Dropped a pole on the neighbour’s roof?

Dropped a pole on the neighbour’s roof?

14:36 PM, 24th August 2021, About 2 years ago 13

Text Size

I am currently carrying out renovations to our property and took on a contractor who in turn subcontracted scaffold to a scaffolder. As the scaffolder was dismantling the scaffold, he accidentally dropped a pole on the neighbour’s roof. The roof being 100 years old, the tiles were brittle and some broke.

The Neighbour wants me to compensate him. However, I believe it is the legal duty of the scaffolder who committed the negligence or error.

The scaffolder agreed to come along with a mate who is a roofer to replace roof tiles, but the neighbour insists on a qualified roofer with trade qualifications and insurance, and pressing for a whole new roof unless exact matching tiles are put on, which is impossible because 100-year-old tiles fade in colour, and anyway manufacturers from time to time bring out slightly different colours.

Can anyone offer any advice, please?


Share This Article



17:26 PM, 24th August 2021, About 2 years ago

This happened to me, but our roof got damaged.
Our neighbour had a bunch of young lads painting her house and they just jumped all over our roof to paint her gable end.
They broke about 25 slates - I just simply showed my neighbours photos of the roof before and after and she agreed to cover the cost and try to get it back from the contractor. The cost for her was minimal as my roofer is fantastic and doesn't rip anyone off.
Ultimately, if the scaffolder won't pay up or doesn't have insurance the owner of the other house cannot just be left with a damaged roof, but equally they have to be fair and realistic.
This is not a legal input, but more an ethical responsibility to make sure the owner is not out of pocket.
I they are trying to get a huge payout I would insist on photos of the roof before to prove that it wasn't already damaged. If they don't have any it may make them a little more realistic.

Paul Shears

19:32 PM, 24th August 2021, About 2 years ago

It seems to me that the buck stops with you to manage this.
Your neighbour is initially an innocent party in this, so you should sort the matter out.
I think that this holds true in law as well.
Your neighbour probably and quite rightly just very angry indeed. Obviously the scaffolder is a fool as he knew perfectly well that he had damaged the roof tiles and he should never have tried to stand on an old roof anyway. He took a calculated risk based on his own previous experience and he got it wrong.
Your neighbour is over-reacting as you have hired incompetent people to his disadvantage.
If you can get the scaffolder to cough up and return the roof to at least the same state as he should, then fine.
He may make a loss on this job but that is a risk inherent in his business.
If not then it's tough on you to pursue whatever action you choose to take - or not - with regard to the scaffolder.
The internet is a great tool to redress the balance with the scaffolder.
Frankly, the scaffolder should be right in the middle of this trying to protect his reputation but that does not absolve you from responsibility.
A whole new roof is ridiculous.
Finding matching tiles is extremely time consuming - it can takes weeks -, but not impossible.
This will not go well for you unless you get personally involved and focus on the task of sorting the roof to your neighbour’s satisfaction and making a gesture (Non- rude) towards him as well.
You have just been unlucky and that is all there is to it. I would add that after decades of dealing with and working with every building trade, the people who work at height are the least reliable for obvious reasons. Thus it has usually been myself up on the roof managing them or correcting their mistakes.

Laura Delow

7:33 AM, 25th August 2021, About 2 years ago

Whether a Scaffolding firm operates as a business or on a self-employed basis, they ought to have specialist insurance i.e. a policy with a range of cover options such as public liability, employer's liability, property damage cover and professional indemnity. Did you check out beforehand that your scaffolder has the necessary public liability insurance? By rights if your neighbour's property has been damaged then the scaffolder needs to supply a claim form, from his insurers so that your neighbour can claim for the repairs.


7:40 AM, 25th August 2021, About 2 years ago

I believe that is what public liability insurance is for. The worker or his company should have the necessary insurance cover. I had some work done on my property not that long ago and insisted on seeing their insurance cover before letting them do anything.

Judith Wordsworth

7:47 AM, 25th August 2021, About 2 years ago

I would have thought your contractor is liable in the first instance if you are paying him for the work and he in turns pays any of his sub-contractors.
If you are paying the scaffolding company direct then they should be responsible.

Your buildings insurance company may take this on to get redress from the supply chain?


8:33 AM, 25th August 2021, About 2 years ago

You go to the main contractor and he sorts it out with his sub contractors who should have insurance and the roof will be repaired. That way a los adjuster will be involved and very unlikely they will sanction a complete re-roof, but to repair the broken tiles. The neighbour is being unreasonable in expecting a complete re-roof.
This takes any confrontation with your neighbour out of the equation as a professional loss adjuster will deal with it.

Mike in Worthing

8:39 AM, 25th August 2021, About 2 years ago

I'm sorry but you are liable. The law is clear on this. You are the Principal, the scaffolder is your Agent. A principal is always liable for the actions of his/her agents. This is to ensure that if your scaffolder disappears, your neighbour can look to you for compensation.
You therefore have to negotiate with both parties, hopefully coming to an agreement.

paul kaye

8:55 AM, 25th August 2021, About 2 years ago

Clearly we all should have insurance via our own building insurance.
If you can't sort it with the trades ,your best action is to call your own insurance company and report a no blame claim,for them to sort with your neighbour.
I feel you need to report it to your own insurers,read your policy.
Your insurance company are best to sort this ,as they will claim on your neighbours policy anyway and you should not suffer any increase in your premiums.Even if you have an excess to pay,that will be claimed back too by your own insurance company.


12:09 PM, 25th August 2021, About 2 years ago

I regret this retired solicitor after about 50 years working in the insurance sector agrees You are liable!

Your report regarding your neighbour's attitude ('replace roof if not exactly matching, he may push for new roof, costly???) tells me this is not a friendly 'accidents will happen and let's shake hands over a hundred quid' incident. You MUST report to your household insurers asap and in any event within their deadline if possible. Household insurers are very experienced in these matters, they will instruct loss adjusters to contact your neighbour, take the potential heat from the situation and agree the way forward.

Consider with your insurers if you have legal expense cover and whether it is worth chasing your policy excess Unless it is substantial I suggest you write it off to experience and a lesson as to whom you employ next time?

DON'T get personally involved, it will last until after Christmas 2022 if you do! And inevitably cause bad blood. Neighbourhood cases are the bane of the world!

Tim Rogers

12:38 PM, 25th August 2021, About 2 years ago

Unfortunately, the buck does stop with you, but as your contractor employed the scaffolder, it seems to me you have to deal with your contractor and allow him to deal with the scaffolder.

As mentioned previously, you are probably wisest to go via your own insurance as your neighbour does seem a shade opportunistic.

1 2

Leave Comments

In order to post comments you will need to Sign In or Sign Up for a FREE Membership


Don't have an account? Sign Up

Landlord Tax Planning Book Now