The Tenant Handbook for Boiler MaintenanceA simple guide to your rights as a tenant to have adequate central heating. Speak to an expert
Published: 23 Jul 2023
Understanding Your Rights, Responsibilities and Best Practices
As a tenant, experiencing boiler issues can be stressful, especially during the colder months. Knowing your rights and responsibilities is essential to help you resolve any potential difficulties in getting your boiler fixed quickly.
In this guide, we, at Trades Team, aim to empower you with essential knowledge regarding boiler repairs. Drawing from our 15 years of experience, we’ll walk you through understanding repair timelines, dealing with unresponsive landlords, navigating rent payments during needed repairs, and more.
Here’s a quick overview of the topics we’ll cover. You can click on any of them to jump to that section.
Understanding Your Rights Regarding Heating and Hot Water as a Tenant
Access to functional heating and hot water systems is a fundamental right of tenants, as these are essential for maintaining a safe and habitable living environment. Landlords have a legal obligation to ensure these facilities are in good working condition, as stated in Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.
While the legislation does not explicitly prescribe a deadline for repairing these amenities, conventionally, ‘reasonable time’ is interpreted as within 24 hours—especially in colder seasons where the absence of heat can severely impact comfort and health. This time frame can, however, be dependent on the specifics of the situation, the severity of the problem, and the availability of repair services.
If the issues cannot be fixed within the considered ‘reasonable time’, landlords are typically expected to offer alternative means to keep the property warm until the problem is resolved.
Finally, remember that open communication is key. Discuss your concerns directly with your landlord or property management company, so they can address and resolve any issues in a timely manner.
What to Do if Your Landlord Doesn’t Fix the Boiler
In our vast experience at Trades Team, we have seen that in the majority of cases, landlords are quick to resolve boiler issues. However, if you find yourself struggling to get your landlord to repair your boiler, there are steps you can take.
Document the issue
Make sure to record all details relating to the malfunctioning boiler. If possible, take pictures or videos to provide visual evidence of the issue. Note down the dates when you first noticed the problem and any subsequent developments. It’s also essential to keep a record of all communications with your landlord about the issue.
Reach Out to Your Landlord Again
Try reaching out to your landlord again, emphasizing the seriousness of the problem. This contact should ideally be in writing (e.g., email or letter) to provide a paper trail that could be useful in case of future disputes or if you need to take further action.
Contact Your Local Authority
If your landlord still does not address the issue, you can escalate the situation by reporting them to your local council’s environmental health department. They have the power to intervene if they determine that your health and safety are at risk due to the absence of heating or hot water.
Consider Legal Action
As a last resort, you might need to consider taking legal action. A court can mandate your landlord to carry out the necessary repairs. However, legal proceedings should not be taken lightly. Ensure you seek advice from legal professionals first. Some solicitors provide a free initial consultation, and you may qualify for legal aid depending on your circumstances.
Remember, the regulations governing tenant rights in the UK dictate that landlords have a responsibility to maintain the property, which includes ensuring utilities such as heating and hot water are functional. However, the precise actions you may take can depend on the specifics of your situation and tenancy agreement. If you need more detailed advice or guidance in dealing with unresponsive landlords, these UK-focused resources can be incredibly helpful:
Always aim to keep open lines of communication with your landlord, but don’t hesitate to seek advice or take action if they remain unresponsive to significant issues such as heating or hot water supply.
Navigating Rent Payments During Needed Repairs
The balance between necessary property repairs and regular rent payments can be a challenging issue for tenants. Below we’ve outlined key considerations and strategies for tenants dealing with unresponsive landlords or long repair times, ensuring you’re informed of your rights and potential actions.
Can I Withhold Rent Payments if the Boiler is Broken?
As a tenant, withholding rent until necessary repairs are completed might seem a logical course of action. However, caution is advised in this respect. Unfortunately, even if crucial facilities like the boiler or toilet are out of service, or if your health is at risk due to conditions in your home, ceasing rent payments can potentially lead to eviction proceedings. This applies to all tenants, but private tenants often face a higher risk of eviction.
If you still opt to withhold rent, it’s crucial to set this money aside. As soon as the repairs are completed, ensure the withheld rent is promptly paid. Bear in mind, however, that paying the rent after repairs are completed doesn’t guarantee that you can’t still be evicted for prior missed payments.
Requesting a Rent Reduction During Repairs
In situations where repair work causes significant disruption to your daily life, it might be reasonable to negotiate a rent reduction. This could be applicable in instances where:
- Repair work generates substantial noise levels.
- You have to take significant time off work to accommodate repair schedules.
- Part of your home is unusable due to repair works.
- Your health is affected by dust, chemicals, or other side effects of the repairs.
- Workers performing repairs are utilising large amounts of gas or electricity.
Remember, each situation is unique, and open dialogue with your landlord can often lead to mutually beneficial resolutions. However, it’s vital to be aware of your rights and obligations as a tenant.
What can I do if my boiler breaks down over the weekend?
Typically, landlords are expected to address boiler issues within 24 hours. But this may vary depending on your lease agreements. If your boiler breaks down over the weekend, try to contact your landlord or property manager directly. If they’re not available, check your lease agreement to see what steps you can take.
Can I hire someone to fix the boiler and deduct the cost from my rent?
In the UK, the possibility of a tenant hiring a professional to repair a boiler and deducting the cost from the rent is generally not recommended without proper legal advice. The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 stipulates that landlords are responsible for maintaining heating and hot water installations. As a tenant, your first step should be to contact your landlord or property management company to resolve the issue.
Can I Request a Replacement Boiler Instead of Repairs?
Yes, you can request a boiler replacement if you believe it to be necessary. However, the decision ultimately lies with your landlord. Under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, landlords must maintain heating installations, but they’re not legally obligated to replace a boiler if it can still be repaired. If you think a new boiler is necessary, communicate your concerns to your landlord in writing, providing reasons and any relevant evidence. It’s recommended to seek advice from a legal professional or tenant advice service if you’re unsure about your rights.
Does Boiler Repair Impact My Security Deposit?
No, under normal circumstances, boiler repair should not impact your security deposit. According to the UK’s Tenancy Deposit Scheme, a security deposit serves as a safeguard for landlords against damages to the property caused by the tenant, unpaid rent, or breach of the tenancy agreement.
Standard boiler maintenance and repairs are the landlord’s responsibility under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, not the tenant’s. Therefore, any costs associated with boiler repairs should not be deducted from your security deposit, unless it is proven that the tenant has caused the damage deliberately or through misuse of the equipment.
1. Citizens Advice: This organization provides free, independent, and confidential advice on a wide range of issues, including housing and repairs. Their website contains a lot of useful information and resources: Citizens Advice
2. Shelter: This charity provides advice and assistance to people struggling with housing issues. They have specific guidance on dealing with repairs and disputes with landlords: Shelter England
3. The Property Ombudsman (TPO): This is a free, impartial and independent service for resolving disputes between tenants and property agents. If your property is managed by an agent who is a member of TPO, they can help resolve issues: The Property Ombudsman
4. Legal Aid: You might qualify for legal aid if you’re on a low income and facing housing issues. You can check if you qualify at the following link: Check if you can get legal aid
5. Environmental Health Department: If your living conditions are affecting your health, the environmental health department at your local council can inspect your home and force your landlord to carry out repairs.
6. Money Advice Service: This free service provides advice on dealing with money issues related to housing, including issues like withholding rent or dealing with repair costs: Money Advice Service
About the author
Trades Team are experts in Heating, Plumbing and Gas Services. We have 15 years of experience providing expert Boiler Repair and Boiler Servicing to homes and businesses across the Southeast. Learn more about Trades Team.
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