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EHOs urged to act on excess cold after landmark ruling

Corin Williams01/07/2015 - 14:03

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The flat was found to have a Category 1 hazard
The flat was found to have a Category 1 hazard

A tribunal has supported Liverpool City Council’s bid to require a landlord to install affordable heating because his tenants were likely to be on low income.

The case has been labelled ‘significant’ by the authority and could lead the way for EHOs across the country to demand that landlords replace inadequate and expensive heating systems if their tenants cannot afford to properly heat their home.

Landlord Anwar Hadi Kassim was served with an improvement notice by the council in 2011, requiring him to replace the existing panel convector heaters and a towel rail at a one-bedroom flat with either a gas central heating system or a fan-assisted storage heating system.

Mr Kassim appealed to the First-Tier Tribunal Property Chamber, which ruled in his favour.

The council appealed to an upper tribunal in 2012, which found the initial tribunal ‘had been in error’ and that the comparative running costs of heating should be taken into account.

The case was ordered to be re-heard at a lower tribunal, and on 17 June the initial ruling was overturned and the improvement notice was reinstated.

Although this does not set a legal precedent, the ruling confirms the strength of the upper tribunal’s decision which has to be considered by the lower tier.

During the case Liverpool EHO Llinos Griffiths demonstrated that the property was a Category 1 HHSRS hazard due to excess cold. Using data from the Office for National Statistics she also demonstrated that prospective tenants were unlikely to be able to pay for the existing heating system.

Ms Griffiths told EHN she was ‘relieved and elated’ after the ruling.

‘We knew it was right to pursue this case, and it shouldn’t have taken this long for the decision to be taken,’ she said.

‘But at the end of the day common sense has prevailed. We hope other local authorities will appreciate the importance of this ruling and I sincerely hope that this decision will help other EHOs in dealing with excess cold.

‘In my opinion, the excess cold hazard and heating provision is one of the most contentious of the 29 HHSRS hazards.’

She added there was ‘lot of interest’ in the case from EHPs.

At least 40 landlords have appealed against action against them over excess cold under the HHSRS.

Frank Hont, Liverpool’s 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.

‘This decision will have nationwide repercussions and will be welcomed by tenants throughout the country.’

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1655 days ago
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What National Statistics data was used in the assessment?

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