Repair obligation on water supply to flat

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    Repair obligation on water supply to flat

    Hi. There is a jammed stop cock which needs replacing. It is external to the flat ie in a communal area but serves the flat exclusively. The managing agents say it is the lessees responsibly. I've attached a couple of the relevant excerpts from the lease. Can anyone confirm who is responsible for maintaining it and why?




    Thanks
    Edit:
    Ps I'm not sure that"drains", "fixtures" or "appurtenances" in the lessee obligations applies to a water supply pipe.

    #2
    In the second photo, the lessor covenants to keep the water pipes in good repair subject to the lessees paying one eighth of the cost ( meaning paid by the service charge.).

    Do you have a stopcock for incoming water supply, inside your flat ? If you have a water leak inside your flat , are you relying on the jammed stopcock outside your flat ?

    Comment


      #3
      It may be that there is something elsewhere in your lease that is important, but my opinion, from just these two clauses, is that it could potentially go either way, and would likely depend on how well the case was argued on behalf of either side - but seems to lean towards the "lessor" having responsibility.

      Gordon's point about whether or not you are relying on the external stopcock is a good one - if you are, you should really get the stopcock fixed now (at your expense) and then worry about whether to try and claim that it should be a service charge cost later, even though it may then be slightly more difficult to get any money back. If you do this, make sure that you have evidence that you have told the freeholder/managing agent that you believe that it is their responsibility, and that you are only arranging the work because you consider it to be important to be done sooner rather than later.

      The argument for it being your responsibility seems to be that stop cocks are considered to be appurtenances to water pipes, and the lease makes you responsible for appurtenances that are exclusively used by your flat - however, pipes supplying water to the flat are not specifically mention, only drains.
      If you haven't already done so, you should ask the freeholder/managing agent to tell you exactly what clause(s) in your lease they think make you responsible for the repairs (best to get this in writing).

      The argument against it being your responsibility is that the clause you have quoted (if that is the one that the freeholder is relying on) doesn't specifically mention pipes supplying water to the flat, even though it does specifically mention drains. The clause covering the freeholder's responsibilities, on the other hand, very specifically makes the external water pipes and apparatus the responsibility of the freeholder. Unless they are arguing that the stop cock is damaged as a result of your actions or negligence, you may have a good argument that the lease should be interpreted in your favour on this issue. If external water pipes, and electric cables exclusively supplying your property were intended to be the responsibility of the leaseholder, these could have been included in the clause describing leaseholder's responsibilities in the same way as they were included under the lessor's responsibilities.

      Of course, the opinion of someone who is legally educated may differ (though I expect they would want to see more of the lease than just these two clauses).

      Comment


        #4
        I would fit a new stopcock internal to your flat if possible regardless of whose liability the external is. I would lean on the side of the jammed stopcock being your responsibility given it serves your flat exclusively.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by Gordon999 View Post
          Do you have a stopcock for incoming water supply, inside your flat ? If you have a water leak inside your flat , are you relying on the jammed stopcock outside your flat ?
          Yes. There is a stop cock inside the flat and another stop cock in the communal area which exclusively serves the flat. Both are jammed and need replacing.
          This actually makes it a more onerous task to replace as the whole block needs to have is supply cut off with notice given etc in order to replace the one in the communal area.

          I don't know why there are 2 fitted in this way but I presume the internal one allows the flat occupier to shut off the supply in an emergency whereas the one in the communal area would allow a third party eg the freeholders workmen to shut it off of the occupier wasn't home without having to force access etc.

          Comment


            #6
            Good argument for regularly testing your stopcocks and never ever leave them fully open.
            A decent plumber ought to be able to free up or replace the internal one with a freezing kit.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by Macromia View Post
              .

              The argument for it being your responsibility seems to be that stop cocks are considered to be appurtenances to water pipes, and the lease makes you responsible for appurtenances that are exclusively used by your flat - however, pipes supplying water to the flat are not specifically mention, only drains.
              ...
              The argument against it being your responsibility is that the clause you have quoted (if that is the one that the freeholder is relying on) doesn't specifically mention pipes supplying water to the flat, even though it does specifically mention drains. The clause covering the freeholder's responsibilities, on the other hand, very specifically makes the external water pipes and apparatus the responsibility of the freeholder.
              Thanks for your comprehensive response Macromia.

              ​​​​​ Your views on the lease resonate with my own.

              I am of the opinion that the intention when the lease was written was to make the individual flat owners responsible for all of the items listed as being the freeholder's responsibilities where they serve flats exclusively. However I think the lease was poorly put together/ proofed and they failed to duplicate the list of items in full against the exclusive use/ lessee clause. I think this because it tends to be common practice and because they put the word "main" against the freeholder's responsibilities.

              So I think that while the intention was to make the lessee responsible for this matter I think the lease fails to do so because it is not explicitly listed as being a lessee responsibly and so defaults to the freeholder. By explicitly listing the items in one place I consider this makes omission to list items in another place an explicit statement of their omission.

              it's frustrating that there should be any ambiguity but I suppose that is a fact of life for leasehold


              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Section20z View Post
                Good argument for regularly testing your stopcocks and never ever leave them fully open.
                A decent plumber ought to be able to free up or replace the internal one with a freezing kit.
                Yes indeed it is.

                I presume by freezing kit you mean freeing kit? I haven't heard of such a thing but thought that there was a method with wd40, time and a blow torch which could be used to unstick them.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by wouldbebuyer2 View Post

                  Yes indeed it is.

                  I presume by freezing kit you mean freeing kit? I haven't heard of such a thing but thought that there was a method with wd40, time and a blow torch which could be used to unstick them.
                  No, freezing kit is correct, using a blow torch will melt the rubber seal on the spindle and you will be in trouble then.
                  if the incoming pipe is plastic then a plumber can clamp it off and replace the stop cock in a jiffy.
                  if it's copper then a freezing kit basically turns the water in the pipe into a solid plug of ice so the stopcock can be replaced safely.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    The block supply would only need cut off for a very short time whilst the outer stopcock is replaced. The internal one could then be replaced at leisure. Not a difficult or expensive job.

                    Much preferable to make a definite stop to the supply with the block shutoff than to freeze which is an emergency measure really for when shutoff is not possible.

                    Like has been said, when new stopcocks are fitted, after opening fully don't leave them there. Close them back 1/4 of a turn, and every so often (6 months or so) operate them fully closed and open a few times to prevent seizing.

                    Comment

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