I am part of a home ownership scheme living in a third floor apartment. We pay a service charge for buildings insurance and were informed only to get contents insurance. One of my rear window brackets buckled during the gale force winds and caused the hinges to come away at the top. This happened at 10pm a joiner was called and secured the window temporarily, but the window could not be brought back in and was hanging dangerously. The next day Equity informed me windows are not covered on the policy and that they could not help. They told me to get 2 quotes and get the window fixed myself and sent through a claim form which was inadequate for what had happened. 2 Months prior to my incident the flat above me has had the same problem. My window could have killed someone below. Equity sent out a letter to residents informing them that windows,doors, floors are not covered. They say only the exterior casing is covered. 2 months on quotes for scaffolding alone are reaching £2000 then fitting charges, also a months notice is required as tenants on ground floor will not allow access. I have informed equity the hinges and brackets supplied for the windows are insufficient and need checking. Nothing is happening. I have opened my other window and find that if I press the bracket it moves. The windows are large solid wood with thickened glass.
Scaffolding has to go over a six foot brick wall as there is no access six foot wall contained around ground floor. Access to the six foot wall is complicated as this is on private land and they will not allow access without a large payment for inconvenience.
Can you help
Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practicing lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.
Do you have access to your shared ownership lease please?
Yes I have access to my lease.
My apologies for the delay in reverting to you. Can you confirm if the lease provides that you are responsible for window frames and glass or whether this falls to the landlords responsibility please? The lease will define which party is responsible for each structure in the building.
Apparantly I am the premises. the premises include
a) the inside and outside of the window and other lights and frames, glass, equipment and fitments relating to windows and lights of the premises
b) The doors, door frames, equipment , fitm,ents and any glass relating to the doors of the premises
c0 the internal plaster or other surfaces of load bearing walls and columns within the premises
d0 non load bearing wall completely within the premises
Thank you. That is fine.
e) the flooring, raised floors and floors screeds down to the joists or other structural parts supporting the flooring of the premises
Based upon what you say, the lease unfortunately provides that you are responsible for the window frames, fittings and glass. The landlord is able to voluntarily cover these fittings but it is not under an obligation to do so. Worse still the landlord will be able to require you to fix the window under repairing coventants in the lease.
The apartments are less than 3 years old who can check that the windows are fit for purpose
This leaves you in a frustrating and potentially costly position if your contents insurance does not cover windows which many will not unless you specifically chose a leasehold flat insurance cover which offers cover extension to parts you are responsible for.
Unfortunately the fact that the flat is less than three years old is unlikely to assist either. Consumer protection does not apply to property sales in the same way that it does for products like TVs and so on you buy. Caveat emptor applies - let the buyer beware. New homes are supplied with warranties that cover construction for the first 10 years, however almost all warranty providers divide their cover into two parts - the first two years and the last 8 years. during the first two years, warranty cover is comprehensive covering virtually all aspects of the build. However after the first 2 years, cover drops to just the structural elements of the building. Do check you warranty cover to confirm the position but most warranty providers provide warranties in the above form
Add to this if the damage was caused by high winds there is the opportunity for a claim to be made that the windows were not defective but rather were damaged by high winds. This argument may not succeed as it is possible to argue that the windows should be capable of withstanding the level of wind but it is an additional potential obstacle.
All in all I fear I am not able to be very positive for which I sincerely ***** ***** is one aspect on which I can be more positive and that is the issue of scaffolding.
There will be or at least should be in your lease a provision that allows you access to other parts of the buildings required in order to carry out repairs and maintenance to your property. Accodingly you are able to require access to allow scafolding to be erected which can be enforced in court if necessary.
In terms of how you may proceed. I would recommend that you check your new home warranty to see if there is any cover which assists for the window. As above I would not anticipate there will be after the first two years but it is worth confirming to be sure if you have a non NHBC policy. Second check with your contents insurer - some policies offer cover designed for leasehold premises or add on cover and it is just possible your policy will cover this issue. Looking ahead, consider obtaining such add on cover or a polciy deisnged for leasehold flats which offers cover for damage to fittings for which you are responsible. Lastly ask for a copy of the insurance policy from the landlord to check what is covered - the landlord must supply you with a copy on demand. It may be that the cover is wider than the landlord suggests.
In the worst case scenario that you are liable without cover, consider clubbing together with similarly impacted neighbours in order to drive down the cost of a repair quote. Executing repairs together should save substantial costs if there is scaffolding involved.
Regarding the requirement for scaffolding on adjoining land there is a right under the Access to Neighbouring Lands Act to obtain a court order to require access for scaffolding. No payment can be demanded by neighbours though there is a requirement to make good damage caused. If necessary this could be relied upon in order to require access for scaffolding.
I am really sorry I am not able to be positive than I have been above. Hopefully you may be able to identify the benefit of some cover using some of the abov approaches. Does the above answer all your questions or is there anything I can clarify or help you with any further?
Section 8 under insurance says The management company effect buildings insurance. We must obtain our own contents insurance. This does not make it clear that additional insurance is required?
May I clarify - section 8 of which document please?
CS Conveyancing who procured the flat for me
Thank you. This will be fairly generic advice the solicitor prepares for properties of this type. It is essentially correct. The solicitor should have explained in their report what you are and are not responsible for under the lease. If they did not do so you may be able to attempt a claim for negligence but it would turn on how detailed or not their advice was to you. If they failed to mention that you were responsible for windows there is a possibility that a the claim could succeed. If you believe you have grounds for a complaint against your solicitor, you can raise a claim for negligence without cost by initially complaining to the solicitor themselves and if not satisfied, referring a complaint free of charge to the legal ombudsman service. The decision of the ombudsman is binding upon the solicitor
Is there anything above I can clarify for you?
If my window had fallen and killed someone would I be liable?