To be sick of not being able to afford the heating on(327 Posts)
Thankfully no children involved.
We are yet to have any form of heating on this autumn/winter as we just cannot afford the bill. We only have central heating, no fire. I'm currently sat in a t-shirt, thick jumper, dressing gown, jeans, 2 pairs of socks, and slippers and I've got a hot water bottle and I'm frozen. The thought of another 4 months of this makes me want to cry.
The thing is, most people can't do what I do. I live in a Kentish village teeming with wood to take, so I do. But you have to drive there, that is out of the realms of so many people - it's ridiculous. How many rented properties have a woodburner ffs?
Well, in towns, Sabrina, I'd guess not that many, I don't know. But I live in a fairly poor rural backwater, and there is barely any newbuild* around here. It's unusual to come across a house that doesn't have a fireplace or a woodburner.
I have been thinking about the private renting situation in the UK a lot lately.
I recently complained to the managing agent that my electrics were dodgy (they are patched to buggery, lights flicker on and off, wires not properly encased etc).
The landlord, when the agent passed on my message, apparently refused to send an electrician to have a look.
They told me that "the landlord has no legal obligation to have an electric safety certificate"-unlike a gas safety one, which they must have.
(Having said that, ds and I were nearly exploded once in a previous house due to botched removal of a gas fire..)
Then you have the situation with pre pay meters (which most LL will not remove; the implication being that tenants are feckless and wont pay the bills) These cost more per unit.
Then, there is the fact that property owners can apply for grants to help with the cost of insulation/ solar panels-all sorts.
Landlords qualify, but if it means spending a single penny on the house they rent to someone else, they won't.
I have lived with rising damp, having to scrub mould off the walls monthly, because my landlord would not accept that the damp proof needed fixing.
Friends of mine who own, or rent from the council, seem to think that,as I pay so much rent, my landlord will automatically take care of everything.
This is just laughable. In the past I have spend money on electricians and plumbers because I have had to. This really really grates when my home is someone elses asset. (and my LL has no mortgage on my house, or the other 2 on my street he owns).
And now I am resigned to fuel poverty, because as soon as the heat is turned off it all dissapears through the roof.
I think Landlords need to be made to realise that renting out houses is not a licence to print money, and that they actually have a responsibility to their tenants. If I am paying the equivalent of a £110000 mortgage on my own, then the least I should expect is to be safe and not have higher energy bills that people who already have the advantage of owning.
We need a BIG change in the law. More and more families like mine are going to be renting for life (aaarrghh) and that needs facing and dealing with.
There is NO protection for tenants, and NO obligation for landlords to meet basic safety/energy saving levels.
This is fucked up.
IfNotNowThenWhen- The fact that there is no "gas safety certificate" doesn't mean that the landlord can ignore you if you have warned them the electrics are dodgy. I am sure that Landlords have to ensure that their property is safe.
I would contact the Electric Safety Council for advice. http://www.esc.org.uk/landlords/
Fuel poverty is a massive problem in the private rented sector. I know that excess cold and I think damp also would mean that a house would fail the healthy house safety rating system (or something like that) which in theory Enviro health should be able to then make them take action but I dont' know how effective it is in practice. The law is changing so that eventually landlords won't be able to rent out homes that are very energy inefficient and also that they can't reasonably refuse requests from tenants to improve the energy efficiency of their homes, but not for another few years. They will probably still find ways out of meeting their responsibilities though.
I would suggest that you put your concerns about the safety of the electricity supply (ideally with photos of dangerous cabling etc.) in writing and email or send recorded delivery to the letting agent. State in the letter that you want the landlord to be informed about your concerns and you would want to get answers on how he is going to address the situation by [date, in a month or so]. Also ask the agent to acknowledge receipt of your email/letter.
If you don't hear anything by that date sent/email a reminder to the letting agent.
Hopefully this shakes them into action. You could also point out that your landlord is responsible for the electric system and if an accident was to happen due to a faulty system you will hold them accountable, through the courts if necessary. [This is clearly a threat and I would include that in a reminder, if you don't get a satisfactory answer to the first letter/email]. Any letters are best sent registered, so emails will be cheaper and you still have a record.
IfNot - that is v. poor. In addition to the other advice, it would be worth talking to your local council, they should have someone who deals with private lettings and may be able to help.
Thanks LoveSewing and whatever5. I have actually photgraphed all the dodgy wiring, and emailed the pics to the letting agent. I said that whether or not there was no legal responsibility (which I still find hard to believe) there was certainly a moral one.
Of course, being a letting agents, they probably won't know what "morals" are!
I will contact the electric safety people.
I think you get in a mindset with renting, or at least renting family houses in high demand areas, like I do, that you don't want to whinge too much,or make them spend too much money or they wont renew your contract.
When I rented this place I objected to the fact that there was loads of the landlords old crap in the storage cupboard, and the drone at the agents went "oh right. Do you want to use the cupboard then?"
I spluttered "well-yes! I am paying an arm and a leg in rent!" to which she replied "why don't you just get a mortgage?"
Oh. Silly me. Why didn't I think of that? Doh!
Ta mooncup, but realistically I think councils are pretty useless. After all, the conditions they consider livable can be pretty bad.
A friend of mine and her family lived in a privately rented flat where half the wall had collapsed. You could see daylight. The stairs up to the flat were broken and really dangerous, and she had young kids.
Eventually she at least got on a higher priority band on the council waiting list, but NOT because of the bad conditions (they wernt considered bad enough) but because her children became old enough to be considered to need a room each!
And my house is nice, on the surface. It is quite scary that in rented houses you just have to trust that the owner has made it safe.
I do think the main issue is that there has to be real accountability for landlords.
I agree that there needs to be regulation of landlords. There are more private tenants year on year because of council houses being sold off and buying being so unaffordable. So the numbers of people affected by sub-standard private rental properties is growing. It is already ridiculous that someone renting a property can be paying twice as much out in rent as the person next-door to them pays on their mortgage because they bought at the right time. That aside, it is shocking that pretty much anyone can call themselves a landlord or letting agent and blithely charge vast amounts of money without having to do very much at all in return.
Actually, I'm a bloody top 10% slightly right of centre and I found marriedinwhite posts a bit damned much.
Do I know people who are feckless? Yes. I have family who are bloody feckless - I don't come from money. But yes, the steps we took as a young MC couple with not a lot of money to spare but plenty of prospects are entirely different to the recommendations for a family in poverty and renting.
20 degrees plus mornings and evenings in the house is not a insane luxury. It's what I grew up with even when parents were poor, and even in 15% interest periods. I am really sad that some people think (for non-environmental reasons) that this is basking in luxury. On to some suggestions:
I had a uni flat with 11ft ceilings. PITA to heat as a student. Thick curtains were a must, but a lot of radiators are under windows. Unsurprisingly (to me anyway, but not some of my friends) if you put in floor length curtains over the radiator to keep the heat in...you are erm, not.
Ugly sausage dog style draught excluders can make a big difference. My mother bought me one quite recently and I made a face, thought 'not skint' but I tried it anyway. Made a huge difference.
If you are in an upstairs downstairs, close the doors. Heat will gravitate upwards and bedrooms don't need to be as warm as living areas (accept if DC play in rooms may be different, but most radiators also have an thermostat so theirs could be turned up). Be careful where the thermostat sits, esp if you have a combo boiler - we have an old house and it's difficult to find the optimal place to control the house heating, put it in a cold area and our heating is on way more than we need.
Slatternly as this may sound, don't open the curtains on north facing windows. We have shutters and I used to open them in the morning, but now that the morning's are dark I only open my south facing curtains and leave the shutters closed. I air for half an hour at the weekend if need be (we both work out, no kids) but otherwise this makes no difference other than keeping our house warmer, whereas previously we'd have the fire on for half an hour upon getting in most winter evenings.
I am so sorry for all of you I cant believe in 2013 people cant put on heating I am very lucky to be able to use my heating,my opionions on this matter would be illegal,I give to the food banks here in Cornwall I wish I could do more,when you see people spend £250,000 on a Ferrari and work in the city,upside down world
Not sure if it was this thread or the other that I posted on.
In a few years time landlords will be expected to get their houses to band d or higher.
The loop hole will be they have to at least 'attempt' to get it to band d. How tightly that will be regulated I don't know
IfNotNowThenWhen: My LL left a pile of boxes full of god knows what in the garage and in a bedroom cupboard.
After a few years I asked him if they were his or if previous tennants had left them. He didn't know, so I took it all to a charity shop.
It was his stuff as some boxes had his name & address on.
Felt much better not having someone else's junk in my house / garage.
It's freezing today! See, now I'm torn.... I can't justify putting the heating on, but if we don't have it on a bit, it really starts to smell damp, & I'm sure that must make our clothes smell damp too. Btw, we don't live in a hovel! It's a perfectly nice ex la house, just built in a time that councils didnt pay much heed to damp proofing!
I think you need to put the heat on even if it's just for an hour a day, your house will end up really damp otherwise especially if you dry washing indoors.
I know its not snowy and million degrees below freezing yet (though it feels like it) but if we don't put the heating on once in a while does that mean the pipes could freeze so its more sensible to put it on a BIT once or twice a week for an hour?
Yes, we should have it on a little bit. Trouble is, this house needs it on a lot to make a difference!
OP you work 30 hours a week but they are at unpredictable times so you can't get a second job. I understand that. But could you look for a different job with longer hours, and ditch the one you have? Or else could you find a different job (say piece work from home or local dog walking or taking in ironing) that had flexible hours so you can fit them round your first job?
If none of that is possible, then what about trying to spend more time out in heated public buildings - may not be possible if you are rural and have to drive to them but eg we have a warm library round the corner (we are lucky) where I could go if my house was cold.
I also agree with others that sadly a completely unheated house will develop damp problems after a while that could be expensive for you.
If you are in a 17c house, I assume it is privately owned/rented - if so, can you move somewhere smaller and better insulated and so cheaper to heat? Sorry if I am making suggestions that don't work - obviously I don't really know your circumstances.
I'm currently attempting the flowerpot experiment. 15 minutes in, and the flower pots are steaming (they've been outside, so have a fair bit of moisture in them) and I can definitely feel a current of heat coming up off them.
Primark are selling thermal base layers at the moment, long and short sleeve tops and long johns... very toasty. I bought a fluffy top in ASDA with a hood with cats face and ears (cute) its very soft and cosy, too cosy as after 10 mins of wearing it I had to take it off but I am in Plymouth and the cold has not really hit here
Yup, got 75 litres of heating oil left and a newborn to keep warm. I'm on SMP as well so we aren't exactly raking it in.
Currently sitting on a hot water bottle and sharing body heat with DD under a blanket whilst feeding.
B&M have thermal layers for men and women as well, I think 2 for £7.
Flowerpot + Candles? I'm surprised at how hot this actually is! I don't think it will heat the whole room, but the area where I'm sitting is toasty. This is actually the first night in a week that I'm not tucked up in bed by 8pm. (But if you try it, do make sure the pan is resting on a heatproof surface, and that you don't touch it--it will burn you!)
I wouldn't feel comfortable doing it with kids or pets around, but since it's cost me about 25p to heat my work area for the last 6 hours with tealights, I will be doing it when DD's are at school.
I think all these ideas are great but you do need to think about how you can get more money coming in! With no children you could be working a lot more hours than you are. Your life before children is the only time you get to do this easily, and get some serious money in the bank.
And the longer you're out at work, the less time you're sitting at home in the cold!
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