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Renting, water through roof/walls, no contents insurance. Anyone liable?


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Hi,

 

I hope this is the correct place to post. I couldn't find any way to search the forums either...

 

My partner and I along with a friend are renting a property from a private landlady who owns a propery on the 4th foor of a building in London. There is another property above. Yesterday with the heavy rain water started pooring through the ceiling/walls/downlights any unfortunately onto some electronic equipment I had on my computer desk.

 

There is a property above, and there was no damage at all.

 

There has been the same problem on a smaller level twice since we moved in (mid March). We told our landlady, who said she would be around both times but never came.

 

Apparently there is a drain above which has been blocked with leaves the first two times, and when cleaned by the guy (owns his flat) above it fixed the problem. No one is sure what has gone wrong this time, but it has gone right through the two flats below, taking some panels off one ceiling. The guy above says the drain is clean, which I have seen (after the flooding).

 

Unfortunately we don't have contents insurance since I felt theft was my biggest concern, and feel very safe here, and that as this has happened twice before I would have to disclose that fact to the insurers.

 

Does anyone have any advice on what, if anything I can do? As yet there has been no fix/problem found that lets me believe it won't happen again. Can I try claim from the building insurers? Our landlady is denying any responsibilty...

 

 

Thanks for any advice!

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I have another question in case anyone reads this.

 

Are we on grounds to demand a reduction in rent until this problem is fixed? Since nothing has been done to stop this from happening again (for the 5th time) we are basically living here under the assumption that the room (our bedroom) will have water pooring in through the ceiling again the next time it rains. We are basically forced to keep our possessions in certain places that are not likely to get direct water fall :/

 

This is in the tenancy agreement, can anyone write this in plain English?:

 

"The parties agree...

 

© If the Property or any part thereof shall at anytime during the tenancy be destroyed or damaged so as to become unfit for habitation and use and the policy of insurance effected by the Landlord or any Superior Landlord shall not have been vitiated or payment of the policy monies refused in whole or in part in consequence of any act or default of the Tenant the rent hereby reserved or a fair proportion thereof according to the nature and extent of the damage sustained shall be suspended until the property shall again be rendered fit for habitation and use."

 

And to annoy me even further last night our landlady's husband turned up to ask if we could either be home or leave our key for another tennant to let their insurers in to inspect the flat! We told them no, one of us wanted to be here while this was going on. Today we find our our landlady has left work and come around to let them in. This was less than 24 hours after we explicitly told them no! What does the law actually do against that sort of thing???

 

 

Thanks again for any advice.

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I suggest that you contact the Environmental Health Department of your local council and tell them what has happened. Tell them that you are very concerned about your safety since this water penetrated the ceiling and the plaster may come down, and also the electric lights etc.

 

Tell them you have contacted your LL and that she refuses to do anything about the problem.

 

Is your agreement an AST? How long is the term?

Kentish Lass

Information given is based on my knowledge and experience and is not to be considered as legal advice

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"The parties agree...

 

© If the Property or any part thereof shall at anytime during the tenancy be destroyed or damaged so as to become unfit for habitation and use and the policy of insurance effected by the Landlord or any Superior Landlord shall not have been vitiated or payment of the policy monies refused in whole or in part in consequence of any act or default of the Tenant the rent hereby reserved or a fair proportion thereof according to the nature and extent of the damage sustained shall be suspended until the property shall again be rendered fit for habitation and use."

 

This says what you think it says. The bit about it becoming unfit for habitation is the bit you need the Environmental Health officer for:)

 

And to annoy me even further last night our landlady's husband turned up to ask if we could either be home or leave our key for another tennant to let their insurers in to inspect the flat! We told them no, one of us wanted to be here while this was going on. Today we find our our landlady has left work and come around to let them in. This was less than 24 hours after we explicitly told them no! What does the law actually do against that sort of thing???

 

 

Thanks again for any advice.

 

This LL is real numpty. This is serious.

 

First of all, they have no legal right to enter your property without your express permission, which, unless it is an emergency, you can legally refuse. To do so is harrassment.

 

Contact your LL and state quite clearly that you have taken advice and they have no legal right to enter the property without your express permission, with or without the correct written notice having been given, and that despite this permission being denied, they entered your home.

 

This amounts to denial of your entitlement to "quiet enjoyment" of your home and is harrassment and as such they lay themselves open to criminal proceedings.

 

You are perfectly entitled, under these circumstances, to change the locks - you must keep the old one and refix it when you leave. You do not have to give the keys to the LL or his Agent.

 

Do not let them bully or intimidate you. You do have rights in this matter and they are laying themselves open to a serious criminal charge.

 

And I would call Environmental Health tomorrow..... This LL needs a lesson in Landlord/Tenant law.

Kentish Lass

Information given is based on my knowledge and experience and is not to be considered as legal advice

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Thanks for the reply!

 

Unfortunately we are still living in the room. The first few times it came through it missed all of our possessions and the landlords furniture but the last it has possibly damaged some of my property. I think the majority is probably ok, maybe a printer and some other stuff. I think we would have trouble claiming that it is not fit for habitation at this stage. It may sound worse than it is. It is the water that is the big concern.

 

The roof is stained in places but has no signs or any real damage and the carpet is wet. They got people to come and clean it, but didn't ask them to dry it! (why???) What is worring me is that this will quite likely happen again.

 

With the section I quoted in my 2nd post, would you read it to mean that if our bedroom cannot be used as we would like due to the likleyhood of water coming though again, as far as not being able to leave possessions where we would like etc. we should be entitled to a rent reduction?

 

The AST started mid-March, is 12 months long and has a 6 month break clause.

 

My partner replied to our landlady via text (after receiving a text where she said she had been around) that she was not allowed to enter without 24 hours notice. She didn't receive a reply. I don't really want to inflame the situation since they choose to terminate our tenancy :/

 

They are generally nice landlords, but I think she is too busy with work to do anything.

 

I really can't stress any more about the damage and any court costs would not make it worth while. I think I would settle for a rent reduction until the problem is sorted at the moment.

 

 

I really appreciate your help!

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I'm sorry - I don't think they have behaved very nicely at all. And if she is too busy, she shouldn't rent out property - or should use an agent. She has responsibilities to her tenants and she is not shouldering them.

 

Can't imagine why you would want to stay in a potential waterfall, but that is your choice. Shame you did not have contents insurance - you can get it really cheaply now. Not sure where you stand now, since this has happened a number of times.

 

I would still consider telling LL that if it happens again, you will sue her for the cost of replacing any damaged goods. And definitely ask for a rent reduction.

Kentish Lass

Information given is based on my knowledge and experience and is not to be considered as legal advice

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I think I'll send an email this weekend asking for the rent reduction. I'm also going to point out that she commited a criminal offence by entering without giving us the required notice. I don't want to come off too bad since we are now 2 months from the 6 month break clause... The flat is good for what we want other than this problem, and all we want is to pay rent and have a place to stay.

 

I was actually planning to get contents insurance since I was putting together a reasonably expensive computer, but knew I wouldn't be able to with the ceiling having already leaked since we have been in here. Am I right in being able to demand some sort of letter/proof that the problem has been rectified in order get insurance? I actually called More Than today but their systems were down.

 

I came across this site:

Tenancy Agreement Service | Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreements

 

For some reason it didn't seem to come up in most of my searching, but is very helpful. Does anyone know how good/trust-worthy the "Ask A Property Lawyer" is?

 

 

Thanks again for the advice.

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Well I've finally got a response...

 

She is denying any responsibility at all. Blaming it all on the leaves occasionally blocking the guttering. She is claiming that she hasn't even received the email I sent her on Tuesday, and yet seems to almost be replying to the points I made in the email.

 

What right do we have to withhold rent? I am now going to print the letter and hand-deliver it as she only lives one street away.

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