Newly painted ceiling water leak damage?

by Readers Question

15:05 PM, 19th July 2016
About 2 years ago

Newly painted ceiling water leak damage?

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Newly painted ceiling water leak damage?

I`m a private landlord and rent out a top floor flat. Last year the flat was fully refurbished including new bathroom and kitchen. Flat below is also rented out.ceiling

The letting agent for flat below contacted us regarding stains on their roof. On inspection our flat had a small leak under the bath due to a new pipe connection. The amount of water under the bath was minimal and did not seem enough to go through the floor into downstairs.

We requested photographs of damage, but photographs sent to us by downstairs letting agent do not look like water damage at all and are in a different area to the water leak. The letting agent claims that the flat has just been repainted and want us to cover repainting both ceilings.

The photographs received of the damaged ceilings do not look like freshly painted ceilings either.

Any advice?

Angela



Comments

Neil Patterson

15:07 PM, 19th July 2016
About 2 years ago

Hi Angela,

Water can travel, but how much are they claiming for a quick coat of paint?

Michael Barnes

15:36 PM, 19th July 2016
About 2 years ago

In my opinion, if they want you to pay for repainting, then they should
a) give you the opportunity to inspect the damage (and trace and fix the problem in your flat) and
b) provide more than one estimate for you to consider and choose.

If they have already repainted, then I don't see how they can expect you to agree that any previous damage was your responsibility.
(However, on re-reading it may be that they are claiming 'repainted shortly before the damage').

Mike McDonagh

10:45 AM, 20th July 2016
About 2 years ago

Hi Angela,
Surely this is a "block buildings claim" in which case you can claim the costs of tracing the leak but would be liable for the cost of pipe repair, downstairs can argue their case with the insurance company and the only bit that is sometimes contentious is who meets the cost of any excess.
Good luck Mike

Christine Reynolds

11:21 AM, 20th July 2016
About 2 years ago

We had a similar situation with the downstairs maisonette we rented out. The upper one had a bad leak which caused damage to the tune of £1500 in our bathroom and kitchen below. Their insurance company, Halifax, refused liability as the leak was accidental and our insurance company paid out the cost with us standing the £250 excess charge as our company reckoned it would be too expensive to fight Halifax's claim legally. The builder/repairer who rectified the damage calmed down my anger by paying us the a £250! How complicated this rental business can get and in this instant isn't the 'law an ass' in that the one sustaining damage is liable where the damage was accidental (never mind that this was the third time that we'd suffered leaking from above so obviously their pipework was somewhat dodgy)

Rob Crawford

11:31 AM, 20th July 2016
About 2 years ago

Firstly it's very difficult to find the source of a leak. Silicon sealant around a bath edge can leak water with no visible evidence of sealant deterioration. Looking under the bath you may be able to see traces of water on the wall, test with a shower head. As a precaution I would reseal the bath and do so routinely on a two year basis. Evidence of a leak, i.e. a water stain is difficult to paint over. A special sealant is required before the paint top coat, otherwise the stain will just come through - even when dry. Was the stain an old stain that has simply been painted over. I would not entertain paying anything unless given the opportunity to see evidence of the leak with my own trades man.

Mike

12:56 PM, 20th July 2016
About 2 years ago

My Wife owns a 1st Floor Flat that had developed a leak under the bath tub, the leak was pretty bad, the shallow trap body had come apart from the tub drain hole, her tenants had not noticed this and it is hard to notice if anything under the tub is not normal. So her tenants continued to use the bath on a daily bases, each time someone used tub, some of the waste water would also pour out , and leak through to the ceiling of the flat below, unfortunately, the Landlord of ground floor flat contacted me and asked me to view the damage.

I went to have a look, and I was appalled that her tenants had not reported the leak when it first occurred roughly 3 months before! the reason for this was that the tenants were all illegal occupiers and they did not wanted to raise an alarm, but the water leak from my above had caused substantial damage to the ceiling below, part of it started to crumble.

Unfortunately, I held the downstairs Landlord or her tenants responsible for not notifying me or my wife much earlier before the damage became excessive, the downstairs illegal occupiers had placed buckets to collect drops of water at various places to collect leaking water instead of reporting the issue to us.

I therefore declined to pay for any damage to downstairs landlord as the damage would have been curtailed to just cosmetic if had she or her tenants reported our leak from upstairs.

The ground floor landlord was not happy about it, and I said well fine take me to court but I am not going to entertain her claim that may nown cost her a lot more than had she reported us earlier, half of her ceiling had dark brown stain and with area immediate under the tub crumbling. The job would have required taking her complete ceiling down and redo using new plaster boards.

She then got some builders to just patch up and paint over, in the mean time I had taken no time to fix my wife's bath outlet, and I then placed a shallow tray underneath with a flood warning alarm, should such a leak occur again, the alarm would go off.

However, 2 years later, one day I had a call from the landlord lady downstairs, she asked me to visit her flat again to see half of her ceiling had collapsed, her new tenants had been extremely lucky, it just missed their head! It was indeed very very close!

I was alarmed and shocked, had I had no idea why the Ground floor landlord asked me to see this ceiling collapse, but I reminded her that the builder she last used only patched the ceiling with some filler and painted over, when he should have taken it down and redone a new ceiling, she looked at me, and I then said to her if any of her tenant had been hurt or killed she would most probably be behind bars for a manslaughter, but she works in a bank and holds a high post, she replied well that is why she pays for insurance to cover such incidents, and I said yes I know, but it wouldn't help you if you were negligent in not conducting proper repairs to your property.

I would have paid her for any damage to her ceiling had she or her tenants reported me that they had a water leak within a day or two, before the damage becomes big and unrepairable.

Ian Narbeth

15:04 PM, 20th July 2016
About 2 years ago

Angela, you say the damage is "in a different area to the water leak." If it is water damage then the water may travel until it finds the lowest point, perhaps a dip in the ceiling where it will pool and cause damage. If water has escaped from your flat you will not normally be liable unless you or your tenants have been negligent.

You should have liability insurance so I suggest you pass this over to the insurance company who can take the pressure off you.

Angela Cooper

16:04 PM, 20th July 2016
About 2 years ago

Hi, Thanks for all the comments, very much appreciated. We are going to ask to gain access to the property to further view the damage. The property below is empty at the moment. I think Scotland must be different for shared flat insurance, we certainly don`t have any shared insurance policies on this one but I know some properties have this thro a factoring service. I also like the idea of the flood detection system, very handy. Will update on outcome 🙂

Ian Narbeth

16:24 PM, 20th July 2016
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Angela Cooper" at "20/07/2016 - 16:04":

You really ought to have liability insurance in case you are sued by a third party. This is separate from buildings insurance. If a landlord does not have liability insurance he risks ruin if he or she is sued and loses. Even if you have a good defence, funding the legal costs could be onerous. That is why you take out insurance.

Angela Cooper

16:29 PM, 20th July 2016
About 2 years ago

Hi Ian, Thanks for the comments. Yes we have landlords insurance for the individual property covering the property and liability but we don`t have a shared policy as mentioned above in the block building claim comment. 🙂

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