Leak left – Grounds for redress against agent?

by Readers Question

8:31 AM, 24th April 2019
About 5 months ago

Leak left – Grounds for redress against agent?

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Leak left – Grounds for redress against agent?

About 7 weeks ago, after evicting a non-paying tenant, the agent notified me that there was a slight leak under the sink. I asked them to arrange to get it fixed.

Now, 7 weeks later, I’m told that I need new pipe work, repairs to kitchen units, probably new carpets and a dehumidifier for a week. I can only assume that is because the leak wasn’t fixed in a timely fashion after I asked the agent to arrange it.

Can I sue the agent or get some compensation as they’ve really been dragging their feet in everything to do with this property for the past year.

Many thanks

Kathy

 



Comments

Gary Nock

9:49 AM, 24th April 2019
About 5 months ago

Kathy it all depends on the agreement between the agent and yourself. Does it include maintenance? Is there a clause relating to pre-payment for repairs by the landlord? Do repairs have to be authorised in writing?
Providing you have the right clauses you can make a complaint to the agency about any uninsured losses you have incurred as a result of the agents negligence in not fixing the leak. You should be aware however that if your insurers become aware of the potential claim against the agent then they may well decline any buildings insurance claim and tell you to claim off the agents insurance. Which would leave you having to fund the work before either of the insurers pays out. If there is negligence on the part of the agent then they must be a member of a property redress scheme to whom you can complain once the agents complaint process is exhausted. They will then adjudicate. Practically what should happen is your insurers cover the cost of the damage to the property and if the agent has failed to arrange the repair then they should cover your excess - usually £250- £350. The other scenario is if a contractor has repaired it negligently and the leak has continued. In which case the contractor is liable.

You will also need to prove that the damage occured after the tenant moved out which should be recorded on the book out inventory report.

Graham Bowcock

9:51 AM, 24th April 2019
About 5 months ago

Hi Kathy

As with all such queries, the correct response will turn on the facts; you say that you "assume" the damage was caused by the failure of the agent to sort a leak out, but I suggest you establish the full details for yourself.

It is likely that you agent would be liable for a failure if they had been instructed to deal with a repair and had not done so with timeliness, although you will need to check your terms of engagement with them and make sure you have good record of what was instructed and when. You will need dates, names, etc. to confirm your instructions. Ideally emails will have been sent to support your position.

I have a similar case (as a surveyor) where a property was left empty by an executor and suffered severe water damage because it was not properly managed. The beneficiaries are claiming against the executor and solicitors advice is that there is a liability here.

If the agent is not willing to engage then have you looked at your insurance? It is quite likely that the consequential damage will be covered (not mending the original leak) under your policy. This may be the quickest route to getting things put right; again I have some experience and found that insurers will send in specialist flood restorers with dehumidifiers, fans, heaters, etc. and get the job done properly. This may save you hassle with your agent and get a better job.

Hopefully your agent will fully co-operate to minimise disruption and cost to yourself.

Good luck
Graham

Rob Crawford

12:59 PM, 24th April 2019
About 5 months ago

Difficult to prove! What may have been a leak initially and temporarily resolved with a bucket for it to slowly drip into could have quickly developed into full flow water escape from the connection. Difficult to predict! How long did it take you to respond to a maintenance request from them? Did you insist on three work estimates etc. etc? As GB says - you need hard evidence in your favour. If, however, you have not been happy with the agents for other reasons etc and the property is now between tenancies, now is likely to be the best time to change your agents. Check the contract terms you have with the agent with regard to serving notice etc. there may be cost implications.


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