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How can I avoid BU to lodger? safety and bills dilemmas

(21 Posts)
EmbarrassedWuss Sat 03-May-14 10:28:23

1. My lodger is a friend of a friend, she has various disabilities, she is my ideal lodger, I completely rely on this income which basically keeps a roof over my and baby DS's head (on Maternity leave from low paid work and have savings but no pension).

The space I rent out to her is not ideal for her needs but vastly better than where she was previously while she waits on the housing list for a properly accessible flat. I have willingly enabled various adaptations to improve things for her and paid for some.

2. I am a wuss about any kind of conflict/disagreement and very sensitive about not wanting to disturb or inconvenience her. She has lots of electrical appliances and understandably the fuel bills have gone up a lot in the last year but when she moved in I calculated a fixed weekly contribution based on previous bills. A really difficult pregnancy and DS arriving very prem mean I haven't recalculated proportions or discussed the increased costs since she moved in last Summer.

I have (fairly willingly) given over the bathroom for her sole use as it is on the same floor as the 2 rooms she rents and there is shower/WC I can use on a different floor.

Should I say anything about her plugging in and trailing the lead of an electric heater into the bathroom?

I am worried about it but is it none of my business? Should I get a safe electric heater installed in there?

How on earth can I renegotiate the amount she pays towards bills?

I really really don't want to BU.

for the avoidance of drip feeding DP is a full time carer for a parent with dementia so we do not live together or have joint finances. We hope this will change one day but it may be several years ahead to be realistic

slowcomputer Sat 03-May-14 10:30:17

Should I say anything about her plugging in and trailing the lead of an electric heater into the bathroom?

Personally I wouldn't allow that. It's dangerous, and electric fan heaters cost a fortune to run. I'd say that if she wants to run one then you need to renegotiate bill costs.

Catmint Sat 03-May-14 10:32:29

I think you should have a friendly chat, tell her that unfortunately she cannot have her heater in the bathroom due to safety reasons.

MellowAutumn Sat 03-May-14 10:33:01

Of course you should say something and just say fuel prices have gone up and so has other costs we need to renegotiate the rent. Price up a safe heater and include it in the rent rise say over 12 mths -

Its your house so it is your business - can't see an insurance company being very happy if a fire started because of this !

maybe write everything down 1st so you cover all the points ?#

LIZS Sat 03-May-14 10:36:20

yes you need to raise the heater issue - it is unsafe for you all . Is there no heating in the bathroom ? If bills have going up (which they will for above inflationary fuel rises as well as increased usage - some of which could be due to your baby and being on ml ) then you should review her rent /contribution annually.

EmbarrassedWuss Sat 03-May-14 10:38:15

Thank you. I can't blame her for not being careful about using electricity ie lights left on etc when she never has a larger bill as a result. It is my own silly fault.

Where on earth can I source a decent grip and some backbone?

EmbarrassedWuss Sat 03-May-14 10:51:33

We almost never see each other, do you think starting by sending an email would be ok? I could say I've noticed the heater & will look into getting one installed for when the central heating is off and also say I'm going to recalculate the bills and can we make a time to sit down and discuss it.

Is there any way of measuring roughly how much electricity we each use? Perhaps I should ask PigletJohn on the Property/DIY topic.

WooWooOwl Sat 03-May-14 11:30:34

You should absolutely say something about trailing wires into the bathroom for a heater. It's dangerous, and common sense should have prevented her from doing that anyway.

You could ask your electricity company to send you one of their digital meter thingies. No idea what they're called, but we got sent one and DH had a great time for a few days turning everything on and off and working out how many units if energy each appliance used. It was quite simple to do, and the energy company sent it out for free with instructions on how to use it to calculate your usage.

As for plucking up the courage to say something, maybe do it just after you've read your bills and seen the money go out of your account, then bit the bucket and go for it. Remember you aren't doing any thing wrong by asking someone to pay for their own excessive usage.

BitterAndOnlySlightlyTwisted Sat 03-May-14 11:38:27

Utility bills went up by about 10% before Christmas, so an increase would not be unreasonable. You need to explain that you calculated the rent based on your own consumption rather than making allowances for an extra person being in the property.

An electric heater being trailed into a bathroom is a terrible risk, and you should mention this as soon as humanly possible. A friend had an unheated bathroom and an electric heater was put in there before she bathed but was taken out before she entered that room. I think it would be perfectly reasonable to ask your friend to do that rather than risk her life.

And no, an email under such circumstances is likely to alienate your friend rather than being a neutral mean s of communication. Face-to-face is always better even if it's going to be an uncomfortable conversation. Emails can come across as terribly passive-aggressive.

ApocalypseNowt Sat 03-May-14 11:44:16

I would write everything down then say to her that due to fuel prices, etc you need to recalculate bills/costs. Give her the paper and say you'll let her have a read through then discuss it at a particular time. Do this all in a nice voice with a've said nothing that would indicate this lady will be unreasonable about it. It's one of those situations where the worry of doing it is loads worse than the actual reality.

FelineLou Sat 03-May-14 11:51:27

If you intend to let out this space after she is rehoused it might be worth having a separate meter put in so she can pay for her own fuel. Then put down her contribution slightly.
Be very firm about this space heater in a bathroom especially if she has mobility problems; it is very dangerous.

EmbarrassedWuss Sat 03-May-14 12:01:34

Thank you everyone, a lot of wise advice.

I don't have any reason to expect an unpleasant response. I really appreciate the help pulling myself together.

Pipbin Sat 03-May-14 12:05:57

It is very dangerous to have a normal electric heater in the bathroom. You need to talk to her about this.
In my old house we had no heating in the bathroom. The bathroom was en suite and we didn't have heating in the bedroom either. We found that running the shower or the bath was enough to heat the bathroom for us.
But then we don't have any disabilities and I understand that although this was ok for us it wouldn't do for everyone.

The weather is getting warmer now though, how much longer is she going to need to use the heater for.

I would leave a note for her saying that you need to have a formal chat.

steppemum Sat 03-May-14 12:10:05

The heater is really dangerous, an electrical appliance falling into a bath would kill her.
I am assuming that the heater just sits on the floor, but even so, water and electricity are a lethal combination.

I would not raise any of this in an email. Why don't you incite her for a meal/coffee/glass of wine and say you would like to have a chance to talk over how things are going as landlord/tenant.

Then when you meet, ask her how it is going, is everything OK. In my experience, if you go this way round, then you have a much better chance of a good conversation.
She may come up with something, eg xx is a problem, you can then talk about that, or say you will have a think about it.
Then say, from your side, you are really pleased to have her, her rent has been a lifeline, and she is a good tenant.
Just one or two things you would like to raise. You are unhappy with the heater, (you may need to thing about a wall mounted safe heater for the bathroom)
And also, now she has been living there for xx months, you unfortunately do need to review the electricity.

You need to have you figures straight, so decide in advance what you want her to pay, or how you want her to change it, and how flexible you will be (are you willing to negotiate with her over it, over how you play it)

Lauranda Sat 03-May-14 12:10:17

You could be suwed with the heater in the bathroom!

There was that horrific story a few years ago with a guy that installed a heater above the bath for his pregnant wife, didn't end well.

EmbarrassedWuss Sat 03-May-14 13:06:21

Are you sure I could be sued Lauranda? she has trailed a lead from a socket outside the bathroom. Or are you thinking of my plan to have a safe heater installed? I believe there are suitable bathroom heaters and it would be done by a professional - not by me!

Thank you so much for the step by step guide steppemum I am sufficiently sleep deprived to need maximum hand holding.

EmbarrassedWuss Sat 03-May-14 13:10:35

To keep myself honest I will report back in stages if necessary. This is important but very difficult for me however silly that sounds.

Pipbin Sat 03-May-14 13:17:39

You can have electric heaters in the bathroom. Either ones that are like a fan heater on the wall or ones that are a heated towel rail. However they have to be hardwired into the wall (rather like the hand driers you see in public loos).
To do this you will need an electrician to install it and to redecorate the bathroom afterwards.

I used to have something like this:

mousmous Sat 03-May-14 13:37:30

I would first write down all the issues you want to talk about.
the write her a short message that you want to talk to her and what time would suit best.

then just do it, you will feel much better afterwards

maybe get a fan heater installed, you can order one like this and have it instaled by an electrician.

HeartsTrumpDiamonds Sat 03-May-14 13:49:22

Check your home insurance too re electric heaters in the bathroom. A resultant short circuit/fire might not be covered, never mind the danger aspect.

twofingerstoGideon Sat 03-May-14 15:53:29

EmbarrassedWuss, I have a lodger and discovered that my insurance policy would not pay out if, for example, he left a window open and we were burgled, whereas if my DC did the same thing we'd be covered! I shopped around and have found a policy that covers lodger damage/carelessness. Please make sure you're fully insured. I understand that it's fairly common for building/household policies NOT to cover homes with lodgers, so if she's doing something potentially dangerous you need to (a) talk to her about it and (b) make sure that if the worst happened your insurance would cover you. Don't communicate with her by email though! smile

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