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Rising damp - is it likely to be covered by the Buildings Insurance?
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# 1
TimeToSetUpHome
Old 27-11-2009, 7:56 PM
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Unhappy Rising damp - is it likely to be covered by the Buildings Insurance?

Hi all,

I live in a purchased, but leasehold flat.

I had a letter today from the freeholder to inform me that the flat below me and the flat above me have reported damp problems.

OK, so I have condensation on the windows (as I have no bathroom window) but I manage it a) with a dehumidifier and b) by having the windows open on the locked latch... yes it's a bit chilly at this time of year, so fortunately I haven't got the mould reported in the flats above and below.... yet.

I have no idea what this is likely to cost, there are 10 flats in the whole place but Works are only proposed on the one ground floor flat at this stage (but surely they'll investigate the others... right?).

My real question here (apart from to invite comment from anyone else who has been in a similar situation or knows about this sort of stuff) is whether this is likely to be covered by the Buildings Insurance? I don't have the details of that policy as I am only a leaseholder (despite forking out 200k between two of us and as I've only been in 12 months I've not made much progress on that mortgage yet!).

No quotes on the cost of mitigation/remediation were given but if anyone could tell me what they've had to spend resolving something that would be handy but I might be asking you how long a piece of string is.

Thanks for any advice in advance - also, please move this if it's not in the right place, but in my panic/worry I can't see anywhere better!
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# 2
Prudent
Old 27-11-2009, 8:00 PM
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What kind of survey did you ahve at the time of purchase? You may wnat to ask why the surveyor did not pick up on this issue.
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# 3
TimeToSetUpHome
Old 27-11-2009, 8:13 PM
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I have a homebuyers survey.

For more info it is a 100 year old house but it was fully rennovated (new roof, re-divided into smaller flats etc) 2 years ago.

It says tests were done, no probs at time of survey (it was May!) 'Being a first floor flat the property will not suffer the effects of rising damp' (well, no, but liability is liability) ... 'your legal advisor should ascertain from the lease whether in the event of damp proofing works and associated repairs providing necessary to other flats in the building the cost would form part of the service/maintenance charge i.e. whether you would be responsible for a proportion of the cost of carrying out such works'.

We sought clarification & were also told:

'There has been no damp proofing as this is a first floor flat'.

Not quite the answer I was looking for.


Googling I found a quote of about 70 per m2... sound about right? I think their flat is probably about 70m2 so it's not sounding cheap.

Any input? Is insurance cover unlikely??
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# 4
theartfullodger
Old 27-11-2009, 8:23 PM
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It depends
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# 5
Richard Webster
Old 28-11-2009, 11:38 AM
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Buildings insurance does not pay out for things that occur as a result of a gradual deterioration in the condition of a property, so unless you can show that e.g. storm damage caused water to get in that wouldn't have done before, you are going to have a job claiming on buildings insurance.
RICHARD WEBSTER

As a conveyancing solicitor I believe the information given in the post to be useful assuming any properties concerned are in England/Wales but I accept no liability except to fee-paying clients.
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# 6
TimeToSetUpHome
Old 28-11-2009, 2:01 PM
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Ahh, OK, thanks. It's all rather odd as the building was gutted 2 years ago!

So what about settlement? There's an excess of 1000 on the policy - that's also gradual deterioration too!
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# 7
Fire Fox
Old 28-11-2009, 4:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TimeToSetUpHome View Post
I have a homebuyers survey.

For more info it is a 100 year old house but it was fully rennovated (new roof, re-divided into smaller flats etc) 2 years ago.

It says tests were done, no probs at time of survey (it was May!) 'Being a first floor flat the property will not suffer the effects of rising damp' (well, no, but liability is liability) ... 'your legal advisor should ascertain from the lease whether in the event of damp proofing works and associated repairs providing necessary to other flats in the building the cost would form part of the service/maintenance charge i.e. whether you would be responsible for a proportion of the cost of carrying out such works'.

We sought clarification & were also told:

'There has been no damp proofing as this is a first floor flat'.

Not quite the answer I was looking for.

Googling I found a quote of about 70 per m2... sound about right? I think their flat is probably about 70m2 so it's not sounding cheap.

Any input? Is insurance cover unlikely??
I don't think you understand what rising damp is. Rising damp literally is water rising up from the earth and therefore affects the ground floor of a property. If the flat above you is wet, that will be either condensation (very common in flats) or penetrating damp (due to a blocked gutter, damaged roof, problem with pointing).

You are not insured for any maintenance issue so, depending on your lease, will probably have to pay a share of any repairs. If the cost is modest this may be covered by your service charge or your sinking find (if you have one?).

What is the letter you have received? Is it a notification of major works? Have any tests been carried out on the ground floor flat to check that it is definitely rising damp and not condensation? If so were the tests carried out by an independent damp specialist or DPC company?
What a difference a day makes, twenty four little hours.
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# 8
kmmr
Old 28-11-2009, 5:51 PM
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I am in a basement flat, which has/had damp that I got fixed for 2k. Never occured to me to try and get the rest of the block to pay for it! I would think the person in the basement is responsible for dealing with the rising damp, and the ones above for whatever is causing their damp/condensation.
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# 9
TimeToSetUpHome
Old 28-11-2009, 6:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fire Fox View Post
I don't think you understand what rising damp is.
No no, I do - it's just that these two reported 'problems' are covered in the same letter from the Managing agent/freeholder. The freeholder appears to have employed a consulting engineer to take a look at it, so you'd think they'd know the difference...

Going back to the problem reported upstairs - I've always understood that dealing with condensation is always a occupier's problem either not heating their home enough or not ventilating it enough....

A HUGE thank you to KMMR for a helpful response! Many thanks. Sorry you had to pay for it all yourself, but thanks for the 'ballpark figure'. It just gives me an idea... of course all cases are different.
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# 10
Fire Fox
Old 28-11-2009, 6:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TimeToSetUpHome View Post
No no, I do - it's just that these two reported 'problems' are covered in the same letter from the Managing agent/freeholder. The freeholder appears to have employed a consulting engineer to take a look at it, so you'd think they'd know the difference...

Going back to the problem reported upstairs - I've always understood that dealing with condensation is always a occupier's problem either not heating their home enough or not ventilating it enough....
Good to hear that a professional has diagnosed the damp - if the letter you have received forms part of the official consultation process, the management company are expecting the work to cost at least 250 per flat. See here for more information:
http://www.lease-advice.org/publications/
Do check your long lease to see who is expected to maintain each part of the building - in mine each flat is responsible for their own windows but roof etc. is costed in the service charge.

Condensation is largely a lifestyle issue BUT there can be issues with the property itself that contribute. For example we have metal window frames that act as cold bridges, if I don't ventilate daily it 'rains' from the top edge!
What a difference a day makes, twenty four little hours.
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