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Ash, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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Hello, May last year- My house got down. House was

Customer Question


May last year- My house got burnt down. House was not insured.
One of my neighbours (1 door away) contacted me 2/3 days after fire to say that her property had suffered damaged because of the smoke/heat from my house fire. She asked for my insurance details. I told her I did not have any insurance. She said don’t worry about it, as she will pay the excess to her insurance company and it is the end of the matter as far as I was concerned.

Property was vacant after fire as it was inhabitable but I still had access to the post (as it was being held at the local post office).
July last year - I transferred ownership of the property to a relative.

September last year - My old neighbour had some repair work done on her house (external wall).

October last year (I think) - I picked up a letter from the post office addressed to a Mr. Smith. I remember the letter had a claims company logo. I returned the letter without opening it ‘Return to Sender’.

November last year - When I was in the area, my old neighbour approached me and said that her insurance company was trying to contact me. I took her claims company details and her reference.

November last year - I wrote to the claims company asking them how I could help (I provided them with my name and new home address). I also have proof of delivery of the letter being received by the claims company.

January this year - My old house had been rebuilt and my relative moved back into the property. I was and still am living quite a long distance away.

Middle of January - I received a letter from the claims company (addressed to me, i.e., my correct name this time), asking for more than £3000 and saying that it I was liable to pay for any damage to my ex-neighbour’s house because damage was caused by the fire to my property. The letter was sent to the property which was burnt down (i.e., they ignored my previous letter). Also, in the letter claims company threatened that if they did not receive the payment from me by the end of January 2014, their client (the insurance company) may decide to take me to court, in which case I would have to pay additional costs.

End of January – I replied back to claims company that I had no liability to pay for any work that might have been carried out as all my immediate neighbours (in 4 directions of the property) had given me written confirmation that they had suffered no damage and that I reject the idea that their client’s property got damaged when my immediate neighbours’ did not. Their client’s property is almost 20m away and immediate neighbours just 6m away suffered no damage. Also, that insurance company is acting as the judge, jury and executioner in this case.

Middle of March – The claims company replied back to say that they notice that I deny liability but it is my responsibility to pay for the damage to their client’s property. They refer to the case of ‘Rylands vs Fletcher ‘. They also make a commercial offer of £1800. If I do not pay by end of March 2014, their client (neighbour) might decide to take me to court.

My questions is should I just reply back to say that I had already denied liability and refer them back to my previous letter in January where I had explained the reason why I was denying liability. Is this claims company just trying to bully me into paying them?

They had stated in their January letter that the insurance company was their client (‘Our Client’s Insured’) and that ‘they were instructed by the insurance company, the insurer of my neighbour’; but now they are saying that my ex-neighbour is their client (‘Our Client: Neighbour’, i.e., no mention of the insurance company). What does this mean?

Please help, as I am extremely worried about this. After the house fire, I am in a very weak financial position and I am finding the stress of these threats too much to handle.

Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Ash replied 3 years ago.

Alex Watts :

Hello my name is Alex and I will help you with this. Please note that I am a working Solicitor and may be on and offline as I have to attend Court and meet with clients, even at weekends. As such you may not get an instant response when you reply as this is not an ‘on demand’ live service, but rest assured I will be giving your question my immediate attention upon return. There is no need to wait here, you will get an email when I reply.

Alex Watts :

Their insured means the ex neighbour

Alex Watts :

The ex neighbour insurance company is taking you to Court.

Alex Watts :

If the fire caused damage you are liable

Alex Watts :

If you had been insured that would have covered the cost

Alex Watts :

This means that they are pursuing you for the cost of putting the work right

Alex Watts :

As it does not sadly the claim is agianst you.

Alex Watts :

I am sorry if this is not the answer you want and certainly not the one I want to give you, but I have a duty to be honest

Alex Watts :

Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?

Customer :

Hi Alex,

Customer :

Can you please help with the following:-

Customer :

They had stated in their January letter that the insurance company was their client (‘Our Client’s Insured’) and that ‘they were instructed by the insurance company, the insurer of my neighbour’; but now their latest letter says that my ex-neighbour is their client (‘Our Client: Neighbour’, i.e., no mention of the insurance company). Does this mean that insurance company are no longer interested in this process and now my neighbour is trying to pursue this using the same claims company?

I was not told about the work being done otherwise I could have got an independent expert to determine if the damage to my neighbour’s property was indeed caused by fire in my previous home or it was a pre-existing issue. Also, none of my immediate neighbours suffered any damage. Does this mean that I have a strong case and claims company is unlikely to take me to court and they are just trying to bully me into paying up?

Alex Watts :

Then you could contest it on the basis they had failed to mitigate their loss. But you will be liable for some of the work.

Customer :

Sorry what do you mean by 'mitigate their loss'?

Alex Watts :

They should get a number of quotes to get the work done and pick the cheapest

Alex Watts :

If this answers your question could I invite you leave feedback on my service which I hope has been excellent today, if you need more information or help then please click reply.

Please remember that I am always happy to help if you have future questions, even if I am in Court I can normally respond within a few hours. For future information, please start them with ‘For Alex W’.

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