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EasyUserName
12-01-2010, 17:35 PM
My question relates to this statement in my lease, and the general premise I have seen on this forum that a tenant must take “due care and attention” for their rented property.

The statement reads:
“To take all reasonable precautions against frost damage, and should any damage result from the Tenant’s failure to take such precautions, to effect all necessary repairs to reinstate the damaged system into good working order and repair any damage that may have been caused to the Property and fixtures and fittings”


First, some background:

I rent a property with my partner. We recently went away for 12 days, over New Years. Having experienced the stress frost damage can cause (from a previous incident some time ago), we made sure that the heating was on timer for four one hour blocks whilst away. Of course, we returned to find the place awash with water! At some point during our trip, one of the pipes had burst in the roof void.

Considerable damage was done to the property. During the re-heating of the house, it was discovered the there were two breaks in the central heating pipes in the roof void as well. Now, being the handyman, and wishing to avoid as much stress for my landlord as possible, I repaired these leaks on the Sunday (after spending the previous night in a hotel, having discovered the mess at 8pm on the Saturday).

I promptly called the landlord on Monday, who came out to inspect the property. Expecting to find the damage and repair an issue for his building insurance, I was unpleasantly surprised to find it wasn’t going to be so simple. The building is owned by a company, not an individual. Their building insurance, it seems, has an excess in the tens of thousands, and the representative said they would not be claiming on it. As such, we now face the carpets trying to be dried, rather than being replaced, and general comments about the bills we are rapidly running up in regards to the utilities (for the dehumidifiers and heating) that we would “work it out later”.

Now, I have no reason to assume that we are going to be left holding the can, so to speak, but it is more hassle than I was expecting. The most important thing for me was the comment from the rep that this is a “grey area” as there is no way to prove to the Landlord that I did indeed have the heating on. Now, the pipes in the roof are not insulated, so I would have thought that it would not be all that grey at all!


So, my question is two-fold. Firstly, what point is there in the statement in the lease above, and the general approach that a tenant must take “due care” if I cannot prove that I have taken said care? After all, why should I have bothered with the heating at all, if someone later says “ah yes, but you can’t prove that, can you?”


The second part of my question relates to my particular situation. Am I to expect to have to shoulder some of the costs of all this? I feel slightly aggrieved, as one of the advantages of renting is that things like this (I thought) were the issue of the Landlord. If not, I would be better off in my own property – in fact, more so in this case, as I would have had decent property cover that would have arranged it all for me by now!

I’d be interested to hear people’s opinions on my situation.

jta
12-01-2010, 18:19 PM
I was unpleasantly surprised to find it wasn’t going to be so simple. The building is owned by a company, not an individual. Their building insurance, it seems, has an excess in the tens of thousands, and the representative said they would not be claiming on it.There's something not right there, are you saying an individual claim has to be in excess of 'tens of thousands' before the insurance company will cough up :eek:? It sounds to me as if someone is telling you 'porkies'.
In any case it sounds as if you could take them through a small claim to cover your costs.

asquithea
12-01-2010, 18:22 PM
To be honest, I think it would be iffy to argue that you took reasonable precautions against burst pipes (given that they clearly froze in the cold conditions), so I think this should count as accidental damage to the fixtures and fittings.

It sounds like you should be covering carpets etc from your contents insurance, unless you want to go to court to argue the case. Not sure about the damage to the building structure (if any) -- surely it's not your fault that the LL is effectively underinsured.

mind the gap
12-01-2010, 18:34 PM
To be honest, I think it would be iffy to argue that you took reasonable precautions against burst pipes (given that they clearly froze in the cold conditions), so I think this should count as accidental damage to the fixtures and fittings.

It sounds like you should be covering carpets etc from your contents insurance, unless you want to go to court to argue the case. Not sure about the damage to the building structure (if any) -- surely it's not your fault that the LL is effectively underinsured.

Who is liable for what in this situation must surely depend on whether the tenant behaved correctly during the very cold weather. To be honest I do not think that four blocks of one hour's heating would have been sufficient to keep pipes from freezing given the temperatures outside over the last two weeks, but if OP went away before the very low temperatures set in, it could be argued that these constituted freak conditions about which he could not reasonably have known in advance. OP, on what date did you leave the property?

We asked our tenants (who also went away over Christmas and New Year) to leave the boiler on, at the 'frost' setting, and the radiators turned on, so the temperature in the property would not drop below 4 degrees Celsius. They did this, but even so, when the outside temperature hit minus eight, we went up and switched the water off to the property so that any water leaking from frozen and (subsequently thawing) pipes would be limited. We should really have asked the tenants to switch the water off, but it is rare that it gets as cold as minus 8.

Should OP's LL have requested he do this/done this himself? Or should OP have done it, as he would if he were an owner occupier?

Perhaps someone with more experience of insurance claims will have a view as to whether the tenant acted reasonably in the circumstances or not. If he did act with reasonable prudence then I do not see why he should have to compensate the LL for his carpets etc.

It is definitely a case for an insurance claim but LL might claim T should pay the excess. The 'thousands' excess seems very odd, I agree.

EasyUserName
12-01-2010, 19:08 PM
There's something not right there, are you saying an individual claim has to be in excess of 'tens of thousands' before the insurance company will cough up :eek:? It sounds to me as if someone is telling you 'porkies'. ...

I think the implication was that the policy covered the entire business, not individual properties per policy.



To be honest, I think it would be iffy to argue that you took reasonable precautions against burst pipes (given that they clearly froze in the cold conditions), so I think this should count as accidental damage to the fixtures and fittings. ...

That is an interesting argument. Does that mean that a "reasonable precaution" is anything that results in no damage, and as soon as any damage occurs, the precautions are considered no longer reasonable? Where would that leave someone where say a tree fell on their house? By the very act of the tree falling, they have failed to take reasonable precautions?


... It sounds like you should be covering carpets etc from your contents insurance, unless you want to go to court to argue the case. Not sure about the damage to the building structure (if any) -- surely it's not your fault that the LL is effectively underinsured.

As far as I aware (from our policy people anyway) carpets are never covered in contents, as they are a "fixture". - I should have added that I would very much like to be proven wrong here, as the carpets are terribly damp smelling at the moment.



Who is liable for what in this situation must surely depend on whether the tenant behaved correctly during the very cold weather. To be honest I do not think that four blocks of one hour's heating would have been sufficient to keep pipes from freezing given the temperatures outside over the last two weeks, but if OP went away before the very low temperatures set in, it could be argued that these constituted freak conditions about which he could not reasonably have known in advance. OP, on what date did you leave the property? ...

We left on the 24th Dec, returned on the 27th, staying overnight, and leaving the next day. We were in the property for the night only of the 27th. We returned on the Saturday just gone, having been by the pool in South East Asia, and totally unaware that there was such a large cold snap occuring. I would add that the Landlord was saying that they would have set the heating themselves for four one hour blocks if the property had been unoccupied, as their default policy.


... Perhaps someone with more experience of insurance claims will have a view as to whether the tenant acted reasonably in the circumstances or not. If he did act with reasonable prudence then I do not see why he should have to compensate the LL for his carpets etc.

It is definitely a case for an insurance claim but LL might claim T should pay the excess. The 'thousands' excess seems very odd, I agree.

The Landlord is not saying that they wish us to pay for the carpets - only that they intend keeping them. My issue is my liablity in regards to the utilities bills during the cleanup (the dehumid units are chewing up the power) and the excess water bill. If I owned the preoperty, none of this would be an issue. It's enough that the house is very damp, and the bathroom practically unusable at the moment as it is.

mind the gap
12-01-2010, 19:19 PM
The fact that you were out of the country and unaware of the cold weather is neither here nor there, really. I was not saying it is necessarily your fault that the pipes burst; I was just exploring the possibilities. You are supposed to act in a 'tenant-like way', in other words do everything an owner occupier would do with the exception of repairs to the property (for which LL is responsible). It could be argued that an absent OO would have been caught out in this freakishly cold snap, too.

If the carpets got wet and remained wet for several days, your chances of restoring them to an acceptable state are very slim. For your health's sake it would be better to claim for them on the insurance.

Poppy35
12-01-2010, 19:25 PM
your landlord also has a responsibility to ensure the house is habitable. I would not of thought that it the carpets were wet, and highly unlikely to be dry in this current weather any time soon, that this is not the case.

The carpets are going to shrink when dry and wont fit properly?

asquithea
12-01-2010, 19:35 PM
Does that mean that a "reasonable precaution" is anything that results in no damage, and as soon as any damage occurs, the precautions are considered no longer reasonable?

This year's cold weather's been particularly protracted, but not (unless you're in Scotland) much colder than typical "pipe freezing" weather. From this, I would draw the conclusion that you didn't take reasonable precautions. But that's purely as a disinterested party speculating on how a court might see it -- I'm not sure my precautions would have been any better in your position.


As far as I aware (from our policy people anyway) carpets are never covered in contents, as they are a "fixture". - I should have added that I would very much like to be proven wrong here, as the carpets are terribly damp smelling at the moment.

Yes, that's what I was trying to say. My LA recommended that I insure myself against accidental damage to the LL's fixtures and fittings, just to cover this sort of event. I had previously done this, but interestingly on careful inspection of my current policy booklet (new insurer; Legal and General), it appears that the LL's F&F are specifically excluded, which is slightly alarming. It sounds like you're in the same boat.

Like the others, I don't really see how drying the carpets is going to work. Also find out what the LL's position is going to be about the deposit when you come to move on. I don't see how they're going to let the property with such damage, so they might as well replace them as soon as the property's dry. Obviously you'll be stung for part of the cost, minus the existing wear and tear. Depending on their age, this might not cost you that much. If the LL won't do it, maybe consider moving on.

EasyUserName
12-01-2010, 19:37 PM
The fact that you were out of the country and unaware of the cold weather is neither here nor there, really. I was not saying it is necessarily your fault that the pipes burst; I was just exploring the possibilities. You are supposed to act in a 'tenant-like way', in other words do everything an owner occupier would do with the exception of repairs to the property (for which LL is responsible). It could be argued that an absent OO would have been caught out in this freakishly cold snap, too.

If the carpets got wet and remained wet for several days, your chances of restoring them to an acceptable state are very slim. For your health's sake it would be better to claim for them on the insurance.

I accept that an OO would have been equally caught out - in fact, if this was our house, we would have been - we would have done nothing different.

However, had we been an OO, we would have also had insurance that was practiable to claim on. If we were OO, I would not be stressing about how much we would have to pay on the clean-up bills, etc, as it would all be part of the insurance. As it stands though at the moment, the LL is saying we are in this "grey area" of responsiblity, and as such, our liablity is yet unknown. All whilst living in a house that is habitable, but far from fun to be in.

johnjw
12-01-2010, 20:58 PM
What you say about the pipes in the roof void (?attic) being uninsulated seems very relevant to me. Even with the central heating running for a few hours each day; in last weeks weather conditions I would expect problems if the attic pipework wasn't heavily insulated.
I think that in the circumstances you describe, your LL (or building freeholder)is definitely at fault. You couldn't possibly be expected to insulate the pipes in the roof void.
As others have pointed out, the excess of thousands of pounds sounds odd. It means the insurance would only be used if the building was totally destroyed.
Meantime you are paying rent for a building which is not really habitable. The LL or Agent should activate their insurance, or pay themselves to put things right as quickly as possible.

IanM
13-01-2010, 13:10 PM
My tenant has allowed pipes to freeze, though damage not so severe as OP and he has been absent for a long time. So a couple of things from recent experience:

I have 1 small bungalow, buildings and landlord insurance has an excess that increases to £1000 for unoccupied buildings, so £10,000+ for multiple properties/blocks of flats sounds somewhat plausible.

As I've been searching for advice or repairs/thawing/prevention I have read advice of leaving the thermostat on minimum 12°C, and 16°C is recommended. When I was a tenant myself I always left the heating system running 24/7 on low (10°C on the thermostat) while away during bad winter weather, and 2x 3-4hr blocks daily when it's milder/overnight freezing only forecast.

Emptying the main tank by opening the taps and closing the stopcock is inadequate - central heating is a closed loop and draining it must be done separately. Only recommended for long periods of absence as it's not as simple as refilling to get the system running again: quite often the there will be more effort required to rebalance the system.

LL should insure their own fixtures and fittings, not something that can be transferred to T I don't think, but T should pay for their negligence.

johnjw
13-01-2010, 14:14 PM
A few years ago my elderly parents had a serious burst following a period of very cold weather. This was despite the fact that they were house-bound and maintained room temperatures at 70-75 degrees F. The problem was in the attic, where there was deep insulation everywhere, except (as it turned out) over the shower pump where the foam cover had either been accidently left off or had perhaps blown off (the attic was nor airtight). The water in the exposed pipe and pump had frozen and the joint between pump and pipework was broken. When thawing occurred the fall in water pressure was equivalent to the shower being switched on and several hundreds of gallons of water pumped out and descended through the house.
As a LL I learned a valuable lesson and I now check attic or (roof void) insulation very carefully. If night-time temperature falls to -10 degrees C, then having the CH on in the house may well not be sufficient to protect uninsulated pipework in the roofspace.
I don't think that a tenant should be expected to fit insulation. It's not an easy, cheap or pleasant job and it is definitely the LL's responsibility.
I doubt if many tenants would even think about water fittings in the attic and why should they?

EasyUserName
13-01-2010, 14:38 PM
Interstingly, I have asked about re the buildings insurance, to get a clearer picture if I was an OO. I have found that I could have a policy with a £50.00 excess - the cost of my "negligence". However, as a nice catch, my insurance broker was unable to offer me any policy which covered me for uninsulated pipes loacted in the roof space.



... As I've been searching for advice or repairs/thawing/prevention I have read advice of leaving the thermostat on minimum 12°C, and 16°C is recommended. When I was a tenant myself I always left the heating system running 24/7 on low (10°C on the thermostat) while away during bad winter weather, and 2x 3-4hr blocks daily when it's milder/overnight freezing only forecast. ...

... LL should insure their own fixtures and fittings, not something that can be transferred to T I don't think, but T should pay for their negligence.

That is interesting advice. However, being from the Southern Hemisphere, I am not used to such cold temperatures, and have yet to ever recieve any such advice from any of the landlords or agents of the various properties I have rented here over the years. I accept that some form of heating during winter whilst away is needed - hence the 4x 1hr blocks I had. If your advice was what the LL felt was needed, it should ideally have been made clear in the lease. I guess "reasonable precautions" are open to some discussion!

By the way, the second part of your comment interests me. It has raised an seperate issue that I might make another thread about to talk about further. That is, the topic of Buildings Insurance. If I was to accept that I was negligent (something I am yet to do, I might add!), what "cost" should I pay? I could rent from LL "A" who has a Buildings Insurance policy with an excess of £50.00 - my "cost". However, LL "B" might have none - thus, my liability might run into the thousands? And what of LL "C" who has a poilicy, but finds it is invalid due to unlagged pipes in the roof?

It is a bit hit-and-miss for a tennant as to the potential liability for any property in regards to unforseen incidends.

Should as a future tennant, I be asking to view the LLs Building Insurance Policy before I rent in the future, so I can be sure of the amount of my potential exposure?

IanM
13-01-2010, 14:40 PM
If night-time temperature falls to -10 degrees C, then having the CH on in the house may well not be sufficient to protect uninsulated pipework in the roofspace.Of course the question of what is reasonable has to take into account the circumstances. In your example there is no way T could be responsible


I don't think that a tenant should be expected to fit insulation. It's not an easy, cheap or pleasant job and it is definitely the LL's responsibility. Agreed


I doubt if many tenants would even think about water fittings in the attic and why should they?As an owner/occupier you would consider this, so tenants should consider it the same. I think this is why the recommendations say 12°C-16°C. It keeps the rooms warm, but heat loss through the ceilings will keep the roof space a little above freezing unless conditions reach extremes.

Mars Mug
13-01-2010, 14:42 PM
Pipes in the roof space should be insulated from the cold, which would typically mean that below them you don’t fit loft insulation, and ideally box them so that you can put insulation on top. In my case as an extra measure I am planning to fit thermostatically controlled electrical heating tape. This of course will not work if there is a power cut, and the central heating will also fail in that case, there were some areas of the country which lost power in the last few weeks. I still therefore believe that it is the mechanical solution of boxing in the pipe work and tanks which is the answer and this would not be a tenants responsibility.

IanM
13-01-2010, 15:14 PM
buildings insurance...
This insurance is to cover the LL not you. So while the insurance might pay LL costs in full (or minus the excess) the insurance company would then recover their costs from you - assuming they believed it was worth pursuing, they might choose write off losses if the negligent party has no way to pay, or if proving negligence is too difficult.


being from the Southern Hemisphere... ... "reasonable precautions" are open to some discussion!I'm not saying you are 100% at fault, but if there was zero insulation in the roof - that is a separate issue. If you are 100% at fault you can probably argue that the damage would be less severe if it were properly insulated and you might be able to mitigate your losses.

I have sympathy for your situation, especially just having had a week of not knowing if our boiler was damaged beyond repair. 'Reasonable' is not straightforward, but ignorance is no defence either. LL cannot ever dictate how you run the heating, the precautions against freezing are entirely up to T. Of course that may be leaving central heating on low, draining the system, using portable electric heaters etc.

If in doubt you might've approached the LL for advice, researched in the local library or on the internet. My personal feeling is you didn't run the heating anywhere near enough to be reasonable. You need to figure out what a normal owner would do, you have to take into account the size & age of building, the type of heating, the current weather, the forecast weather, where in the country it is etc. If it was your own house you would ask these questions because you don't want a £x000's bill! I think you need proper advice from a solicitor expert in landlord & tenant law (if the LL isn't going to cover the loss and holds you responsible)

chappers2341
13-01-2010, 15:14 PM
It appears here that the tenant did act responsibly, pipes and tanks in lofts can freeze in extreme conditions even when the heating is on ion the house.
I don't believe it is a tenants responsibility to go into the loft to check for adequate lagging etc. and that in this case the responsibility lies squarely with the LL.

IanM
13-01-2010, 15:30 PM
It appears here that the tenant did act responsibly, pipes and tanks in lofts can freeze in extreme conditions even when the heating is on in the house.I think it's too much of a leap to say this, it may be that the insulation is good above the pipes. If residual heat from the rooms below normally keeps the loft above freezing the LL may be able to show that the system is not prone to freezing - service contracts may be able to show that no freezing has occurred in 20+ years prior to this incident.


I don't believe it is a tenants responsibility to go into the loft to check for adequate lagging etc. and that in this case the responsibility lies squarely with the LL.No T should not be expected to review the loft insulation, but see above - you can't make assumptions about the system as whole and it's history.

Is this a house or a flat? If it's a flat EasyUserName can you ask around the neighbours to find out if it's frozen previously? If it has that would strengthen your position as you would show a history of known problems that have been ignored.

EasyUserName
13-01-2010, 15:54 PM
... it may be that the insulation is good above the pipes. ...

The pipes (all of them) are uninsulated, and sit on top of the roof insulation (which is sitting in the spaces between the roof beams).


... If residual heat from the rooms below normally keeps the loft above freezing the LL may be able to show that the system is not prone to freezing - service contracts may be able to show that no freezing has occurred in 20+ years prior to this incident.

No T should not be expected to review the loft insulation, but see above - you can't make assumptions about the system as whole and it's history.

Is this a house or a flat? If it's a flat EasyUserName can you ask around the neighbours to find out if it's frozen previously? If it has that would strengthen your position as you would show a history of known problems that have been ignored.

Sadly, I have been made aware by the LL that there is no history of freezing in the last 30 years. However, in mitigation, I might point this out ...


"UK faces coldest winter in 30 years – forecasts" from the 6th Jan - care of an article in the Guardian.

EasyUserName
13-01-2010, 15:56 PM
... I have sympathy for your situation, especially just having had a week of not knowing if our boiler was damaged beyond repair. 'Reasonable' is not straightforward, but ignorance is no defence either. LL cannot ever dictate how you run the heating, the precautions against freezing are entirely up to T. Of course that may be leaving central heating on low, draining the system, using portable electric heaters etc.

If in doubt you might've approached the LL for advice, researched in the local library or on the internet. My personal feeling is you didn't run the heating anywhere near enough to be reasonable. You need to figure out what a normal owner would do, you have to take into account the size & age of building, the type of heating, the current weather, the forecast weather, where in the country it is etc. If it was your own house you would ask these questions because you don't want a £x000's bill! I think you need proper advice from a solicitor expert in landlord & tenant law (if the LL isn't going to cover the loss and holds you responsible)

To be honest, if I was living in this house as an OO, I would have done no different. I may have insulated the pipes in the roof had I thought about it, to reduce the amount of heat wastage in the roof space from the Central Heating and the Domestic Hot Water, but if I was an OO, I may not have gotten round to it either! However, the difference between that situation and my current one would be that I'd have come home, called my insurance, paid my £50.00 excess, and would likely be sitting in a hotel whilst it was trouble free fixed, rather than stressing about £300 water bills and £400 gas/electric bills! As an OO, I would have taken as much care with my buildings insurance as I have with my contents (which has been trouble free, and paid out (*Editied to say - has said they will pay out!) exactly what I thought the fine-print said I was covered for - no surprises, see!). As a tenant, I am unable to insure a building that I do not own - so I must rely upon the LL for cover over incidents where the liability is unclear.

IanM
13-01-2010, 16:11 PM
The pipes (all of them) are uninsulated, and sit on top of the roof insulation (which in turn is sitting in the spaces between the roof beams)It's sounds like a typical arrangement, minus pipe insulation (which is obviously a very silly thing to do) You may want to confirm there is no insulation directly below the roof i.e. between the sloping beams, but as there is insulation above the room ceilings it doesn't sound at all like a warm loft.

What part of the country are you in, and just how cold was the weather?


Sadly, I have been made aware by the LL that there is no history of freezing in the last 30 years. .I wouldn't automatically believe this. My property has 15-20 years of British Gas service plan on the central heating with records of all service call outs, can your LL show something similar?


"UK faces coldest winter in 30 years – forecasts" from the 6th Jan - care of an article in the Guardian.Sadly the same drivel is trotted out every single winter and doesn't mean anything.

Your local weather records and forecast for when the incident occurred would be more pertinent. However, you said the heating was on 4 times over 12 days, and I'm hazrding a guess that you used the weekend/weekday split on the programmer? so 5 days no heating? If so that's just utter madness. If severe overnight freezing is forecast I think anyone sensible would have there heating on in the evening and early morning i.e. off for 6-10hrs only.

EasyUserName
13-01-2010, 16:17 PM
It's sounds like a typical arrangement, minus pipe insulation (which is obviously a very silly thing to do) You may want to confirm there is no insulation directly below the roof i.e. between the sloping beams, but as there is insulation above the room ceilings it doesn't sound at all like a warm loft.

What part of the country are you in, and just how cold was the weather?

...

Midlands, close to Oxfordshire (which I understand was very cold!). I don't know how the exact weather was around here, as I was away for all of the bad weather. The only information I have so far is a comment from the B&Q man that the lowest for his house was -6.


... However, you said the heating was on 4 times over 12 days, and I'm hazrding a guess that you used the weekend/weekday split on the programmer? so 5 days no heating? If so that's just utter madness. If severe overnight freezing is forecast I think anyone sensible would have there heating on in the evening and early morning i.e. off for 6-10hrs only.

Ah. Sorry, I thought I was more clear before. I had the heating on for Four by One Hour blocks per day (that is, a total of 4hrs a day) on a daily timer (no option to chose a certain day). The first one was at 0630, the next (I think) 12ish, then the afternoon, with the last about 10pm.

Subway
13-01-2010, 16:37 PM
I think you have been very unlucky having left four hours of heating on per day. I work 9-5ish and my heating is only on slightly longer than that! Was this to normal temp or four hours on low temp?

I think the main culprit is that the pipes were not insulated but the loft was. It may be 'cold comfort' now, but you can get loft thermometers with electronic read out which you can place in the loft but then read in the house and monitor the temperature in the loft v the temperature in the house and outside to support any claim that the insulation means that the heating in the house would be pretty ineffective at heating the loft space enough to avoid freezing pipes.

Also if you hire a carpet fan it will dry out the carpet much quicker.

IanM
13-01-2010, 16:38 PM
-6°C is not so extreme, I used to live 20 min up the M40 from Oxford. Was the thermostat on a moderate setting or low? If you left it v. low or on frost you still might have a problem. Frost setting particularly is only to keep the boiler ticking over just enough not to freeze. I still don't think you had the heating on enough, but I'd give you more benefit of the doubt as it was on 4x daily, and that lack of pipe lagging is LL's stupidity.

EasyUserName
13-01-2010, 16:43 PM
18oC I think the setting was, but I can't recall off the top of my head. It might have been 16oC.

It's all a bit unfortunate, that is for sure. Not having been here for the cold weather, I don't know what I may have set it on, but a "normal" winter would see it on when I got home about 6pm, until maybe 10ish, when I went to be. Perhaps, if it was very cold, it might be on all night on a very low (say 10oC) setting, but that is about it. I go very quickly in the mornings, so don't usually have it come on via timer. So, this is how I based the 4x1hr settings - based on a "typical" day I might have here. Of course, that didn't account for the heavy snow - undoubtably I'd have had it on more then - and I would have increased the timer too. If I'd known it was likley to happen, that is. I'm still unsure as to what happened in what order though - there were two breaks in the uninsulated central heating pipe, and the boiler was out on low system pressure, so it is possible that broke first, taking the heating out totally, thus causing the mains supply to go. Hard to say in what order it occured.

Mars Mug
14-01-2010, 08:29 AM
The pipes (all of them) are uninsulated, and sit on top of the roof insulation (which is sitting in the spaces between the roof beams).

That is a common mistake.

Turning on the central heating, even on low for half a day would have made no difference. The pipes in the loft will be the supply pipes for the system, a cold water mains pressure supply to the header tank (assuming it’s a gravity fed system), and a gravity pressure pipe to the central heating which may be a little warm while the heating is on). There will be no ‘hot’ pipes in the loft, why would there be? I see no other reason to have pipes in the loft other than to supply header tanks or for a poorly fitted (if un-insulated) shower system.

Those pipes in the loft will be near ambient temperature all the time, there is no hot water in the pipes. Ambient might be a little higher if the heating is on, but the loft insulation will limit that dramatically. When the heating is off it will only take a few minutes for the temperature in the loft to drop and the pipes will cool at the same rate, copper is a good heat conductor. One of the better ways to raise the ambient temperature of the loft is to leave the loft door open while away, and leave the heating on low for longer than normal, four one hour ‘hot’ periods is nowhere near as good. With the door closed and the loft insulated it’s quite possible that those cold un-insulated pipes could still freeze even with the central heating on, especially the cold supply pipes to the header tanks where there isn’t normally a flow of water until the tank level drops.

The insulation should be on top of the pipes, typically boxed in, not under the pipes. The tanks also should be boxed in; extreme cold can cause a tank to split. I don’t see how a tenant can be blamed for such a poor installation and it was an accident waiting to happen. I would take plenty of pictures while you can.

How many tanks are in the loft?

http://www.talktalk.co.uk/home-garden/practical-advice/winter-home.html

Telometer
14-01-2010, 12:10 PM
That is a common mistake.Turning on the central heating, even on low for half a day would have made no difference. The pipes in the loft will be the supply pipes for the system, a cold water mains pressure supply to the header tank (assuming it’s a gravity fed system), and a gravity pressure pipe to the central heating which may be a little warm while the heating is on). There will be no ‘hot’ pipes in the loft, why would there be? I see no other reason to have pipes in the loft other than to supply header tanks or for a poorly fitted (if un-insulated) shower system

Mars is absolutely correct. Even if the central heating had been on 24/7 it is perfectly probable that those pipes would have frozen in recent temperatures (-16 degrees overnight in Oxfordshire).

Particularly as they were uninsulated and ABOVE the loft insulation. The entire central heating system has been installed by a cowboy and is not fit for purpose. OP you are entirely innocent and your L should replace your carpets, cover the costs of the lost water, and the costs of your dehumidifying and your hotel room and any other damage etc. etc. You might like to inform your own household contents insurer (whom I presume you will be claiming against) as it may wish to make a claim against L.

If L has an excess of tens of thousands - perfectly possible - then that is his problem, not yours.

Get a good engineer (and I mean an engineer, not a central heating fitter) in to produce a report on the inadequacies of the CH system. Moreover, make sure they may well have to attend court to give evidence as a professional witness. I'm not sure where you find one... I suggest talking to a surveyor. Take photographs too, asap.

As for the carpets, provided they haven't been lifted they should not shrink when they dry. They may well smell and be mouldy; that is a separate issue.

I should think that house must be uninhabitable at the moment; insist on being put up elsewhere.

Mars Mug
14-01-2010, 12:50 PM
I had reason to go into my loft after Christmas (the decorations live up there) and it was like an ice box. It is fully insulated, the area round my tanks is not, but the freezing cold prompted me to order some electrical frost tape for the pipes. The pipes themselves are lagged but I’m not happy that this is enough. I am even considering boxing in the tanks and plumbing, it’s not a big job to do, just use some large sheets of insulation material used in stud walls.

In summer the loft temperature exceeds 45 centigrade.

Telometer
14-01-2010, 13:01 PM
http://www.tlc-direct.co.uk/Main_Index/Cable_Accessories_Index/Heat_Tape/index.html for instance.

You have made me think too Mars. Happily I am in central London which never gets particularly cold.

Mars Mug
14-01-2010, 13:18 PM
That's the one, I fitted a 12m length in the shed last year after a pipe burst outside, the frozen ice pulled the pipe out of an internal tap connection, fortunately on the closed side of the tap.

It works very well, I have a plug in power monitor from Maplins which cost about £10 which I use to see if it’s operated and for how long, so far in the last two months it’s cost about 50p in electricity, much cheaper that repairing the damage due to a pipe burst.

I also fitted a flow sensor which connects to a network I/O device so the shed sends me an e-mail when the water is turned on (or leaking badly).

EasyUserName
15-01-2010, 08:46 AM
Turning on the central heating, even on low for half a day would have made no difference. The pipes in the loft will be the supply pipes for the system, a cold water mains pressure supply to the header tank (assuming it’s a gravity fed system), and a gravity pressure pipe to the central heating which may be a little warm while the heating is on). There will be no ‘hot’ pipes in the loft, why would there be? I see no other reason to have pipes in the loft other than to supply header tanks or for a poorly fitted (if un-insulated) shower system ...

The pipes in the roof include the Central Heating. The property has solid brick walls, and the central heating (as well as all the other pipes) all go via the roof space before coming down the walls inside each room. So, there would have been some source of heat in the roof, when the central heating was on. However, given the load of snow we found on the roof on return, that heat wouldn't have lasted.

The situation has turned rather worse now - the carpets are coming up in some of the rooms, and the place is very damp. When approached re the utility bills (that we are liable for) and the condition of the property, the situation moved from "You pay that" to we'll consider all the costs of the repair to be divided - in the order of £5K now!

It's an especially bitter pill to swallow because had we been an OO we would have had Buildings Cover, and have paid our £50 excess with no stress. Renting is a mugs game, that's for sure (well, as a tenant)

Mars Mug
15-01-2010, 09:04 AM
The pipes in the roof include the Central Heating. The property has solid brick walls, and the central heating (as well as all the other pipes) all go via the roof space before coming down the walls inside each room. So, there would have been some source of heat in the roof, when the central heating was on. However, given the load of snow we found on the roof on return, that heat wouldn't have lasted.

That still sounds like a pretty rubbish design and highly inefficient, you are paying to heat an insulated loft space? Most walls are solid brick, it's the construction of the floors that usually dictates the cenral heating pipe routes, in my case under the floor boards of the upper floor. How many floors is your place? Are there floorboards?

Anyway, it would not take very long at all for the loft space to go cold after the heating turns off, there would not be enough heat capacity in the pipes which are in the loft to stay above freezing for very long. If you boil a kettle in the kitchen and go back an hour later it will probably be at room temperature, those copper pipes in the loft will cool a lot quicker, but the cold water supply pipes (are there any, any tanks?) would probably never get warm.

I agree with Telometer that a professional independent assessment of the installation could remove all blame from you, and might find that it was an ‘accident waiting to happen’.

IanM
15-01-2010, 09:14 AM
The thought occurs that there should be an EPC check and report prior to the tenancy commencing. What does it say?

EasyUserName
15-01-2010, 09:49 AM
The thought occurs that there should be an EPC check and report prior to the tenancy commencing. What does it say?

What is an EPC check?

IanM
15-01-2010, 10:10 AM
Energy Performance Certificate. If you moved in after October '08 (I think, not 100% on the date) LL is required to get an EPC check, prospective T is entitled to see the report before signing the tenancy agreement, and there may even be an obligation for LL to present it before the agreement is signed, even if the tenant hasn't asked for it.

I wondered if the report says anything about the pipes need lagging. It may be that the report helps you if it recommends improvement or notes risk of freezing. On the other hand, if it says the house is very low efficiency it may be that you have accepted the terms and your position is weakened.

EasyUserName
15-01-2010, 10:14 AM
Ah, I see. Well, I do recall seeing a copy at the LA, but we don't have one. All I can recall is that the efficiency was much better than the last place, but that rather subjective statement doesn't help!

Still, will have to see how it pans out now, I guess.

EasyUserName
15-01-2010, 10:24 AM
Oh dear! To use internet speak, "LOL"!

My LL has some workers round, who have pulled up the carpets, and now appear to be in the roof lagging the pipes with some instant lagging they have come along with in advance! Guess it's become an issue now, though not (at the insistance of the LL), before (where it remains our fault!)!

Telometer
15-01-2010, 10:26 AM
It's difficult, of course, without seeing the situation, but I base the following on the fact that UNINSULATED Pipes running ABOVE the insulation are an accident waiting to happen and are a design fault.

Talk to a surveyor on the phone and find one who will agree with you (obviously you need to tell him the full truth) and ask him what his report will cost and whether it will exonerate you completely. Make sure he has ARICS/FRICS after his name. I cannot believe it will be more than 2-300 pounds (after all you can have a full survey on a house for little more than that which includes a valuation that puts his professional reputation/insurance at risk if he gets it wrong; this report is no risk to him).

Once you have established this, talk to your L and tell him you will be getting this report which will exonerate you completely and you will use in court. Does he want to pay for this report as well as the repairs, or will he agree to pay for the repairs?

As I mentioned, presumably you are claiming for your contents from your contents insurance. Tell your insurers about the bad design and they may well want to claim against your L.

Don't forget your premium next year (and in future years) will be higher on account of your claim. Make sure you claim for this extra cost from your L.


Mars Mug - how simple are the electrics - I have several pipes in my loft which run in different directions, can you cut the wire into pieces and attach it to the thermostat so you can have a "spider" of wires, or does it all have to be one big straight line?

Mars Mug
15-01-2010, 10:27 AM
So you are rapidly losing the option for independent advice and opinion, did you take any photos? But if the fault was yours, why do the pipes need lagging? Should you as tenant have lagged the pipes?


Mars Mug - how simple are the electrics - I have several pipes in my loft which run in different directions, can you cut the wire into pieces and attach it to the thermostat so you can have a "spider" of wires, or does it all have to be one big straight line?

No it can’t be cut, it’s a set resistance length and will not work if cut. It can be run back along the other side of the pipe, I run mine straight rather than spiral round the pipe. And for a short distance where I needed to bridge between two pipes I used some spare copper tube as a heatsink. I can’t really comment on your situation without seeing it, but a bit of planning might mean you either buy two or more which isn’t so cheap since the cost isn’t proportional to the length, or you could buy an extra long single length and use copper tube to bridge any ‘voids’.

The thermostat is integral to the wire and has to be strapped to the pipe.

Telometer
15-01-2010, 11:25 AM
Take photos of the insulation being installed. PUt a copy of today's newspaper in the photos. Get a neighbour round to watch it - a neighbour who will testify in court for you.

Quick!


Mars - thanks, that was what I imagined. I'm aware of a more sophisticated and expensive heat trace system that would work in the way I describe.

Mars Mug
15-01-2010, 11:30 AM
Mars - thanks, that was what I imagined. I'm aware of a more sophisticated and expensive heat trace system that would work in the way I describe.

As I said elsewhere I think, you also need to consider the possibility of mains failure, so the insulation arrangement should remain correct for the environment.

EasyUserName
15-01-2010, 11:32 AM
Take photos of the insulation being installed. PUt a copy of today's newspaper in the photos. Get a neighbour round to watch it - a neighbour who will testify in court for you.

Quick! ...

It's ok (I think). Because I am the sort who wants to avoid costs to my LL, I repaired the pipe-work leaks myself in the roof, and took pictures of it all, for the LL to decide if he was happy or not with the standard of my work. This was because the leak was found late on Saturday, and I didn't fancy the chances of a call-out plumber on Sunday (nor the cost to the LL for something that was a simple repair). Wrong approach this may have been, but I hated the idea of the LL having (at least I assumed it would be his bill!) a large call-out bill when he didn't need one.

So, loads of pictures anyways, at least.

EasyUserName
16-02-2010, 15:50 PM
As a tenant, am I able to request a copy (and expect it to be provided)?

Especially as the lease refers to the "LL agreeing with the Tenant to have insurance".

mind the gap
16-02-2010, 15:52 PM
As a tenant, am I able to request a copy (and expect it to be provided)?

Especially as the lease refers to the "LL agreeing with the Tenant to have insurance".

N, I do not think you have an absolute right to see an insurance policy paid for by someone else for a property which you do not own. Why would you?

Lawcruncher
16-02-2010, 15:56 PM
You have a right to see the insurance if:

1. The agreement gives you one.

2. You are required to comply with the terms of the landlords's insurance.

(The above only applies to short term residential leases.)

Ericthelobster
16-02-2010, 15:57 PM
N, I do not think you have an absolute right to see an insurance policy paid for by someone else for a property which you do not own. Why would you?I'd have no particular problem with showing mine to a tenant other than the aggravation of digging it out, copying/sending it etc - but why would you even want to see it?


Especially as the lease refers to the "LL agreeing with the Tenant to have insurance".That sounds very vague - is that the wording? Insurance for what? for who? Doesn't it mean that the tenant needs insurance rather than the landlord?

mind the gap
16-02-2010, 16:00 PM
You have a right to see the insurance if:

1. The agreement gives you one.

2. You are required to comply with the terms of the landlords's insurance.

(The above only applies to short term residential leases.)

Sorry, I was assuming too much there. The thought also struck me - does the contract make it clear whether it is the LL who must have insurance or the T?

jeffrey
16-02-2010, 16:35 PM
As a tenant, am I able to request a copy (and expect it to be provided)?

Especially as the lease refers to the "LL agreeing with the Tenant to have insurance".
EasyName: are you a long-leaseholder?

EasyUserName
16-02-2010, 16:45 PM
Sorry, busy!

I am an AST tenant.

The specific phrase in the lease is ...

"5. The Landlord agrees with the Tenant:

ii. To keep the property insured...."

My reason is quite a bit complex, I am afraid. However, the long and the short of it is that the LL and myself are in dispute about a burst pipe (I posted a thread about it a little while ago - I am planning on updating it later, mainly for Google searches for others in my situation in the future).

In more detail, the LL stated that they would not claim upon their buildings insurance as they "self insure" for claims up to their excess, approx £15000. However, this was a verbal statement only. The LL stated their position in regards to the burst pipe was that we were responsible, under a clause in the lease stating we need to take "reasonable precautions against frost damage", and that as the pipe burst, we clearly did not.

This issue goes on a bit, but my specific question above comes about as the current situation for ourselves is that we are restoring the property to the condition as detailed in the lease (at our cost) so as to be able to reclaim our bond when we leave in a few weeks. However, as I am quite cynical, it would not surprise me if the LL did not then send us a bill for their costs after we move out - where we will be off less "trouble" for them. As such, as the LL was supposed to have insurance as detailed in the lease, I want to have a copy of their certificate.

The LL is a company, and I suspect that the insurance may not specifically mention the property, or that the LL has chosen to have such a large excess to reduce their bills.

mind the gap
16-02-2010, 16:50 PM
Sorry, busy!

I am an AST tenant.

The specific phrase in the lease is ...

"5. The Landlord agrees with the Tenant:

ii. To keep the property insured...."

My reason is quite a bit complex, I am afraid. However, the long and the short of it is that the LL and myself are in dispute about a burst pipe (I posted a thread about it a little while ago - I am planning on updating it later, mainly for Google searches for others in my situation in the future).

In more detail, the LL stated that they would not claim upon their buildings insurance as they "self insure" for claims up to their excess, approx £15000. However, this was a verbal statement only. The LL stated their position in regards to the burst pipe was that we were responsible, under a clause in the lease stating we need to take "reasonable precautions against frost damage", and that as the pipe burst, we clearly did not.

This issue goes on a bit, but my specific question above comes about as the current situation for ourselves is that we are restoring the property to the condition as detailed in the lease (at our cost) so as to be able to reclaim our bond when we leave in a few weeks. However, as I am quite cynical, it would not surprise me if the LL did not then send us a bill for their costs after we move out - where we will be off less "trouble" for them. As such, as the LL was supposed to have insurance as detailed in the lease, I want to have a copy of their certificate.

The LL is a company, and I suspect that the insurance may not specifically mention the property, or that the LL has chosen to have such a large excess to reduce their bills.

£15000 excess?

Mrs Mug
16-02-2010, 16:54 PM
£15000 excess?

I noticed that in OP other thread, I assumed the property must be in a flood risk area. During the recent floods in Cockermouth, people were commenting that their insurance excess was £25K as they had been flooded before.

EasyUserName
16-02-2010, 16:54 PM
So the Landlords Rep stated when he came out to inspect the damage, and we said that we imagined that they would be claiming on their insurance.

Even if there was a liability issue, given the large repair costs, we expected the LL to claim on the insurance that they said they had, and then for us and the insurance company to sort out the issue of liability.

Lawcruncher
16-02-2010, 16:55 PM
What does the rest of the insurance clause say?

What does the tenant's repair clause say?

What does the landlord's repair clause say?

Is this a lease of residential property where the fixed term exceeds seven years?

EasyUserName
16-02-2010, 16:56 PM
No flood risk around here - the nearest river would be 2 miles away, with a smallish town (of maybe 25000 people) in between.

Cipher
16-02-2010, 16:56 PM
I'm considering upping my excess to a whopping great amount as well to reduce my bills - I dont think there is anything wrong with that. I've not seen anywhere so I can opt for £15K but its worth a shot I guess.

Were you the cause for this problem?
If you were - the landlord shouldnt have to claim against his insurance.

I've not been asked to show proof of insurance (I wouldnt have a problem unless I thought the tenant may try claim on my insurance). I'm not making you out to be the bad guy in this situation but think about it from your L point of view.

EasyUserName
16-02-2010, 17:01 PM
What does the tenant's repair clause under the agreement say?

The clause in question:

"(18) To take all reasonable precautions against frost damage and should any damage result from the Tenant's failure to take such precautions to effect all necessary repairs to reinstate the damaged system into good working order and repair any damage that may have been caused to the Property and fixtures and fittings"

EasyUserName
16-02-2010, 17:11 PM
I'm considering upping my excess to a whopping great amount as well to reduce my bills - I dont think there is anything wrong with that. I've not seen anywhere so I can opt for £15K but its worth a shot I guess.

Were you the cause for this problem?
If you were - the landlord shouldnt have to claim against his insurance.

I've not been asked to show proof of insurance (I wouldnt have a problem unless I thought the tenant may try claim on my insurance). I'm not making you out to be the bad guy in this situation but think about it from your L point of view.


Of course.

I have no issue with the LL not even having insurance if that is what they wised. However, I would not choose to rent from such a LL. So, with a large excess, in cases of dispute, there is an additional pressure on the LL to find a reason that the tenant is liable. Not my case specifically, just a general observation.

In regards to my specific case:

The key facts:

1. We went away for 12 days, before the extreme cold weather was present.

2. We left the heating on for 4 hours a day on timer. Clearly, we felt this to be "reasonable" having heard the horror stories of burst pipes from work mates.

3. LL states that they feel "reasonable" would mean heating on 24/7 on lowest setting (10oC) and to turn off mains.

4. All pipes (CH and Mains) are in the roof space (loft) of the bungalow, on top of the insulation - and are (well, were (!) uninsulated - first thing the LL did was to insulate them).

Our position is that we took what we felt to be reasonable actions. The requirements of the LL (Heating on 24/7 and to turn off the mains) we feel are more than we would have done - we would have seriously not considered renting if the property had to be heated all the time during winter! Under normal occupation, the heating wouldn't be on that much. As for the mains, we did not know that it would not impact on the CH - previous systems I have had experience off required the header tank to be kept topped up in case of leaks.

The lack of any insulation on any pipes, the fact that they were on top of the roof insulation, and that the LL has insulated them as the first job they did, we feel, is quite important.

We found a case that expanded upon S11, specifically detailing that the systems the LL is responsible for must be able to cope under conditions that it was reasonable to forse. I can't recall the case as I wasn't planning on going into so much detail at the min (still painting, see!). Anyways, we felt that if the pipes which were uninsulated could only work with the heating on all the time, this would be quite a material fact, and we should have been made aware of it. Or, that the pipes were able to cope with reasonable conditions, and that the extra cold was something that neither of us could predict, and thus it should have been an issue for buildings insurance.

Ericthelobster
16-02-2010, 17:15 PM
2. We left the heating on for 4 hours a day on timer. Clearly, we felt this to be "reasonable" having heard the horror stories of burst pipes from work mates.

3. LL states that they feel "reasonable" would mean heating on 24/7 on lowest setting (10oC) and to turn off mains. You'll probably find that's what an insurance company says, too. A friend of mine with an unoccupied holiday cottage had done something along the lines of (2) above to protect against burst pipes recently; the ensuing (very large) claim has been rejected as the insurance company said she should have done (3).

EasyUserName
16-02-2010, 17:21 PM
I suppose we will never know, as I would have suggested that the lack of insulation would have had an impact on what would be considered reasonable.

In relation to the mains, turning it off would not be wise I would have thought, unless you knew what effect it would have had. I'd have prefered it if the LL stated that in the lease at the start, to be honest.

In relation to the insurance, our contents insurance has paid out (in the end, almost more than the total repair costs between ourselves and the LL!) with no quibble in relation to the cause of the damage. There is a section that relates to buildings insurance in the T&C which I've since read out of curiosity, which states that they would not pay out for the actual repair but would for any damage caused, and makes no mention of precautions you must take (although does suggest some things as advice, turning off the mains being one - again, something I would be loath to do in someone elses house!).

Incedentally, when asking about for buildings insurance costs on the property to see how much it would have cost had we been OO, we were unable to find anyone who would insure it with uninsulated pipes (our contents people included).

EasyUserName
16-02-2010, 17:25 PM
Anyways, I've gone slightly off topic!

In relation to my original question. If, as stated in the lease (detailed above), the LL agrees to insure the property, as the tenant involved, am I legally able to view a copy? Or, is this a case of "trust us on it"?

Cipher
16-02-2010, 17:27 PM
Fair play EasyUserName I can see how you took reasonable precautions and why you are concerned about LL and Insurance. Having skim read my insurance it also says to leave on lowest setting 24/7.

EasyUserName
16-02-2010, 17:28 PM
Fair play EasyUserName I can see how you took reasonable precautions and why you are concerned about LL and Insurance. Having skim read my insurance it also says to leave on lowest setting 24/7.

With that in mind, I would have hoped that if this was the same for my LL, this would have been detailed in the lease.

EasyUserName
16-02-2010, 17:30 PM
What does the rest of the insurance clause say?

What does the tenant's repair clause say?

What does the landlord's repair clause say?

Is this a lease of residential property where the fixed term exceeds seven years?

Missed this, sorry.

1. - That is it. That's all it says.
2. - I've posted this in the thread.
3. - There isn't one.
4. - No.

Moderator1
16-02-2010, 20:10 PM
Two separate threads by same member have been merged here. Do not cause problems by starting continuation threads; use the same one.

jeffrey
16-02-2010, 20:59 PM
Missed this, sorry.

1. - That is it. That's all it says.
2. - I've posted this in the thread.
3. - There isn't one.
4. - No.
Re point 3: is there really no clause obliging L to carry-out any repairs?
Even if that's so, L must still comply with obligations imposed by s.11 of LTA 1985.

EasyUserName
16-02-2010, 21:11 PM
Two separate threads by same member have been merged here. Do not cause problems by starting continuation threads; use the same one.

Ah, sorry. My second thread started out as a simple question, but the extra information requested pretty much made it the same in the end.

Mars Mug
17-02-2010, 07:14 AM
Maybe you should have done nothing other than a functional repair of the pipe and let the landlord sue you. If you are confident that the pipe burst because of poor layout/design/construction then you would expect to win in court, or you might stand a better chance of reaching an amiable out of court settlement.

Lawcruncher
17-02-2010, 20:41 PM
This one is tricky having regard to all the factors which include:

1. An express obligation on the landlord to insure

2. An implied obligation on the landlord "to keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwelling-house for the supply of water"

3. An express obligation on the tenant to take reasonable precautions to prevent frost damage

4. The question of whether such measures as the tenant took were reasonable

5. The possibility that there was a design fault which would have made the measures the tenant took, even if reasonable, ineffective.

6. The fact that the landlord's insurance has a large excess.

It is quite impossible to give a reasoned reply at other than great length because that would necessitate considering the problem first assuming one thing and then disregarding it and doing so in different permutations. We do not know, for example, if the precautions were reasonable and if there was a design defect; that alone leaves four possibilities to consider:

1. The precautions were reasonable and there was no design defect

2. The precautions were not reasonable and there was no design defect

3. The precautions were not reasonable and there was a design defect

4. The precautions were reasonable and there was a design defect

I think though that we can say that the fact that the landlord has a large excess on his insurance is not really relevant. The landlord is under an obligation to insure. To the extent that he agrees an excess he self insures. There are therefore effectively two insurers: the landlord up to the amount of the excess and the insurance company for the balance. So, if the cost of the damage is less than the excess then the landlord meets the cost (as indeed he does if he decides not to make a claim). From the tenant's point of view the landlord insures on the same terms as the insurance company. Accordingly, if (but for the excess) the insurance company would have paid out, then the landlord must pay out. Or to put it another way, if the insurance company could validly decline to pay out on account of some act or omission of the tenant, so can the landlord. This means that the tenant does not need to see the terms of the insurance to see the excess; from his point of view if he is not at fault the landlord makes good and the extent to which the landlord recovers the cost from the insurance company is the landlord's concern, not the tenant's.

Preston
17-02-2010, 22:45 PM
I have come to this thread very late and haven't managed to read all the contributions, so apologies if I have missed something significant.

With this in mind, some comments:

a) it is not at all unusual for a large landlord's insurance policy to carry an excess of several thousand pounds.
b) whether the tenant must bear some or all of the excess will depend upon the lease or tenancy agreement but, as others have pointed out, it would be unusual for the tenant or leaseholder to have to carry this risk.
c) from what I have read, the precautions taken by the OP seem very reasonable. Some or all of the pipes which leaked were in cold areas and were unlagged. The weather conditions were extreme and my guess is that there would be ample evidence that many occupied properties in the same area were affected (there certainly is in my region and at a national level). Incidentally, we experienced a number boilers freezing even whilst in use (condensing pipes and flues).
d) if (c) is correct, any repair costs are the landlord's responsibility and this would include drying out costs. The cost of running a set of dehumidifiers in a badly affected property, for example, can be substantial.
e) clearly not everything of interest and value to the tenant is the landlord's responsibility to rectify and may not be covered by buildings insurance. It is very common for the landlord to ask the tenant to claim for these items on their own contents insurance.

Anyway, I wish you luck.