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faulty fitted kitchen units


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we have a three year old house which has the nhbc certificate.however the clause for interior fittings expired after 2 years.

in the block of 9 houses 6 have had issues with laminate surfaces cracking or falling off the kitchen units.

we have had the kitchen manufacturer visit the site who was suggesting a heat and moisture issue. to date they have offered to supply only replacement panels. we have to collect them from the retailer the builders purchased them from and obviously have to pay for removal and refitting.

to my mind this does not sound fair when these units are nearly 3 years old.

can anyone suggest a course of action we can take as a management group?

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Monitor this thread. You have good grounds for complaint. I'll post more later

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Okay. The supply and fitting of the kitchen units is all subject to the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982. This is because the contract was made before October 2015.


You are entitled to have a reasonable expectation that both the goods supplied and also the installation work is of satisfactory quality. Satisfactory quality is measured by the reasonable expectation of a reasonable consumer – go figure that out.


The goods supplied and also the the installation must be fit for the their purpose.


You are helped enormously here by the fact that it's not only you but there are five others who appear to have had exactly the same problem with the same units – presumably installed by the same people for each home.


A slight complication is whether the problems are caused by the quality of the unit supplied by the installation work – because I gather from what you say that the supplier and the installer are not the same people. That could mean that instead of relying on the Supply of Goods and Services Act, you would rely on the Sale of Goods Act as you would be suing merely on the contract for the supply of the goods in question.


A further complication is that presumably the kitchen furniture was not supplied to you. It was a contract made with the builder or with the developers of the houses who presumably owned them before they sold them to you. It is conceivable that when faced with a legal action, the suppliers might then try to say that you had no contract with them and therefore you have no locus to sue. The answer to that would be to rely on the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act which confers upon the evident beneficiaries to a contract the right to sue as if they were actually parties.


As it happens, you might be able to argue that there was a direct contract of sale of the kitchen furniture to you by the developers from whom you bought the houses – but I think that that would be all a bit tricky. Much better to stick with the suppliers as they already seem to be reasonably cooperative.


From your description of the damage so far, it seems to me that there is probably something wrong with the furniture rather than the installation. It is interesting that the original supplier of the kitchen furniture seems prepared to put up their hands and replace the units. However, if it all gets a bit bloody, you might suddenly find that the supplier of the furniture could start saying that the people who specify the furniture for those particular kitchens, is responsible because they did not buy the correct kitchen furniture for those conditions.


As I have already said, the fact that six homes are all suffering in an identical way gives you an extremely powerful argument.


This is unlikely – but I'm just flagging up possible obstacles for you.


It seems to me that if it is correct that the supplier of the kitchen furniture breachrd their contract by supplying goods which were not satisfactory or otherwise not fit for their specified purpose, that they are liable not only for the replacement but also for all of the foreseeable associated costs which I think includes removal and carting away of the old units and replacement and making good with the new ones.


The question now is who should bring the action.


You are asking about the possibility of the action being bought by a management company.


There seem to be some snags with this, in my view.

Does the management company have the locus – the status – to bring a legal action on behalf of six homeowners?


I'm sure that the management company is run by committee and these things can get unnecessarily complicated because different people have different views about how to proceed. Also, if you are suing on behalf of all six homes all at the same time, then you are bringing a legal action for a sum well in excess of £10,000, I'm quite sure. £10,000 is an important figure because it is the limit of the small claims process. After that, you have to go into the fast track and that can be very much more expensive – especially if you lose. If you bring a small claims and you lose then generally speaking you don't lose any costs.


I think it will be a much easier way forward if one or two individuals wanted to bring their own individual small claims actions. This would be well under £10,000 each one and if those people won their case, as I expect they would on the basis of what you say here, then I doubt whether the defendants would want to suffer further losses in court and they would simply settle everybody else claim. In other words, one or two people would bring a kind of representative action – although they would really just be acting on their own behalf.


I think it would be sensible if the management company wanted to get behind that and to ask all of the homeowners to contribute to the costs of those one or two actions – which would be very minimal between six of you, and it would be on the understanding that if you had to go through further litigation for the remaining homeowners that everybody would whip round once again. If you won your case I can't imagine for a moment that they would have to be further litigation.


I think that that is what I would do. They one or two people who brought their cases would benefit from having all of the evidence of all the other homes involved in the problem so they would have an extremely compelling case


Another great advantage of individual homeowners bringing their cases is that they would not need to pay for any legal representation. They could do it themselves. Also, because they were seeing as individuals rather than a management company, the case would be heard in your own local court and if your defendant lived far away, that would cause big problems for them. If you'd sued as a management company, then it may well be that you would be required to travel to the supplier's local court and that would pose all sorts of logistical and transactional problems that you really don't want.


I think that I would start off getting independent quotations – two or three for the removal and replacement of all of the kitchen furniture – divided by six. In other words, six individual quotes even though whoever does it will probally come in and do a job lot.

I would also want a couple of corroborative reports which diagnose the problem and lay it squarely at the quality of the units which have been supplied rather than the installation work and we make it clear that it is nothing to do with any peculiar conditions you might have in your kitchens.


Once again, this is simply to pre-empt any arguments which the supplier might suddenly decide to produce in court.


One of the things you want to be sure of is that when the supplier finds that they are eventually going to have to pay for removal and replacement six times, is this the kind of money that they can deal with? Or might it provoke them into shutting shop and going bankrupt – which would leave you with nothing?


I think that you need to get these quotes very discreetly and also you need to find out a bit about the company including how long they have been established and if they have any assets.


I wonder if the total value of it all could be 25,000 or £30,000? If it is that kind of figure in the company is very small and has not been around very long, then if they see the danger coming it might prompt them to take avoiding action. You should do a lot of research about the ability of the company to pay your damages before you issue proceedings. Of course, on the basis of my idea, you will only be issuing one or two claims to begin with. But the company might realise what's coming next and pull down the shutters.


Once again, I'm just flagging up possibilities. You need to think carefully and think ahead.


Finally, if any of this helps you to succeed, we don't normally tout for donations but if all six of you I helped by the free advice and support you get here, then if at the end of it all they are feeling flush – then six donations are much more appreciated than one!


I would say that bringing a small claim for one of you would be relatively straightforward and we will be pleased to help you. I suppose one of your problems will be – who brings the claim

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