Q. I am a tenant and have been having issues every time I report a fault in my apartment to my Landlord. I have had an ongoing problem with the boiler and have had numerous days without any hot water or heating and yet nothing ever gets resolved. What can I do to change things and ensure my issues are taken seriously and are ultimately followed through with a repair?
A. I hear you, I imagine not having basics like hot water and heating must be extremely frustrating. Do check your tenancy agreement as in the first instance the Landlord has a responsibility to fulfil his side of the contract by ensuring basic services like hot water and heating are supplied. More importantly under law (s11 (1)(c) Landlord & Tenant Act 1985) your landlord is responsible to keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwelling-house for space heating and heating water. Do make sure that all issues that are reported are done so in writing. Reporting a fault over the telephone is ok but should always be followed up with an email thus ensuring a paper trail records dates and times of the issues at hand. This definitely gives you the upper hand as you can prove that you have reported the issue on several occasions. Last year, 8% of letting issues investigated by TPO (The Property Ombudsman) related to repairs and maintenance, and 13% to poor communication. My advice would be to make sure that next time you rent an apartment you look for an ARLA (Association of Residential Lettings Agents) regulated agent, by default a registered agent will also be a member of the Property Ombudsman.
With effect from 1 October 2008, all estate agents are required to register with an Estate Agents Redress Scheme that has been approved by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and which investigates complaints against estate agents. The TPO is one of the schemes approved by the OFT. Many estate agents have in addition agreed to follow the TPO Code of Practice for Residential Estate Agents. Estate agents signing up to this Code of Practice are required to provide additional consumer protection that goes beyond that required by the law. Ensuring you have a redress scheme to turn to when things like this go wrong can give future peace of mind.