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piscator
17-10-2009, 12:19 PM
Hello,

We are private tenants, renting a flat @850 per month under an AST in a block of flats.

Recently there was a burst water pipe with the effect that there was no water supply of any kind (basins/shower/toilets) for 5 days. This complete failure applied to all flats in the block. Among other inconveniences, we had to drive 30 miles to our parents in order to wash and stayed one night in a hotel.

I rang the LA and they said that as the LL wasn't responsible there wouldn't be any compensation from the LL. They referred to me to the company that manages the whole block of flats (I guess this is the freeholder from whom the LL has a leasehold). They're not in today but will ring them on Monday.

Now, if the managing company comes forth with compensation, that's fine, we don't personally care whether it comes from them or the LL. However, if they don't, what is our situation? As I understand it the LL has both a contractual and stautory requirement to keep the water supply in good repair and is responsible to us for this under the TA (we accept there's no personal fault involved, but this is what we pay rent for).

If the LA/LL continues to be inflexible, can we

(a) decide on a reasonable deduction (we were thinking ~3 days rent), write and tell LA we're doing this, and just deduct from next rental payment.

(b) sue the LL in SCC for damages/compensation.

Would definitely like to avoid (b) and would much prefer to be able either to agree on figure with LL or just do (a). However we both work long hours and we don't want a long back-and-forth with LA disputing what seems to be clearly LL's breach of contract (albeit not intentional).

Thanks!

Lawcruncher
17-10-2009, 12:46 PM
Your understanding is correct. It is the landlord's obligation to ensure you have a water supply. You have a claim against him and whether he pursues a claim against anyone else is up to him.

As I am not a litigator I cannot say what the measure of damages is, but I suggest it should be the difference between the rent you are paying and the rent that anyone would pay for the same flat without a water supply - perhaps difficult to assess!

It is always unwise for a tenant to withhold any rent for any reason and the best course is usually to seek damages. I think you need to keep pressing the landlord's agents.

Do you know what the other tenants are doing?

piscator
17-10-2009, 12:52 PM
thanks lawcruncher

I know that next door they stayed a night in a hotel and their LAs agreed to pay for it. I'm not sure about other people,

subjecttocontract
17-10-2009, 14:41 PM
Its also important for you to understand that just because you are a tenant and paying rent it does not entitle you to any better treatment than an owner occupier could expect given the same situation.

I rather suspect that as the whole block was affected it was no fault of your landlord and any owner occupiers of other properties in the block probably didn't recieve any compensation from anyone.....they just made do as best they could.

That having been said, your landlord is free to offer any compensation he feels appropriate from nothing to everything.

theartfullodger
17-10-2009, 15:26 PM
Hmmmnn tricky, particularly subjecttocontract's post...

Worth writing a polite letter to LL, copy letting agent, outlining what happened & enquiring what LL plans to do about it? When did you advise the LA/LL of the problem? If, say, within 12 hours of the problem you let them know & they did nothing then I'd say you have a case: If however you didn't let them know of the problem until it was fixed - what would be reasonably expected of the by the proverbial man on't Clapham Omnibus? Nothing I think, except "sorry guys, please keep me informed earlier next time, I'll write to the freeholder & see what he says".

Cheers!

Lodger

piscator
17-10-2009, 15:51 PM
thanks for replies.

Re: subjecttocontract' point, why shouldn't we get better treatment than an owner occupier? As I understand it (subject to correction), a freehold OO has sole responsibility for water pipes on their property: if the pipes fail, the OO pays from their own pocket for the replacement. But as tenants we have a contract with the LL, as part of which the LL takes responsibility for upkeep of water supplies.

Of course being a large block of flats, all properties are leasehold anyway :)

We informed LA on the first morning of the problem (property is fully managed and so we have no contact with LL). They gave us the contact number for the managing company (I think the freeholder) and referred us to them.
The failure was in pipes on the property (i.e. those belonging to the freeholder, not those of the water company).

Would I be right in thinking as per lawcruncher that the freeholder is responsible to the leaseholders (i.e LL) and the LL is responsible to us?

davidjohnbutton
17-10-2009, 15:59 PM
Your problem is that the person responsible for the supply pipes is only liable for compensation if the failure was because of his neglect or something he knew about, or ought to have reasonably knew would fail but yet did nothing to prevent the failure.

It seems to me that this is one of those things that happens without it being anyone's fault. That being, there is no liability to pay compensation and if everyone else was affected, then it would be unfair to negotiate compensation with some and not others.

Also a lot depends on how much you push. If I were without water for more than 6 hours I would be demanding that alternative arrangements were put in place - its possible for the water authority to use water bowsers for example and at least that way you can remain somewhat liveable though inconvenienced. That having been said I am a private owner - after 6 hours I would have been onto the water board every 30 minutes until I got action.

I think the OP is going to end up living with this.

theartfullodger
17-10-2009, 16:12 PM
The world is divided into 2 types of people...
a) Those who accept their own responsibilities & sort things out & get on with life...
b) Those for whom everything that goes wrong is "always someone else's fault, I want compo", never for them to handle.
c) Those who can't count

Cheers!

Lodger

subjecttocontract
17-10-2009, 16:24 PM
Isn't that X3 types of people ? :)

I think the whole issue of compensation relies quite heavily on ...
a) Wether your landlord acted as quickly as could reasonably be expected.
b) If there were other parties responsible for actioning the work.
c) Other circumstances surrounding the leak which none of us know about.
d) How agreeable your landlord is to parting with compensation monies.

Don't hold out to much hope......that way you won't be overly disapponted if you get nothing.

piscator
17-10-2009, 16:32 PM
The world is divided into 2 types of people...
a) Those who accept their own responsibilities & sort things out & get on with life...
b) Those for whom everything that goes wrong is "always someone else's fault, I want compo", never for them to handle.
c) Those who can't count

Cheers!

Lodger

Perhaps... (b) is certainly true for every LA/LL I have dealt with.

fletchj
17-10-2009, 17:19 PM
I don't think you have any claim agaisnt your landlord as he was not at fault and the problem was addressed as quickly as it could be.

If you write a polite letter to your LL - via the agents perhaps, suggesting that you and he split your ACTUAL losses and don't mention the word compensation you may have some success. From what you say this might be half the cost of the hotel room and some petrol costs.

If I was your landlord I would see that as reasonable, whereas if you tried to claim compensation in excess of your actual losses I would turn you down flat and invite you to sue.

Ericthelobster
17-10-2009, 17:33 PM
Isn't that X3 types of people ? :)Whoosh!here's a bit of white text to achieve the stupid stipulated message length

westminster
17-10-2009, 20:09 PM
Your LL hasn't been negligent. The burst pipe and its repair were events beyond LL's control, so it seems to me that any claim could not be based on LL's breach under s.11 obligations to maintain/repair water supply.

Is there anything in your TA stating that LL is liable to pay for alternative accommodation in the event the property is uninhabitable? That would better support any claim for compensation as water supply is arguably essential for habitation purposes.

Bad idea to arbitrarily deduct any money from the rent. Not for you to decide the level of compensation. Must be agreed with the LL.

It may not be worth issuing a claim for damages given the size of claim (3 days rent = £100). Go for it if you feel strongly but accept the possibility that you might not win and therefore lose the court fees you paid, plus the hassle of the whole procedure.

jeffrey
18-10-2009, 16:00 PM
Your LL hasn't been negligent. The burst pipe and its repair were events beyond LL's control, so it seems to me that any claim could not be based on LL's breach under s.11 obligations to maintain/repair water supply.
L is liable (so far as concerns T) for what s.11(1) demands, subject to s.11(1A). Ignoring s.11(1B) for this purpose, here they both are:

(1) In a lease to which this section applies (as to which, see sections 13 and 14) there is implied a covenant by the lessor:
(a) to keep in repair the structure and exterior of the dwelling-house (including drains, gutters and external pipes),
(b) to keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwelling-house for the supply of water, gas and electricity and for sanitation (including basins, sinks, baths and sanitary conveniences, but not other fixtures, fittings and appliances for making use of the supply of water, gas or electricity), and
(c) to keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwelling-house for space heating and heating water.

(1A) If a lease to which this section applies is a lease of a dwelling-house which forms part only of a building, then, subject to subsection (1B), the covenant implied by subsection (1) shall have effect as if:
(a) the reference in paragraph (a) of that subsection to the dwelling-house included a reference to any part of the building in which the lessor has an estate or interest; and
(b) any reference in paragraphs (b) and (c) of that subsection to an installation in the dwelling-house included a reference to an installation which, directly or indirectly, serves the dwelling-house and which either:
(i) forms part of any part of a building in which the lessor has an estate or interest; or
(ii) is owned by the lessor or under his control.

So L is not liable to T for problems arising elsewhere in block and beyond L's ownership/control. However, L's leasehold interest will confer easements on him; and impose covenants on the lessor therein. Perhaps T can enforce those?