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View Full Version : Can landlord deduct leak repair cost from deposit?



weststreet
18-02-2008, 15:38 PM
Hello. I'm self-managing a flat in London. Got a call from the people downstairs saying there was a leak throgh their ceiling from my flat. Organised a plumber who found a leak from the cold water feed to the loo. Thing is the tenant ( who is french ) knew there was a leak - in fact he had soaking towels on the floor under the leak to soak it up. But he'd never notified me about it. In fact, when we said why didn't you tell us, he said because it's going downstairs and shrugged. OBVIOUSLY IT'S GOING DOWNSTAIRS. The tenant has all my details, address, e-mail and telephone number and has been in contact me when he needed bits doing. Maybe it's a cultural thing.

Anyway would you try withholding part of the cost from his deposit ? I would have had to get a plumber anyway, but I'm additionally going to have to get the affected area downstairs redecorated - luckily the ceiling didn't come down or bow, it's just a redec job.

He's a good tenant, always pays on time. Redec is likely to cost £300 ish. As an extra, I don't know how easy or hard it would be with the new govt deposit scheme. Any thoughts anyone ?

pcwilkins
18-02-2008, 16:37 PM
We've had this discussion before. My argument is that unless T caused the leak (which it doesn't appear he did) you can't automatically charge him for the cost.

Others have argued that T has a duty to tell you about leaks, and has failed in that duty; therefore T should pay for the consequences. I'm not convinced that T does have such a duty, though I'm willing to be corrected.

My concern would be that if T denies that he ever noticed the leak, you can't really prove that he did. And even if you can prove that he did notice it, you can't prove that he knew that it was serious enough to tell you about.

On the other hand you could try making the deduction and T may not object. Just be prepared for if he does.

Do you know what caused the leak in the first place?

Regarding TDS; you can't make deductions without T's agreement; if you can't agree it goes to arbitration; and then probably about 500 years later something might be done about it. From what others have said, the less you have to do with TDS, the better. Though perhaps some schemes are better than others.

Peter

Colincbayley
18-02-2008, 16:44 PM
Why do you assume that you have to pay the cost of the redec on the lower floor flat?
The owners would find it hard to prove that it was your fault!

weststreet
18-02-2008, 16:46 PM
Thanks Peter

I was already hovering on the side of 'let it go' but wondered what others would do. The leak probably wear and tear, but who knows. I just couldn't believe the gaellic shrug and 'so what' attitude.

Oh well, who said letting is easy :)

weststreet
18-02-2008, 16:50 PM
Why do you assume that you have to pay the cost of the redec on the lower floor flat?
The owners would find it hard to prove that it was your fault!

I've already acknowledged it. Plumber was both in mine and theirs. Call it good relations with the neighbours. Maybe I'm a mug but you know .... what goes around.

Colincbayley
18-02-2008, 16:53 PM
I've already acknowledged it. Plumber was both in mine and theirs. Call it good relations with the neighbours. Maybe I'm a mug but you know .... what goes around.


From an Insurers point of view, negligence would first have to be proven before costs are awarded. Most claims that are submitted in the circumstances you describe would NOT be paid by an insurer as you cannot prove that the owner of the upper floor property is negligent.

It's your choice from a 'good relations' point of view, but I think you will find you don't 'have to' pay out.

PaulF
18-02-2008, 18:00 PM
From an Insurers point of view, negligence would first have to be proven before costs are awarded. Most claims that are submitted in the circumstances you describe would NOT be paid by an insurer as you cannot prove that the owner of the upper floor property is negligent.

It's your choice from a 'good relations' point of view, but I think you will find you don't 'have to' pay out.Colin - as an ex Insurance Broker of 25 years plus I can tell you this is not so. An insurer would pay for the damage to the flat below because water had caused damage to it, and it would be covered under the PL section of the landlord's policy (if he has one) less any excess.

The other point I want to make is it depends if there is a clause within the TA stating the tenant should notify the landlord as soon as any water leak (or damage etc.) occurs. It would be very difficult to expect the tenant to contribute to any damage unless he TA is clear concenring his reporting responsibilities.

weststreet
18-02-2008, 18:38 PM
Hi Paul

Maybe this would be better in the insurance section but I've got :
Property Owners Liability & Contents Cover with JBI
Buildings cover with house Block Insurance.

I reckon the plumber will be about £150 - £200 - possible claim under buildings but I think the excess is about £150
The downstairs redec about £300. Don't know the excess here but I assumed it had to be a couple of hundred.

So marginal recovery in both instances. And obviously the time and hassle of claiming. So I'm still thinking, just swallow it.

Colincbayley
18-02-2008, 18:49 PM
Colin - as an ex Insurance Broker of 25 years plus I can tell you this is not so. An insurer would pay for the damage to the flat below because water had caused damage to it, and it would be covered under the PL section of the landlord's policy (if he has one) less any excess.

Sorry Paul, But I also have 16yrs experience as an Insurance Broker and have to disagree.
As you will be aware, for any claim to be paid under PL, you must first prove negligence. If this cannot be proven then the Insurer will not pay out.

Colincbayley
18-02-2008, 18:51 PM
Hi Paul

Maybe this would be better in the insurance section but I've got :
Property Owners Liability & Contents Cover with JBI
Buildings cover with house Block Insurance.

I reckon the plumber will be about £150 - £200 - possible claim under buildings but I think the excess is about £150
The downstairs redec about £300. Don't know the excess here but I assumed it had to be a couple of hundred.

So marginal recovery in both instances. And obviously the time and hassle of claiming. So I'm still thinking, just swallow it.

You won't be able to claim for the cost of your plumber, but the redec claim can be forwarded into the Insurers for consideration. However, as I have said above, they will more than likely defend such a claim unless it can be shown that you have be negligent.