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Ash
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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Hello,I signed a lease on a commercial property in May. It

Resolved Question:

Hello,
I signed a lease on a commercial property in May. It is full repair, but the landlord said that the roof was his problem.. and he also owns the flats above.. in fact the whole block. The property has a suspended ceiling and above it it is a mess, broken glass, metal. A few weeks ago a couple of floorboards fell onto the suspended ceiling leaving a pile of rubble. Even my Dad said it was best not to worry abut that as the joists sounded ok and it would be like Pandora's box with it being a Victorian property that looks like it is is affected by susbsidence from the outside. I have only signed the lease until dec 2015.
In the recent rainfall the roof leaked in a number of places damaging stock and forcing me to close and cancel an event which meant I lost a few hundred pounds. We are not covering our overheads yet and are in a lot of debt and are considering re mortgaging our home which is worth double the mortgage. The leaks was said to be due to 2inch pipes not being 4 inch pipes and next door lost thousand of pounds worth of electrical equipment. They have a solicitor dealing with the landlord because they were not happy with the landlords response to sort it out through the insurance..
On losing 3 suspended roof tiles in one place the plaster came down too and underneath the joists look cracked. The landlord wants to get his man to plaster over the cracks. We wrote a letter requesting a registered quantitiy surveyor to survey the property and for him to take full responsibility for damages and accidents in the mean time. 48 hours (our deadline) has long passed and we have not received a written reply.
We did get called for a meeting, but at lunch time.. our busiest time.. and it was only arranged an hour before.. it was cancelled half an hour before.. but the agents still came in and in front of the customers started pointing at the ceiling and talking about roof damage. The flood and first roof tile fell in in front of customers the first time. I am really concerned about the irreparable damage to my reputation when children are at the forefront with most customers having one. I am concerned about money lost.. but most of all I am concerned about the safety of the building, my customers, my staff and myself and my one year old who works with me. There was a loud bang yesterday and I was worried it wasn't just the flats above...
Where do I stand? The rent is due this week... it says in the contract that money can't be put up against it.. but if I don't deduct it how can I pay for a surveyor and get reimbursed.. please please help as soon as you can. I really need advice..
Warm Regards
Nicci
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
Alex Watts : Hello Nicci my name is ***** ***** I will help you with this.
Alex Watts : For now please let me know whether you have a full reapairing lease?
Customer:

I have already answered this question in the first line of the question.. yes I have a full repairing lease, but the landlord said the roof was his problem and he owns the flats above

Customer:

I am sorry, but I have not used this service before. I was excited to get an answer as this is an urgent question...

Alex Watts : Ok and what is the cost of Repair please do you know?
Alex Watts : What is the cost of a surveyor ?
Customer:

I don't know.. he is offering to do the repair, but doesn't want a building surveyor as he says it is a waste of money as they don't do anything and it is a matter of trust.. do I trust him or not.. he is going to repair roof at night time so as not to interfere with my work

Alex Watts :

Indeed. Sadly you can't withhold any rent. If you do you will be in breach of your agreement and the Landlord could re-enter without notice and change the locks.

Alex Watts :

But I think it does need a surveyor either before the repairs to establish what needs doing or after to make sure that all the repairs have been carried out.

Alex Watts :

It wont be a huge cost probably around £250 or so, but bearing in mind these repairs are the responsibility of the Landlord it seems reasonable that he bears this cost

Alex Watts :

But whatever you do, do not withhold any rent - this would certainly cause you an issue

Alex Watts :

If you do pay for the surveyor and he wont pay you, you could in theory sue the Landlord.

Alex Watts :

As the cost would be below £10,000 it would be a small claim and a fairly informal process and even then you can issue proceedings online at www.moneyclaim.gov.uk

Alex Watts :

Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?

Customer:

So if I pay the solicitor it is likely that it will be found in my favour that he should incur the cost retrospectively?

Alex Watts :

Yes, but if you pay a Solicitor for a small claim, these costs are not recoverable.

Customer:

Thank you.. also is he liable for loss of earnings incurred for it raining in premesis for the 2 days? He has 2 inch pipes instead of 4 inch pipes on his roof.. also the builder said he has known about the cracked joist for some time.. but there is a language barriers so I am not entirely sure if it is worse since the rain

Alex Watts :

If it was caused by his negligence then yes

Customer:

he has offered to deduct money from rent and I wasn't sure whether I could argue fir full amount or should be happy with gesture thst he doesn't need to offer..

Alex Watts :

Well if he knew about it or was negligent then you are entitled to it.

Alex Watts :

If it simply was an accident then you are not entitled to it

Customer:

how can you prove negligence?.. with building surveryor?.. will they be able to tell age of crack even once repaired with still rod?

Alex Watts :

Yes they can tell whether it was repaired before and age

Customer:

ok thank you.. and they will be able to tell age of pipes too.. thank you for your response.. I had some technical issues where the computer kept telling me that you had replied but there was no conversation or ability to write.. I can't therefore tick excellent but only good.. but wanted to tell you too.. it was driving me crazy!

Alex Watts :

Yes they should be able tell you this.

Alex Watts :

As for the system sadly I have no control as an expert, but I will pass your comments to the Moderator

Customer:

i'll put excellent as realise rating you really for your folder, but do please tell them...

Customer:

just one last confusion..

Alex Watts :

Thanks

Customer:

Is it a given that they responsible for roof.. landlord acted like it was when signed lease.. but for next time.. shouldn't it read on lease who responsible for it.. when says full repair how do you know whether it includes roof or not

Alex Watts :

Generally full repairing is just that, normally you would be responsible unless there are flats above you like there is in this case when the Landlord would be

Customer:

ok cool thanks.. in my case it flats, flat roof and flats.. but this section is the flat roof so I suppose negligence is not a given in totality? and treading gently might be wise?

Alex Watts :

Yes indeed.

Customer:

and proving it was like that before is pointless because they'll say should have discovered it self with own surveyor when took on lease or not?

Alex Watts :

Yes exactly

Customer:

so be grateful if they fix it and give me anything?

Alex Watts :

Well they fix it is the main thing. if they knew of the problem you could claim loss of business etc as long as any claim is below £10,000 so it stays a small claim

Customer:

but try persuasion to get all that lost.. guess i'm pleased not to be next door with their lots of electrical equipment.. thank you..

Customer:

how can prove they knew it? they'll just deny that..

Alex Watts :

Indeed. Can I clarify anything else for you?

Alex Watts :

Well the surveyor can tell you whether it was pre-existing

Customer:

but they'll just deny they knew won't they?

Alex Watts :

Possibly but they are liable for the state of it

Alex Watts :

You could try as a small claim as the procedure is informal and not too expensive

Customer:

I would just get a property solicitor for that?

Alex Watts :

No need as those costs wont be recoverable.

Customer:

how to do it then?

Alex Watts :

Well you can issue a claim but it needs to be for £10,000 or less to keep it as a small claim

Customer:

yes but how does a person do that.. on line?

Alex Watts :

www.moneyclaim.gov.uk

Customer:

blimey you said that.. doh! screaming toddler.. thanks.. have a good day.. over and out x

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