Property damaged. Advice please

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  • Lawcruncher
    replied
    Originally posted by minorbark View Post
    My insurance company HAVE agreed to pay out on my 'accidental damage' claim.
    If you don't ask you don't get!

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  • jpkeates
    replied
    minorbark Thanks for taking the time to update us and give us some useful information.

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  • minorbark
    replied
    I'm providing an update only in case it's of any use to someone looking through this thread at a later date as there's been some debate along the way on who should be deemed liable for the cost of repair and how successful an insurance claim would be.

    My insurance company HAVE agreed to pay out on my 'accidental damage' claim. They have received all of the information I have on the cause of the damage, including the police's reference number, so there's been no attempt on my part to present the 'accident' as anything other than the police wishing to gain entry by forceful means while the tenant was present in the property.

    Wording varies from one policy to the next so anyone else's outcome may vary but it clearly isn't beyond possibility that an insurer will agree to pay out despite the police's actions being no 'accident' in the dictionary definition sense of the word.

    'Accidental damage' is defined, for the purpose of my policy at least, as "Unexpected physical damage caused suddenly by an identifiable external means". The police are clearly the 'external means' in this case but it's never made clear in the policy wording who needs to deem the act 'unexpected' for it to be covered. The situation was obviously completely unexpected by me, arguably unexpected by the tenant (who I assume hoped the situation would end with whoever was at the door walking away, regardless of how loud they were banging at the time), but clearly not unexpected by the police who were using deliberate force to cause the damage, yet my insurance company have agreed to settle the claim in full.

    This implies that the insurance company believe that the cost incurred from this situation should be covered by the landlord. I expect I would have had my claim rejected and been told to discuss the costs with the tenant if the insurer genuinely thought that was a legal viable option that could lead to them not having to pay out themselves.

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  • Hudson01
    replied
    Originally posted by DPT57 View Post

    Its an interesting point though. In all the TV programmes I've watched about Police forcing entry, I've never seen them break in the front door to a block of flats, just the individual flat door, as they usually try to persuade another flat occupier to let them in.
    Totally correct, most of the time it works, if not the majority of the flats where the doors go in are social housing of some kind so the local neighbourhood teams have either a keycode for the main door or a fob...... it is rare indeed that one of those doors go in.

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  • DPT57
    replied
    Originally posted by Lawcruncher View Post

    If by "leasehold" you mean "long leasehold" Section 11 LTA 1985 does not apply to long leases. In a long lease who repairs depends on the lease.
    Its an interesting point though. In all the TV programmes I've watched about Police forcing entry, I've never seen them break in the front door to a block of flats, just the individual flat door, as they usually try to persuade another flat occupier to let them in. If this failed and they did break in the front door, I assume the management company/freeholder would have to claim from the block insurance, although it would be interesting to see whether they would try to recover the cost from the leaseholder, (tenants landlord).

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  • Lawcruncher
    replied
    Originally posted by MdeB View Post
    Does that mean if it is a leasehold, then the freeholder is responsible?
    If by "leasehold" you mean "long leasehold" Section 11 LTA 1985 does not apply to long leases. In a long lease who repairs depends on the lease.

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  • MdeB
    replied
    Originally posted by mokka View Post
    On the other hand if the said tenant bought his own property and police broke the door in the same fashion then the property owner, said tenant for example, would have to cough up.
    But the tenant has bought the property for the duration of the tenancy.

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  • MdeB
    replied
    Originally posted by Lawcruncher View Post

    It amounts to the same thing. See subsections (4) and (5) of section 11 LTA 1985.
    Does that mean if it is a leasehold, then the freeholder is responsible?

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  • Turbine Terry
    replied
    Just been mulling this all over during a nice post lunch (hic!) walk, and so here is my two pence worth. I believe this will end up being the OP’s/landlords’ cost (or if lucky, his insurer). The OP is obviously at 0% fault and IMO the tenant is around 50% at fault. However, assuming the tenant is not going to pay voluntarily I cannot see how the landlord can realistically expect to get payment: the deposit protection scheme are unlikely to allow deductions for this under the circumstances (police damage, lack of detail/knowledge over all facts meaning tenant not clearly at fault). I can’t see the police paying. This leaves the small claim courts – even though there is evidence that the tenant initially accepted responsibility (then changed his mind) is the OP really going to chance his arm in court and incur all the time, expense and stress that that entails for what is, relatively speaking, probably not massive amounts of cash?

    I agree that no one needs to open their door if someone is knocking loudly and aggressively – that is just as much a reason to not open the door IMO. If you have mental health issues you are likely to run and hide upstairs if you hear aggressive knocking. As others have said, it is a reasonable assumption to not expect your door to be broken down if you do not answer. On the face of it at least, the tenant should not therefore be blamed for not opening his door. We don’t know all the facts/circumstances that caused and lead up to the need for the police to act as they did, but I believe the tenant to be partly at fault as there will have been room for him to handle the situation better so that a situation did not escalate to the point where the police were so concerned that they broke the door down. Like others have said, the police don’t do that without very good reason. As such, I feel that the tenant must be holding back salient facts and so being economical with the truth.

    If I were the OP I would first try and get the tenant to meet half the cost, or at least some. If he won’t pay anything, and so won't accept some responsibility, then this will sour the relationship to a point whereby it might be better for landlord and tenant to part company as once the relationship breaks down it rarely fully repairs and the tenancy becomes stressful for all. It is easy to be cavalier with other peoples’ money, and no one likes to have to spend money unnecessarily, but I can’t imagine the damage to be that costly and it does not sound like rental income is the OP’s main/sole means of income. So, even if the OP has to foot the entire bill then I would chalk it up to bad luck (many of us will have had some costly form of bad luck as landlords) and focus on mitigating the risk to stop similar, or worse, incidents happening again with this tenant. The OP could tell the tenant that he wants to keep him as a tenant if possible but he needs to know what steps the tenant has/will take to ensure it will not happen again. His attitude to taking those steps (and also if he will pay a contribution towards the damage) will assist with the OP in his decision whether or not to issue a section 21.

    However, even before ‘doorgate’ there were existing tensions between parties and so the writing may now be on the wall for this tenant. I am all for giving second chances though, but I would first want to see some effort from the tenant to show that he will takes steps to stop this happening again. Maybe the OP could speak to the lettings agent and ask them to speak to the tenant and his family/girlfriend to say that he doesn’t want to evict him, but can they help to offer assurances that this won’t happen again? Would the family offer (in writing) to foot the bill if it does? They should want what’s best for the tenant and may be willing to cover some of existing costs on the basis that the OP gives tenant a second chance and doesn’t evict. Section 21 with a tenant should always be a last resort even if there has been animosity, as if the tenant does not leave when the S21 expires and stops paying rent then the landlords position becomes much worse as court may well be needed, then maybe bailiff’s, then maybe a smashed up property, all with the added bonus of potentially no rent being paid for the 6 + months it takes to get vacant possession. At least if the OP tries to come to some agreement with the tenant first, but then if that fails, he can submit the S21 knowing it was the only realistic option. If the S21 process then goes pear shaped he won’t kick himself as he knows he had no better option.

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  • Lawcruncher
    replied
    Originally posted by jpkeates View Post
    The issue isn't who has to repair, but who bears the loss.
    It amounts to the same thing. See subsections (4) and (5) of section 11 LTA 1985.

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  • jpkeates
    replied
    Originally posted by Lawcruncher View Post
    The point here is though that the tenant's obligations under the tenancy cannot extend to repairing parts of the property which the landlord is under an obligation to repair.
    The issue isn't who has to repair, but who bears the loss.

    Outside the tenancy, anyone, including a tenant, who damages property must meet the cost of repairing the damage. The tenant did not cause the damage or encourage anyone to cause the damage. It is not reasonable to assume that if someone knocks persistently on your front door and you do not answer that the door will be broken down.
    I agree with the final sentence.
    But we don't know what happened for sure.

    To be honest, I've been back and forth on this kind of issue for more than a decade.
    I used to think it was the landlord's liability on the basis that there the tenant was not to blame.
    But the tenant has to be responsible for the property that's in his care - and sometimes **** happens, even if it's not something you did to cause it.

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  • Hudson01
    replied
    Originally posted by Perce View Post
    The T. deliberately let the police break the door. So he should pay for it in one way or another. He knew very well what the police were doing but did not care.
    I can see that from a laymans point of view that is correct, but when you talk/deal with individuals who have attempted suicide it's simply not the case, if this was a genuine cause for concern and the Police forced entry they did it in the belief that his life was in danger, from himself probably. The people who are in this position are, by definition, not in a normal frame of mind, they cannot process what is happening around them, they are totally focused on ending their life and will do what it takes to avoid anything that will stop this totally consuming desire. If you think of them being able to think in a rational manner then it is clear you have never worked with the mentally ill or those in total mental distress, when you do, it changes your views on what actions they ''' should '' have known about and/or taken. I cannot say of course if this tenant was in that state of mind but i have attended addresses where if the door was not put in when it was, they would have ended their life that evening.

    I say again, if a LL has a tenant with severe mental health issues then this kind of outcome can go with the tenancy, like it or not, if not then a S21 is the only real response,.

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  • Lawcruncher
    replied
    Originally posted by jpkeates View Post
    The tenant is responsible for returning the property to the landlord in the same condition as it was let, less fair wear and tear.
    The point here is though that the tenant's obligations under the tenancy cannot extend to repairing parts of the property which the landlord is under an obligation to repair.

    Outside the tenancy, anyone, including a tenant, who damages property must meet the cost of repairing the damage. The tenant did not cause the damage or encourage anyone to cause the damage. It is not reasonable to assume that if someone knocks persistently on your front door and you do not answer that the door will be broken down.

    Leave a comment:


  • Perce
    replied
    When the police came to check on my tenant and he did not open the door they went to all the neighbours in the block to enquiry about him if they saw him. So someone should have spotted him in the garden listening to music or saw him if he was around. People notice everything. They also checked the garden around the apartment block, his car and looked through the windows (ground floor)
    . I knew everything about my ex T due to people who lived in the block.

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  • jpkeates
    replied
    It's not about fault, it's about liability.

    The tenant is responsible for returning the property to the landlord in the same condition as it was let, less fair wear and tear.

    Let's imagine that the tenancy ended today.
    The property is not in the same condition as it was let, it has a damaged front door.
    There would be a loss in value of the tenant's property and the landlord is entitled to compensation for it.
    No adjudicator or court would disagree (other than maybe about the exact value claimed - because it would have to be adjusted for the age of the door).

    Arguing that because the tenancy hasn't ended, the tenant isn't liable is difficult, because it means that the timing of the issue is the essential element of liability.
    If the police kick the door a day or two before the end of the tenancy, it's the tenant's liability, but before then it's the landlord's?

    Originally posted by mokka View Post
    Landlord should then serve a section 21 and find another tenant in any case as this tenant will cause more drama in the future and a liability in the future.
    That's a bit harsh on the tenant without knowing a lot more about the event, isn't it?

    For all we know, they were sitting listening to music on headphones, or were in the back garden, while charging their phone when someone panicked and called the police.

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