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Flummoxed

Issues with converted dwelling + utilities

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NB - sorry for long post!

 

Hi there, I am desperate for some advice and having real trouble finding it online, so I hope someone can help.

 

My fiance and I moved into a flat in March as a last minute thing (we had been scheduled to move into another flat, but the landlord never turned up and our old room in a houseshare had already been rented out again; they were moving in 2 hours after we were scheduled to move out). The landlord seemed nice enough, although a bit odd and patronising. Firstly, he asked for two months deposit (a whopping total of £1130) instead of of 1 , which we had agreed on the phone, cos neither my partner or myself have credit cards or a contract phone (our choice, isn't it?). That's not an issue at the moment (yet), but with the way things are going, it may well be.

 

He told us that the power supply hasn't been split, which we thought was going to be fine (we are naive, perhaps) but would be soon. He told us that he would be moving in a couple with a similar financial situation to us (no kids, both working) and we could split the bills for a little while until he got the single power supplies (gas and electric) sorted out. This was in March. A week later he moved in a girl on benefits with a daughter, and illegal tenant (her other half who works two jobs off the books). When we received our Council Tax Bill (in her name; he put the gas and water in my name, and the council tax and electric in hers - I should point out here that neither of us has seen, let alone signed any contracts for this) we went to the council only to find out that he seems to have illegally converted the property, ie it hasn't been assessed by the council as fit to live. We are still waiting to see what happens with that - we know the case has been referred to a higher-up after an initial look over, but no one can tell us what's happening... and it doesn't look good at the mo.

 

We are in arrears with the bills because the girl downstairs has no money to pay them and she says the council won't help her with the bills at all. I am NOT willing to pay an entire £400 gas bill on my own so am going to pay our "half" (note - even while it's been hot, she has had the heating on all day and night, uses lots of water as she has a child and is home all day as well, using all the utilities, whereas the only time me and my partner ar in is weekends and evenings) - it looks like her share of the bills are much higher than ours. We don't even have the hot water controls or heat controls in a communal area - they are all in her flat, meaning the hot water is on 24/7. We have spoken to both British Gas and Eon (our suppliers) and eventually after explaining the issues with various people, were sent payment cards. BG are refusing to fit a prepayment meter for us until we have paid 80% of the bill.. can they legally do this? They also can't split the power supply without the landlord's permission but HE IS REFUSING TO DO THIS BECAUSE HE SAYS HE DOESN'T HAVE THE MONEY. He says he didn't need planning permission because he didn't build any extensions, but he has put in 1 kitchen and 1 bathroom - surely he does?

 

What I want to know is:

 

1. Should the utilities suppliers have put bills in our names just on the landlord's say-so, with no contracts being seen or signed by us;

2. Can we force the LL's hand with the splitting of the power supply; and

3. Can we force BG and Eon to fit us prepayment meters (a government helpsheet states that they should have offered us one as we are in arrears), esp as neither the girl downstairs or myself have seen any contracts. Note - although my other 1/2 is on the tenancy agreement, the LL didn't put any bills in his name.

 

Also, regarding the property being reassessed as two dwellings - my partner and I have had no council tax bill and we have been there nearly 5 mionths now. Can they issues us with a 5 month bill and force us to pay the whole lot in once go (they reckon they can)?

 

Thanks for any advice or help :)

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Anyone? Please?

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When you say the Council hasnt assessed it as being fit to live in, and its gone to someone higher, is that Enviromental Health?

If not I would initially see speak to them to get it checked and see whether it is safe.

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**UPDATE** I have literally just received and opened a letter from the council this morning, about 5 minutes ago - they have officially declared the dweeling as two sepaprate flats, so that is something! Now just to sort out the power supply, and ask him whether our deposit is in a scheme...

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