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    • Rose Atkinson
    • By Rose Atkinson 16th Apr 18, 1:14 AM
    • 1Posts
    • 0Thanks
    Rose Atkinson
    Urgent help/advise with block property insurance claim
    • #1
    • 16th Apr 18, 1:14 AM
    Urgent help/advise with block property insurance claim 16th Apr 18 at 1:14 AM
    I live in a shared ownership flat on the 2nd floor/top floor of a block of flats. I have a 50% share. We had a water leak from the kitchen and bathroom to the flat below on two separate occasions. The washing machine was not installed properly and my son was using the shower. We found the source of the leak and rectified it within a couple of hours on each occasion. I have British Gas HomeCare agreement and I got the plumbers in to make sure the matter was resolved quickly. There was minor water damage in the kitchen ceiling and bathroom of the flat below. It was general maintenance repair (paint and decorate) which would be completed once it had dried out which took a week. All the leaseholders in our block pay service charge/building insurance via a management company.

    I received an email on Thursday 12th April asking me to pay insurance schedule excess of 500 - see part of the email below .........

    'Rxxx (the owner of no.54) has just received a copy of the block insurance schedule which shows he is required to pay 500 excess, which he will be claiming from yourself. We are trying to put this through as one claim for the kitchen and bathroom damage due to the same leak, however, there is a possibility the insurer may insist on it being put through as 2 separate claims and if this should be the case, we just wanted to let you know that Rxxxx will have no option but to claim the 1,000 excess charge from yourself'.

    I rang them the owner of the flat below and explained I will have difficulty paying this as I have no contents insurance or savings and suggested if I could make instalment payments instead. The owner of the flat below claims we both have the same insurance policy (via property management company). I rang the property management company and I was told the building insurance covers the exterior and structural aspects of the block property only. Any damage to the interior/boundaries of each flat is the responsibility of the leaseholder. Furthermore, I was informed it is a private matter between myself and owner of the flat below.

    Urgently need advice on what to do next?

    Am I liable to pay this?

    Am I right to ask to see a copy of block insurance schedule showing the demand for 500 excess payment and works carried out on the flat below?

    If I have to pay this how can I ensure flat owners below will not ask me for more money?

    Is it possible to pay them back by instalments? Otherwise, I will have to borrow the money to pay them.

    Is it necessary to seek paid legal advice?

    Very worried, don't want this to escalate and don't have the money to pay them or fight them through courts (if I am legally within my rights to do so).
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    • huckster
    • By huckster 16th Apr 18, 7:07 AM
    • 3,366 Posts
    • 1,469 Thanks
    • #2
    • 16th Apr 18, 7:07 AM
    • #2
    • 16th Apr 18, 7:07 AM
    Some block buildings Insurances do cover the flat interior walls, floors( not flooring materials) and ceilings.

    Just because there is a leak does not make you liable, if you were not negligent in any way. Just because they think you should pay the neighbour the excess, does not mean you are legally responsible. Ask for a copy of the block insurance and a copy of the leaseholder terms that might relate to Insurances/excess or anything to do with water leak damage.

    What has happened I believe is that your neighbour has used the freeholder block Insurers or property managers contractor. They have charged the 500 excess to your neighbour and then it is purely between yourself and neighbour. A water leak from your flat does not mean you are legally liable. There has to be some negligence on your part or some legal document you have agreed to where you have agreed to pay the excess. The leasehold/ownership agreement you signed when buying might have terms related to this, hence why you ask for details.

    Don't pay anything or agree to anything without seeing the documents where you have previously agreed to be responsible.

    If the neighbour contacts you just say you are seeking more information on the Insurance and legal situation regarding the flats.
    The comments I post are personal opinion. Always refer to official information sources before relying on internet forums. If you have a problem with any organisation, enter into their official complaints process at the earliest opportunity, as sometimes complaints have to be started within a certain time frame.
    • eddddy
    • By eddddy 16th Apr 18, 7:47 AM
    • 7,188 Posts
    • 7,136 Thanks
    • #3
    • 16th Apr 18, 7:47 AM
    • #3
    • 16th Apr 18, 7:47 AM
    You are only liable to pay if you were negligent...
    (or if your lease says you must - which is unlikely)

    The washing machine was not installed properly...
    Originally posted by Rose Atkinson
    Who installed the washing machine?

    If it was installed without reasonable care (i.e. negligently), whoever installed it may be responsible for the damage caused by it leaking.

    ...and my son was using the shower.
    Originally posted by Rose Atkinson
    Did your son do anything unreasonable (i.e. negligent)? For example, did he let the shower spray all over the floor (outside the shower tray/bath)?

    If he just used the shower in a reasonable way, and it leaked unexpectantly - there is no negligence, so you do not have to pay for the damage (or the excess).
    • Shedman
    • By Shedman 17th Apr 18, 12:52 PM
    • 228 Posts
    • 137 Thanks
    • #4
    • 17th Apr 18, 12:52 PM
    • #4
    • 17th Apr 18, 12:52 PM
    If there was no negligence then who pays the 500 excess? Presumably as the water entered the lower flat from outside their property then they would appear to be entitled to make claim on the buildings insurance. Would the excess then come out of the management service fee so that effectively all leaseholders were contributing?

    I ask as we are just in throes of helping mother in law buy a leasehold flat and, having never been involved with leasehold properties before, we keep finding out about circumstances that would be straightforward in normal freehold house situation but which seem to have potential complications in a leasehold scenario. This scenario is one I hadn't considered.

    Is there a special type of contents/leaseholders Insurance you can get for leaseholders that covers any of the potential additional liabilities that might come with a leasehold property?
    • eddddy
    • By eddddy 17th Apr 18, 1:54 PM
    • 7,188 Posts
    • 7,136 Thanks
    • #5
    • 17th Apr 18, 1:54 PM
    • #5
    • 17th Apr 18, 1:54 PM
    If there was no negligence then who pays the 500 excess?
    Originally posted by Shedman
    The lease might specifically say how insurance excesses are handled (but I think most don't)...

    Otherwise, this insurance broker suggests:

    With an escape of water, on the other hand, it is usually the flat owner underneath the flat where the water originated that suffers damage and will often be the party making the claim.
    The First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) have generally allowed for flats insurance excesses to be claimed under the service charge account but this is not always the case. In fact it has ruled both for and against excesses to be charged in this manner so leaving this in a grey area.
    So I suspect it might depend on analysing the precise wording of a lease - to decide who pays the excess.

    Your mother-in-law could ask the seller (to ask the freeholder) in a pre-contract enquiry. But, TBH, I suspect she won't get a definitive answer.
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