Ruling could cut heating costs

Liverpool City Council has won a property tribunal ruling which could see landlords throughout the country having to provide affordable heating for their tenants.

The case concerned a flat in a converted property over 100 years old in Botanic Road, Wavertree, owned by Mr. Anwar Hadi Kassim. 

Its heating consisted of panel convector heaters and a towel rail which operate on peak electrical tariff. The city council served an improvement notice requiring the installation of either a gas fired central heating system, or modern fan assisted storage heating system

Mr. Kassim appealed against the notice to the First-Tier Tribunal Property Chamber (Residential Property)

However, the Council successfully argued that the panel convector heaters and electric towel rail were so expensive to run compared with a gas central heating system or modern fan assisted storage heating system it would mean that the likely occupiers of the flat would not be able afford to use them as required.  This would lead to the flat becoming unhealthily cold.

The Housing Act 2004 places a duty on councils to take enforcement action where what are known as Category 1 hazards –those that present a severe threat to health or safety of a resident –  are identified.  The tribunal agreed with the Council that the current heating provision at the flat resulted in a Category 1 hazard for excess cold and confirmed the improvement notice and the works which were needed to remedy it.

Councillor Frank Hont, cabinet member for housing, said “This is a very significant ruling. Fuel poverty is a real issue in the city and it has now been firmly established that landlords cannot rely on inefficient and expensive heating for tenants.  

“We want tenants in the private rented sector to be able to live in warm and safe accommodation and not have to have to choose between heating or eating.

“This decision will have nationwide repercussions and will be welcomed by tenants throughout the country.”