Many areas of England were blanketed in snow last week.
A landlord called the office this weekend, desperate for advice on what to do. Their tenant, a single mother with a small child had called her in tears because the boiler had broken down and she couldn’t get it to restart.
The landlord was concerned because due to the snow, it was impossible for her to get an emergency plumber out to inspect the boiler. She had gone round to drop off a couple of portable heaters as she didn’t want the tenant or her daughter to be cold in the weather, but the tenant had angrily told her this was not good enough as they were more expensive than gas heating.
Landlords owe an obligation under Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 to keep the boiler in good repair, and should it break down they must repair it within a reasonable time frame.
In this case, because the tenant rented out the whole property, the landlord was only obliged to repair boiler after the tenant had notified them of it.
The question though is what is a reasonable time to fix it, and what would be considered a reasonable step to take in the meantime? This is a judgement based on the facts and what a reasonable landlord would do in these circumstances. Reasonable then depends on the potential risks involved in not fixing the disrepair in the property.
In this case, a broken boiler in frozen conditions would be considered very serious by most reasonable people. The small child in the property only increases the danger. As such calling an emergency plumber would certainly be a reasonable step to take.
Here the landlord had gone straight round to the property to inspect the defect, tried to call out an emergency plumber but this was impossible due to the adverse weather conditions. It’s fair to say they were responding within a reasonable time frame but had they taken sufficient steps?
The landlord had provided some emergency portable heaters to see the tenant through until the emergency plumber. As such the situation was no longer dangerous for the tenant but inconvenient.
We told the landlord that we believed they had taken reasonable steps here.
Rupinder Aujla, LAT Manager said ‘it’s great that so many of our landlords understand that heating is so important at this time of year. Especially those like this member who race round and provide emergency heaters.’
- On 12th February, we are running a Property Standards webinar for landlords. We will outline what landlords need to know about the Fitness for Human Habitation Act, HHSRS, EPC Improvements. The webinar will start at 11am and is FREE for RLA members and £5 for non-members. Sign up here.
- Check out our guide on repairs for landlords here.
- RLA Insurers RentGuard have also produced a free winter care guide for landlords to download. You can download this here.