Grievance against Landlord or Estate agent, not sure

Hi all

I’m writing this post on behalf of a friend. Long story short, she started getting inflated electricity bills during Covid and approached Scottish Power, they told her to get her boiler checked as the metre was correct. She then had to wait until Covid was more under control and finally her landlord sent round several engineers who fixed various problems but her electric bills were coming in at £500.00 pcm.

The letting agent was unsympathetic and told her she must be wasting electricity, and she wasn’t she is a carer on a low income with 3 children, one with a heart problem and earns very little money. However, in spite of that she did managed to keep up the payments but they were crippling her.

Eventually a new engineer came round and isolated the problem. He said because the system and the tank were so badly calcified, the system was having to work very hard to heat the water and that was what was escalating the bills out of control.

He did a temporary fix but said the whole system needed to be flushed out, that hasn’t happened yet. My friend’s bills have improved but are still high, also she lives in fear of it escalating out of control again.

To date she has been dealing with the agent but we both suspect much correspondence is not being forwarded to the landlord, so I wrote a letter invoking section 1 of the 1985 Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 to request getting access to the Landlords correspondence address.

What do you suggest my next course of action is? What we would like is to be able to negotiate some sort of compensation for the inflated bills and also to get the system flushed to bring her bills down even more.

I look forward to your comments and can you tell me which bit of the law I can apply to these demands.

Thank you

The first step has to be to deal with the water cylinder. Has the agent/landlord accepted the engineers comments and have they agreed to deal with it? If not, then I would start by writing to them formally stating that you believe this is disrepair under s11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 and that it requires urgent attention. If this still doesn’t result in action from them, there is a procedure on the Shelter website for getting repairs done yourself and deducting the money from the rent. This has to be followed exactly or there could be problems.

Once that has been achieved you could address the issue of compensation, although I’m not aware of any automatic right to this and if they decline you may need legal advice to understand whether you have a case to sue them for it.