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BarbaraB

Freeholder's negligence has caused £000s of damage to my property - what can I claim back?

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Hello (and sorry for the long post)

 

I am a leaseholder and I have had leaks in my roof for many years that have got steadily worse and worse - starting with damp patches and discolouration and ending with large dumps of dirty water at random places in the ceiling when it rains heavily. I have complained about this throughout but there has been no action from the various managing agents that have been in charge.

 

About 18 months ago a large dump of water damaged some electronic equipment and a piece of furniture. This prompted the managing agent into action and some temporary repairs were done. The freeholder's insurer eventually paid out for the damage on the grounds that the freeholder was negligent (ie, was in breach of contract as they hadn't carried out their duties under the terms of the lease). The insurance claim process was excruciating, and I was only award a proportion of the value of the goods as they were some years old, so I an very reluctant to go down this route again.

 

For some periods since then I have had to cover up our furniture and floors with plastic, and put buckets down at night or when we went away for weekend to avoid damage. I have been complaining to the freeholder and sending them pictures of the room in this state explaining how inconvenient this is! I have also told various people at the freeholder and managing agent and emailed numerous times to say that I'm very worried that any water would potentially damage our wooden floor and/or furniture.

 

Works were started about 6 months ago to carry out a proper repair. However, for some periods the contractors left the site in a worse condition (ie, took away the temporary repairs and then abandoned the site). I complained about this when I found out what had happened and sent the freeholder photographs of the obviously not-water-tight roof.

 

I was able to avert a potential incident when I came home, luckily, earlier than planned and found water coming through the ceiling. At this point I contacted the freeholder again saying that it was lucky that a lot of expensive damage was prevented and reiterating my concerns about the floors and furniture and pointing out the poor standard of the contractor.

 

Before the works were completed (finally, about a month ago) there was another leak and our furniture was soaked with dirty water while we were out. To get new covers will cost many £000s as we have a two matching items and the material is no longer made, so I can't just buy individual covers but must buy 2 full sets of a similar material. Btw, the items are now ~4 years old.

 

Given the long history of this issue and my many letters pointing out the danger of considerable damage, and the precedent of an earlier successful claim for damage where the freeholder has implicitly admitted negligence, I have no doubt that I would win a claim in court.

 

However, my questions are:

 

1) does damage to one area of one item allow me to claim the full cost of a complete remedy? I would assume so but I would like to check whether you think a court would tend to award the full amount or whether there would be a compromise and I'd be awarded a proportion of the amount of a full repair/remedy due to either the severity/extent of the damage or the age of the items?

 

2) I have used the county court track in the past and successfully won a simple Sale of Good Act case, however, would you advise that for this case I should use a professional litigator?

 

3) if so, can anyone suggest who I could contact to discuss this further?

 

Thanks -B

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Are you an owner-occupier leaseholder or renting (tenant) from a Landlord (freeholder)?

Do you have personal contents Ins for YOUR goods? If so, contact your Insurer.

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Thanks for you comments. I own the lease so I am an owner occupier, not a tenant. The freeholder is responsible for maintenance of the fabric of the building as set out in the lease agreement.

 

I do have contents insurance but as the incident was due to neglect of maintenance on the part of the freeholder then I'm not covered. If this had been due to a burst pipe or a storm blowing of the roof then it would be covered. If my insurer covered this then they would be, in effect, covering another party's neglect of duty. I can't imagine that any contents policy would cover the policy holder in this case but I could be wrong.

 

-B

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as you could prove the damage was entirely due to the negligence of the freeholder, and you have mitigated any potential loss by removing or protecting your property or possessions IMO you should be put back into a position before any dameage not matter what the cost.

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Which means age-related condition (like for like), not new for old replacement. ie what Ins has offered.

 

OP if you claim on your Ins, the Ins will chase LLs Insurer for repayment, just as if you have a not at fault accident in your car, with no effect on your premium or NCD.

 

You've paid for contrnts Ins, let the Ins do the leg work, unless you wish to pursue a damage claim against LL in County Court.

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I will talk to my insurer again as you suggest. I expect their position will be the same for this incident as it was with the similar incident 18 months ago.

 

Another angle that occurred to me is the contractor's liability insurance. I believe it was their sloppiness that caused the leaks. I have an email where I implore them to cover the site with temporary tarpaulin roof, which would have prevented this leak.

 

-B

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If that was indeed the case, then yes write to contractor direct and make such a claim and ask for that to be passed on to their insurers.

however they may not repond and court action would then be necessary if you have a strong enough case, with them and your freeholder as joint defendants.

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