If you are reading this blog post, you must thank God for my life and that of my housemates 🙏🏾! Imagine, we almost died last week. I am serious! This is not a false alarm. Don’t judge me yet. I am about to explain 🤭
According to an article courtesy of; The Independent Thursday, February 22, 2018, a study showed that at least 3,000 Britons die each year because they cannot heat their homes. It indicates 168,000 excess winter deaths have been recorded in the UK over the last five years and almost 17,000 of those deaths are attributable to fuel poverty. A further 36,000 deaths were attributable to conditions relating to living in a cold home. The number dying through cold each year is similar to the number of people who die from prostate or breast cancer 💥!
Heating system goes off.
With that as a background context, allow me to tell you what happened. I hate cold water 😰😰. I think I have an allergy, almost an automatic reaction when I shower using cold water. I am the kind of a human being who showers using hot water even when the temperatures are above 40 degrees celsius 🤓🤓! Two, I love to take my time during shower. It is time I get to sing or listen to music without any interruption. So, picture me in the shower. It’s 7am on a Saturday. Ideally, I would be asleep at such a time on Saturdays. The water is warm enough, so I am enjoying my shower time, ready to go to Oxfordshire, Oxford. I have shower gel all over my body. Then, in a minute, the water starts to get cold 😟. I imagine the tap knob needs some adjusting, then I will have warm water again. So, I waste some minutes as I find my bearings. Before I realize what has happened, the water is extremely cold. I can’t stand it anymore. I take my towel and decide to end it right there. I kiff up!😣😣
I quickly raise the alarm with my housemates. We are convinced it is a temporary default so we anticipate normalcy. Dr. Pamela and I prepare ourselves and join other international students for our day tour. We agree that we must alert the landlord about the failure of our heating system. Our housemates Sidney and Ronald agree to take it up.
Pamela and I spend the day in Oxford where it rained throughout. At at the end of the day, we just wanted to get home, take a hot shower and lock ourselves in our bedrooms as we call it a day. 😥This dream died the very moment we opened the door to our house.
Please understand that with the faulty boiler, several things are affected in the house 😤😤 All the heating in the house goes off. Therefore, there is no hot water in either the showers or sinks. The heaters in our bedrooms have gone off. The house is cold. Damn cold 🥶! Picture yourself opening a fridge that is at 8°C or below. The moment the door is open, you feel a burst of cold air hit you. Now, imagine yourself in such an environment.
48 hours in the cold.
You see, when Sidney and Ronald engaged the landlord earlier on, unfortunately, he had indicated he was not in a position to get a technician to fix the boiler until the following Monday. So, 48 hours in the cold. We would have died long time ago. I am serious 🤫🤫
We were mad. Infuriated 😡😡😡We quickly started our research on what the law in the UK says about faulty heating systems, looking at the landlord’s responsibility, vis a vis tenant’s rights. We picked our tenancy agreement and re-read it, carefully not to cause any drama. As time went by, we became colder and our anger levels progressively rose.
One hour later, we realized we were cheating death while we watched. By this time, we had worn many layers of clothing, but it wasn’t helping. We noticed that the law provides for an alternative heating option, but our tenancy agreement was silent on the same. Was this intentional 🤷🏾♀️? We called our lawyer friends around. We have several Kenyans pursuing law in the UK and we have also made friends within the Kenyan Community living in Cardiff. Others had never experienced such an incident, so they were unable to help. Our learned friends would offer opinions but with caution; we needed to act as per our tenancy agreement.
We needed an urgent solution. We went online to find shops that were still open where we could quickly buy heaters so that we could prevent a situation of having to transport three dead bodies back to Kenya and one to Uganda. I have my graduation dress already; God knows how expensive it was! I am looking forward to being alive on my graduation day, so it cannot come to an end before it has started. No, I refuse. Riswa 🙅🏻♀️🙅🏻♀️!
One week later.
I kid you not, our heating system became operational last Saturday. One week later. My patience hasn’t been tested like this in the recent past. Its been a while since I last restrained my mouth like I have done in the past one week. It’s been a while since I felt this neglected. I negotiated with the idea of whether to write about this incident or not. I realize silence is a language for cowards but, I am not one 🤦🏼♀️
With all due honesty, I believe the landlord did us a great disservice by taking a whole week in dealing with the mess. Does anyone know how we should handle this matter? We have every plan to call him for a meeting so that we can explain our frustration and the expenses we have had to incur due to this. Should we transfer the same to him? One, we had to buy four new heaters. They cost us approximately 100 pounds. Obviously, our electricity bill is going to be incredibly high by the end of the month. We have had to buy buckets for our bathing, in the first world! Imagine that. It’s boring and frustrating having to use buckets for big bodies like ours 😫😫. I don’t like it. I don’t mind doing it in my village in Kenya, but I had no plans of doing it after eight-plus hours of flight to the UK. We have had to eat out all week long and I can assure you it is very expensive🙁🙁. All our dishes were dirty. There was absolutely no space left in the sink. We tried cleaning our dishes, but every time we did it, our hands’ froze 😣😣
I guess by sharing our experience, other students planning to come over or those who are already here will have a reason to relook at their tenancy agreement and demand for an alternative heating system at the landlord’s cost. It is too costly an omission.
Relooking our tenancy agreements.
I hope by sharing our experience, other landlords with have a look at their agreements and have it included. When I lived in Norway, I was in a fully furnished house and yes, there was a portable heater that I found in the house. I don’t remember using it, but it was there. I think it is just inhumane for a landlord not to provide an alternative heating option when he/she knows too well that people die because of faulty heating systems. Imagine if the heating system went off around 11 pm when all the shops were closed or if we had no money to cater for all the expenses we have had the last one week. Well, think about that for a minute.
When we have signed a one-year tenancy agreement, can we amend it midway? I feel like we need to have an alternative or option B for everything. For example, should the cooker get faulty, we should feel free to go to a restaurant of our choice and send the receipts to the landlord 😎😎Should the door refuse to open, spend the night at a hotel of our choice, all costs on the landlord 😅😅 Should the washing machine refuse to work, take our dirty clothes to the laundry and transfer the cost to him? Lol 😊
I am not angry anymore. I am just lucky to be alive and so are my housemates. Next week, lets talk about survival tips and tactics during the winter season. See you then 🙂
Enjoy a great week ahead.
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