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House flooded due to uncapped water supply pipe

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I'm desperately hoping someone here might be able to help. Warning - lengthy post.

 

I privately rent a house, on a new build estate. The properties are 3.5years old. There has been an on-going dispute with the developer and the water company regarding billing and leaks. Cutting a long story short, we finally got each to talk to the other, and start to resolve the situation;

 

The developer was adamant that *all* water issues were the responsibility of the local water company, who in turn are adamant that their liability ends at the external meter. However, to resolve the problem, they would start remedial work and argue liability/costs later. That is the very brief story of why the utility company is digging up a neighbours garden, trying to trace which meter feeds which house via which pipe, and which pipes have leaks.

 

This morning I took my daughter to school and popped into town. All was well, the guys were digging away.

 

When I came back at about 10.30am, there was water flowing out from under my front door. My first thought was "god I left something on". I had to force the door open, and when I did I was hit with a knee-high wave. The entire ground floor was under 6" of water, from front door, through hallway into lounge and then the kitchen.

 

We could hear water cascading down inside the wall in the toilet, presumably between the inner and outer brick walls. Yet, my water meter hadnt budged... and the workmen turned off every stop cock and still it didnt stop the torrent.

 

Long story short. The property has a water supply pipe, which passes through a meter and stopcock, enters premises, and goes into a plumbing system - just like every other house in the development and I imagine the UK. The guys had exposed every pipe (long story, the meters had been installed in a garden, then moved 3 yrs ago, and there is confusion which meter which property etc). The supply pipes are 2" plastic. One of which was kinked back on itself with a concrete block on top, then buried as pr all the other pipes. Th workmen just thought this was the usual building rubble and removed the block and unkinked the pipe...

 

The pipe was a second supply pipe from the mains into my house, which as far as we can work out is an uncapped open water pipe somewhere inside the building. The developers workmen, rather than properly cut off the supply from the mains and stopper the pipe, had simply kinked the plastic and put a block on it, then buried it with the others. Unkinking the pipe, well, I imagine you have used a hosepipe before...

 

The water company's subcontractor immediately sent 3 managers out to assess the situation, and the water company itself sent a rep.

 

The developers attitude was "not our fault, we didn't do it", "the contractor moved a block and aleak occured - their fault then", and even a suggestion that the water company/subcontractor had - in the space of an hour - attached a supply pipe to the mains, dug up 25m of courtyard and garden, laid the pipe, demolished and rebuilt an external wall, and relaid the surface... I kid you not.

 

Upshot - the house is uninhabitable downstairs, I darent turn on the electric as the water rose above the socket levels (although I wasnt electrocuted when I waded about), it will take at least a week to dry out and then replace carpets, providing landlords insurance pays out that quick. And a lot of my downstairs furniture has water damage, wooden dvd/book-cases, table, chairs, suede leather sofa. DVD/s, vinyl albums, computer games suffered water damage, and electrical equipment has been exposed to water.

 

And I dont have contents insurance:

 

I'm unemployed, and the housing benefit doesn't quite cover the rent. What is left of unemployment benefit pays gas, electricity, water bills (or the standing charges, I use very little of them), with some left over to eat. There is no money to pay for luxuries such as contents insurance.

 

My questions are:

 

What is my landlords obligation to provide alternative accommodation for the duration of the repairs?

Ditto the additional costs I will incur, e.g. laundry service (although the local launderette is closed for refurbishment) because until I have access to my washing machine I cant wash my clothes; increased costs of eating - I cant cook for example without a cooker, and if I was in a B&B or hotel, well, I don't think I can turn up with my food and ask to use the kitchen.

 

Is there any sort of "limit" on what is alternative? Obviously I don't think booking into a £150/night hotel would be 'reasonable', but neither is £40/night room above a pub by a railway. And no one is going to let a property for

 

Given the damage arose from very poor workmanship - and I dont think anyone will contest that other than whose poor workmen were involved - can I claim compensation for my losses in regards to belongings, eg replacing the water damaged items, from the building developers? They are responsible for the water supply to the premises from the demarc point, and they fitted a second, uncapped pipe which has three years later caused the flooding and subsequent damage.

 

How does one value irreplaceable items such as vinyl LPs? Sure, the disk itself is probably fine, but the cover is permanently damaged. Some of these (Black Sabbath, SLF, etc) were "rare" enough in the first place.

 

Some items I can provide proof of purchase for, e.g. bank/card statement. Some though were bought via ebay for example, and the 'proof' is in my email. Which is on one the computers that has been damaged. Where do I stand with this?

 

Is there any limit on subsequent damage? I'm kipping at a neighbours tonight and using their mac (hence the spelling issues, the keyboard is odd and the mouse has just one button?!!!) My laptop powers on, but the battery now doesn't hold charge and the charger, well, it seems it doesn't. This is after it had been dried out. The various companies want me to send written notice of the event. I want copies of the letters.

 

The biggest problem I have is getting across the root cause - its not as simple as broken water pipe, it was a second supply pipe fitted god knows why - lets say 'erroneously', and never sealed off, lets say 'improperly'. I guess, I'm saying, can I claim from 'someone', be it the landlord/utility/developer. If I was insured, the insurance company would pursue one of them for their losses, so essentially all I am doing is effectively cutting out the middleman, as the insurance company would be dealing with the matter on my behalf. If I walked down the street and was knocked over by a bus, the bus company wouldn't say "you don't have personal injury insurance therefore you cant claim against us".

 

Any advice appreciated...

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You are renting. The landlord is responsible for the water supply and any damage it causes (I think). I suggest your first port of call should be your landlord about your current property, then the council's housing department because you are essentially homeless. Whatever you do don't get involved with the builder's or the water company; that's the landlord's responsibility

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