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Background

I live in a large block of 176 flats that is owned by Lambeth Borough Council (in London, UK). The majority of the flats are rented as "council flats", though some are leasehold. Residents include families with young children, the elderly, and some vulnerable people. The building is serviced by a communal boiler that provides heating and hot water to each flat. Leaseholders (and possibly council tenants too) pay a (hefty) monthly service charge to cover the costs of maintenance, hot water, heating, waste management, concierge etc.

For the past 15 days there has been no hot water provided to the entire block. The heating is still on and working (though as it is only September that's not too much of an issue). Residents have reported the problem and contractors have attempted and failed to resolve the issue. Specialists have now been called who will report their findings by what will then be day 18 without hot water. The system will still need to be fixed, which may take another week.

Question

What obligation does the council have to provide a hot water service, and what actions can residents (or the residents association) take against the council?

So far we have reported the issue via the council's contact centre, and also contacted the local councillors for support. Another resident has started a petition though it only asks the council "do something".

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