05/09/2018

A broken boiler or heating system can be a potential problem for both tenants and landlords alike. As a tenant, it is important that your home is safe and hazard free, which includes ensuring that you have access to things like hot water and heating. As a landlord, you need to know your responsibilities, especially when it comes to making sure that you provide a safe living environment for your tenants.

It is a landlord’s legal responsibility to ensure that tenants have hot water at all times, along with a host of other health and safety requirements. Unless the tenant has damaged the hot water system themselves, it is down to the landlord to ensure that repairs are made, and access to the hot water system is restored in full.

The question of how long the landlord has to make repairs depends on a number of factors, including whether or not the repairs are routine, emergency, or urgent repairs. For council tenants, there is a scheme called the right to repair, which sets out specific deadlines and informs tenants of exactly what repairs they can expect, and when.

For private tenants, there are regulations that provide you with a means of recourse if your landlord fails to make the necessary repairs within the allotted time.

The Landlord And Tenant Act (1985)

The Landlord and Tenant Act (1985) details the responsibilities of landlords and tenants under assured shorthold tenancies. The document came into force in 1985 and is still used today. It overrules any other document.

When it comes to hot water and heating systems, the act states that the landlord is responsible for keeping heating and hot water systems in repair and proper working order. The act also requires that the landlord keeps water, gas, electricity, and sanitation systems in the same condition. This act covers everything from gas fires and water boilers to radiators and any electrical heaters that have been provided directly by the landlord.

Your Responsibilities As Tenant

You do have some responsibilities, as a tenant, to ensure that heating, hot water, and other systems are kept in good working order. You are required to perform daily and routine maintenance, and to ensure that you don’t damage or break the system.

You will need to check your tenancy agreement to see what exactly you are responsible for. For example, you are likely to be responsible for clearing blocked drains or fixing leaking taps.

General maintenance includes actions like bleeding the radiators, so if your radiators are warming up but not heating up fully, you should bleed the radiators first. If this doesn’t fix the problem, then it may be indicative of a different, bigger problem, that is the responsibility of the landlord.

Some problems, such as frozen pipes preventing the heating system from working, could be your problem or that of your landlord.

If you do attempt any maintenance yourself, ensure that you do so safely, and use registered engineers where required. If you attempt a repair yourself, and your actions cause further damage, you may be liable to pay for more expensive repairs which will need to be made by a professional.

Landlord Responsibilities

If repairs are deemed to be the landlord’s responsibility, the amount of time they have to make these repairs are determined by a number of different factors. For example, if the heating system breaks in summer, this is not likely to be considered an emergency or urgent, but if the system breaks down in winter, when temperatures are much lower, you can reasonably expect this problem to be rectified as a matter of urgency.

Your first step should always be to contact your landlord or, in the case of managed properties, the letting agency that deals with your property rental. Keep a copy of any email or letter that you send, and document phone calls and discussions that you have. These might be required if you need to claim compensation at a later date.

What Is Considered An Urgent Repair?

A total loss of hot water is always considered an emergency, regardless of weather or other conditions. You can boil water for cleaning dishes, for washing, and even for washing clothes, but your landlord should not hold out on making repairs.

A lack of heating may also be considered an emergency, but this depends on the time of year. For example, losing your heating during the summer months is unlikely to have much effect. In winter, a lack of heating could be life threatening, and if your landlord fails to fix the problem after 48 hours of it being reported to them, they could be guilty of causing a major health hazard for you and other tenants.

What To Do If Your Landlord Fails Their Responsibility

For emergency and urgent repairs, your landlord usually has 24 hours to fix the problem, after you’ve reported it to them. You cannot expect the landlord to take any action if you don’t report the problem in the first place. If they fail to make the repairs in this time, call them again, and determine what exactly is being done to make repairs.

If your landlord does fail to take action, you can contact the local council, who may arrange for the repairs to be made and then chase compensation from the landlord themselves. You can also arrange for the repairs to be made and then apply to the courts to get the money back, although this approach does carry some risk.

The Right To Repair

Local authorities are part of a program called the Right to Repair scheme. The scheme dictates how long the housing authority must respond to the need for repairs to be made to the qualifying problems. A total loss of water supply needs fixing within a day, while a partial loss of supply should be fixed within 3 days. Similarly, a loss of gas supply needs to be rectified within one working day.

When it comes to a broken heating system, the time the council has to make repairs depends on the time of year. Repairs must be made within one working day during winter, but within three days during summer.

How long can a landlord leave you without hot water? It really depends on the type and extent of the problem, who lives in the property, and even the time of year and temperature. Emergency and urgent repairs should usually be completed within a couple of days, at most, but the first and most important step is always to inform the landlord or agency of any problems, otherwise they won’t be able to do anything about making repairs.

PDF Estates offers full property management services. We can tailor our service to meet your requirements, which means that we can incorporate routine and emergency repair services. We maintain a network of contractor and suppler details, including those that specialise in emergency heating system and hot water system repairs. This means that tenants can enjoy safe and hazard free housing, while landlords do not have to worry about making arrangements for these repairs to be made. Call us on 020 3815 7952 or email info@pdfestates.com to discuss your property portfolio and see how we can help minimise your involvement and maximise your revenue.