Dispute over repairs carried out in ground floor flat

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  • Dispute over repairs carried out in ground floor flat


    I hope someone can give me some advice re the following. I shall try and keep to the point.

    I am a landlord of a ground floor flat. A leak occurred on my bathroom ceiling where the upstairs flat had recently had building work carried out. I requested the builder investigate the leak. He did this from my flat and the upstairs flat.

    He discovered that a pipe belonging to the upstairs flat had been leaking and had rotted the joists.

    Builder mended the leak and put temporary joists in place whilst both myself and upstairs flat landlord contacted our insurance companies.

    My insurance company eventually surveyed the area and said that upstairs insurance company / leaseholder was responsible for the repair to the joists however they would cover the costs of repair to my bathroom ceiling once the joist work had been carried out. They provided me with a cheque to cover the work.

    Upstairs flat contacted their company who covered the cost of replacing the joists. They instructed the builder to do this. The area had to be accessed from my flat. I asked the builder to quote me to replace the ceiling once the joist work was complete. He did not do this despite numerous phonecalls and messages left.

    I then discovered that the builder had completed the joist work (authorised by upstairs landlord) but had also replaced my ceiling, bought new light fittings and fully redecorated the bathroom. He had not provided a quote and I had not contracted him to carry out this work.

    The builder then provided me with a bill for an amount much more than I am willing to pay. This is more than double what was quoted by the insurance company. I have refused to pay the full amount and offered to pay a lesser amount. He said that he will refuse to accept this and will take me to the small claims court.

    My point is that had I received a quote for this amount or close to it, I would have instructed the insurance company to arrange the work so that I was not out of pocket.

    I have tried to negotiate with the builder. He has refused to accept the amount offered. He has admitted in a phonecall that he assumed he had been contracted to do the work in my flat. He agrees he did not quote me for the work he has completed.

    I appreciate there is a lack of communication between me, him and the upstairs landlord however I cannot afford the bill he has sent me.

    Where do I stand legally?

    Should I continue to negotiate?

    Should I just pay the bill?

    I would be very grateful for any advice



  • #2
    Not sure where you stand legally, but I would offer him the amount given to you by the insurance company and tell him to claim any extra from the upstairs flat- after all, the leak was their fault which you should not be out of pocket for, and he was also presumably their contractor.

    If he has not provided you with a quote, you did not agree to him doing the work, and there is nothing at all in writing, I would think he will have a hard time proving you owe him any further money.


    • #3
      It sounds like either the other owners insurance company requested the builder repair the damage to your flat (which they may have done given that they were liable for for the damage), or the builder was not asked to repair the damage but did so off his own back.

      Ether way I cannot see that you have a contract with the builder for the repairs, so let him sue.

      One final question; in yoru orignal post you say "I requested the builder investigate the leak", did you call the builder up to make this request, or did you make it to the owner of the flat who had employed the builder? (If the latter, there is even less chance the builder thought he had any sort of agreement to undertake repairs to your property).

      As you have been given a cheque by your insurance company I would only offer to pay him the amount of the cheque as full and final settlement. But I don't think much of your insurance company, as they have accepted a claim for which they are not liable, this will ultimately put your premiums up and you may even loose your no claims bonus. As the repair work has already been done, if the builder sues and you win, I would send them the cheque back and cancel your claim!


      • #4
        Why not claim the extra from your insurance firm, and if they wish to they can recoup this from upstairs insurer?


        • #5
          thanks for the replies. unfortunately my insurance co can't claim off upstairs as there was no negligence over the leaking pipe. i don't want to fall out with the landlord upstairs as he is the freeholder. will check with my insurance company re the extra amount but think they will just put up my premiums ..... even more!

          tacpot - i requested he look at the leak as i knew he had been working upstairs

          forgot to say in original post that builder is refusing to accept my cheque and said he will take me to the small claims court.


          • #6
            Regardless of whether there was negligence or not, you should be able to claim off the owner of the upstairs property. Their insurance may not cover claims unless there was negligence, but that is the owner's problem not yours. Look up "Rylands v Fletcher" on Wikipedia.

            As stated before, you have no obligation to pay the builder for the repair. The owner of the flat above is liable for the cost of the repairs (whether insured or not). I would write letter to the builder setting this out and reminding him that he will be guilty of harrasement in chasing a debt that it not yours to pay. You need to make sure the builder understands that you are not the easy target here - if you can convince him he will find it easier to sue the owner of the flat above, he will do this and you will not have fallen out with your freeholder.


            • #7
              Originally posted by tacpot View Post
              Regardless of whether there was negligence or not, you should be able to claim off the owner of the upstairs property. Their insurance may not cover claims unless there was negligence, but that is the owner's problem not yours. Look up "Rylands v Fletcher" on Wikipedia.
              In Rylands V Fletcher both parties were landowners. In this instance the freeholder is probably the same person and the requirement to maintain pipes is probably contained within a leasehold agreement. I am not sure you could apply the same principles to this as you could the Rylands case.
              [I]The opinions I give are simply my opinions and interpretations of what I have learnt, in numerous years as a property professional, I would not rely upon them without consulting with a paid advisor and providing them with all the relevant facts[I]


              • #8
                One other thought; does your insurance include a legal helpline? If so you can check out the situation with them.


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