Recommendation 14 : “If a boiler constantly breaks down in wintry conditions, whenever possible spontaneously propose alternative back-up heating solutions”
0- Follow-up to the recommendation
In 2019, EHS will disseminate this good practice in all the regions.
The claimant is the owner of a flat in a commonhold. The commonhold’s management company had signed an annual maintenance contract for the building’s individual boilers with ENGIE Home Services (EHS). Each owner directly manages relations with EHS regarding annual maintenance and maintenance requests, and pays his share of the annual performance review in his service charges.
The claimant’s boiler had broken down and was out of service from mid-September to the end of January, even though he lives in a cold region. EHS had attempted about ten times to repair the boiler before finally succeeding. As the claimant could not stay in his home without heating, and as EHS had not offered any alternative solution, the claimant unilaterally decided to rent other accommodation, which lengthened his journey to and from work. On that basis he claimed compensation.
2- Mediation solution
ENGIE Home Services should not have left the claimant without any alternative solution throughout that period; at the very least it and should have offered a temporary heating solution during the wintry period, in conjunction with the management company. And the claimant should have informed EHS of his need for alternative accommodation and the cost thereof, and should have requested total or partial funding thereof by EHS before deciding unilaterally to implement his alternative solution.
The solution proposed by the mediation service consisted in asking EHS to cover the cost of several months’ accommodation on the basis of the local monthly rental price and not the monthly rent he actually paid, which was significantly higher. The research carried out by the mediation service showed that one could easily find accommodation on the basis of the monthly compensation offered. In this exceptional case, the EHS agency also offered to refund the annual contract amount for 2017 (paid to the management company for this flat) to make up for the unsatisfactory service.
Furthermore, the claimant agreed to settle the sludge removal bill, on the basis of a quotation he had signed. This intervention, which was correctly carried out by EHS, helped to complete the repairs of the installation.
3- Generic observation
A technician may not be able to repair a boiler on his first call-out (several breakdowns, old boiler and long lead times to source spare parts, etc.). In such cases, ENGIE Home Services can present the measures it can offer in the heating period to help the claimant maintain a minimum level of comfort.
4- Recommendation / Generic solution
For maintenance work in winter, present alternative heating solution in the event of a long unresolved breakdown (convector heater, accommodation, standard replacement of new equipment, etc.).