Damaged front wall

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    Damaged front wall

    Hello and happy new year to everyone.

    I was notified in early December by my tenant, that the brick front wall in my front garden was destroyed by my next door neighbour who "accidentally" drove into it...

    I am going through process of obtaining quotes from builders for repair, in order to submit to his car insurance company. ( He had proposed a cheaper builder but I prefer to use my own builders...)

    However, my tenant has been pressurising me to get it fixed quickly, even indicating he could withhold rent if it is not completed by 30 Jan. He has now emailed me that the neighbour (who destroyed wall), is asking why I have not yet repaired it when he had offered to pay for it... very cheeky one could say in the circumstance !

    I assume they have no right to get involved, but from a legal standpoint does my tenant have a right to pressure me for this to be repaired ? It is not the wall of house itself that has been damaged...

    Thanks for your advice.

    #2
    There are only limited circumstances in which rent can be withheld, and I don't think this is one of them. I think, generally, it would be when the tenant had paid for the repairs themselves after multiple requests to the landlord.

    The tenant could make a small claim for compensation, but it is unlikely t be very high, but they cannot offset that against rent.

    You should probably be glad that they do want the wall re-instated. Near me, it seems that both landlords and tenants hope that walls will disintegrate, so there is nothing stopping them (illegally) driving vehicles over the pavement.

    Comment


      #3
      Send tenant a s21 notice on 30th January.

      Comment


        #4
        There's no rule that a property border has to have a wall or a fence.
        I'd tell the tenant that if they withhold rent you would simply automatically serve notice - doesn't matter what the reason.

        And, I'd actually let the insurance company and the neighbour take care of it.
        The tenant isn't going to be happy with the builders, the mess and, most likely, the result, so I'd let him be unhappy with someone else.
        When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
        Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

        Comment


          #5
          Garden walls are not included in the statutory obligations imposed by Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. Accordingly, you will only be obliged to repair the wall if the obligation is imposed by the express terms of the tenancy.

          The tenant is not being unreasonable. After all, he signed up for a property with a front wall.

          Comment


            #6
            Hi Retro

            As a professional claims handler in the private rental sector and based on my experience with tenancy agreements. The standard clause usually states that rent cannot be charged if the something renders the property unfit to live-in ( this usually involves loss of bathroom facilities, kitchen facilities , heating , running water, electrics or denial of access) . A damaged boundary wall , although a nuisance, does not fall into the category of uninhabitable , so the tenant will be in breach of the AST, if he withholds the rent ( please do check the actual clauses you have in the AST with your tenants as these might be different).

            From a claims perspective the top priority is to ensure that the wall is safe and not a danger to the public, so if you need to instruct a builder to make safe, remove any debris or dismantle the rest of the wall , especially if there is a risk of collapse. Do not wait on anyone's approval, instead go ahead with the emergency repairs and keep hold of the invoice to present to whomever is dealing with the claim ( insurers are appreciative if you have to undertake emergency works in order mitigate and prevent further loss or damage).

            With regards to the main repairs you have 3 options

            1. sort privately with the neighbor. Obtain two estimates to demonstrate that a fair price has been obtained. Ensure that he is in agreement with one of the estimates , neighbor pays the cost of the repairs ( make sure you get the money before you start the repairs , in case he changes his mind )

            2. go via the neighbors insurers. Do not liaise with the neighbor and instead obtain the claim reference and contact number from him and deal with his insurers direct. Then if liability is not being argued, it's a simple case of providing them with 2 x estimates and some photos of the damaged wall. They will authorize the cheaper estimate, you have the repairs done and submit the final invoice to them and they will send send you a cheque for the agreed amount .

            3. Go via your own buildings insurance who in turn will seek to recover their outlay from your neighbor's motor insurers. Contrary to popular belief , if your insurers are successful in recovering their outlay from the TP's insurers , then the claim will not affect your premium ( think of it the same way as a non-fault motor accident). Same as above you will need to provide 2 x estimates and photos. Insurers will authorize the cheaper one , you have the repairs done and submit the final invoice. Insurers then will settle less your policy excess. Once settlement is concluded then the insurers will pursue their outlay together with your policy excess from the TP's insurers and if successful the balance on the claim expenditure will go back to zero and you will receive a cheque towards the reimbursement of your policy excess.

            With regards to the tenant one can appreciate that it could be frustrating in having a damaged wall, however instead of butting heads I would recommend a friendly chat to reassure him that you are working hard to get this resolved ASAP. Explain to him that it's next to impossible to have someone come out over the holiday period and most contractors are also usually just returning from holiday or booked solid in January. I would suggest to keep him constantly updated and sign posted ( example a quick text , I called 3 builders today and one of them promised to come and have a look on Monday). You'll be surprised as to how many times , all that someone wants is just that little bit of reassurance that things are being taken care of and they are not being ignored.

            With regards to finding builders , traders websites like checkatrade or trustatrader are always a good place to start.

            Hope the above can be of some assistance and good luck.

            The claims handler

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by claims handler View Post
              Hi Retro



              3. Go via your own buildings insurance who in turn will seek to recover their outlay from your neighbor's motor insurers. Contrary to popular belief , if your insurers are successful in recovering their outlay from the TP's insurers , then the claim will not affect your premium ( think of it the same way as a non-fault motor accident).

              I think the bit in bold is the crux of it though, isn't it? How likely are o/p's insurers to want to recover their outlay, when it is in their interests by increasing future premiums not to?

              When our block was flooded by developer next door hitting a water pipe, our next year premium indeed shot up.

              Comment


                #8
                JK0 from your words I take it that you might have had a couple of nasty experiences with insurers. I can only talk about my experience and the companies/brokers I have personally worked with. Whilst I can appreciate your logic that at the end of the day insurance is a business and the end goal is to make a profit. Based on my experience , whenever there is the possibility to make recovery on a claim it is always explored and pursued. It is also more commercially viable , what is better ? getting back the £10k back from the responsible party's insurers or increase your clients premium by £500 at renewal and risk losing a client who apart from a couple of low value claims , has a relatively clean claims history and has been paying you £3000 premium annually for the past 10 years.

                This does not mean that the recovery is always a straight forward matter and there are occasions where insurers are unable to pursue or have to abandon the recovery process. Below are the 3 example scenarios as to why recovery is usually abandoned.

                1. insurers do not have enough evidence to prove that the TP has been negligent and its not cost effective to keep pursuing.
                2. Its a low value claim and its not cost effective to keep pursuing. Although it can be seen as unfair, insurers are not going spend more than the potential return on a claim. No one is going to spend £1000 of man hours and legal costs to recover £200.
                3. insurers are negotiated down and accept a part offer. This is usually encountered on high value complex claims. Example a mains water pipe has burst and flooded a whole street. One of the properties is a high end restaurant that ends up being closed for 6 months as a result and insurers paid out £1.5mil worth of damage and business interruption. Insurers are then faced with either spending the next 5 years chasing the water board for the money + Thousands of man hours and legal fees or accept the £1 mil that is being offered by the solicitors representing the water board. so the pragmatic approach is taken and the offer accepted.

                The Claims Handler

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