Water escape liability question - managing agent and / or owner?

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    Water escape liability question - managing agent and / or owner?

    Hi, first post here and really hope someone can help!

    Three months ago there was water escape from the top flat that went through two others and then amassed in my ground floor flat. The owner was impossible to get hold of but I got a plumber to stop the leak and make a temporary repair. Then, I spoke with the managing agents of the block and they initiated an insurance claim to cover the damage. The adjustor signed off various repairs, which I had done to make the flat habitable for my tenants. The managing agent Director I was communicating with assured me that the excess for the claim would either be paid for by the owner of the offending flat or, if she refused, added to her management fee account. Incidentally, I understand she is around £5k overdue with that too, so unsurprisingly she is ignoring all communication regarding the excess. Now I'm pushing for a payout, the Director has come back and said that they will not pay the excess and, essentially, that it's my problem. NB I do have a copy of an email from this Director to the insurers that states, "I have written to the agent who is managing flat no. XX and have advised him that the owner must pick up the tab for the excess. The worst case scenario would be to receive no response in which case it will be added to the owner's account".

    This leaves me about £1000 out of pocket and with no idea how to proceed! If anyone can advise on my legal position and whether I am likely to have success pursuing a small claims court claim, that would be hugely appreciated! Also, should I be taking the owner (if I can find them!) or the managing agents to court?

    Thank you in advance.

    #2
    Whether you or the service charge fund have to pay the excess will depend on the details of your lease.

    Unless the owner of the flat above was negligent, they do not have to pay..

    Negligence might apply to damage that occurred after the they had been given reasonable notice of the defect. Otherwise you would need to prove that the failure was inevitable but would have been prevented by reasonable maintenance.

    Most escapes of water are not anyone's fault, so the person suffering the damage picks up any insurance excess.

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by leaseholder64 View Post
      Whether you or the service charge fund have to pay the excess will depend on the details of your lease.

      Unless the owner of the flat above was negligent, they do not have to pay..

      Negligence might apply to damage that occurred after the they had been given reasonable notice of the defect. Otherwise you would need to prove that the failure was inevitable but would have been prevented by reasonable maintenance.

      Most escapes of water are not anyone's fault, so the person suffering the damage picks up any insurance excess.
      Thank you for the info. So this means that I have to find the details of the lease first and that the Director's initial promise means nothing?

      Re the negligence, the plumber explained that a pipe had been disconnected and there was something about pipes being set up in such a way that there would be overflow, so the issue was inevitable. Also, I believe their bathroom had been flooding for some considerable time and the tenants, letting agent and owner had done nothing about it. This seems pretty negligent to me, but I understand that such things are very hard to prove and possibly not something that I can get sorted out through the small claims court anyway - does that sound right?

      I appreciate the input!

      Comment


        #4
        The best people to chase the liability issues are your own insurers, assuming there is damage to contents, and not just buildings. However, it will affect your claims record. The buildings insurer won't care who pays the excess, as they are insuring all the parties.

        If you are not familiar with your lease, you are being negligent as a leaseholder, yourself.

        A director of a company can bind the company even when they didn't have the authority to do so. All that matters is that the other party believed they had the authority. However, a company cannot use the service charge for unauthorised purposes, even if they have promised someone that they would do so. If they do so, the company is responsible for funding that expenditure by other means. The company, itself, could then sue the director.

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          #5
          I make a claim in the small claims court for £1000 to cover your loss because the fee is around £35 which is cheaper than consulting a solicitor.

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