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2sp_ | 10:20 Fri 04th Apr 2014 | Law
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We are renting out a cottage at the moment (to a relative of Mr P), she is complaining that the heating isn't working properly and the house is cold. Now, Mr P and I lived in that cottage for a few months while our own place was refurbed, so we know that the heating was working then. We do know that she is fiddling with the radiators daily and will turn them off in rooms if she's not in them only to turn them back on a few hours later or the next day. She really doesn't want to pay to heat the house, but wants the house to be nice and toasty at the same time!

She is now demanding that we get out an engineer to check the boiler (which is working). She will not operate the system in the way we have told her works, so I doubt the engineer would find any problems (other than the tenant).

If we were to get an engineer out and he confirmed that the issues are down to operator error, can we make her pay for the call out?

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what does it say in the lease?
I have a suggestion but its a bit naughty.....do you
live close by? buy some cheapo room thermometers, say you've been told by the engineer that before he visits , you must tape the radiators so they cant "accidentally" be moved, in case they are loose lol ditto the thermostat and boiler controls and that you must pop in every couple of hours to take readings from the thermometers.......
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Thanks, woof. I'll suggest that to Mr P. She is notoriously tight, we've even given her a slight discount on rent and let her take her dog, something we wouldn't normally allow.

Of course, we do want her to be warm in the house, but she needs to listen when we tell her how to work the heating!

I'm not sure it says anything in the lease about this sort of situation, it's not something that has ever happened to us before.
To a certain extent it depends on the lease. but I don't want a tenant who tells everyone the CH doesn't work and the landlord doesn't do a damn thing about it.

depends if you want to keep her or not.

I would go down and demonstrate it does work.
You are reqd to have a gas safety cert - £60.
I would get him to service the unit and give a cert.

if you have one - wave it in her face - or the latest service report.

This is not a question of Law it is an unhappy tenant q
It depends on how much you want to retain the tenant and want the rent.
Ask her to agree that if the engineer finds a fault then you will pay, if there is no fault then she will have to pay.

Has the system been serviced recently, now may be the time to have it serviced?
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Peter - it's an oil system so no gas certificate needed. We are doing everything we can, Mr P is in the house twice a day answering her complaints. He is constantly showing her how it works, but she is then going and changing settings after he leaves. We have had several other tenants in the cottage and none of them have ever had this problem.

Ratter - we had a plumber in there just before Christmas changing a part on the boiler, but not a full service as such. But I do like the idea of getting her to agree to pay if no fault is found.
If you are renting out you will need safe certificate anyway so when you get one have a service at the same time :)

Also I would say that just because it worked when you were there doesn't mean it does now so a service as a good will gesture would be good.

Once that is done you can tell her to stop complaining.

I would say that No you can't charge her for the service. As a landlord it is your responsibility to make sure appliances work and she has stated it doesn't work properly.

Although you have gone through the system with her I would be inclined to recomend that she sets the occationaly used rooms at a minimal temprature to maintaine ambiance and only put the heating up higher in the rooms she uses. But make it clear that should she carry one fiddleing with them you will not be inclined to take her complaints seriously ( the boy who cried wolf comes to mind lol).

Are you charging market value rent or 'family rates' if family rates then threaten her with rent increase (in line with your contract) to cover her constant complaints.

If she were one of our tenants I would be talking to our Solicitor with a view to arranging her early departure.
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Thanks for all the advice, she is paying "family rates", so I think she needs to understand that we would be better off with someone else in there!

It is a small cottage, so the rooms aren't really in occasional use. She will turn the radiator in the kitchen off (for example) at night after she has had her meal, or only turn the one in the bathroom on when she wants a shower. She expects instant heat from them the minute she turns them on!

She was on my doorstep last night swearing at me because she can't get the heating to work. We really are trying to explain to her that to make the house warm, you need to turn the bloomin' radiators on!
I love Woofgang's suggestion ! We have had lots of problems with tenants and their reluctance to heat the property. Our tenants are contractually obliged to use the heating and heat the place throughout but they almost invariably don't and the results (dampness, etc.) are awful. We are in practice unable to do anything in such circumstances since the property is the tenants' home while they rent it - proof is very difficult to come by and its collection is so unpopular as to invite/suggest that the tenants should leave. Our current tenants heat well and there are never any problems so all we hope to achieve is for them to stay there as long as possible - they even marvel at how cheap it is. Sadly, you have a difficult situation to deal with and I certainly think it pretty much impossible to recover a plumber's bill from the tenant, unless you agree this in advance (and then if in the event she refuses to pay.....?).
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Thanks again, everyone.

We really do try to be good landlords. We deal with most complaints or issues within a few hours (we live nearby), and try to be as helpful as possible.

I can't see her staying beyond her initial 6 month lease to be honest. She is the type that will go on flash holidays but not want to turn the heating on. It's just so difficult trying to get her to turn it on and leave it on!
if a tenant of mine came to my house to swear at me, i'd be looking to get rid of them.
i like ratter's idea
Termination for swearing or spitting
I wouldnt have any tenants...

a judge too time off to tell me that a tenants conviction for sexual assault was not a reason to terminate early - altho I could have possession at the end of the lease. After that I put up with quite a lot knowing I cant get early possession....
Put up with her for six months and then don't renew the tenancy :) Little else you can do really now.

People like that almost want you to put in those old electric bar heaters in the rooms, especialy the bath room. Mind you I'd love to see her face when the electric bill came in lol
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Update - The tenant called her friend who is a heating engineer. He came round today, had a good look over the boiler and then spoke to Mr P.

Engineer says that the boiler is in really good nick, has been really well looked after (by Mr P) and there is still plenty of life left in it. He agrees that she is fiddling with radiators, the control panel and the temperature control on the boiler itself and this is what is causing the issues.

He went away off to explain how to work the system - parroting everything Mr P told her!

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