The second part of the utilities and services series. Also update from the first post back here. I got a letter from NPower last week to say sorry they had not been able to resolve my problem, complaint has been raised etc etc. Great, only they sent it to the wrong address, our landlord dropped it off to us. I tell you it's like a comedy of errors, they've had another email from me.
Issue two - You are not allowed to get a new service installed, or change existing suppliers.
Our first place had cable TV already installed, but they wouldn't let us get internet! We got one of those mobile internet dongles for the laptop but this was back when they were pretty new and it was rubbish. Looking back now I would have fought them more on that and insisted they let us get internet installed, it would actually not have affected the place that much as the cable company should have been able to use the existing holes and it wouldn't have meant any work on the walls. I was only 20 at the time though and pretty much just did what the agents said (how times have changed!). If you are in this situation some steps you could take are:
- If you are offering to get a service connected that is not available already, then highlight how this would benefit them in future. For example I'm sure that maisonette must have internet by now, as nowadays I’d never rent a place that didn't have internet! So if they had let us put it in when we asked it might have saved them a cost doing it themselves. This would be the main attraction for a landlord, say if you want to install satellite TV, when you move out this can be something to add to the advertisement that it has satellite TV installed already.
- If you feel that it is essential to your living requirements, for example you work from home and need internet connection, then make it clear that you expect this to be possible, don’t feel bad making demands. If you are offering to pay for and arrange the installation, and it doesn't mean putting holes in the walls or otherwise damaging the property then there is no reason you shouldn't be able to get new services and utilities installed.
- If they still say no and you feel it is a reasonable requirement, then get into the contract, does it say anywhere in there it is not allowed? What is the wording on services and utilities? Get legal advice if you can. Unfortunately you don’t always win, but any reasonable landlord should let you get basic stuff installed, it’s a shame but we got so sick of the agents and restrictions at the maisonette we moved out.
- What is a reasonable request? Gas, electricity, drainage and water are all basic requirements and it should be in your contract that the landlord is responsible for maintaining these. When it comes to TV and internet although it is something most households have it probably isn't in your contract. The best thing is to ask before you move in what the situation is, but if you've already moved in and they are saying no you might have a fight on your hands
- Back in this post I covered not being allowed to change utility providers. You should be allowed to change the provider to one of your choosing, the landlord or lettings agent cannot dictate where you get your gas or electricity supply.
We also stayed with the same suppliers that the maisonette was with for gas and electricity and I had a terrible experience with the electricity company. More on that back here. Part 3 on working around restrictions from the building/landlord coming soon.