On Saturday afternoon, the hot water went off in Alex Milsom’s shared house in west London. Discussing the problem with his housemates on WhatsApp, one person replied: “It’s because there’s a cage on the thermostat.”
“I said I would put the water back on, but obviously I couldn’t get past the new lock box,” Alex said.
His landlady had visited the property to install a clear thermostat cover over the Google Nest thermostat – which can control heating and hot water.
“We have no idea what the temperature is,” he said. “The Nest screen only lights up when you stand up close to it, but the box has stopped that from working and we can’t see the number.”
Alex, 21, has been living with six or seven others in a semi-detached house in Ealing since August. Rented from a private landlady, he pays £700 a month, and the landlady covers his utility bills.
In a multi-occupancy dwelling like Alex’s, the landlord is permitted to control the heating, with no rules against boxing off the thermostat, experts say. The same is true of a standard rental property with fewer than three tenants, if the landlord pays the bills.
But, until now, Alex and his housemates have had control over the temperature of their home and the hot water via the thermostat in the communal kitchen.
“It’s just quite funny,” he adds.
“On Sunday night I woke up in a sweat because the heating was on, but the next morning I had to shower at work because there was no hot water,” he says. The water has since returned.
Alex shared his story on Twitter on Saturday, which went viral and prompted queries over the legality of the move.
Some landlords responded to the thread by saying the move could be understandable in a situation where tenants were being careless with the heating.
So can a landlord box off a thermostat?
David Smith, policy director for the Residential Landlords Association, says there are no rules around boxing off thermostats.
But adds: “It is a matter of good tenancy management and we encourage landlords to speak first with tenants before taking such action.
“In shared homes there can often be disputes between tenants who want the thermostat set at different temperatures.”
However, the issue is not clear cut.
A tenant has a right to heating and hot water, says Daniel Fitzpatrick, a partner at Hodge Jones & Allen solicitors.
But whether a landlord can box off a thermostat depends on the terms of the tenancy agreement.
“If the tenant is just paying a basic agreement where bills are not included, that could be why the landlord installed the fitting – usually thermostats can be covered,” he says.
“Should that not be the case, then there could be various actions against the landlord.
“It’s a basic right to be able to turn on heating and hot water, and it would be a breach of health and safety if the tenant could not.”
Housing experts from Citizens Advice say the legality of a landlord-controlled thermostat is likely to rely on whether it results in hazards – excess cold or possibly extreme heat.
According to the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS), which governs housing conditions, heating can be centrally controlled by the landlord in a house in multiple occupation.
But the guidance adds that if this causes “unreasonable extremes in temperature” then this may represent a hazard – over which the local authority can take action against the landlord.
Risks of adverse health effects arise when indoor temperature drops below 19C, with serious health risks occurring below 16C, it says.
What can a tenant do if they are still unhappy?
Under the new Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018, all residential tenancies after 20 March 2019 are required to be free of hazards.
If a tenant feels this is not the case they could try making a claim against the landlord.
But Citizens Advice says it is better to try to “negotiate amicably” if at all possible – “due to the limited security of tenure which private tenants tend to have” – and it warns of the risk of an escalating row.
“The tenants might consider trying to take control of the heating themselves by using electric heaters.
“There is a risk, however, that the landlord may respond negatively to a huge electricity bill, and perhaps seek to serve a section 21 notice (no fault eviction notice) to terminate the tenancy at the end of the fixed term, or seek to alter the rent or other tenancy terms as a condition of any renewal.”
A police officer has been hit by a car which had been pulled over in Tottenham.
The vehicle was stopped by police in White Hart Lane at about 11:30 GMT and struck the officer when it was driven off “at speed”, Scotland Yard said.
London Ambulance Service said the officer suffered a minor injury and had been driven to hospital.
No arrests have been made and “inquiries are under way to locate the suspects and the vehicle,” police said.
London’s trams are being fitted with automatic braking systems three years after a derailment killed seven people.
The safety measure is one of 15 recommended by the Rail Accidents Investigation Branch (RAIB) following its inquiry into the Croydon crash in November 2016.
Sixty one people were also injured when the tram, travelling at almost four times the speed limit, derailed.
TfL said the installation took three years because it “needed to be right”.
London will be the first UK tram service to have an automatic braking system.
Yellow beacons on tracks will monitor speeds and automatically apply the brakes if a tram exceeds speed limits.
The tram that crashed on a curve approaching the Sandilands stop in Croydon, was travelling at 43.5mph in a 12mph zone, investigators found.
“This is a particularly complex system where you are dealing with trams that are 20-years-old and we’re having to install something that interferes… with the acceleration and braking systems of the tram and we need to know it’s right,” said Mark Davis, Transport for London’s general manager of London Trams.
The new braking system would initially be configured for priority high-risk locations, but would be fitted in all trams by the end of the year TfL added.
Automatic braking will operate alongside another system launched in 2017 to warn of driver distraction and tiredness.
During its investigations the RAIB found the driver had taken a micro-sleep and that this was linked to fatigue.
Andy Benham, a tram driver not involved in the crash, has been using a simulator to train for the new safety system.
“It’s very reassuring. At the moment a lot of the driving is just down to the driver, so having this as a back-up in case anything should go wrong, you know you are safe,” he said.
Other safety measures include cats eyes fitted in tunnels and chevrons painted on bends to help the driver.
Extinction Rebellion activists are continuing protests despite a London-wide ban by police.
The group says it will challenge the ban, saying it believes it is unlawful. Lawyers and politicians have also criticised the move.
Meanwhile climate change protesters targeted the Department for Transport and MI5 on Tuesday morning.
A government spokeswoman said protests “should not disrupt people’s day-to-day lives”.
Extinction Rebellion’s co-founder, Gail Bradbrook, was arrested after climbing on to the entrance of the Department for Transport on Tuesday morning. Police also cleared further protesters from outside the building.
Activists have also been arrested on Millbank outside MI5’s headquarters, where a small group had gathered. Two men briefly sat in the middle of the road before being moved by officers.
On Monday evening, the Metropolitan Police began clearing protesters from Trafalgar Square following the announcement of a ban on the protests.
Under Section 14 of the Public Order Act, the force had imposed conditions requiring activists to stop their protests in central London by 21:00 BST on 14 October or risk arrest.
The Metropolitan Police said that the ban was imposed after “continued breaches” of a condition limiting the demonstration to Trafalgar Square.
Speaking to the Victoria Derbyshire programme, Extinction Rebellion campaigner and former Met Police officer Paul Stephens said: “Police are being really sloppy with the law, and it won’t stand up in court.”
He added that “there will be a judicial review”.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has said he is “seeking further information” about the decision to impose the ban and why it was necessary.
“I believe the right to peaceful and lawful protest must always be upheld,” he said.
A spokeswoman for the government said the UK was “already taking world-leading action to combat climate change”.
The statement added: “While we share people’s concerns about global warming, and respect the right to peaceful protest, it should not disrupt people’s day-to-day lives.”
‘Overreach of powers’
Meanwhile, lawyers have questioned whether the ban by police was legal.
Anti-Brexit barrister Jo Maugham QC said the move was “a huge overreach” of police powers, while human rights lawyer Adam Wagner described it as “draconian and extremely heavy-handed”.
Mr Wagner added in a tweet: “We have a right to free speech under article 10 and to free assembly under article 11 of the (annex to the) Human Rights Act. These can only be interfered with if the interference is lawful and proportionate. I think the police may have gone too far here.”
Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott tweeted: “This ban is completely contrary to Britain’s long-held traditions of policing by consent, freedom of speech, and the right to protest.”
Allan Hogarth, of Amnesty International, issued a statement saying the ban was “an unlawful restriction on the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly”.
A number of demonstrations have been staged across the capital by Extinction Rebellion, which is calling on the government to do more to tackle climate change.
The protests were due to last two weeks and have led to more than 1,400 arrests.
The Met said there had been 1,457 arrests by 08:45 BST on Tuesday, in connection with the nine days of Extinction Rebellion protests in London.
Last week, the Home Office confirmed to BBC News that it was reviewing police powers around protests in response to recent demonstrations.
What are the rules around protests?
Police have the powers to ban a protest under the Public Order Act 1986, if a senior officer has reasonable belief that it may cause “serious disruption to the life of the community”.
Police are also under a duty to balance the task of keeping the streets open with the right freedom of assembly under the Article 11 of the Human Rights Act 1998 and freedom of expression, under Article 10. These rights are not absolute – the state can curtail them.
However, the BBC’s home affairs correspondent Dominic Casciani said: “The test, if and when it gets to a court battle, is whether police action was proportionate to threat and only what was strictly necessary.”
By law, the organiser of a public march must tell the police certain information in writing six days in advance.
Police have the power to limit or change the route of the march or set other conditions.
A Section 14 notice issued under the Public Order Act allows police to impose conditions on a static protest and individuals who fail to comply with these can be arrested.
Dereck Chisora will face David Price on 26 October in a British heavyweight bout where both men will risk their careers, says promoter Eddie Hearn.
Chisora, 35, was set to face Joseph Parker until the former world champion withdrew following an illness he believes stemmed from a spider bite.
Price, 36, has stepped in and enters the bout off a run of three victories.
“I kept in the gym all summer as I had a feeling I had to be ready for a call like this, and ready I am,” Price said.
The bout, at London’s O2 Arena, will form part of the undercard to the world title fight between super-lightweights Josh Taylor and Regis Prograis, which is the final of the World Boxing Super Series.
Chisora has previously expressed his displeasure at not being the night’s main event and threatened to walk away from competing if he was not paid more.
But following news of Liverpool’s Price taking part he said: “David Price has stepped up and I’m ready for whatever he brings. This is north versus south and in my home town I write the rules.”
Price – who has 25 wins from 31 outings – and Chisora – with 31 wins from 40 contests – have both built momentum in recent fights with strong displays.
But with each vying to push forward from the elite level domestically to become part of the conversation among the very top heavyweights globally, a defeat for either would prove damaging at such a late stage in their careers.
“It was frustrating to lose the Parker fight but I feel we now have a fight with even more curiosity and danger,” said promoter Hearn. “The careers of both men are on the line, they will be giving it everything. It’s going to be a dramatic fight and dramatic night.”
A man has been restrained by police after attempting to set fire to himself outside the Houses of Parliament.
The Metropolitan Police said a man had been detained under the Mental Health Act after covering himself “in what appeared to be a flammable liquid”.
The police said the man, who had a lighter, had been sprayed with a fire extinguisher and there were no flames.
Tory MP Huw Merriman, who witnessed the episode, praised the “incredibly brave response” from the police.
The Met confirmed there had been an incident in which a man had “doused” himself with an unknown substance outside Carriage Gates – the main entrance to Parliament.
The police said there had been no reported injuries and the man had been taken to hospital after being examined at the scene by the emergency services.
The London Fire Brigade, it added, had made the scene safe by dispersing the suspected flammable liquid.
‘Cry for help’
Eyewitness Assunta Andrews, a Brexit supporter who was protesting outside Parliament at the time, said the man had scattered sheets of paper everywhere before dousing himself.
“There was a man standing next to us, very close,” she told the BBC.
“He had a large one and half litre bottle, opened it and started spraying it around. We really smelt petrol. So we all just ran for it, leaving all our posters behind, and calling for the police to come.”
The police arrived on the scene within seconds, she said, while she got a small amount of petrol on her clothes as a result.
She said she believed the protest had nothing to do with Brexit and the man was trying to draw attention to a “personal” dispute with a local council over a parking fine.
“They were clearly a cry for help,” she said of the leaflets.
The Commons and Lords are sitting this week despite the Conservative conference continuing in Manchester – after MPs voted against a short recess for the event.
Chancellor Sajid Javid is currently answering Treasury questions while ministers will later answer Urgent Questions on the government’s latest Brexit proposals, as well as homelessness and Yemen.
Heavy rain is causing travel problems and flash flooding across England.
Twelve flood warnings and 38 flood alerts have been put in place by the Environment Agency.
The Met Office has a yellow rain warning covering most of the country in force until 23:00 BST.
Floods have been reported on roads in Southampton, Birmingham and Liverpool, while Transport for London (TfL) said a number of roads across the capital were also affected by flooding.
A flood warning is in place in Crawley for the Ifield Brook and River Mole at Ifield and the River Mole at Lowfield Heath.
Flooding is also expected on the upper Frome, between Maiden Newton and Dorchester, in Dorset and on the Grace Dieu Brook, between Whitwick and Thringstone, in Leicestershire.
Edwinstone and Ollerton in Nottinghamshire are also at risk of flooding from the River Maun, as are areas around the Whinney Brook at Maghull in Sefton, Merseyside, and Wash Dike in Pontefract, West Yorkshire.
Warnings are also in place for the River Tame at Hams Hall, Water Orton, Whitacre and Nether Whitacre in Warwickshire, and the Blackburn and Charlton Brooks, between Chapeltown and North Ecclesfield, near Sheffield.
National Rail warned of major disruption between Birmingham Snow Hill and Stourbridge until about noon because of a tree blocking the line earlier.
Southampton City Centre has seen problems with several cars having broken down in water on Millbrook Road West.
Motorists have also been advised to avoid the road between Waterhouse Lane and Paynes Road.
Roads have flooded in the Longbridge area of Birmingham, while Mersey Fire and Rescue Service reported vehicles trapped in floodwater in the Queens Drive and West Derby area of Liverpool.
A service spokesman urged drivers to “please take extra care”, adding: “Slow down, increase your distances, switch your lights on and please don’t drive into floodwater.”
About 2in (49.6mm) of rain fell in the six hours before 09:00 at Boscombe Down in Wiltshire, according to the Met Office.
Spokesman Grahame Madge said it was a “significant” amount of rain.
He said the band of rain was “transient” and, having started in the South West, has moved to the Midlands before hitting the North later in the day.
He said some other areas could expect to see the same amount of rain as Boscombe Down.
In Harrogate, the fan zone for the UCI Road World Championships has been closed due to the “heavy rain”.
The cycling action can still be seen on West Park and Parliament Street, organisers said.
Downward dogs and yoga mats have replaced cars and buses on London’s Tower Bridge as part of Car Free Day.
The mass yoga session was one of a number of activities taking place in the capital as more than 16 miles (27 km) of streets were shut.
Bank junction was turned into a festival space while children will race go-karts in the Square Mile.
The closures will be in place until 19:00 BST with roads elsewhere expected to be busy as a result.
Tower and London Bridge were shut at 07:00 BST along with streets in parts of the City, Southwark and Tower Hamlets.
Among the other activities taking place were a hedge maze in Cheapside and classic cycle rides on Tower Bridge.
Organisers hope more than 150,000 people will join the event, which has been named Reimagine.
Away from the centre, 15 boroughs will be running their own Car Free Day celebrations and more than 340 “play streets” – safe spaces for local people to socialise and play – have been approved by 24 boroughs.
London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan said the day was about “demonstrating our commitment to cleaning up our toxic air and experiencing a greener way of living”.
Transport for London has warned that those who do take to the roads should expect “significant delays”.
Protests are expected across the UK, with pupils leaving schools and workers downing tools in a bid to urge more government action on climate change.
It’s part of a global “climate strike” day, which started in Australia earlier, where organisers said around 300,000 people took part.
They are urging “climate justice” and “an end to the age of fossil fuels”.
Energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng said their voices were being heard but did not “endorse children leaving school”.
It follows earlier school strikes inspired by activist Greta Thunberg.
- Huge crowds join day of climate action – live updates
- Greta Thunberg tells US politicians to try harder
The teenager, from Sweden, has described the turnout in Australia earlier as “incredible”.
She is set to join a later rally planned in New York, where world leaders will meet at the UN next week to discuss climate change.
Extinction Rebellion, which organised its own climate and environment protests in the UK earlier this year, said it stood “in solidarity” with those taking part.
It added that its members were joining the strikes and holding their own events, including a choir and “kids’ space” in Victoria Tower Gardens, Westminster, and outside King’s College London.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will address the UK Student Climate Network’s Global Climate Strike in Westminster at about 13:15pm.
Mr Kwarteng told BBC Breakfast protesters’ voices were “being heard” but insisted the time spent in school was “incredibly important”.
He added: “What I do support is their energy, their creativity, and the fact that they have completely mastered these issues and take them very seriously.”
About 30 residents have been evacuated and part of a building has been destroyed following a suspected explosion.
London Fire Brigade said it was called to a fire after the suspected blast on High Street in Hampton Hill, south-west London, on Tuesday night.
On social media, one witness described hearing a “boom” before the blaze. No was injured.
Road closures remain in place at the scene, Richmond Council said.