposed to last? I've had the same one for nearly 20 years??? I thought they were supposed to last a decent amount of time?
Dan_S - on 19 Mar 2013
In reply to tlm:

The BG bloke reckoned (and a quick google search of various forums confirms) that a cheap condensing boiler (of which mine is one) should around 10 years if serviced regularly. So at 13 years with naff all maintenance, I'd say that this one is coming to the end of its life.
Moondancer - on 19 Mar 2013
In reply to tlm:

In my previous job I'd speak almost daily with people whose boilers had broken down. In some unlucky cases a boiler might break down after 8-10 years. However, have also spoken to people who had theirs for 30+ years.
Fraser on 19 Mar 2013
In reply to Dan_S:

I'd imagine the landlord is obliged to provide a working boiler under the terms of your contract. Even if they aren't, they are legally obliged to have it checked & passed annually from a safety perspective. The problem is, you seem to have a broken boiler that is [presumably / possibly] safe.

2k for a new one installed sounds about right. 700 for a clean-out sound a bit steep as others have said.

My tuppence: don't pay too much heed to what a BG engineer says (they're not known for their lean pricing policies) but get independent advice. 13 years from an old-style boiler is nothing special; for a combi, it's doing well. Very well, if it's never been serviced!
Phill Mitch - on 19 Mar 2013
In reply to Dan_S: Looking at this from the landlords perspective, it must be clear that this is a simple money matter. 2000 spent on a new boiler that can be bodged up to last another year or 10 is a waste of money. If it lasts a year that means the new one will last a year longer and so on. The window thing is the same why spend time and money on wooden windows while he has a rent paying tenant. When the window falls out or he can't get a new tenant he will put in UPVC for a fraction of your months rent.
Why would he care about you leaving if he can easily get more tenants?
Boilers do break, it's a cold country and nobody likes being cold but shit happens.
Sorry for sounding like I have no sympathy, I do have some but I am trying to put you in the landlords position. It is all about money.
marsbar - on 19 Mar 2013
In reply to Phill Mitch: That's why the tenant should refuse to pay full rent for the time that he had no hot water or heating.

Phill Mitch - on 19 Mar 2013
In reply to marsbar: I think you are right. But that still won't put the landlords nose out.
Dax H - on 19 Mar 2013
In reply to marsbar:
> (In reply to Phill Mitch) That's why the tenant should refuse to pay full rent for the time that he had no hot water or heating.

Is 7 days an unreasonable amount of time for the repair though?. If this is the first and only time it has broken then I would think its okay but if it has been repeatedly breaking then the tennent should have recourse for withholding rent.
Phill Mitch - on 19 Mar 2013
In reply to Dax H:It's not unreasonable that it might take that long to repair but no harm in asking for a rent rebate.
pec on 19 Mar 2013
In reply to mike123:

> also -you should nt pay rent for the 7 days without heating and hot water. >

I can't see you getting away with not paying any rent for those 7 days. You had still had a roof over your head, electricity, a toilet, fridge, freezer etc. A deduction perhaps but if the landlord arranged for the engineer to visit promptly then the delays weren't his fault.

On the broader point, being a landlord isn't always a passport to riches, by the time they've paid the mortgage, insurances, agents fees and refurbishment costs between tenants many are only breaking even.

A friend of mine who is letting his house whilst working in Australia for a while had to spend 4.5K on refurbishment after his last tenants trashed the place before they moved out. That's nearly a years rent without even thinking about the other costs.
He's pursuing them through the small claims court but they'll plead poverty, agree to pay 5 a month and stop paying after the first few months so he'll have to go through the whole process again.
You can see why he won't be spending any more than he has to when the next tenants are in.

Dan_S - on 20 Mar 2013
In reply to Phill Mitch:
> (In reply to Dan_S) Looking at this from the landlords perspective, it must be clear that this is a simple money matter. 2000 spent on a new boiler that can be bodged up to last another year or 10 is a waste of money. If it lasts a year that means the new one will last a year longer and so on. The window thing is the same why spend time and money on wooden windows while he has a rent paying tenant. When the window falls out or he can't get a new tenant he will put in UPVC for a fraction of your months rent.
> Why would he care about you leaving if he can easily get more tenants?
> Boilers do break, it's a cold country and nobody likes being cold but shit happens.
> Sorry for sounding like I have no sympathy, I do have some but I am trying to put you in the landlords position. It is all about money.

I do appreciate that it is almost certainly purely money matter. Although I still stay that it is short sighted, if a 200 paint job tarts up the windows for another 3-4 years, or a newly installed boiler prevents a flood which requires re-flooring and re-plastering, the outlay is worth it.

I think what bothers me is that, as I see it, if you're letting out your property, you should maintain the property in the same way you would your own home, as in effect, you're providing a service of providing a home for someone else.

It could be argued that if you want your tenants to keep the the property in a good state, then they need to have pride in where they are living, and if the exterior of the property would fail to make it into a post-apocalyptic movie due to looking to dilapidated, and the central heating system looks like a Heath Robinson special then how can you expect your tenants to take pride, and look after it?

I think this is beginning to move into an area more suited to another thread though.

As for withholding rent, as I don't entirely blame the landlord for the failure of the boiler, and the delay was caused by BG rather than him, I don't think that course of action is entirely appropriate.
Steve John B - on 20 Mar 2013
In reply to Dan_S:
>
> I think what bothers me is that, as I see it, if you're letting out your property, you should maintain the property in the same way you would your own home, as in effect, you're providing a service of providing a home for someone else.

...

> As for withholding rent, as I don't entirely blame the landlord for the failure of the boiler

Even though he hasn't had it properly serviced for 13 years?!

Anyhow, hope it gets sorted. It's cold out!
Neil Williams - on 20 Mar 2013
In reply to Dan_S:

"you should maintain the property in the same way you would your own home"

But even that isn't consistent between people.

As an example, my front door and frame is rotten and visibly so (though still secure enough). I can't be bothered to paint it and tidy it up because I'm going to have it replaced with a composite one as soon as I have a grand or so spare and know my work pattern far enough in advance (it's a bit in the air at the moment) to be able to book a date to have it done.

I have however painted the adjacent window and fascia board because those are staying and aren't rotten.

The landlord may well think the same way.

Neil
John Rushby - on 20 Mar 2013
In reply to Phill Mitch:
> (In reply to Dan_S) Looking at this from the landlords perspective, it must be clear that this is a simple money matter. 2000 spent on a new boiler that can be bodged up to slowly fill the house with carbon monoxide, thus killing the tenants.

Fixed that for you

It is quite simple - the property is let with a fully functioning boiler and heating. It is the landlord's responsibility (morally and under the law) to ensure that it continues to function. If it breaks down then the agents (and vicariously the landlord) must make a reasonable effort to remedy the situation..

A professional landlord (and a good agent should advise such) will have a service contract in place with BG or Homeserve or whomever.
Neil Williams - on 20 Mar 2013
In reply to John Rushby:

So long as they resolve the matter in a timely fashion, why is it any concern to you as the tenant whether a landlord self-insures for boiler repair (or any other household repair) or takes out a contract with a supplier?

Neil
John Rushby - on 20 Mar 2013
In reply to Neil Williams:

It's not, but my point is that to avoid a protracted situation, whereby the tenant has no heat or hot water and to minimse repair costs, a decent landlord will have a service contract in place.

THe fact remains that the tenant is left with no heating and it seems, form the OP's post, that the agent and landlord are doing f*ck all about it.
sleavesley on 20 Mar 2013
I don't have a contract but then my best mate is a qualified gas safe engineer/plumber.
I think it depends on the tenant as well as to what is timely. I had a tenant whom was obstructive to getting into the property to fix the boiler when they had complained it had broken. As soon as it had broken I took electric heaters so they still had heat.
A conversation and informing them that plumber and myself would come and look at boiler and get it fixed. Ok they said, went around - no one there so let ourselves in to fix boiler, tenant comes back and denies any of the above took place, even though I had recorded evidence as text and email.
Tenants ended up leaving the place a s--t hole, with me having to face 2000 worth of damage caused by a dog that they weren't allowed there in the first place.
They thought replacing bulbs should be my responsibility too!
Refused to pay rent, so obviously that came out of the deposit (all of it) when they moved out with threatened legal action.
The thing is the legal action would of cost between 600-1000 which would mean being even more out of pocket.
I know people harp on about tenants rights, but its not all plain sailing for landlords either.
Current tenant is lovely, with no issues, therefore when there is something that would improve the house and needs doing, I'm more than happy to do it.
John Rushby - on 20 Mar 2013
In reply to sleavesley:

Agree - it 's about communication. Most landlord's (and agents) want to get theproblem fixed, and sensible tenant will give them time to do so.

I recall letting my house when I moved to the Smoke the tenant wasd Surveyor such as myself. I thus ted her to look after the property - it was immaculate when she took it on and fully equipped - right down to lawnmowers and new vac. In fact the house was only 2 years old.

she left it in shit order. Absolutely filthy.

Apparently the reason it as never vacuumed and the new wool carpets were inches deep in her hair and other detritus was "I did not supply her with vacuum bags"

I told her I did not supply toilet roll either and hoped she had managed to wipe her arse all by herself.

She was then invited to whistle or her deposit.
Fraser on 20 Mar 2013
In reply to Steve John B:

> Even though he hasn't had it properly serviced for 13 years?!

I'd just point out that this is only someone speculating. The OP stated he has only been in the property for 2 years.

Phill Mitch - on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to John Rushby:
> (In reply to Phill Mitch)
> [...]
>
> Fixed that for you
>

>
> A professional landlord will have a service contract in place with BG or Homeserve or whomever.

I think you will find the law states and the OP has not said otherwise that gas apliances must be checked and certified anualy by a gas service engineer.
That is a totaly different thing to bodging the slury filled radiators.
I think you will also find it cheaper to repair when needed or replace the boiler, than any service contract.

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