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TonyW

Tenant compensation for boiler failure

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As fairly new and green landlord (12 months rental of first property) I am looking for some opinion/advice on the correct and fair way to act on a recent problem experienced. Currently my property is managed by a letting agent due to the distance away from my home and so far have been fairly happy with the service.

Like I suspect many of you I have had a few maintenance issues of a minor nature e.g. washing machine failure and repair (3x), shower leak repairs etc. In all cases my reaction to solving the problems was immediate i.e. I authorised repairs to be effected straight away via the letting agent.

Over a week ago my tenant reported that the hot water from the combi boiler was only working intermittently. As the boiler service was overdue by a few weeks I arranged for the letting agents contractor to attend and fix the problem and at the same time service the boiler - this was attended to immediately.

The Saga Details

  • Shortly after this I was informed that the boiler had stopped working completely neither hot water or central heating available (Combi boiler only source of hot water). Having a Home Emergency Solutions Policy in force I rang the insurance company who sent an engineer the next day to fix the problem (quoted as saying some dust or dirt in the system somewhere!)
  • After the engineer left the boiler still not working so the company sent him back the next day and he diagnosed a particular part needed replacing and that it would be ordered and sorted out the next day.
  • 2 days later and still not hearing anything I called the company to be told that the part would not arrive until after the weekend - it took a little longer but was fitted 6 days after the promised date!
  • Next day tenant reported still no go with the boiler (it is not clear if the engineer had left the system working).
  • Engineer went out again and this time diagnosed a different problem i.e. the main pcb had blown and would need replacement that would not be covered by the emergency policy. They would have to order the part and charge me for it and labour and it could take a further 3 days for delivery and would cost me £400!! - I think this may form the basis of another post but suffice it to say that I know the cost of this replacement part to be £87 incl. vat and time to fit should be under 1 hour!
  • At this stage apart from the cost I had lost faith in the competency of the company involved this sentiment also echoed by the tenant and the letting agent. So I telephoned British Gas for an emergency repair which was completed yesterday the problem according to them being a pressure valve failure not main pcb related and less than 1/2 the cost of the main pcb replacement!
  • As of today it is my understanding that the system is working some 8 days after the original fault reported.

The Tenant

Understandably the tenant is absolutely fuming about the delay and the fact that they have been left without hot water and having to rely on the electric fire in the living room and borrowed heater elsewhere and has been banging the table to the letting agent about compensation.

Having spoken to the letting agent the suggestion was to compensate the tenant for each day without heating or hot water i.e. refund 8 days rental. While I am not totally opposed to this and want to act fairly and properly there are a couple of things that have gone through my mind

1. While I believe it is true that they have suffered with no hot water in particular they have had the use of the property and facilities during this time so shouldn't any compensation be based on a percentage of the daily figure?

2. Are tenants entitled to a better service than an owner occupier? For instance if I had been living in the property it is likely that I would have suffered similar issues and delays experienced by the tenant.

I accept that I have a duty towards the tenant and that this duty may well include some form of financial compensation for loss and or inconvenience I would also like to keep the tenant (I think!) but do not wish to run the risk of being seen as a pushover, furthermore I also feel that the tenant needs to be a little more realistic in expectations. What do you think?

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Hot water - if no electric shower then T had use of a kettle (inconvenient yes but a source)

Compensation - they were missing HW/CH NOT the use and facilities of the whole property so i wouldn't be giving them 100% rent per day discount.

Alternative Heating seems to have been provided so non starter.

You did everthing in you power in smart time.

They may also moan that there lecky bill has increased due to ineffecient heaters - but then their gas bill will have droppe as well !!

I would offer them the cost of a nice bottle of wine or the cost of a meal for 2 if you are feeling generous ..............or a S21 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You are not obliged to offer them anything.

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I completely agree with Rodent.

What a lot of tenants and many landlords don't realise is that : tenants are not entitled to any better treatment, just because they are paying rent, than an owner occupier would receive in a similar situation.

Unfortunately sh*t happens to all of us from time to time. Providing you have acted in a timely manner then delays and problems out of your control do not mean your tenant is entitled to anything.

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.....i would also state that the offer is one of goodwill and to keep the peace and for no other reason .......and let them enjoy their blood wine/meal

Lambrini is really nice ...as is cod & chips from the local chippy ;):D :D

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I think I'd be inclined to offer the same goodwill as my motgage lender would offer ie nothing.

Bloody tenants..... always wanting something for nothing.

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No obligation,

if you had failed to act when requested they would have had the right to organise the repair themselves and deduct cost from rent.

That is the final true cost, mistakes as you have experienced would have been their own cost.

If generous you could offer to refund any 'demonstrable' out of pocket expenses. Any thing else would be because you are a very, very nice person.

But it is always valuable to have a good working relationship with T's, if possible, and they have suffered considerable inconvenience, but it isn't your fault just life.

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I'd just like to add one more point:

There is a misapprehension amongst the public generally that, when something goes wrong, then someone is to blame. THAT IS NOT ALWAYS THE CASE.

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Mark Trenners and I have a very reliable heating engineer. :D

It's a fact and a fact I hear very often......not all heating engineers have the same compentancy levels when dealing with boiler faults and this has been shown up again by Tony W's topic.

Last year with my own MiL (100 miles away in rented)the heating engineer failed twice to carry out the correct repair on an Ideal combi boiler and my Son had to speak directly to him to advise him what part he needed to replace. Boiler fixed!

Mel.

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It's a fact and a fact I hear very often......not all heating engineers have the same compentancy levels when dealing with boiler faults and this has been shown up again by Tony W's topic.

Isn't that a case of stating the 'bleeding' obvious ?

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It's a fact and a fact I hear very often......not all heating engineers have the same compentancy levels when dealing with boiler faults and this has been shown up again by Tony W's topic.

Isn't that a case of stating the 'bleeding' obvious ?

there are many that just keep changing parts until the boiler works again - when no parts are actually needed.

The "domino effect" apparently, one faulty part mkes another die as well.........bit like - " if i punch you on the nose, you will fall over Mr half wit engineer, shall we try it ???!!!"

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Thank you all very much for the replies and in particular I am pleased to see that the consensus is that I am justified in my thinking that I have done all that could be reasonably expected.

Also think I need to ditch the Home Emergency cover from this company as it is worthless and the question of competency of engineering staff is at the forefront of my mind. Might have to bite the bullet and pay more for BG Homecare as they will keep throwing parts at it as mentioned until it works!

Currently my thinking is that the tenant possibly does not have a right to 'compensation' due to the fact that alternative sources of heat and water e.g. Electric fire in main living area and borrowed portable heater plus a kettle or stove to heat water for washing (however unsatisfactory!!) were available. The fact that it took 5 seperate visits from as many engineers to fix the boiler was extremely unfortunate but I do believe that I did all in my power to solve the issues in as timely a fashion as possible and am at a loss to think how it could have been improved (without the gift of hindsight). AFAIK the system had been properly maintained and serviced which cannot take into account future parts failing.

However I do sympathise with the position my tenant had to endure so I think I am going to offer a refund of up to 50% of the daily rate for the period of 8 days (although I have just found out that the tenant was away for the weekend therfore did not return till Monday) but on the basis that this is a goodwill gesture on my part not the tenants right of compensation and that they need to understand that their rights of service are no greater than an owner occupier. Unless of course my understanding of any legal or moral issues flawed - if it is and there are strict guidelines to follow please correct me and point me in the right direction.

I would like to keep the tenant as according to the agent this is likely to be a long term let and the agent has had them on the books for several years in a one bed flat prior to moving to my property

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I would not be that generous - you will come accross as a pushover and will leave the tenant dreaming up the next problem "with compensation".

£10 with "have a drinkon me for the inconvenience" is further than you need to go.

Legally you are no obligation whatsoever to offer anything.

If you insist on giving away percentages then 5% discount per day is more than generous. rent average £650 x 12 /365 x 8 x 0.05 = £8.54

how much are these worth:

the fridge not working

iron

kettle

toaster

blown light bulb

stiff door

dirty door mats etc......................................

don't create a rod for your own back

Note: there are some very experienced LL with large portfolios giving exactly the same advice to you here !!!!!!

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I agree with others, you looked after tenant as best you could. Plenty of suggestions offered for a bit of goodwill.

I would use your energy, adrenalin or whatever to go for the incompetent service that let you and your tenant down and get some compensation. Failing to identify a fault in 4 visits over 6 or more days is extremely poor. Write to MD of your home emergency insurers, their service contractor and maybe even boiler manufacturer, listing any costs and see what happens!

Worth a try. You could always split any proceeds your tenant!

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It's a fact and a fact I hear very often......not all heating engineers have the same compentancy levels when dealing with boiler faults and this has been shown up again by Tony W's topic.

Isn't that a case of stating the 'bleeding' obvious ?

Still feeling Grumpy I see RL....... <_<

I am guessing your not a heating engineer expert then? I very much doubt that you have seen or know a fraction of what I know and have seen when it comes to the qualifications and compentancy and more importantly the installation and commissioning work of a gas engineer.

Mel.

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I know that I may appear to be ignoring the good advice by experienced LL being offered here and I apologise if this appears to be the case. Fact is that I was to a degree conflicted with the letting agent suggesting that I should offer compensation at the daily rate vs my own feeling that I have acted correctly and under the circumstances done everything I could to solve the problems in a timely fashion.

It is my firm belief after accepting your council that I do not have any legal or moral obligation to either T or agent. I intend to wait until after the weekend (fingers crossed the boiler still working!) before speaking to the LA about me making a good will gesture. It is also my intention to reduce the amount I first thought about. I suspect some of this prompting from the LA may be due to them worrying about losing the monies from a T in what I believe are very slow times for lets. In addition due to the property being refurbished to what I am given to understand is a much higher standard than normal for the area the T is actually paying a small premium price above what are seen as normal rates in the area.

rodent, you do make a lot of sense and it is certainly not my intention to be percieved by either T or LA as a pushover.

Richlist, I am certain that you are correct that tenants are not entitled to any better treatment than an owner occupier would recieve. In fact I confirmed this today after speaking to the authority that issues Landlord accreditation in the area.

COR, I am trying to find the way to maintain a good working relationship with the T but I need to make absolutely sure that they understand that any offer I may make is goodwill and that as has been pointed out I am under no Legal or moral obligation to offer anything

Chestnut, I fully intend to direct my energy to the company that provided the Home Emergency cover. They failed totally to even temporarily get the boiler running prior to making a proper repair. This is the whole point of the policy and regardless of the fact that faults may be difficult to diagnose the boiler should have been left in working order. Instead by their action they left the tenant without this facility for 7 days. I have made it clear to the jobsworth I spoke to that I would in the first instance I was making a formal complaint verbally and would be following it up with a written complaint (after I recieve BG bill and findings) as I believe that the company is in breach of contract. No intention of splitting any potential proceeds with the T though - I think I have given them enough :rolleyes:

Melboy, I am no heating engineer and can appreciate that even BG suffer with levels of competency between engineers. Another problem for me now is that the BG engineer that went issued a safety notice about the flue needing to be positioned slightly up from level, pipework should be 22mm rather than 18 fitted and wiring from the boiler should be white heat resistant (as its blue he does not know!). The system was installed by a recognised company by qualified gas engineers and has been serviced since correctly (AFAIK!). Two gas safety certificates have been issued since I came into possession and according to both the boiler is correctly and safely installed. Still bothered the T though which is understandable - I hope this has been put to rest by the person that produced the gas safety certificate in the first instance earlier this year.

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Tony, your situation your call. Good luck in any event.

Now I wonder if RL feels Grumpy will Grumpy be Happy or will Happy be Grumpy ?

Can RL feel Grumpy and Happy at the same time so not to show favouritism ? I don't want to be Nosey, honestly, or I'll be next.

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Tony, your situation your call. Good luck in any event.

Now I wonder if RL feels Grumpy will Grumpy be Happy or will Happy be Grumpy ?

Can RL feel Grumpy and Happy at the same time so not to show favouritism ? I don't want to be Nosey, honestly, or I'll be next.

I wont be Bashful, this is making me Sleepy Doc, this is an (Sn)eezy problem to sort out Dopey :):D;)

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Oh dear.........you've sussed me out......yes, I'm rarely Happy, often very Dopey but always generous with my criticisms..

Remember.....'Innovation comes from creative destruction'.

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TonyW

To come back to your Safety Notice question....

In my experience BG Gas Check engineers do this from time to time when issuing Annual Certificates.

It may mean, as I have learnt, that something doesn't meet current regs and would need altering, should the boiler be replaced 'today'. (BG would like the business!)

As you say, the important paper is the up-to-date Annual Safety Certificate.

I'm no expert but I thought angled (10deg) flues applied only to condensing boilers to ensure condensate runs back correctly.

PS: If it is a condensing boiler make sure the condensate pipe from base of boiler is plastic and frost protected if routed externally to drain. Lack of thought to this caused lots of shut-downs last year!

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Chestmut

Thanks for the thoughts.

I share your experience with BG as my own house has had a safety cert slapped on each year for the last 3 years for the flue being lower than new regs and not having a cage over. First time issued the BG engineer apologised and said the only reason was new regs which change quite often but even though in his view it was not a real safety issue had to comply with the rules.

It also appears that there is a degree of interpretation and understanding that may differ between engineers and as far as a particular boiler goes their knowledge. Had experience of this aspect too at this property, as one engineer said that there was not enough ventilation for the boiler as it has been boxed in! I boxed this boiler in after doing some research including looking at the installation instructions which stated boiler can be placed in a sealed area and does not require ventilation. I did actually add a couple of ventilators to allow air flow through the cupboard and alsoprovided a CO2 detector for added safety.

I am pretty sure that the installation would be condemmed and shut down by the engineer for any serious breach of safety

I believe the boiler is a condensing unit (Main 24 HE) and am pretty sure that the pipe is plastic and is routed externally to the drain. I am doubtful however that it is frost protected!

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I believe the boiler vent to room is so we may be aware of any gas leak rather than for correct boiler operation, as most breathe through the flu. We need to vent gas meters for the same reason.

If the condensate drain pipe is of sufficient diameter, say 22mm, the contents won't freeze, as long as it's not a horizontal run.

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Thanks COR, as the boiler is in a large built in cupboard and I have fitted vents and had 'expert advice' I am as satisfied as I can be that all is correct.

Will ask for the drain pipe to be checked as it does run across to drain several degrees off horizontal.

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The 22 mm external condensate drain should be insulated to avoid freezing up.

Good installers will always try and ensure the condensate drain pipe is fitted internally but of course this is not always possibe. Lazy installers wouldn't do it anyway!

Flue pipe should be angled upwards 10 degrees max. sounds good.

A "room sealed boiler" can be boxed in.

All Gasafe (CORGI) engineers should have or carry a "Blue Book" which states the gas installion regulations so there should be no variation.

I know from experience that some Gasafe engineer's are somewhat lacking in knowledge for what ever that reason may be. We follow them around and Trenner's will tell you my Son picks up on some very unsatisfactory certification.

BG train their boiler installers in 14 weeks! My Son had to complete a 4 year apprenticeship with college exams etc. plus improver training with manufacture's courses.

17 years in the Trade now running his own Company and we all love BG because their pricing keeps us all in business.

There is a difference! You take your pick.

Mel.

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Just a thank you for all your replies and a quick update.

As you know I was considering making a financiall gesture particularly after the LA suggesting this was a good idea! However after considering the sensible advice offered here I concluded that this action however well meaning would not be in my best interests and likely to highlight me as a 'pushover' by the tenant and maybe even the LA.

So I did speak to the LA to inform them of my decision that no 'compensation' would be forthcoming and explaining that I did all in my power to rectify the situation in the fastest time possible (at a final cost to me of £250!) and had I been living in the property myself I would have gone through the same problems and delays. LA not exactly happy but I went on to explain that the tenenant needs to be made aware of their responsibilities and accept the fact that they should not expect better treatment than a private owner - I am not running a hotel. Also suggested to the LA that the T's needs to be made properly aware of their responsiblities including the fact that they would have to pay for false call outs.

I am pleased that I made this decision as I had a call from the LA to say that T had reported washing machine stopped working. T had supposedly checked out filter and general troubleshooting and nothing found. I arranged for LA contractor to go out and he found that the machine had stopped working due to the build up of fibres (bath mat?) and once cleared all ok. Still had to make it clear to the LA prior to this that I would not pay for a false call out and under those circumstances would not consider any financial compensation, however the LA could if they wish do something for T e.g. reduce or omit the call out charge.

So I am now still chasing the Home Emergency insurers for a response to my claim that they clearly failed to provide the minimum level of cover for a total failure of the heating system i.e.ge the boiler working. First telephone complaint fobbed off. Followed this up with a formal letter of complaint, no reply. Another letter to the MD this time with a note that I intended to escalate. This time got a reply stating that they would conduct a full investigation. Must be really full as I have just had an email apologising for the fact that 4 weeks have passed since MD's reply but they are still invesigating :rolleyes:

Anyway although I am not hopeful of a satisfactory conclusion to this I fully intend to escalate this 'breach of contract' as far as possible - the policy wording should have stated thank your for purchasing a chocolate teapot :angry:

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Regarding that case I can say that a tenant and the landlord should have agreed both on their responsibilities upon letting them stay in your apartment. These things that you might discuss will remind them of what are the things that they should consider while staying in your place. And because that matter already happened, you should take the first move and remind them never to destroy any of your appliances in the future.

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