A young tenant has shared his disbelief after his landlady installed a “cage” around the property’s thermostat in a bid to cut down on power bills.
Alex Milsom, who rents a property in London, shared a photo of the thermostat on Twitter recently with the caption: “Welcome to renting in London! My landlord has just put our thermostat in a cage.”
The 21-year-old’s tweet quickly went viral, with social media users arguing over whether the stunt was legal or not.
Others condemned the “cruel” move, especially considering Europe is heading towards winter, with maximum temperatures in London now well below 10 degrees.
According to Metro, Mr Milsom, who works for the BBC, pays £700 ($A1300) a month for rent and bills, which includes heating.
But that heating is now controlled by the owner of the property externally, and after the cage was installed – allegedly without any notice – the household was now without access to hot water during certain parts of the day.
“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,” Mr Milsom said, according to Metro.
“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.”
Mr Milsom’s post has attracted tens of thousands of likes, shares and comments and has also been turned into a viral meme.
Many Twitter users were quick to share advice.
“Alex, this breaches Housing Act 2004. The heating system of a dwelling must be under the control of the occupiers of that dwelling. The statute is clear. The cage takes that control away from you and thus breaches the legislation. Remind your landlord of his obligations, give him an opportunity to remove it, and if he doesn’t, report him to your local council housing officers,” one user suggested.
“Buy some room heaters and then deduct their cost from your rent,” another advised, while another said: “Download Google Home app adjust the thermostat through the Wi-Fi. Also key your landlord’s car for me.”
And other Twitter users reported their own landlords had pulled similar moves with household temperature controls, indicating it might be a relatively widespread practice in the UK at least.
However, Mr Milsom appears to see the funny side, telling his followers he “didn’t expect this to go viral” – and asking for donations.
“I have no mixtape, but will probs be evicted by this tweet so feel free to help fund my deposit I’m unlikely to see again,” he posted, sharing a link to PayPal.