Roof collapse - insurer isn't playing ball / problems with building agent

(0) Summary
I am trying to ascertain whether a recent roof collapse is the liability of the owners, the building (managing) agent, or the original tradesperson who did defective work in January 2021.

(1) Ownership overview
I own a flat (share of freehold) in a building with 5 flats - mine and 4 others. Two of the flats are owner-occupied and three are let to tenants. The owners jointly employ a building (managing) agent, a small local property company, which organises our buildings insurance policy through Hiscox, and coordinates/facilitates any works on our behalf. We owners agree to share those capital costs (e.g. refurbishing/renovating communal areas, building works, etc).

(2a) Context/timeline
In January 2021, we all contributed to the installation of a new roof - the pitched roof that covers four of our flats and the flat roof, at the back of the property, that covers one of the flats (Flat 2). This was done by a local roofing company ('the original tradesperson').

In December 2021, the tenants living in Flat 2 reported water ingress through their ceiling.

In January 2022, the building agent attended to inspect. They agreed that the January 2021 roof work was likely defective / the roofing company (original tradesperson) was to blame.

A week later, said original tradesperson attended to inspect.

The owners presumed, based on what the building agent had indicated, that the repair works had been completed.

In August 2022, it transpired that the works had never been completed. A new roof leak was reported that month in Flat 2; the building agent sent a contractor to do a temporary fix.

A week later, the tenants in Flat 2 reported another, more significant leak. The building agent promised the owner of Flat 2 to have it fixed. The leaks continued into September with water seeping from lights. The building agent made a plan for the repairs to take place the following week.

The next day, the roof over Flat 2 collapsed.

(2b) Aftermath
Insurance wise, a loss adjuster attended and said the roof collapse was down to wear & tear in the roof, rather than a single event, such as a fire/flood etc. This wear & tear was likely the result of the January 2021/original tradesperson not actually doing any substantive work on the flat roof at the back of the property.

As a result, the insurance will not cover what we owners assess to be 'an insurable event'. 

However, the loss adjuster has not recognised the difference between the cause of the roof damage (either negligence on behalf of the original tradesperson and/or a lack of quality assurance from the building agent, on the freeholder's behalf) and the damage to the leaseholder's property (caused by the roof collapse - i.e. certainly not wear & tear).

The lease is clear that the freeholder has a responsibility to ensure the roof doesn't collapse, and the insurance policy is clear that the freeholder's responsibilities to third parties (including leaseholders) are covered.

(3) Questions
(A) Who is likely liable for the cost of repairing the damage?

(B) Based on (1), what course of action do you recommend?


Sign In or Register to comment.
Latest MSE News and Guides

Energy Price Cap change

Martin Lewis on what it means for you

MSE News

Best £1 you've ever spent?

Share your most impressive bargains

MSE Forum