£4,000 to replace a broken window?

£4,000 to replace a broken window?

18:00 PM, 22nd September 2018, About 3 years ago 19

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Firstly the facts: I have a one bed, 5th floor BTL flat which is fronted by huge sealed unit double glazed windows. It’s in a former office block which was into flats two years ago 100 yards from a major train station in Bucks.

It has an NHBC (or equivalent) ten year warranty.

It is leasehold and managed by a service company therefore the buildings insurance is managed by them (I have requested a copy of the coverage). I have a contents policy (no accidental damage included).

My tenant has just renewed for a second year. I have an agent managing the property and provides me with an independently produced six monthly inspection report. There has never been a reported incident of damage to the windows (last report was two months ago)

The story: The tenant contacted the managing agent 6 weeks ago to say that internal glass in a sealed unit window had shattered. The agent alerted me and I imagined £45. The agent has got three quotes and the price range so far is £4k – £5k.

The main cost is that the entire window needs to be replaced from the outside and will require scaffolding (top floor) and the traffic on the road outside will need to be diverted (station traffic). The window replacement without this is about £45.

One of the glaziers said that the sofa had been moved up against the window and the build up of heat had shattered the glass. Another suggested that the sofa itself may have shattered the glass. Originally the sofa had been in the centre of the room (although I would probably be a bit hopeful to expect tenants to keep the furniture in-situ).

I naively had never thought of the need for insurance cover on tenant damage to buildings – my contents are covered by my contents insurance, buildings issues would get picked up by the buildings insurance and tenants would pick up their own damage.

Sadly (for me!) I’ve hit a grey area. I can just let it be and hope future buyers will knock me down by £45 (no immediate plans to sell either).

The “NHBC” type guarantee has stated that it isn’t their problem, my contents insurance insurer has negated it (reasonably TBH as accidental damage to buildings ‘aint covered), I have asked the managing agent to check whether the tenant has an insurance policy that may cover accidental damage (I’m not holding my breath on that one). I await feedback from the insurer that covers the building, but not holding my breath.

I’m sure that many of you will state categorically that it’s the tenant’s issue, but their deposit falls far short of the cost so I have a potential legal cost that looks a bit high risk at proving based on the above.

Does anybody have a Plan B that I haven’t already considered?

Maybe I was naive by not taking out some form of buildings accidental damage cover insurance or something – I must have missed the memo on that one!

Many thanks

Michael



Comments

by AA

20:00 PM, 24th September 2018, About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Rod at 24/09/2018 - 16:12
and never make a claim else it will haunt you for the next five years at the very least.
For an outside claim of £4-£5K I would stay clear. The hike in premiums over your whole portfolio over 5 years may come to more than that.
You just don't need the aggravation.

by MikeyB

21:07 PM, 24th September 2018, About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Rod at 24/09/2018 - 16:12
Yeah, been there and done it. They don't love us like they should 😉

by MikeyB

21:26 PM, 24th September 2018, About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by AA at 24/09/2018 - 20:00
I would imagine that this won't be the case in this instance. The service charge pays for the buildings insurance so an increase in premiums would be shared with fellow flat owners. However, I don't recall ever being made aware by service companies on the cost of claims that have led to the increase in insurance premiums year on year. Perhaps they are higher than we could even imagine and we're paying for them without even knowing. Alternatively maybe I just don't read everything they send me!

by MikeyB

21:50 PM, 24th September 2018, About 3 years ago

Some unexpected progress today. A director from the agency I use for full management service on the flat phoned me as he was concerned about how I'm almost being left out to dry by his staff. He explained that he had a small number of BTL's himself and felt the pain and had studied the long running email thread I had with his agent (loads of phone calls too).
He has taken personal charge and is going to visit the flat, talk to the tenant, the service company, contractors that have quoted plus some of his other preferred contractors.
It was a really welcome call and he appeared to be very genuinely concerned as he said he saw his company as delivering value to clients rather than just getting tenants in and collecting rent.
He couldn't promise a positive result but said he'd make sure that he explored every avenue. If he succeeds in solving it then I will happily name his agency here.
Thanks to everybody in this forum so far as it gave me some suggestions to fire off to him on the call to see whether he can find more cost effective ways of doing this (particularly if I ultimately end up picking up the tab!). I'm now actually considering getting some rope and replacing the window myself!
Please don't stop posting - everything written so far has been a fantastic help and I reckon there will be more nuggets that me and other landlords in the future will find priceless.

by Jason McClean

9:40 AM, 25th September 2018, About 3 years ago

Hi MikeyB

Regardless of the Service Company representative's attempts to placate and manage himself, I think you should be asking for the insurance policy and claims line. The Service Company may not want to make a claim on the policy. There could be many reasons they do not want you to claim - policy is cheap and nasty with minimal cover (not what leaseholders expect or pay for), they want to avoid any claims, they excluded various covers from the policy, they opted for a super high excess etc, etc.

Get the claims number, call it and the insurance company will advise you if insured and send round a loss adjustor. If it is a good policy, then you have nothing to worry about, they will arrange the fix promptly and the freeholder will only have to pay the excess.

As for comments disparaging insurance, "buy only the bare minimum and don't bother." I don't understand these comments. Property insurance is not mandatory, no one forced you to buy it. But if you do buy it, then be prepared to use it, that is what it is for.

In my experience, if you disclose the facts about the property correctly, then the insurance will pay out in a claim, normally very quickly. In addition, we see minimal, if any uplift in costs at renewal, even with prior claims, it is a competitive market place.

We specialise in block of flats insurance and your situation is very similar to many in the UK. It may be worth asking your Service Company to give us a call at renewal to see if we can save you all some money too, it is quite normal for Service Companies to be taken to the cleaners by insurers who know that the costs are being met by a group with little choice.

Hope this helps .

Jason

by RobertHDean

10:24 AM, 25th September 2018, About 3 years ago

the lease should specify what is covered, if the windows are not demised to the leaseholder then fixed glass should be included. The matter of the excess is another thing entirely. If the managing agent / landlord has not acted in the best interests of the leaseholders by arranging a policy that accords with the requirements of the lease they could be open to a claim on their PII

by Ian Narbeth

10:35 AM, 25th September 2018, About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by RobertHDean at 25/09/2018 - 10:24Yes Robert is correct. You need to check very carefully the definition of "premises" or "property". Does it include the windows and the glass in them? In leases of office buildings it is common for the external windows and window frames not to be demised to tenants. That means the freeholder repairs them and recharges the coat either to the tenant whose property is affected (if that tenant or his occupiers have caused the damage) or through the service charge. The logic is you don't want a tenant altering the external appearance by putting in a different shade of glass.
If you are responsible for the windows then see if your insurers will treat it as property damage (I assume you have landlord insurance). Speak to a professional claims assessor.

by MikeyB

22:06 PM, 27th September 2018, About 3 years ago

Some great input, thanks everybody. I checked the lease and it actually excludes the windows. Despite a couple of chases the service company are still not able to give me an indication on whether this could be covered by buildings insurance despite this.

However, I had a call from the agent that manages the property today. He had the damage looked at by a specialist buildings engineer and the feedback was that the windows (of which there are many) have been installed incorrectly - they have been "over-tensioned" them in the frames, the windows face the sun all day and the extra-hot summer has caused the inner glazing to expand and shatter. This is confirmation of the what the first glazier had reported which is good as it should be covered by the NHBC warranty 🙂 It also concerns me as the apartment is a duplex with 10 identical large windows so the remedial work needs to cover those too (and my neighbours might be interested after mine are sorted!) :-O
I hadn't previously thought about the need for insurance for infrastructure as I had assumed that it would pretty much be covered by the buildings insurance and anything else (like a broken tile or cracked window) would be cheap to fix.
All landlords, may be worth taking a look at your the buildings coverage and your potential liabilities, then a look out of the windows of your properties and consider the potential of needing scaffolding and blocking a main route like a road into a mainline railway station.
I'll keep you all posted of developments, thanks all.

by MikeyB

22:48 PM, 27th September 2018, About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Jason McClean at 25/09/2018 - 09:40
Thanks very much for that Jason, nothing to lose if the above doesn't work out - will give that a go.


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