Leak from the flat above not repaired and now flat below is suing me?

by Readers Question

3 years ago

Leak from the flat above not repaired and now flat below is suing me?

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Leak from the flat above not repaired and now flat below is suing me?

I am a private land lord and have 4 tenants living in one of the properties. About 6 months ago, a tenant in flat no 6 rang me and said that there was water leaking into our bathroom from the ceiling. drip

This flat is on the first floor in a 4 story council block. I understand the flat directly below my flat is no 2 (ground floor) and the one above mine is no 10 and the one above no 10 is 14. I believe that occupants in no 2 and 10 are council tenants and 14 is owned by a leaseholder and the flat is tenanted and managed by Agents.

When my tenant first rang me about 6 months ago I promptly contacted the council to report this and they gave me the phone number for their contractors. I contacted the contractors who visited my flat to check the leak and established that the water was coming from no 10 which is directly above me.

The contractors then visited no 10, after a few abortive visits due to not having access. They then wanted to visit no 14 (3rd, top floor) which is directly above no 10. Again after a few abortive visits due to not having access they visited no 14. Nearly 5 months have gone (August 2015) and despite visiting no 10 & 14 a few times the contractors failed to repair the leak. The water was still leaking into my bathroom.

During the months between March and August I rang the contractors regularly and usually the reply I got was that the Contractors attended either no 10 or 14, but did not have access. As a result I took it upon myself to contact the Housing Officer at the Council a few times requesting him to liaise with the residents of no 10 and 14 to facilitate access to their flats in order to find and repair the leak.

As the leak was not stopped by the contractors I made a complaint to the Council on 24 August. On 9 September I received a letter from the Council saying “the leak was coming from no 14 and despite several requests from the Housing Officer, access was only given by the resident on 3 September and the leak has been repaired”. They said that they were partially upholding my complaint because there has been a delay in completing the work.

On 16 September I received a letter from the Solicitors of flat no 2 (directly below my flat) holding me responsible for the disrepair that has arisen directly from a leak from my flat that is affecting their kitchen, bathroom, corridor and bedroom 3. They are complaining about damp, plaster damage to walls, mould to ceiling, light fittings not working and warped wood flooring among other things.

They have given me 21 days to carry out the repair work and to pay compensation for all the inconvenience, disappointment, discomfort and loss of enjoyment suffered by their client. They are threatening to issue proceedings in the magistrates’ court for a breach of s79(1)(a) Environmental protection act 1990 and s82.

However the leak is still continuing into my bathroom and I have escalated my complaint to stage 2 with the council.

I would have thought that instead of holding me responsible for the leak and damage to their flat , no 2 should have made a claim through the council’s block insurance once the leak has been repaired. My flat is also suffering from similar problems as a result of this leak that is coming from the flat above me and I am intending to claim through the council’s block insurance policy once the leak has been repaired.

I would like to know if any of you have experienced such issues and any advice/suggestion will be greatly appreciated. Am I to be blamed for the leak? Does no 2 have a case against me?

Gratien



Comments

Neil Patterson

3 years ago

Hi Gratien,

We have had many readers questions about problem leaks from the flat above and difficulties fixing the issue, but now being sued by the flat below is a new one.

I would not like to recommend what you say to the flat owner below or their solicitors as I am not a lawyer and you need to be careful.

However I would contact my insurers to put them on notice of the issue and I hope you have legal cover. I would also let the Council know straight away and the Freehold block insurers.

Have you double checked that the problem is coming from above and not a secondary issue from your flat?

I also don't understand why the owners of the flat below went straight for contacting you in this way. Do you know them and what is the relationship like?

If you do end up needing legal help I would personally contact our friends at Cotswold Barristers. please see >> http://www.property118.com/member/?id=1945

John Simpson

3 years ago

Surely the only people entitled to take you to court for damage to the flat below are the owners i.e. the council? And as it's either one of their flats causing the damage or alternatively the privately owned one above that, either way it's not your fault that the water's passing through your flat en route to the ground floor flat. In any event the good news is that the insurer for all four flats will be the same one so there should be no prevarication about paying out under the escape of water peril. They won'y however pay out to repair the cause of the leak unless the cover includes trace and access. Just the damage caused by the escape. So at least you and your downstairs neighbour will be covered.

Teg's Dad

3 years ago

Having experienced this problem both as the leaker and leakee, John is correct. Insurers will pay for damage and restitution, but repair of the leak will be regarded as routine maintenance and not covered by insurance.

Perhaps it is time to ramp up the action against the Council and start a small claim in your local County Court?

Reply to the comment left by "Neil Patterson" at "28/09/2015 - 10:13":

Hi Neil,

Thanks for your response. Unfortunately, I do not have legal cover on this property – this issue has opened my eyes and now I have taken cover for my other properties. I have already spoken to the Housing Officer and he is aware of the problem. The occupant of No.2 (below my flat) is also taking action against the council. I will be phoning the council’s block insurers tomorrow, to inform them of the situation.

As far as I know, there is no secondary issue. The leak starts from the top floor (3rd) bathroom, which then flows down to the other bathrooms which are directly below each other.

I also do not understand why the occupant (not owner – he is a council tenant) went straight to solicitors. I have never lived at this flat; therefore I do not know the complainant and have no relationship with him.

The leak emanates from the 3rd floor flat which is owned by a leaseholder. In your opinion, who should be responsible for damages in all of the flats directly below?..Or would the owner of each flat be responsible for damages in the flat directly below his/hers?

Kind Regards,

Gratien.

Reply to the comment left by "John Simpson" at "28/09/2015 - 15:32":

Thanks John for your comments. I completely agree with you.

The problem is that my solicitor has replied to Flat 2’s solicitor’s letter and it has cost me £500 (including consultation). Now, their solicitor has responded and I must again, pay more money to my solicitor to write a response. I feel like this is going to go back and forth – and will end up costing me a ridiculous amount of money.

Kind Regards,

Gratien.

Reply to the comment left by "Teg's Dad" at "28/09/2015 - 16:38":

Hi ‘Teg’s Dad’,

Thanks for your response. I am tempted to take action against the Council, however I feel that it may be slightly premature to do so.
Can you please elaborate on your experience and how the situation was resolved (as a leaker and leakee) as I seem to be in a similar situation.

Kind Regards,

Gratien.


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