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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 8445
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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I own a downstairs purpose built flat and my neighbours

Resolved Question:

I own a downstairs purpose built flat and my neighbours upstairs (Nick and Anna) own that flat but have it tenanted as they have been living in another house that they own for the last 5 years.
We have a common freeholder- Freshwaters, and both flats have buildings insurance through the freeholder. This is supposed to lessen the possibility of disputes in the event of an insurance claim.
I bought my flat in 1998, they purchased their flat in 1995. Over the 18 years I have lived here they have "flooded" my flat on a few occasions - causing damage to the kitchen, bathroom, a bedroom and my lounge. Partly this has been through overflowing their shower or bath, more recently 2 years ago the damage to my lounge was caused by their roof (vertical lease I am responsible for drains etc, they for roof) - each time there has been damage I have either paid small amounts (£80-200) to rectify things or have had to get repairs and then claim through the freeholders. In 2014 , that claim was £3000 for the damage in the front room. I had just had my kitchen floor replaced and kitchen and bathroom completely redecorated when on 6th July water damage was once more apparent with water coming through the ceiling in the bathroom and kitchen.
The tenants upstairs who are a lovely young couple with 2 children tried to get everything sorted out to stop whatever was leaking. Further water damage came through the ceiling in the bathroom 2 weeks ago and at that point I pressed for a trace and access to be done. At no point did the owners of upstairs apologise for the damage, hassle, upset or the time I have had to take off work in order to try to get everything checked, and quoted for and sorted out.
I know my neighbours upstairs care little for the hassle to their tenants or the hassle to me. They are breathtakingly cold and unapologetic. The bot***** *****ne this time around is that my carpet in the bathroom and hallway was badly damaged and had to be pulled up from the bathroom and half way up the hall. Nick saw the damaged carpet and had a conversation with me after the first most recent episode- so around 10th July - he is a surveyor.
I have insurance for my cooker, washing machine, gas central heating etc etc, but I stopped my contents insurance as I don't have (at least I thought) property that is worth stealing apart from my cat and daughter who is away at UNI and I'd been trying to economise to help my daughter through uni.
My freeholder says the carpets aren't covered on the buildings insurance and they aren't. I asked very carefully Anna about paying for carpet in the bathroom and hall. Despite the fact she owns 2 homes she says she can't afford it. There was no apology. This is a much shortened version of what has happened but is overlong already. My neighbours are clearly responsible on a continual basis for water damage to my flat. The structure of the flat is affected by them refusing to put right problems and maintain the upstairs flat. The couple upstairs had to move out for several months in 2014 with a young baby and toddler whilst repairs were done to the roof, which have since proved to be inadequate as there are further leaks. I know morally that my neighbours should say , oh dear, here you go of course we will pay to put right the damage (to the carpets, the decoration is covered under the buildings insurance) but they won't. Is the best way forward as the freeholders have suggested by going to small claims court, is it best to swallow the cost of about £1,200 to get the carpets replaced ( I can't so I'd just have to continue to have underlay and underlay rods for a couple of years) or is there another method that might be useful. I can of course write to them setting out facts and asking them to pay, prior to going down any other path - but I wonder what advice I might get here?
many thanks.
Cathy Cross
Submitted: 1 month ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  F E Smith replied 1 month ago.

What you want to know about this? How to get payment for the damage out of the other people who are responsible when they may not have the money or insurance to do it?

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Their contents insurance will not cover a claim from them for my carpets and neither their or my buildings insurances does. Anna has said when I have brought the subject up, that she can "ill afford to pay for my carpets". Anna runs her own business, her husband is a surveyor in a good job, they own a house in Crawley and rent their flat out upstairs. They have property between them of over £1.5million. There is no issue of her being unable to afford to cover the carpets. If a person can not afford to properly maintain a property they rent out then they shouldn't rent it out. My flat is my home, not an investment opportunity. I live here. I've had considerable disruption for years because of the impact of either accidental damage from above or damage that frankly could have been avoided if the above owners had kept their flat in good repair. I've discussed this with our freeholder company who I have a good relationship with and they are sympathetic but the issue is as Anna has made it clear she has no intention of paying to cover the replacement of the carpets is this something best taken forward through small claims court.
Expert:  F E Smith replied 1 month ago.

It would normally be their buildings insurance not their contents insurance that would cover them for this. However if none of their insurance will cover this, then that is their problem and they are personally liable.

It doesn’t matter whether she claims that she can ill afford to pay for the damage or not, if this is a result of their negligence, they are liable to pay for the damage, it is as simple as that.

I would get a quotation for the work (not an estimate because courts prefer quotations and present her with your pay bill and ask her to refund and if she doesn’t, within a reasonable period of time, say that you have no alternative but to take her to the Small Claims Court.

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Best wishes.


F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 8445
Experience: I have been practising for 30 years.
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