THE PROP­ERTY DOC­TORS

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Interiors -

£1,500 I have al­ready paid to the flat be­low, de­spite the cause em­a­nat­ing from the flat above. Do I have any rights to de­mand a con­tri­bu­tion to my costs from the flat owner above?

RM, BY EMAIL

ALeaks from one flat to an­other are al­ways a prob­lem. As your own case shows, it is of­ten very dif­fi­cult to work out the cause of any leak. Un­less the lease of the flat ex­pressly pro­vides it, which would be very un­usual, the “leaker” is not au­to­mat­i­cally li­able to the “lea­kee” for dam­age caused. To bring a claim, you would ef­fec­tively have to show that the leaker knew that there was a leak from his flat and de­lib­er­ately chose to do noth­ing about it. I sus­pect you will not be able to do that.

This is pre­cisely why most in­sur­ance poli­cies for a block of flats say that leaks of this na­ture can be the sub­ject of an in­sur­ance claim. Of course, it is only the build­ing it­self that is in­sured, but the pol­icy should cover any nec­es­sary re­plas­ter­ing and dec­o­ra­tion of your flat. It would not cover dam­age to any con­tents. These will be cov­ered by your own con­tents in­sur­ance pol­icy, as­sum­ing that you have one.

Although it may be too late, I would cer­tainly ad­vise you to make an in­sur­ance claim now to see if you can re­cover the costs of making good the dam­age to your flat. There is bound to be an ex­cess, which the in­sur­ers will not pay. Nor­mally this is fairly mod­est but, if there have been sev­eral leak claims, it’s com­mon for a very high ex­cess – pos­si­bly £1,000 or more – to be payable. Un­less you can prove that the leaker is at fault, you will not be able to re­cover that ex­cess from him.

Of­ten, in­sur­ance ex­cesses are put through the ser­vice charge, but you need to see what the leases of the flats say. If they are silent on this point, I’m afraid you will be li­able for the ex­cess.

The ‘leaker’ is not al­ways li­able to the ‘lea­kee’ for dam­age

David Flem­ing is the head of prop­erty lit­i­ga­tion at Wil­liam Heath & Co solic­i­tors (williamhea­th.co.uk)

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