Possible leak in roof. I'm a leaseholder - should I be charged the callout fee?

jamieboo
jamieboo Posts: 79
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Hello folks

I'm a leaseholder of a small top floor flat and I am not responsible for the roof as per the lease.
I recently noticed some circular blotches on the ceiling - that I think were not there before - suggestive of a leak in the roof above.
(Perhaps significantly, since I first noticed it, it has not grown or changed as far as I can tell - despite further spells of rain.)

I contacted the maintenance company (who have, I gather, quite a bad reputation) and they replied asking for a photo of the blotches.
They also asked "We will also need you to agree the standard condition that if this isn’t a roof leak and isn’t connected with the main parts of the communal roof, then you will be responsible for their call out fee, if they charge one, which can be in the region of £150 plus VAT."
Maybe that's reasonable, I don't know.
But I just feel I am not qualified to assess exactly what is going on here. If there was water pouring through a hole in the ceiling then that would be pretty unambiguous, but the judgement required here is probably a bit more specialist. And therefore, I'm not so keen on being liable for a £150 callout charge based on a judgement I am unqualified to make.
But then, if I delay now and the problem does ultimately get bigger, then I may be held responsible for having not initiated repairs immediately.

What do you fine folks think?

Thank you

Comments

  • I would just reply and say you've informed them there is a possible problem with the structure of the building and what they do with that information is up to them, noting that the freeholder is responsible for the maintenance of the building structure. I'd also copy in the freeholder so they are aware.
  • I've never heard about a call out charge before but I can understand why they use it. As a landlord id receive all kinds of call outs from tenants that had nothing to do with me or the property. 

    Id tell them not to bother coming out if you might have to pay a fee but remind them that if it is actually a water leak it ain't gonna fix itself and the final repair bill is likely to be considerably more later on than it would be now.
  • jamieboo said:
    Hello folks

    I'm a leaseholder of a small top floor flat and I am not responsible for the roof as per the lease.
    I recently noticed some circular blotches on the ceiling - that I think were not there before - suggestive of a leak in the roof above.
    (Perhaps significantly, since I first noticed it, it has not grown or changed as far as I can tell - despite further spells of rain.)

    I contacted the maintenance company (who have, I gather, quite a bad reputation) and they replied asking for a photo of the blotches.
    They also asked "We will also need you to agree the standard condition that if this isn’t a roof leak and isn’t connected with the main parts of the communal roof, then you will be responsible for their call out fee, if they charge one, which can be in the region of £150 plus VAT."
    Maybe that's reasonable, I don't know.
    But I just feel I am not qualified to assess exactly what is going on here. If there was water pouring through a hole in the ceiling then that would be pretty unambiguous, but the judgement required here is probably a bit more specialist. And therefore, I'm not so keen on being liable for a £150 callout charge based on a judgement I am unqualified to make.
    But then, if I delay now and the problem does ultimately get bigger, then I may be held responsible for having not initiated repairs immediately.

    What do you fine folks think?

    Thank you

    Who is legally responsible for the roof?
  • Who is legally responsible for the roof?
    I'm away from home so can't check specifics right now, but I do know from previous perusal of the lease that I am not responsible - so I assume it's the freeholder.
    I would like to let maintenance know that I am not really willing to shoulder the risk of a £150 callout, but I'd like to word it as reasonably as possible. But how?
    Does this generally sound like an unreasonable condition from the maintenance company?
  • In my opinion, yes. It has the effect of persuading the leaseholders not to report defects. That is likely to delay repairs which will lead to higher repair costs. Those higher repair costs will eventually result in higher service charges.
  • Jonboy_1984
    Jonboy_1984 Posts: 1,195
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    We had a similar thing when not getting a signal from the communal TV aerial. As fault was ambiguous we ultimately didn’t pay directly, just a share via the service charge.

    Are there any water tanks in the loft space either for your flat or any others?
  • eddddy
    eddddy Posts: 16,144
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    edited 21 November 2023 at 12:14PM

    I think what they're saying is:
    • If the stain is a result of something they (the management company) are responsible for, they'll pay the call-out charge and they'll pay to get it fixed - and then add the costs to the service charges..
    • If the stain is a result of something you (the leaseholder) is responsible for, you'll have to pay the call-out charge and you'll have to pay to get it fixed

    So, for example, it it's the freeholder's roof that's leaking, it's down to the freeholder to get it diagnosed and fixed. But if it's your water pipe that's leaking, it's down to you to get it diagnosed and fixed.

    As a property owner, that's the type of responsibility you have to accept.





    Edit to add...

    If you want to avoid the risk of having to pay the £150 call out charge, you can investigate the problem yourself first, or get your own tradesperson to have a look first.

    Then only contact the management company when you are pretty certain that it's something the freeholder is responsible for.


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