Council no help with water ingress assumed from neighbour

by Readers Question

9:54 AM, 2nd January 2015
About 4 years ago

Council no help with water ingress assumed from neighbour

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Council no help with water ingress assumed from neighbour

Help! I’ve a lower ground floor flat that has suffered from some sort of water ingress, we’ve investigated and found a drain from next door near so am assuming it is this – however the neighbour has done all sorts of unregulated work to his building and being extremely obtuse – I’ve had someone in to investigate, but the neighbour is difficult and all drain people leave without doing anything.

I’ve now had a call from the tenant to say that he is ‘under water’ – I just don’t know who I turn to with this – is there a company who can carry out checks to see where the water is coming from, can the water be tested to see if it’s foul or rain? I’m sorry to sound a bit pathetic as I am a long time landlord but however careful I am with my own property I’m at a total loss when I have a rogue next door.

I have reported him to the council (3 years ago) for all the works he has done which are clearly without any sort of checks of building control – not out of spite but fear for my own property as we share a wall, I’ve had works done to his drain pipes, roof and had his drains unblocked but he’s not willing to do anything – the Council haven’t actually done anything except discover that he has done a whole lot more than I reported, but not made any enforcement notices (as if he’d comply with those) and really giving him a light touch (Lambeth – a pathetic excuse of a council).

Really would appreciate a pointer for this one.

Elizabeth snipped



Comments

Neil Patterson

10:01 AM, 2nd January 2015
About 4 years ago

Hi Elizbeth,

First things first you need to contact the insurance companies asap.

Your own Landlords insurance, but more importantly the Freeholder's block buildings insurance policy. Now I am assuming that the Freeholder may be Lambeth council from your article ?

Harlequin Garden

10:38 AM, 2nd January 2015
About 4 years ago

I have just done that, I was hoping to get my neighbour just to check his drains so that we know what it is - we are a pair of properties and I own my block and he owns his side. He's done so much weird pipework and unlawful work and freely admits to his basement being flooded that it can only be him. I took this business over from my late husband who always dealt with everything himself, we've never had an insurance claim in 20 years (always insured) so I'm just programmed to plough on myself. I have now rung the insurers and they will be sending someone around - my neighbour is so slippery I just feel that somehow he'll wriggle out of it again.

I was wondering if anyone else had had an issue with water just 'appearing' in their basement. It wasn't even raining!

I pay oodles to Lambeth - they don't even collect the rubbish.

Joe Bloggs

10:51 AM, 2nd January 2015
About 4 years ago

1) '...he is ‘under water...’ - how deep is the water?
2) is there more damage / damp in one area?
3) if so is that adjacent to your neighbour?
4) have you eliminated all other causes such as leaking pipes beneath your basement floor etc etc?
5) when you are flooded, try and establish if the neighbouring basement is also flooded.
be careful not to jump to a wrong assumption.

Jerry Jones

10:52 AM, 2nd January 2015
About 4 years ago

If you are getting no help from the council when you believe you should be, talk to elected councillors - they are often very good at applying pressure to officers who are not performing as they should.

Harlequin Garden

10:59 AM, 2nd January 2015
About 4 years ago

It's enough to soak the carpet and rug onto and squelch

No just the floor, though there is some damp on the walls (we frequently redo this - it's a basement)

It is on the party wall

we have no pipes under the floor and it is not near my drains

I've jumped - I think my conclusion is correct - it's his lack of maintenance and dodgy works - he has constructed 'illegal' accommodation (the council know because they told me, but they haven't done anything yet) - this accommodation obviously needs bathrooms, so assuming he's wrongly piped it up somehow - the man's an idiot.

My insurance company is sending someone out - I was perfectly happy and coping ok until this nutcase bought the place and turned it into a gipsy encampment. Also the reason my current investments are new build, this place takes all my time with repairs and upgrades - a money pit to stand still.

I have no reason to believe that my neighbour has an idea of telling the truth - he says the basement my side is 'blocked off' - if it was anyone else surely they would investigate what was behind the wall - the other side is flooded. I've tried to get him to sort it out - I've had his drains cleared for him, as his manhole is at the front, it keeps blocking, so that's when I thought that EH would step in as he has rats, but they say it's a civil matter and up until this point not affecting me too much - I could deal with redecorating regularly.

Joe Bloggs

11:15 AM, 2nd January 2015
About 4 years ago

hi
from the new info it does sound like your assumptions are well founded. are you saying this is a 'new build'? if not then guessing this is a victorian conversion? if so there is usually an interceptor trap in front inspection chamber and these tend to block. they are best removed. if his drains are blocked and backing up into your basement this is a breach of environmental protection act and you need to gather evidence to prosecute or persuade the council to prosecute. its a criminal offence so in theory he can go to prison! another avenue may be thames water as they may well be responsible for this drain.

Mandy Thomson

11:19 AM, 2nd January 2015
About 4 years ago

HI

Obvious question but have you tried Thames Water? See "What if I share my supply pipe with my neighbours?" on their web page: http://www.thameswater.co.uk/help-and-advice/9759.htm

Harlequin Garden

11:33 AM, 2nd January 2015
About 4 years ago

Thanks for the input - when you make the effort to look after your own property, it's upsetting to be the victim of a neighbours lack of care.

It's a Victorian maybe Georgian conversion - we bought it split into 'units' and have carried on letting it as it is/was. Our drains are fine. Our drains were done a few years ago, they had cranes as they had to go down so far (just on our boundary with the main road, but as we are 'shared' though no one can work out who we share with it's just on the plans, it was done by Thames Water) - my neighbour has 'private' drains so I've paid twice for his to be unblocked at the front.

I tried environment health on a few issues - rats (his front is continually littered with rubbish, the council doesn't remove unless it's put out and he never puts it out and it spills out all over the place, I've cleared it many many times), he also had a vent from his basement where rats could be seen coming and going so I had chicken wire put over that and a vent pipe in his drive - they say it's 'civil', but then it is Lambeth and I'm lucky to have received any response at all.

I did play 'dumb' a few years ago with the rats and said I was a tenant (the council services won't come out to owners), we had them in the garden coming across from him - we'd been paying a company for ever to put down poison and they said that this was all they could do as there was clearly a source and it would be never ending - the council rat woman was very good and blocked up a hole, and also found an open sewer end next door, but wouldn't proceed with anything, just told them to block it up - all these people are different departments and they don't liaise with each other.

Maybe he'll have to shape up with the insurance company involved.

Thanks again, I will try again with Environment Health, though Planning and enforcement are rubbish, I've been 'corresponding' with them for 3 years and they mainly don't respond as I've said. The last I heard was 3rd December when the head of the department responded to say that my enforcement officer was leaving and someone else taking over - heard nothing since, written twice, they don't answer the phone. The only moment of hope was when they listed all his breaches about 18 months ago - but would need me as a witness should it go to court - no chance, as he knows where to find me and has a reputation as being a very nasty and violent man - hence trying to do this peacefully and letting him think I'm a dumb woman. I didn't tell Lambeth I wouldn't be a witness, just waited to see if they would serve him notice - but it's not even listed as an enforcement action on their website and as far as I know nothing is happening.

There isn't much encouragement from the council to be a 'good landlord' - he has tenants in absolute squaller - no windows in one of his 'flats' - has children there as well.

Harlequin Garden

11:38 AM, 2nd January 2015
About 4 years ago

I'm not shared with him - I'm shared with someone around the corner, according to Thames' plans it curves across the top of my garden then comes straight down to me, missing out next door - I think the plan is wrong as it shows a manhole in my garden path - and there is nothing there, I'm just thankful that I'm showing as 'shared'! when they thought we were 'private' and there was a blockage we couldn't clear they were insisting that we closed the A24 (6 lanes and an island) as we were then responsible to the main sewer - when they discovered we were shared they cleared the blockage and it was never mentioned again, our main sewer is the other side of the road - I think this idiotic rule has changed now! I did call Thames Water out - and this is when I paid them to clear it, he was too busy arguing and life is too short.

Paul Baker

12:25 PM, 2nd January 2015
About 4 years ago

My first port of call would be the Water Board as they will arrive promptly if you explain you have a leak and are unsure of its origins.
They will test the water there and then in a testube which will determine if it is coming from the water supply. They do this as the water will turn purple/pink when they test is due to a chemical reaction to the low level of chlorine they place in the water supply.
Although this won't solve your problem it will at least give you a start point or identify water sources that can be eliminated and of course the service is FREE 🙂
Good Luck - Paul

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