Recourse for work we paid out based on freeholder's incorrect advice

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    Recourse for work we paid out based on freeholder's incorrect advice

    When my mum bought her flat exactly 5 years ago, she discovered an issue with the buildings wast pipe, which was under her basement flat. It had been leaking and caused a foul smell.

    She informed the freeholder of the urgent drain issue and they said it was not something for them to investigate or deal with as it was within the 4 walls of her flat.

    She took the freeholder's word for it (on email) and paid for the work to the drain, once they opened the floor up they found the waste pipe for the building had been leaking for a long time.

    When she finished dealing with the issue, she sent freeholder the invoices, they refused to pay them saying they should have been approved in advance. But she was never told this in advance and was simply told it was her problem to deal with.

    5 years later we are having other issues with the freeholder. Is there anything from this initial drain issue that we can claim back given time limits, processes follow (or not)? We have all the receipts still, which were submitted to the freeholder to way back when.

    Small claims court?


      You have six years to commence legal action.
      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).


        Thanks for the replies. I guess the question is first whether my mum not following procedure would make the claim fail, regardless of the freeholder's incorrect advice. Secondly, whether this is a small claims matter or a FTT matter.


          Firstly check the LEASE do the draisn serve your mother's property only or ALL the property? Who is responsible for the drains? When were they maintained or repaired last?

          Ask the company who did the work what exactly was wrong with the drains, ask them which properties do they serve and get them to give you a written small report and invoice.

          Once you have checked what and who is responsible for what tell FHolder directors then give them 14 days to reimburse you otherwise take to Small claims court and sue for recovery of monies stress cause and interest plus your own litigation fees and travel expenses .


            perhaps if she starts as a money claim there is time enough for the court to determine that the case should be transferred to tribunal


              Thanks for the replies. The drain was for the communal soil stack serving about 5-6 flats and it's connection to the mains drainage, so it was definitely communal. After the work was done, a director told my mum she could have claimed the money had she followed processes, specifically getting the work signed of by the freehold company insurer and getting multiple quotes. I know the freehold company will try to use this defense in court if needs be, and as there is some truth in it I wonder whether they actually stand a strong chance of winning, even though the initial advice they gave of it being my mum's responsibility was incorrect.


                the trouble is that the f/h cannot now claim this as a s/c because the work was over 18 months ago, so its irrecoverable meaning the f/h actually would p[ay himself. You could rry litigating but is not without risk even if morally your ma has a good case. How much is involved?


                  I would think that the work is likely to have been done too long ago for the company who did to work to be able to be asked for any reports, so the potential success of any sort of legal action will depend on what paperwork the OP and the freeholder/managing agents already have.

                  Do you have copies of letters/emails where the freeholder (or their managing agent) were informed of the work and said that it was the leaseholder's responsibility?
                  Do you also have copies of letters/emails where they later admitted that it was their responsibility but claimed that they would not pay because the correct processes weren't followed?
                  Note: The precise wording used in the above letters/emails may be very important.

                  Was there ay communication where the freeholders/managing agents explained that several quotes had to be obtained, and permission had to be granted, before any work could go ahead and later be claimed as something that should have been paid by the freeholder and claimed as service charges?

                  It's also important to know that you may be asked to explain why you have waited so long before pursuing this and trying to claim money back from the freeholder (because they may now have difficulty claiming a share from other leaseholders). The fact that you say that you did try and get them to pay nearer the time might help, but how would you justify leaving litigation for so long?


                    Might be hard on the wording front. We have emails where they were informed of a drainage issue before the purchase completed. Upon completion my mum naively emailed a company director asking for neighbours details as there was "a huge sewage problem" and she wanted to get it fixed - again at this stage no work had taken place, she was trying to isolate the issue.

                    Both times, they failed to investigate and didn't suggest sending a surveyor or anyone else. They simply asked my mum to keep them informed of any remedial work she did. They didn't mention in emails who's responsibility the work would be, but the implication was it would be hers.

                    She completed the work and then asked for a contribution to the cost as during the works it was found the issue was in the entire building's sewage pipe which ran under her basement flat kitchen floor.

                    It was at this stage she was told she hadn't followed due process and if she had been wanting to get this reimbursed she should have followed the proper procedure.

                    In terms of why we waited so long, we simply believed we had no recourse.


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