Landlord's repairing liability

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    Landlord's repairing liability

    I have a 125 year lease of a flat. Recently there was water ingress through the outside wall of the building to the interior of my kitchen wall. The lease states that it is the Landlord's responsibility to maintain and repair external walls and the structure of the building. A builder came to look at the wall and came to the conclusion that the water ingress has probably been caused by the fact that there was, at some stage in the past, an aperture in my kitchen wall, which was filled in when the building was redeveloped a few years ago (prior to my ownership). It appears that the developer didn't brick up the aperture, but simply boarded it up, as a result of which rain water is now seeping through the wall.

    I relayed this to one of the directors of the management company, which is the freeholder of the building. He claims that any damage done to the interior of my flat is not the landlord's responsibility, even though I have pointed out to him that the builder has told me he will need to cut into and remove a section of my interior kitchen wall to analyse the cause of the leak. The director says he is prepared to authorise the payment of the structural element of the works only, ie the bricking up of the aperture, but not the making good of the internal kitchen wall. Is he correct? Surely I should not be required to pay for the internal works which are required because of the leak in the exterior wall?

    Your views on this would be much appreciated.

    #2
    Originally posted by Wistful268 View Post
    Is he correct?
    No he is not.
    Read your lease. It will state what the freeholder is obliged to keep maintained, and it is almost certain his responsibility to pay to rectify damage to your flat interior.

    If he does not, you sue him ( the company ).

    If the roof leaks ( freeholders property, just as the exterior walls are ) and damages your flat, the freeholder must make good the internal damage.




    Comment


      #3
      I think we need more details about who made the "aperture" and who was responsible for the hole. It is not at all clear whose interventions resulted in the damage to the building. Was the aperture present when the lease was created? Who made it?

      Was this a hole made for an extractor fan after the lease, and the fan was later decommissioned?

      Comment


        #4
        Thank you for taking time to read my query. It isn't known who made the aperture or when it was done. I think it was probably filled in when the previous freeholder redeveloped the building. By way of brief background, it is a building dating from circa 1900 in a town centre, which was converted into four flats around 2005. I bought my flat from the developer in 2016. I had a survey carried out, but it made no reference to the kitchen wall (probably because the exterior of the building is very difficult to access, as there is a pitched roof serving the basement flat beneath.

        I don't know if the aperture relates to an extractor fan or a window. The builder needs to cut into the interior of the kitchen wall in my flat to investigate this. The director of the management company says that the making good of this work, ie the plastering and re-painting, must be done at my expense, but I find this both illogical and unfair because the very reason the works are needed is to investigate the leak from the external wall.

        Any further thoughts you have would be gratefully received.

        Comment


          #5
          Flats converted around year 2005.
          You got the flat in year 2016, so was the flat empty from 2005 if you bought from the developer.?
          And or, is the developer the now managing company / agent of the company.?
          ( Why was a developer selling flats in 2016, and not the previous leaseholder ? )

          Initially you said "aperture filled in when the building was redeveloped"
          This statement is definitely the freeholders responsibility to rectify your flat.

          If you can prove that the first and subsequent leaseholders did not alter the outside wall by removing something, then again, freeholder should make good your flat.
          If again, you have archive photos before and after, ( hard to come by ) these may be good ammunition.

          However, at least the freeholder will fix the outside leak problem.

          Comment


            #6
            I bought the flat from the developer, who had let it out during the period between 2005 and 2016. The freeholder is a management company. The developer was the previous sole director of the management company, but he resigned when he sold the flat to me, following which two new directors were appointed.

            What concerns me most is that the current director of the management company takes the view that the damage caused to the interior of my flat by the breach of the landlord's covenant to keep the building in good repair has to be paid for by me. This stems, I think, from his belief that any internal issue is the tenant's to rectify, whilst exterior and structural issues are the landlord's responsibility. Surely, though, causation is the key issue here; namely that the only reason works are required to make good the interior kitchen wall of my flat is that the external wall is not watertight?

            Thank you again for your help with this.

            Comment


              #7
              You are going to have to sue the freeholder.
              that is your only option.

              The flat was let 2005 to 2016, and was the property of the freeholder from time of conversion.
              Renters are not allowed to do ANY conversions, or remove external apertures that probably had a large knackered fan in it.
              The persons responsible to ensure your flat was watertight through 2005 to 2016, was the freeholder, as they controlled the flat.

              Your lease was the first lease issued for that flat, and the freeholder inspects that flat, inside and out ( not many do ) and ensures no modifications ( illegal, according to the lease ) took place, therefore the developer was the one who placed the board up there during conversion.( but that leak is going to be repaired )

              HOWEVER.
              Your lease will say you are only responsible for for up to the floorboards, internal plaster and ceilings.
              The freeholder, as explained very inadequately above, has allowed the substandard repair to degrade, and is therefore responsible to rectify the damage done to your flat via his inadequacy.

              You have no option but to tell the freeholder that failure to put right the damage to your flat will result in you having to take them to court, especially as the freeholder does not know the law on rectifying damage done via the freeholders inactions / defective work.

              That's all we can advise.

              I would add, if it was me, that as the Director does not know what his duty is, that he should resign, and be replaced by someone who has the experience to run a Property Management company,


              Comment


                #8
                Thank you for taking the time to respond to my query; it's much appreciated.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by Wistful268 View Post
                  He claims that any damage done to the interior of my flat is not the landlord's responsibility, even though I have pointed out to him that the builder has told me he will need to cut into and remove a section of my interior kitchen wall to analyse the cause of the leak. The director says he is prepared to authorise the payment of the structural element of the works only, ie the bricking up of the aperture, but not the making good of the internal kitchen wall. Is he correct? Surely I should not be required to pay for the internal works which are required because of the leak in the exterior wall?.
                  The cost of making good the internal damage due to water ingress should be covered by the buildings insurance.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    The duty to pay for the repair of your flat is the result of general civil law (tort, I think), rather than the lease. Whilst you may need to organise the repair, the freeholder is responsible for the cause, so is responsible for your, mitigated, costs in doing the repair.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by Qwerty1 View Post

                      The cost of making good the internal damage due to water ingress should be covered by the buildings insurance.
                      I'm not so sure, given that the cause is negligence by the primary party to the insurance. It might be covered under public liability, I suppose. I'm assuming that the ingress of water is sudden, as a slow leak would generally not be covered by insurance, at all.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        But given the probability that the leaseholders share all maintenance costs then you will probably pay in part anyway!

                        Comment


                          #13
                          My understanding from a similar situation is that if the Freeholder damages a flat to enable a repair then is definitely responsible for making good.
                          However any damage caused by the water ingress is possibly different.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Normally leases have explicit clauses about making good damage when exercising the right to access parts of the building not in your possession, but the damage to the flat itself is due to the general liability for damage due to negligence.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by leaseholder64 View Post

                              I'm not so sure, given that the cause is negligence by the primary party to the insurance. It might be covered under public liability, I suppose. I'm assuming that the ingress of water is sudden, as a slow leak would generally not be covered by insurance, at all.
                              Perhaps it depends on the specific insurance cover, but I have had a situation of water ingress where the fault was clearly due to a mistake in the installation of windows. The insurance company covered the internal damage and asked for proof for the wrong installation so they could go after the windows company in order to recover their costs.

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