Water Damage from Upstairs Flat – Who is Liable for the Excess?

Water Damage from Upstairs Flat – Who is Liable for the Excess?

11:57 AM, 20th November 2014, About 8 years ago 17

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I own the downstairs maisonette in a terrace, with one flat upstairs, which is also tenanted. There has been a water leak from the upstairs hand wash basin which has caused extensive damage to my flat.

It was a fortuitous incident, and my upstairs neighbour’s insurance has declined liability. Her tenants might have been negligent only inasmuch as they didn’t do anything about the leak for about one or two weeks, even though my tenants told them several times.

I have had a few quotes ranging between £800 and £1,600, however my insurance excess is £1,000. I have searched extensively about this topic in forums, but there seems to be conflicting information.

Some say that if the damage is rectified through one flat’s insurance, the excess is then shared by all the freeholders. Usually this would be through a managing company, but in our case, myself and the upstairs owner share the freehold and we have an agreement whereby we share the cost of all repairs, but we have separate buildings insurance policies.

Would she have to pay half of my excess, or half of the repair costs if I decide not to go through my insurance?

Thank you.

Sharon insurance


Ian Ringrose

14:22 PM, 20th November 2014, About 8 years ago

Yet anther reason to avoid BTL flats...

Sharon Davies

14:47 PM, 20th November 2014, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Kate Cotterell" at "20/11/2014 - 14:11":

Thank you Kate, that sounds very hopeful, and I'm glad it worked out for you. So in your case, the upstairs owner/tenants weren't 'negligent' either?

Ian Cognito

15:51 PM, 20th November 2014, About 8 years ago

Hi Sharon

You say:

"No, it wasn’t a running tap, it was a hose hidden behind the pedestal. I wouldn’t hesitate going through Small Claims, as THEY DIDN’T DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT FOR TWO WEEKS, DESPITE BEING TOLD REPEATEDLY." (my caps)

and in the same paragraph:

"I don’t actually need to go through my insurance at all, as my upstairs neighbour is responsible, even though NOBODY WAS NEGLIGENT." (my caps again)

That looks like a strange conclusion!

Surely, it would have been reasonable to expect the occupier of the above flat to act when first advised of the leak? In which case, had they done so, there would have been less or no damage to your flat. I would, therefore, conclude that they were negligent are liable for the resulting damage.


Kate Cotterell

16:22 PM, 20th November 2014, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Sharon Davies" at "20/11/2014 - 14:47":

Correct, the leak was just one of those things but I suspect if the owner of that flat looked after it better it would not have happened. Although a bit like you when my tenants did advise me that water was leaking through the ceiling, late one night, I went round and knocked on the flat above's door and the tenants weren't very interested. My husband and I put in bowls & towels around the boiler and phoned the owner who wasn't interested either! A day later they had still not called a plumber to stop the leak and water was still coming through my ceiling so I got the keys off the upstairs tenant called a plumber in myself and got it fixed. The owner refused to pay for the call out charge, the excess and my damage. Luckily I had taken photos and got a statement from the plumber. It was all very unpleasant but the insurance didn't argue about paying it but I did tell them that my damage was a lot worse because no one acted immediately and the leak went on for much longer than it should have. They have since leaked into my flat again (washing machine overflowed) and this time they didn't even argue about it, just paid up. So for me it was worth the hassle of taking them to small claims court to prove they were liable for damage as I would have been out of pocket both times. Good Luck.

Joe Bloggs

12:27 PM, 22nd November 2014, About 8 years ago

hi neil

'This is why flats always have block policies.'

flats are NOT always on a block policy. obviously many are because that is what the lease stipulates, but older flats, espec. conversions are sometimes insured individually. there is nothing wrong about this as long as the sum insureds are adequate and the common parts are covered.

Nick Pope

12:43 PM, 22nd November 2014, About 8 years ago


You commented that there may be no lease. Assuming that the property is in England/Wales (Scotland is different) the maisonette would not be mortgageable as lenders will not accept freehold flats . Consequently if you have a mortgage there is probably a lease of some sort, the terms of which will remain in force - perhaps your original conveyancer can advise.

I would strongly recommend that you obtain a block insurance policy for the building for several reasons :

1) You know the whole property is insured (what if your upstairs neighbour fails to insure and the flat and roof go up in flames?)

2) The third party liability insurance cover is likely to be better in respect of common areas etc.

3) You can manage the insurance and make sure that it is renewed on the due date.

4) It's probably cheaper.

Occupiers (tenants or owners) would need to obtain their own contents insurance on a separate policy.

I agree the excess is unlikely to be £1000 as that's usually the amount for subsidence. Other damage is likely to be around £250.

One other thing to check on your policy - are you covered for legal expenses as they might be agree to chase the owner upstairs if necessary.

Luke Yancey

14:45 PM, 13th June 2016, About 6 years ago

That has to be really stressful Sharon. I'm in the same situation currently- there has been a leak in my ceiling for months now, and always happens when the tenants above me are using their kitchen sink. I have told them a lot of times to get it fixed, but it has just been getting progressively worse and worse. I'm talking to insurance agents now, and will let you know how it goes.


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