Q: I am a single mum with two young children. We rent a flat through an agent. I always pay my rent on time and keep the place clean and tidy, but when things go wrong I am kept waiting for repairs and I find his manner intimidating.
At the beginning of November, the boiler broke down and I have been without heat and hot water since. It leaked through to the flat below and the tenant there got quite nasty with me. When the agent finally got someone out they said the boiler needed replacing. Now I have been told I have got to pay £250 up front towards a new boiler. I left the flat in tears as I don’t have any money and I am staying with my gran. What should I do?
A: One thing you must not do is refuse to pay the rent, otherwise you will be in breach of your tenancy agreement and the landlord could begin possession proceedings. Unless you have misused the boiler, the landlord has a legal obligation to ensure the property has heating and hot water at all times.
It is the landlord’s responsibility to maintain and repair the heating system, including carrying out an annual service and supplying you with a copy of the safety certificate. The Landlord and Tenant Act (1985) requires that landlords keep in good repair and working order installations that supply water, gas, electricity, and sanitation systems.
As he has failed in his legal obligations regarding heat and hot water, you may have a case to claim against your landlord for damages for disrepair. If he is deliberately withholding heating, then there may be a claim based on human rights issues. You should seek legal advice as soon as possible.
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