Questions Of Cash: 'My landlord won't stump up for costly flood'

Q. We had a flood in our housing association flat while away at Christmas. The tap had dripped, causing the sink to fill. It turned out the overflow was blocked, so the excess water could not drain away. The housing association's plumber changed the washer, but wouldn't look at the overflow problem and claimed it was our fault. I have been asked to pay for the cost of the repair and have been in dispute with them for two weeks. My contents insurer says the association will be insured for this and should do the repairs. CO, London.

A. Your landlord is the Family Mosaic Housing Association. When we brought your problems to its attention it said it was "alarmed to hear of [the] experience ... We accept that her experience of our repairs service has, on this occasion, been unacceptable." Family Mosaic will not charge for the cost of repairs and agrees there should never have been any question of this "as there has been no wilful damage to her property". The work will be carried out as soon as possible and Family Mosaic will also carry out relevant redecoration work for free.

Q. I read the problem of the reader left without heating during the cold spell ("Questions of Cash", 23 January). I have a warm-air central heating system using a gas burner. It is maintained under contract by British Gas Homecare. An engineer called in December because I was worried about its reliability. He noticed some wear and decided the system was unsafe, so he cut off the gas supply, leaving us with no heating. Phone calls to British Gas Homecare were not returned. We were given inconsistent information and we still have no heating. I am now employing my own contractor, who will install a new burner. While I understand that an unsafe appliance needs to be disconnected, the service from British Gas Homecare was shocking and the result has been very costly: I had to buy electric convector heaters, which have been on non-stop because of the freezing weather. If I had a boiler that BG provides, I would have been on a fast-track system and everything would have been fixed by 23 December. WJ, Guildford, Surrey.

A. British Gas rejects your version of events. It argues your system was installed over 30 years ago and your contract does not cover replacement of old systems that become unsafe. It says you were advised previously that the equipment was unsafe but failed to replace it, and had previously had your equipment turned off as unsafe, which you turned back on yourself.

A spokeswoman says: "On several visits, prior to December of last year, our engineers advised the customer that the 30-year-old warm-air heating unit was not to current safety standards, due to poor ventilation, and that it would need to be replaced as a matter of urgency. It is only as a last resort that we would turn off a customer's heating system at any time of year, but we have to act responsibly in terms of our customers' safety." She adds that when you originally signed up for the service, your boiler was more than 15 years old. Customers with a boiler less than seven years old are entitled to a free replacement boiler.

Q. My son and I have a Virgin credit card account, which we use to pay his college expenses. I paid the full outstanding balance from my First Direct current account, using the faster payment system on 3 January 2010 – the date the payment was due. But it was a Sunday and although First Direct assures me the payment would have been received on this date, my Virgin statement shows the amount as credited on 4 January, so applied a late payment charge, plus interest. When I complained, I was offered a refund of the £12 late fee, but not the interest. I was told to read the small print on the back of the card, which explains that use of the faster payment system is not taken into account. Surely all banks should recognise faster payments and also print accurate "pay by" dates on credit card statements. NS, London.

A. Virgin credit cards are administered by MBNA. It has now refunded the interest as well as the late payment charge.

Q. I made an online hotel booking with Travelodge. It told me that two bookings with Visa Electron had failed because of its systems failures, yet both appeared on my card as pending debits for seven days. I am not out of pocket, but I cannot understand how Travelodge can tell me that the transactions failed. MR, Hertford, Hertfordshire.

A. Your bank, First Direct, confirmed that Travelodge processed two transactions in January. The first was for £24 via the internet on 7 January, but only debited to your account on 18 January. A second transaction of £22 was debited to your account on 11 January. First Direct explains: "Once a payment is made with a card and the bank authorises the transaction, these funds are 'marked' for that particular merchant. However, they will not debit the account until the merchant claims the money via their processing bank. At this time, the authorisation becomes the transaction. If an authorisation is not processed within a window of up to 14 days, the funds become available again." Or, to put it more simply, recredited to your account.

Questions of Cash cannot give individual advice. But if you have a financial dilemma, we'll do our best to help. Please email us at: questionsofcash@

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

scienceExcitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
newsRyan Crighton goes in search of the capo dei capi

Arts and Entertainment
Actors front row from left, Jared Leto, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Ellen DeGeneres, Bradley Cooper, Peter Nyongío Jr., and, second row, from left, Channing Tatum, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyongío and Angelina Jolie as they pose for a
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Life and Style

As Voltaire once said, “Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal”

Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Market Administrator (1st line Support, Bloomberg, Broker)

    Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Market Administrator (1st line Support, Trade Fl...

    Service Desk Analyst (Windows, Active Directory, ITIL, Reuter)

    £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Windows, Active Dire...

    Data Support Analyst (Linux, Solaris, Windows Server, Reuters)

    Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Data Support Analyst (Linux, Solaris, Windows Se...

    Helpdesk Support Engineer (Windows, MS Office, Exchange)

    Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Helpdesk Support Engineer (Windows, MS Office, E...

    Day In a Page

    All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
    What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

    What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

    Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
    Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

    Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

    Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
    Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

    Radio 1’s new top ten

    The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
    Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

    Florence Knight's perfect picnic

    Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
    Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

    Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

    The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
    Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

    Mark Hix's summery soups

    Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
    Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

    Tim Sherwood column

    I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
    Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

    Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

    The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition