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Pensioners Boiler Faulty - Taking 3 Weeks To Repair...

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My parents live in a housing association house (over 25 years same house, London). They are an elderly couple, both pensioners, father is 80+ years old.

 

Recently their boiler failed and it's been taking an incredibly long time to get it repaired. It failed right at the end of November, reported on the evening of November 29th, and to date it has not yet been repaired. One of the engineers i talked to (housing association is contracted with a large independent boiler/heating company who handle repairs) told me straight out the reason, he said due to the age of the boiler and the fact that it's an obsolete model, ideally a new boiler would be installed, however, the company's head office will allocate a maximum amount of money to each repair and because the engineer spent a long time trying to repair the problem and got head office to acquire a new part already (valve), they won't replace the boiler and instead they'll wait for a different part (flue) which will take weeks to get hold of. Of course, they didn't say weeks, but the flue fault was diagnosed on the 7th of December and still they're struggling to find the part even though the problem itself was reported on the 29th of November. (The engineer originally thought it was a valve fault only, having installed the valve on the 7th, he found the flue fault after). Also, initially they wouldn't give an exact date of when the flue will be in stock, just kept it vague "showing in stock", "maybe tomorrow", "supplier will get back to us" etc. Finally a lady answered the phone who was from a different department and helping out with the phones during a busy period and she called the specific departments/planners and found the date which was the 19th of December...but not guaranteed, expecting another call (although previously when they stated they'll call back with a more accurate date of when the part will be in stock, they never called back).

 

An Important Note: The reason why the fault came about in the first place is because when the boiler was installed about 8 years ago by the same company (different engineer), it was installed BADLY (not my opinion but the new engineer said so). The flue was cut too short hence it eventually collapsed and the engineer told me this is very dangerous (and it resulted in other parts failing internally as a domino effect, valve, ignition, etc). I'm guessing it's possible that it was releasing dangerous fumes indoors, possibly for many years. Since the flue collapse though it kept overheating and cutting out so it didn't have a chance to poison anyone to death. But, the problem itself came about because the company's original engineer did a poor and very dangerous botch job with the installation. He even shoved the boiler in to accommodate the pipes, so much so the pipes got pushed (right side) out an inch off their fixings on the other side of the wall (downstairs toilet).

 

Surely it can't be right for anybody to be made to wait this long for a repair? Especially two pensioners in this weather, some nights the outside temperature has fallen to minus. They left fan heaters, but they're no substitute to central heating especially considering the house is poorly insulated with normal glass windows as opposed to double glazing, no cavity wall insulation and loft has a thin piece of wool that was there since the 1980s, add to that they're paranoid about leaving these fan heaters on overnight as they're worried something will catch on fire or the room will overheat while they're asleep.

 

Also, the immersion heater that has been used in the past as a backup in case the boiler stopped working died at the same time (or maybe before and no one noticed) so there was no hot water either, but the immersion heater was finally repaired on the 12th of December, however, it takes about 4 hours to heat up as the cylinder is large, whereas the boiler only takes 30 minutes, so not ideal but better than nothing.

 

The engineers/electrician that have come out to try and repair the problems have been fantastic, sympathetic and all around great. However, the head office's decision to try and find the part of an obsolete boiler just so they can make a profit on the job seems incredibly wrong considering they knew how long it would take and how difficult it would be; they don't seem to be in a hurry. They're saying the part will be in stock on the 19th of December and an engineer will show up close to that (following day if lucky) to repair it, however, based on how many delays there have been and how they've already struggled to find the part in question AND put into that the fact that a lot of engineers will be off for Christmas, i'm not holding out hope. And i wouldn't be surprised if after the flue is repaired some other fault is found which will take several more days for the parts to arrive and that will definitely mean no boiler before Christmas (unless they have loads of engineers working through Christmas?).

 

What if anything can be done? The problem was reported on the 29th November and the boiler is still dead and two pensioners have no central heating during an incredibly cold period. The electricity bill will no doubt be massive but the suffering, stress and the long LONG wait is what's really wrong (and the original dangerous botch job), all so that the contractor can make sure they make a profit on the call out and not a loss.

 

Apologies for the long post.

 

 

Cliffnotes:

29th November: Boiler died. Reported by phone. Two pensioners living at premises.

7th December: Boiler is obsolete hence difficult to find parts for. Head office decide to order part anyway (flue) even though engineer recommends a new boiler. Boiler failed due to initial botch job installation several years ago by same company but different engineer.

Note: Current fault was caused by initial botch job boiler installation by same company whose original engineer cut the flue too short hence it collapsed. New engineer told me this is very dangerous.

19th December: Part will apparently be in stock on the 19th of December. Boiler is still very much dead.

Edited by Xad

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http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/repairs_and_bad_conditions

 

It might be worth a call to Shelter - they dont just deal with homeless people, but a whole range of issues, including situations such as your Parents find themselves in.

 

They have a free advice helpline 0808 800 4444 - I have linked their website for you above and they are open tomorrow 8am - 5pm.

 

I agree it is is disgraceful to have two elderly people left with no heating or hot water for such a period of time.


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Hi

 

Main question first is the Boiler gas operated?

 

Which Housing Association?

 

Are you actually dealing with the housing association for the repair or their actual contractor that carries out those repairs?

 

When you initially reported the repair to the housing association which priority for repair did they class it i.e. Emergency/Urgent/Routine?

 

Have you been informed of their "Right to Repair"?

 

Has the Housing Association been keeping you up to date not the contractor as its not their job on the repair and asking for an extension to the repair time limit? (something tells me your answer to this will be NO)

Edited by stu007

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Hi

 

Main question first is the Boiler gas operated?

 

Which Housing Association?

 

Are you actually dealing with the housing association for the repair or their actual contractor that carries out those repairs?

1. It's a gas boiler.

2. Southern Housing Group.

3. Dealing with the contractor directly who carry out the repair. Initially called the Housing directly but was given the contractors number and told they deal with gas related repairs directly.

4. Told them that the residents were two pensioners hence heating was urgent due to the cold weather. Originally they called back on Friday to say an appointment was scheduled for Monday, however, someone else called back to complain that it's not right to make two pensioners wait so long without heating or hot water (immersion was also faulty initially). They arranged an Engineer to show up Friday 30th November at night, he didn't seem sure what he was doing, but said someone will come Monday. No one came on Monday, called the company up and they said their was no one scheduled for Monday, instead their was an appointment was Wednesday.

 

5. Not sure what right to repair is, never heard of it and no one mentioned it during this period.

 

6. Nope, Housing didn't seem interested initially and just gave the number for the company that deals with the Gas/Heating problems (Robert Heath Heating). They didn't call back to check on anything. To be honest the repair company haven't even been calling back, instead i've been calling them constantly trying to get updates and mention constantly that i'm calling on behalf of two pensioners, but all i get is "they can't do anything as they're waiting for parts".

Edited by Xad

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Hi

 

Thanks for that will have a digg on their site for you.

 

Now as its Gas your parents should have an annual Gas Safety Inspection and the Housing Association is Legally required to issue then with a copy of that certificate and if not why not.

 

This is the link for the Gas Safety Register: www.gassaferegister.co.uk/

 

Now this link from the above website on flues will interest you: http://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/advice/flues_in_voids.aspx

 

Now you should not be dealing with the actual contractor as that is the housing association job as they should be keeping you updated on the repair.

 

Think a Formal Complaint to CEO of housing association may be in order but let me dig on their site first to get relevant info for you.

 

Also this is the Secure Tenants of Local Housing Authorities - Right to Repair - Regulation 1994 PDF

Edited by stu007
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Hi

 

Now this is just a rough draft for you:

 

 

DearSir/Madam

 

Reference: Formal Complaint about Gas Boiler Repair Reported on Evening of 29th November 2012

 

It is with some concern that I must make a formal complaint to the association about it dealing with the repair to a Gas Boiler that has let the occupants with no heating or hot water (except through using an expensive immersion system) and the occupants are over 80 years old and vulnerable to be left in this condition.

 

I must start by referring to your own Service Standards:

 

Provide a high-quality service at all times.

Make sure our service provides you with a range of choices.

 

In this case this service standards have fell well short as follows:

 

I am having to chase up this repair since 29th November 2012 with absolutely no input or updates from the housing association just constantly passed to your contractor. Is it not the housing association responsibility to keep tenants up dated on their repairs and also if the repair cannot be completed within the repair time limit to inform those tenants and explain the reason for an extension to that time limit.

Due to the numerous calls chasing this repair as housing association never kept tenants informed is the housing association going to compensate for all those calls as it is not the tenants responsibilty to chase up a repair already reported to the association.

Why was the Flue never picked up on a gas safety inspection as this may have been leaking carbon monoxide into the property. Therefore I require a copy of the last Gas Safety Certificate for the property.

I require a copy of the association “Right to Repair Policy and Procedure” as per The Secure Tenants of Local Housing Authorities Right to Repair Regulation 1994. Also why is this information not available on your website nor the repairs actual priorities i.e. Emergency/Urgent/Routine.

Yes the association has given fan heaters but the length of time this repair is taking for the vulnerable occupants age is shocking and are the association going to compensate those occupants electricity bills for this period which will be higher due to fanheating.

 

I now require a full explanation as to when this repair is actually going to be completed and not from the contractor as it is you’re the housing association responsibility to inform your tenants.


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Thank you so much for that. Should i send that directly to the CEO? I noticed they have a complaints section here:

shgroup.org.uk/Residents/Feedback--Complaints/ (can't post hyperlink due to low post count) with a form available (including compensation part), however, i'm thinking any complaint through standard avenues like the link i posted will just get stuck in the system and a response received long after boiler is repaired as it is Christmas period.

 

Also, regarding compensating for calls...do you mean for the time/effort it took to make calls, or the actual call charges, because it was a free phone number (apart from the initial few calls).

 

The most disturbing aspect is that this fault came about because of an initial dangerous botch job by the same company; i would have thought someone would have checked to see the installation was properly carried out being that it was a gas appliance. And the fact that the contractor company are taking so long to repair the boiler just so they can make a profit is really disgraceful, no matter who the tenants are, more so because the tenants are two pensioners who've waited patiently in what has been a very cold period. There has been absolutely no sense of urgency on the contractors part; for some reason they seem to think waiting so long for parts because the boiler is old is completely ok even when the engineer recommends a new boiler.

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Hi

 

the email address for complaints to be sent to is: service.centre@shgroup.org.uk

(remove the space in "or g" so it reads .org.uk)

 

The written address to write to is:

 

Southern Housing Group,

PO Box 643,

Horsham,

West Sussex

RH12 1XJ

 

Something I would add to your complaint is that the downloadable complaints form should have the contact details on it to forward the complaint form to as this is missing from that form.

 

I mean compensation for the actual calls made.

 

Now if you can prove that the fault came about because of the poor workmanship of that contractor then add this into your complaint as how many other people may be at risk.

Edited by stu007

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Should i still send the letter or should i fill out the complaint form? Or maybe include the letter as part of the complaint forms detailed information section? Also, the complaint form itself has a section for compensation, should enter a compensation amount or should i leave that blank? I have no idea what to put in as an amount, but i'm guessing the long delay, the lack of involvement on the Housing's part and the initial botch job installation will all have an affect on the amount?

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Hi

 

I would fill in the complaints form but the part about your complaint just put please see attatched letter.

 

IMO I would leave the compensation part blank at until the repair is complete you wont really know what to put in the claim section for all the calls and the extra cost of electricity due to fan heating and you will already be notifying them that you will be claiming anyway in the letter itself.


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Ok, will do. Can compensation be claimed for the actual long delay in getting the boiler repaired, the lack of involvement by Housing, and maybe even the fact that the boiler was initially installed poorly/dangerously hence the fault? Or is compensation strictly for costs you incur, such as electricity and repairs you have arranged yourself through a private engineer due to delays by the main repair company?

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Hi

 

The issue you will have if you try to claim for arranging an private engineer yourself is that if this happens it need to be someone form the landlords list of approved contractors so that may be difficult to claim but then again as their is no information available to tenants that says otherwise even on their own website IMO I would give it a go and see what they have to say for themselves pointing out the lack of this information available to tenants.


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Many thanks for all the help. I will be sending the form/letter to them immediately, will be interesting to hear what they have to say; probably going to be a generic reply of some sort, hoping for something a little more meaningful.

 

Thanks again.

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My parents live in a housing association house (over 25 years same house, London). They are an elderly couple, both pensioners, father is 80+ years old.

 

If the OP Parents moved in before 15th January 1989 ? there tenancy going to come under 1977 Rent act "Regulated Tenants" and repairs May come under 1985 Landlords and tenants act !

 

Xad can i ask does your parent rent show up here https://ebusiness.voa.gov.uk/err/ enter full postcode and click Find

 

(don't post any person details)

 

If your Parents details do show up what does it say in the box marked

 

"Allocation of liability for repairs" about half way down the page.

 

Reason im asking is in certain circumstances Regulated tenants can end up paying the cost of the repairs,but this is very rare !

Edited by 45002

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It says: "As agreed between the parties. - Subject to Section 11 Landlord and Tenant Act 1985"

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It says: "As agreed between the parties. - Subject to Section 11 Landlord and Tenant Act 1985"

 

It's always best to check especially with tenants who moved into there home before 15/01/1989 as there tenancy is going to be governed by 1977 Rent act as amend and not housing association.

 

It does sound like the housing association will have to pay re L&T 1985 act s11,but i would be interested to know and would check on this

 

"As agreed between the parties" ?

 

Who paid for the Boiler to be installed 8 years ago,if it was the housing association they should have to pay for repairs ?

 

Is there a rent book or tenancy agreement what does it say about repairs

 

Is there a service charge ?

 

Sorry to rock the boat,but it's better to know all theses details especially when it comes to 1977 Rent act tenants which your parents tenancy is.

 

My tenancy is governed by 1977 Rent act "Regulated tenant" so i will be able to help you somewhat,but not everythink !

 

Will catch up with this thread later on today .

Edited by 45002

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The housing association paid for the boiler when the old one finally died permanently and they usually carry out repairs without much issue (through contractors). It's just this repair through the same usual contractor is taking a really really long time.

 

What bothers me most is that the contractor allocates a specific amount of money to each household for a repair (in order to make a profit), if an engineer finds out right away the cost of repair will be too much, then they'll replace it with a new boiler, if however the engineer's already spent some time and effort on the repair and even had head office order new parts, then head office will keep trying to get more parts no matter how long it takes even if the engineer recommends a new boiler. You'd think they'd make an exception in some cases such as this where it's winter and the tenants are two pensioners, but i guess not.

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Nothing surprise me when it comes to some HA...

 

It says: "As agreed between the parties. - Subject to Section 11 Landlord and Tenant Act 1985"

 

I would try and find out what was agreed ?


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Just an update. Sent the complaint letter to Housing on Tuesday (18th Dec) and received a call of Friday (21st) stating that they'll need to send a letter to my parents confirming that they have agreed to let me handle this on their behalf.

 

As for the boiler, it's still faulty. A different engineer came finally came with the flue and PCB board (Thursday 20th), had a look at the boiler and decided the Flue that they had waited for 2 WEEKS wasn't actually required and the old one simply had to be secured in place with small screws. Asked him wouldn't it be better to just install the new flue since we were made to wait so long and it would also eliminate the possibility of that being the fault; said there's no point and didn't install the flue; installed the PCB board and then rather than testing the boiler to see if it works, he shut off the gas to the boiler as apparently his machine found a gas leak. Not big enough to smell, but his machine being sensitive apparently he has to follow Association rules?! Apparently the original installer didn't replace seals and used old ones. Asked him if the boiler was working at least...said he can't check until leak was fixed and only then can the boiler be turned on. Could be that he just couldn't find the fault and found an excuse to get the hell out of here and give the job to someone else as he mentioned he had 7 other jobs to go to.

 

Engineer number 4 came today (yes, completely different engineer), installed the seals which took him 3 hours as he had to get right inside and afterwards the boiler still didn't work. Said that ideally 1 engineer would be dealing with the fault as different engineers coming every time just causes confusion for the engineers as they end up asking me details about what the previous engineer did and he also said head office aren't much help (he even mentioned they have to use their own personal phone to call them for anything). He only started with the company but has over 20 years experience, so ideally someone like him would be put on the job until the boiler was working again.

 

Said it might be the gas valve (i bet it's not!) so next appointment is Thursday 29th of December....exactly 1 month to the day from the day the fault was reported and the boiler is still faulty. To think, they could have easily just replaced the boiler, but instead, they're changing one part at a time and send a different engineer every time; it's shocking how inefficient this seems.

 

It doesn't help that all the engineers say it's an obsolete model and it would have been better if head office opted to replace it instead of repair it piece by piece (which ironically is probably costing them a lot more). At this rate, winter will probably pass before the central heating comes on!!

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Hi

 

This is absolutlely shocking behaviour of the housing associations contractor 4 enginers later and still not fixed.

 

I really think you now need to complain harder about the competance of their Contractor as they have now sent four different engineers and each once has either diagnoised or found another fault to the boiler which should have been picked up by the first engineer.

 

This does now raise the competance of the Housing Associations Contractor as to date this repair has still not been completed in fact left the tenants with no boiler due to it leaking gas so gas supply turned off.

 

You now require the Gas Safety Register number for each contractor that has dealt with the boiler and a firm time table as to when this boiler repair is going to be conpleted by a Competant Contractor that will actually diagnoise the actual fault and complete the repair.

 

This is now an addition to my Formal Complaint the Housing Association is already dealing with.


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