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Dispute over repairing liability & negligence of repairing


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We are in a really messy situation with the property management company at the moment, and is desperately in need of some professional advice. So thank you first of all for reading and trying to help. :-)

 

THE CASE:

 

1.

Since we started our (12 months contract) renting and moved into the property in Feb 2010, there is no hot water on the tap and the electrical storage heating in the master bedroom has never worked! We made a request of fixing the hot water issue after we settled in, and the management company sent plumber and electrician to try to fix it numerous of time during the last two years. To this date Feb 2013, we still have no hot water on the tap, and we've learnt to live without the storage heating in our bedroom, but bought an external plug-in electrical heating ourselves for the winter days.

 

The last update we received regards no hot water through the tap, is that the element in the boiler needed to be changed, which has been the main issue of causing the fuse to trip for the last two years, so that's why everytime after fixing we'd have hot water through the tap for about 3 days, then it stops working. And this update is received around Oct 2012, and the plumber said we'd need to wait for a reply to see if the landlord is willing to pay for the element because it is a very expensive part.

 

 

2.

THEN, over the Christmas, when we come back home from holiday in Jan 2013, we realised the storage heating for the lounge has also stopped working. So we ask for the property management to send in the electrician to fix it. But instead of finding faults with the radiator, the electrician found the fuse board is partially burned. On the spot, the electrician said we've been very lucky, and it has possibly been caused by the wooden shoe shelf pressing onto the fuse board (which i can't completely agree), and he also suggested to change the electricity feed to a safer measure for the peak and off-peak electricity separately because how it was being distributed is not very safe.

 

About a week later, the property management got back to us, and said we are liable for the restoring and call out costs of £600 to the fuse board, because it is our shoe shelf that was pressing on the fuse board.

 

So I get back to them and explained our issue with the situation is, the wooden shoe shelf is there in the property, and been placed where it is right next to the fuse board in the cupboard since we moved in. (And we have the inventory list to prove that, and have already shown to the property management company).

 

Since it is not our shoe shelf in the first place, and we are not the one responsible for placing the shoe shelf to a place where it shouldn't be. In this situation, is the landlord responsible for the costs of fixing? or is it really us (the tenant)? or is it the electrician's fault oversaw the underlying danger and did not warn us about the shoe shelf placing where it was in the last 2 years? Who should be liable for the repairing costs?

 

I feel very frustrated at this point, not only that I feel being misinformed, and knowing it could have been the (25 years old) old fuse board burned up and charred the shoe shelf instead of the fault of the shoe shelf for where it was. (so right now we are looking into another electrician to run a full inspection to the cause of fire to the fuse board).

 

But before we get a result from the inspection, we really wanted to know even if it was the shoe rack caused the damage to the fuse board, but we are not the owner of the shoe rack, and we didn't place it there! Since the shoe rack belongs to the landlord, and it was the landlord who placed it there, shouldn't the landlord be liable for the repairing costs to the fuseboard? What can I say to the management company to back up my point?

 

And if the electrician is liable too? For a certified and trained electrician, isn't he suppose to spot potential hazard such as this? Since he attended our house and our fuse board for at least 4-5 times a year, and he did not see the shoe rack can cause potential hazard? We could have been burned alive!

 

So who's really liable to the cause of damage and the costs?

 

 

 

3.

Best of it yet, last friday we received a call from the letting agency, saying the landlord is asking for a rent increase and it could be £100 to £250 more each month. How much he wants to increase, we still don't know. At the moment we are still waiting to hear back from the agent about how much for the raise. But we feel that is very cheeky, and being bullied, feeling like if we don't agree to the rent increase, of course we get kick out. And whether we agree or not, the property management is still trying to get us pay the £600 for the fuse board. As for the boiler since it is clearly the liability of the landlord, the rent increase is apparently to "cover" his costs for replacing the element in the boiler.

 

Is this unlawful from the landlord to raise rent in such circumstances?

 

In conclusion, we don't mind to pay £100 extra each month for the rent, because we love where we live, and have great neighbours. But on principal and economy circumstances, we really want to know who is liable for the costs of the new fuse board. And what options do we have? We can't agree to a rent increase plus a £600 bill for something that is not our fault.

 

Having no hot water through the tap to wash clothes and wash dishes, or having a hot bath for two years is unbelievably hard! Thank god at least we have hot water through the electric shower. But since now I'm pregnant, the issue of sanitation has became a pressing issue for us, so to have hot water through the tap to do proper washing is very important. As I'm typing this out in the lounge with my freezing fingers while wearing 5 layers of clothing in my own home, the sense of being cornered and helplessness is impeccable, and is causing a great distress on top of my first pregnancy.

 

I really hope someone here can give us some professional advice.

 

Much appreciated and thank you so much again.

 

Berni

Edited by Berni_V
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If it was a problem caused by the shoe shelf it should of been picked up on the latest safety check

The most likely fault is an electrical fault there is every possibility with the storage heaters packing up there is a fault on the wiring

 

sounds like fuse box needs updating and a safety check needs doing

 

It has nothing to do with you it is down to the landlord to fix the electrics, heating and hot water

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If i have helped in any way hit my star.

any advice given is based on experience and learnt from this site :-)

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Thanks so much for your advice. The electrician did perform a 5 Year ESI - Visual Electrical Safety Inspection on 26th September 2012, just a few months before the incident. But the underlying hazard of the shoe rack was never picked up. And of course we didn't get a warning and suggest us we should remove the shoe rack. :|

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Imo you can go two ways on this; take private action against the landlord for breach of contract/disrepair or contact environmental health at your local council. They can require your landlord to get the hot water cylinder and storage heaters repaired. The issue of the shoe rack leaning against the fuse board sounds like them clutching at straws, unless the fuse board is overheating, it shouldn't have scorched the rack.

Edited by Keyzer Soze
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Hey thanks Keyzer :)

 

Now after you guys pointing these few things out, I realised that the shoe rack issue should have picked up at a health & safety check, but since they didn't pick this health & safety issue up, which means it is the Property Management Company's liability!?

 

They act upon on behalf of the landlord to manage our flat, and of course the landlord is taking advice from them, coz he paid them to manage the property!

 

But since now we are dealing directly with the Property Management Company, and the contract is drawn upon between the tenant and the landlord's agreement, is there any law or enforcement to make the Property Management Company to comply?

 

My take is that the Property Management Company can't tell it's their fault to the landlord, and asking the landlord to pay for the costs for the fuse box at the same time! And that's why in their last email to us, they tried to lead us to take the blame, let the electrician to fix it, while discussing for the costs! But did not say who's responsible to pay for it!

 

This is the property management company's last email to us:

 

I can confirm that the switches for the fuse board were replaced on 26th September 2012 therefore the electrical installation at the property does meet current NICEIC Wiring Regulations as per the attached Electrical Safety Inspection certificate.

I understand that the shoe rack was in the cupboard when you moved into the property in February 2010 however there were no signs of distress or burning to the shoe rack or the fuse board.

The electrician has had to make safe the fuse board under temporary measures which I understand has meant that you do not have heating or hot water. AYSA Ltd contacted you recently to arrange for the works to be carried out to re-instate the full electrical installation however I understand that you have asked for the works to be put on hold until this issue can be resolved. I would advise that you allow for the works to be carried out as soon as possible re-instating your heating and hot water facilities and we can discuss the cost of the works while matters are being dealt with.

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The landlord is ultimately responsible for maintenance of the property, the agents are just there to act as his representative and I would be very surprised if he is not aware of what's going on, as he would need to authorise any money that needs to be spent. If the council take any action, it is most likely that it will be against the landlord, although they will liaise with the agents.

 

Rather than the overheating of fuse board being caused by the shoe rack, it's far more likely that it's due to the age and condition of the water heater and storage heaters, which are both appliances which would draw a lot of current.

 

"I understand that the shoe rack was in the cupboard when you moved into the property in February 2010 however there were no signs of distress or burning to the shoe rack or the fuse board." So, which item is most likely to change and fail, the electrical installation or the shoe rack. Be firm and ask for a copy of the electrical report.

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The shoe rack is poss a red herring. If free standing, it could have put pressure on the trip fusebox (RLD) if pushed by space contents, but unlikely shoes in rack. Most early RLD trip fuseboxes were in plastic boxes and tripped at the earliest opportunity, unlikely to cause an overheat short if installed correctly. Both wood & plastic are poor conductors of elec. If concerned over safety T had duty to relocate shoe rack as a resp \t

At no time did Council conduct a H&S inspection of electrics. The elec carried out a non-stat visual inspection and provided his opinion.

Whilst NICEEC Certs are not required for non-HMO properties, it may be worth asking MA/LL if one exists

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Hi

 

If I was in your situation I would be concerned about this faulty boiler, initially one faulty storage heater, then another faulty storage heater and then ultimatley the fuse box partially burned it raises the question is it just coincidence, wear and tear due to age, or a deeper electrical issue.

 

I think a full electrical inspection is needed to get to the route cause of these problems.

 

I would contact the enviromental health dept of local authority and also ask the local fire service if the could do a safety inspection and inform then of these problems.

Edited by stu007
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I cannot give any advice by PM - If you provide a link to your Thread then I will be happy to offer advice there.

I advise to the best of my ability, but I am not a qualified professional, benefits lawyer nor Welfare Rights Adviser.

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Whilst NICEEC Certs are not required for non-HMO properties, it may be worth asking MA/LL if one exists

 

Hi mariner51,

 

Thanks so much for your help and sound knowledge in this area.

 

Although I don't understand what a MA/LL is?

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Hi

 

MA (Managing Agent)/LL (Landlord) hope this helps

How to Upload Documents/Images on CAG - **INSTRUCTIONS CLICK HERE**

FORUM RULES - Please ensure to read these before posting **FORUM RULES CLICK HERE**

I cannot give any advice by PM - If you provide a link to your Thread then I will be happy to offer advice there.

I advise to the best of my ability, but I am not a qualified professional, benefits lawyer nor Welfare Rights Adviser.

Please Donate button to the Consumer Action Group

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