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Leaks and Flooding – who is responsible?

If you live in a flat you may have issues with leaks and flooding from neighbouring flats, especially those above. Where such issues exist, tenants are likely to look to their landlord to make good, but it is not always that simple.

Where a leak or flooding damages the structure such as walls, plasterwork or ceilings of a rented property it is the landlord’s responsibility to make good under their statutory duty to repair. However, such a responsibility only exists if they are made aware of the damage. But, once notification is given, the landlord should undertake such repairs within a reasonable period to a reasonable standard. Landlord’s may rely on their insurance policy to pay for such repairs and tenants may need to provide access to any insurance surveyor.

If a tenant’s possessions have been damaged due to any leak or flooding the landlord may not necessarily be liable for such damage. Where the damage has been caused by a leak or flooding from a third party’s flat then the tenant may pursue a claim against such a third party on the grounds of nuisance. If the tenant has insurance for their possessions then the tenant is strongly advised to make a claim on such a policy and leave it to the insurance company to pursue any third party. Where no such insurance exists, the tenant may need to pursue court action against the third party to recover any money for the damage to their possessions.

A landlord may be liable for a leak or flooding that causes damage to a tenant’s possessions if they own the property from which any leak or flooding originates or if the damage to the tenant’s possessions occurred because the rented property is in disrepair.

Comment
When tenants become aware of a leak they should always notify their landlords. Proactive landlords will seek to resolve the problem quickly and no doubt talk to all the parties involved. However, where tenants are left to resolve the problem they should try to communicate with the neighbour or consider contacting their insurance company or local solicitor.

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