The terms of your tenancy may be contained in a written statement, in which case any terms relating to fuel or fuel-related services will be clear. However, sometimes there is no written agreement and you then have to work out whether your fuel problem is covered by terms implied in your tenancy. An ‘implied term’ is one that, although not written down, is considered by the courts to be included automatically in any tenancy.
Every tenancy agreement in England and Wales has an implied term that the landlord will allow a tenant to have ’quiet enjoyment’ and that the landlord will not interfere with or interrupt a tenant’s ordinary use of the premises. In this case, that would mean not interfering in any way with your use of fuel or fuel-related services. The Scottish equivalent is your right to full possession of your premises, which has the same effect.
In England and Wales, terms are also implied by the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982. This says that services must be provided with reasonable care and skill, within a reasonable time and at a reasonable charge. What is a reasonable time is treated as a question of fact.1s14(2) Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 Problems with fuel supply or fuel-related services can often come within these terms. In Scotland, similar terms may be implied into the contract by common law. Additionally, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 includes local authorities and government departments within the definition of ‘businesses’ which are regulated by the Act.2s2(7) CRA 2015
Could you get a discretionary housing payment?
If you get housing benefit (HB) or housing costs in your universal credit (UC) and have a shortfall paying your rent, you may apply for a discretionary housing payment (DHP – see p000). This does not cover the costs of heating, but relates to your overall level of rent. Costs of living, including heating, can be a relevant factor the local authority can consider when deciding whether to pay you a DHP. A updated guide was issued in May 2022.3DWP, Discretionary Housing Payments Guidance Manual, 31 May 2022, available at