Repair or improvement?

by Readers Question

10:37 AM, 4th July 2018
About 3 months ago

Repair or improvement?

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Repair or improvement?

Hello, any help would be appreciated indeed!

I am going to tribunal vs landlord.

If there is NO existing damp proofing course on the building would having one done be considered an improvement or a repair to the property?

Many thanks

Paul



Comments

Neil Patterson

10:39 AM, 4th July 2018
About 3 months ago

Pure guess as I am no expert, but I would have though all buildings need to have a damp course so this is a repair of a fault?

Gary Dully

13:56 PM, 4th July 2018
About 3 months ago

DPC’s are one of the remaining scams in the property industry that people still get away with.

Do a google trends for damp proof course and see what countries deal with it. It’s Blighty and Australia.

https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?q=Damp%20proof%20course

Anywhere else you would be in prison for fraud.

Bricks don’t absorb water or allow it to pass, they are ceramic and support bridges on canals,

See https://www.heritage-house.org/damp-and-condensation/the-fraud-of-rising-damp.html

Paul McCarthy

7:31 AM, 5th July 2018
About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Neil Patterson at 04/07/2018 - 10:39
..REPAIR OF A FAULT? so, would it be a service charge item or the flat owner's problem?? flat is owned by the freeholder btw.

Pete Lightowler

8:38 AM, 5th July 2018
About 3 months ago

'Bricks don’t absorb water or allow it to pass, they are ceramic and support bridges on canals,'
Garry, I think you're referring to a specific type of brick - engineering. Most bricks do absorb water, plus the mortar course will migrate damp from one side to the other. Hygroscopic porosity describes this process.

If there was no DPC inserted in the original building (eg Victorian mid terrace) and there's been no issue over the years with showing inside the building then I would want to look at what's changed - eg prolonged heavy rain, broken drainage, leaking gutters, etc.

Whether this is regarded as an improvement or a repair is a moot point, but doesn't this miss the bigger issue of who's responsible for the cost of rectifying the damp issue? IMO that's got to be the freeholder because as landlord they have a duty to provide habitable accommodation.

How do you know there's no DPC there?.Are other flats affected? Need more info.

Graham Bowcock

9:16 AM, 5th July 2018
About 3 months ago

Dear Paul
Reading between the lines, it seems that you are a leaseholder of a flat taking action against the freeholder for damp issues, rather than being a shorthold tenant.

There are many properties without DPC's and they function perfectly well. Whether damp subsequently occurs depends on many factors, including the nature (and quality) of the original construction, the manner in which the property is used (e.g. somebody piling earth against the external walls) and climatic conditions.

I am not aware of any requirement to retrofit a DPC where the original construction did not include one.

I assume that the damp is affecting your flat so would question why this was not picked up (possibly by your surveyor) when you purchased it. You have not stated if you are the ground floor flat, which is where I would expect the DPC to be.

In most leasehold cases the freeholder will be responsible for such repairs, but you will need to consider the terms of your lease to make sure. Clearly there is a need to deal with damp for the sake of the whole building. It is most likely that any charges will be passed back to leaseholders through service charges.

I don't think there's a straightforward answer to your question about whether installing a DPC constitutes an improvement. It will turn on the facts of your situation, the nature of the problem and the terms of your lease.

Graham

Tim Rogers

9:51 AM, 5th July 2018
About 3 months ago

There may well be no modern DPC, but check 2 things, firstly how far above ground level are your floors, (as a rule of thumb damp will not rise more than 3 ft), and secondly take a very close look at the lower external brick work for a line of slate mortared in, ( this was a common old style dpc). If you have either then the damp is either because of a change or from a different source.
I have a 1890 built mid terrace where tenants reported "rising damp" in 2 rooms. On inspection we found the 2nd floor instance to be drastic condensation, ( 2 cross flow air bricks were fitted). The ground floor issue was traced to paving slabs being laid that breached/hid the slate line height. Putting in a 300mm trench below the slate line and back filling with gravel permanently cured the problems, somewhat more effectively and a lot cheaper than neighbouring silicone injection work.

David Dorset

12:53 PM, 5th July 2018
About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Paul McCarthy at 05/07/2018 - 07:31Hi, I am not expert on this subject but have personally come across the same situation. The leaseholder of a flat where I also have a flat said that his basement (which he used as a bedroom) was damp and need damp proofing works. The situation went back and forth with the management company until solicitors became involved. The result was a conclusion that whilst the management company/landlord are responsible for repairs to the property if no damp proofing exists then you cannot repair what is not there in the first place. Therefore it became the lease holders problem. If however there was originally a damp proof course that has failed then that is a different matter.

Gary Dully

13:33 PM, 5th July 2018
About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Pete Lightowler at 05/07/2018 - 08:38
I didn’t really set out an answer to the question, my apologies, what I was highlighting is the rampant ripping off of normal trusting folk in regards to DPC’s in the UK.

You don’t see houses in France and Germany with every brick near ground level butchered, chemicalised and then siliconed up again, except the UK and Australia.

That’s because chemical DPC’s are an expensive waste of time, just like magnets etc.

I would call it an improvement not a repair, but is it the actual cause of damp?

Hamish McBloggs

13:51 PM, 5th July 2018
About 3 months ago

Surely if, like our late 1800's cottage, it was built without a DPC it is an improvement.

But if you are going to get beaten up because the rules have changed forcing one to spend money to comply or face a penalty then surely it's an expense.

Hamish

Hamish McBloggs

10:17 AM, 6th July 2018
About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Gary Dully at 04/07/2018 - 13:56Demand a meeting with your bank and demonstrate that the mortgage application form 'conditions of mortgage' section is damp using a meter.

Underwriters are not qualified and I have found 3 types of surveyor.

1. Good, sensible, pragmatic and slightly cynical. My type of Surveyor.

2. Spiv. Gelled Hair. talks the talk ticks boxes. Young. Bless them

3. Old. Unable to accept change and about to retire.

Banks rely on experts.

Another subject I am going to research.

Hamish

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