Brits are in for a chilly week with temperatures continuing to drop, but that has not deterred a landlord in west London from putting a box around a thermostat in a rental property she owns to stop the tenants from adjusting the temperature.
Alex Milsom, 21, spotted the box on the thermostat control on Saturday morning at the house in Ealing that he rents with roommates, which is designed to stop him and others from adjusting the temperature.
Milsom, who pays £700 a month in rent and bills for his room, told the press that the heating is controlled externally by his landlord, which means he and roomates cannot access hot water at certain times of the day, meaning they have had to wash the dishes and take showers using cold water.
Milsom, who claims that he and his housemate had no notice from the landlord, said: “Welcome to renting in London! My landlord has just put our thermostat in a cage.
“We were quite surprised – that surprise turned to shock when it meant we couldn’t shower on those days in the afternoon nor could we put on our own hot water.
“I was very grumpy at work and on the commute as well. I was not aware it was happening. It was just one of those Saturday morning surprises.
“She can control it externally It’s a Nest thermostat and we don’t have any control over it which sucks.
“I spoke to her yesterday and she just says it is for stopping settings being changed.”
The tenant shared his story on Twitter on Saturday, which went viral and prompted queries over the legality of the landlord’s decision to install the Nest thermostat.
David Smith, policy director for the Residential Landlords Association, told the press that there are no rules around boxing off thermostats.
He commented: "It is a matter of good tenancy management and we encourage landlords to speak first with tenants before taking such action.
"In shared homes there can often be disputes between tenants who want the thermostat set at different temperatures."
The tenant is being advised by Citizens’ Advice to seek to negotiate amicably with the landlord if at all possible, “due to the limited security of tenure which private tenants tend to have”.
The spokesperson added: “The tenants might consider trying to take control of the heating themselves by using electric heaters.
“There is a risk however that the landlord may respond negatively to a huge electricity bill, and perhaps seek to serve a section 21 notice (no fault eviction notice) to terminate the tenancy at the end of the fixed term, or seek to alter the rent or other tenancy terms as a condition of any renewal.”