Tenants 'now living in extreme fuel poverty' due to 'outdated' heating system

A number of tenants and Living Rent Members demanded the system be replaced in a protest on Friday. <i>(Image: Living Rent)</i>
A number of tenants and Living Rent Members demanded the system be replaced in a protest on Friday. (Image: Living Rent)

Tenants in homes with storage heaters have claimed they are “absolutely freezing and there is nothing they can do about it” while struggling to afford growing energy bills.

Residents in Glasgow’s Moore Street properties run by Molendinar Housing Association have raised concerns that the “outdated, expensive heating system” is pushing them further into “extreme fuel poverty”.

A number of tenants and Living Rent Members demanded the system be replaced as they took to the association’s office in a festive-themed protest singing carols on Friday.

They delivered a letter listing their concerns over the heating and Molendinar Housing Association claimed this is the first time they have been made aware of the issue.

The storage heaters heat up during the night and are meant to release heat through the day, but residents say the warmth rarely lasts past the morning.

One tenant, who preferred to only be known as Marie, said: “The cost of it is extortionate, it really is extortionate.

“They don’t let out enough heat the next day to heat your home into the evening and we have no control of when we put it on. We can’t just switch it off like everyone else. It is a big issue.”

Marie added that her bills have neared £600 and asked: “If you are living on disability benefits, how are you meant to pay this?”

While the tenants control the output level, the system does not provide enough heat to their home and leaves them to rely on other expensive electric heaters and heated blankets to keep warm.

With the system heating up overnight, most residents are on E7 energy tariffs which charge less during the night but means their solutions to keeping warm during the day are even more costly.

Marie added: “A lot of these tenants, myself included, have chronic health conditions so we need heat in our home.

“I would say the tenants that were in fuel poverty are now living in extreme fuel poverty.

“I bought an electric blanket, I bought a throw and a chair to put in my room to watch the tele so I am only in the one room. Others are doing the same, they are lying in their bed trying to keep warm.”

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While the issue has been exacerbated by the cost-of-living crisis, Marie said she first raised it with the association before the pandemic aided by the support of MP Alison Thewliss.

Another resident who wished to remain anonymous said one of their children has started “dreading coming home” from school due to lack of heat.

The tenant said: “We are a family of four, two children have autism. All of us have chronic health conditions.

“The school called us one day as one of the children was telling her class and teacher how cold it was in the house and she dreaded coming home.

“We confirmed it as true, adding it wasn’t us not putting the heating on because we had a £600 electricity bill to pay.

“Within a couple of days the school had managed to source some money and gave us £300 to help pay our bills. We shouldn’t need to rely on charity. The housing association should be providing us with a system that is affordable and keeps us warm.”

Other tenants are scared they will not be able to cope with energy prices in the winter. One resident, who also preferred to stay anonymous, said: “We have been tenants for several years. My husband is currently having treatment for cancer. He feels the cold much more than he did pre-cancer.

“It is so difficult trying to heat our home. We have tried and tried to get this system to give out enough heat to last all day but nothing works.

“We have had to buy various other heaters to use when our stored heat runs out, our electric bills are huge.

“This has been reported to Molendinar, nothing's been done. We are dreading the bills coming in over winter. I don't know how we are going to manage.”

Members of Living Rent have said that they have appealed countless times to the housing association to change the heating system.

A spokesperson for Molendinar Press Association said: “We are not aware of the specific incidents Living rent have taken up. If anybody wants to contact us with any concerns that they have, we are more than happy to hear from our residents and try and get a resolution.

“Had we been approached, we would certainly respond. We take pride in our customer service and we are always happy to work with tenants on any issues that they have and we would be more than happy to have people contact us regarding this matter.”

A Living Rent spokesperson said: “Enough is enough. Housing associations, councils and landlords all have an obligation to ensure that their properties are fit to live in. Homes should be windproof, watertight and warm.

“Molendinar’s failure to replace our members’ ineffective heating system, forcing tenants to pay through the nose for expensive electric heaters, is failing in their role as a housing provider.

“Their claim that it is the first time they have heard of it would be laughable if it wasn't so serious. We have scores of evidence to show members have been contacting them for years, and MP Alison Thewliss has contacted them.

“Every door we knock on the issue of heating systems comes up. Now they have acknowledged the issue we look forward to them working towards a solution.

“Similar situations are happening across Scotland, where landlords are leaving critical elements unrepaired at the expense of the wellbeing of their tenants.”