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Replaces previous post - Freehold coastal flat - Water ingress for a year

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Started in heavy rain Jan 2012, just after moving in and expensive refurbishment. Damp patches appeared in one room (wall/ceiling adjacent to external wall)

Managing agents (who need agreement from the directors of theFreeholders' Association) said would deal with when weather better. They said was due to lintels. In April got 'maintenance men' to replace a line of bricks.

Next big storm October, water ingress even worse with water dripping from ceiling/and plaster over window surrounds in 2 rooms. Managing Agent said would discuss with Directors. No immediate response or action.

Spoke to legal advisor at my contents insurer. With their help wrote letter saying would hold them responsible for damage to my contents as previous repair unsuccessful. Reminded them the lease stated they had to maintain the external walls properly etc. And asked for protective measures to be taken immediately such protective sheeting on wall outside. And getting in professional property surveyors to assess.

More storms, leaking worsens, chase agents. They get in 2 men who had 'done work on similar problem', to put up band of sheeting outside my flat (nailed into wooden batons? But no surveyors brought in.

More storms, November/December and continuing almost daily. Water now dripping along most of ceiling in 2 rooms, and damp patch in third getting bigger and will no doubt soon drip. I wonder whether the wind is even driving water through the nail holes in the wood batons!

Agent now says many flats on coast had problems last week, and if building has a defect not covered by insurance. And as storms this bad are only every 15 years or so they are not planning to rip out bricks to waterproof walls.

Meanwhile I have 2 bedrooms unusable. Extensive damp, mould or mildew, and have had to remove expensive curtains as were getting stained, so no curtains and very cold draughts from windows. I was sleeping in one of these rooms following major operation as main bedroom bed not firm enough and nurse had put frame on bed to assist getting out of bed. Had to move out as water dripping 1 foot from my head! And my husband has been in bed with bad cold/infection for a week not helped by all of this.

Have checked with block's insurance, they say no claim received from agents. My insurance say i have to take action to limit any risk of potential damage to contents but refuse to specify exactly what i have to do. I pushed them and they even suggested i should pay for a surveyor to assess the external wall (could be from anywhere in a 10 storey block!), and i should get someone in to protect my flat from further damage (you can't stop water coming into a flat, unless you repair the external problem!). What I have to spend thousands of pounds on work the freeholder's association should be undertaking!?

I have bombarded the agent with emails and photos and a video, with copies to the chairman of the freeholders association committee (who hasn't even bothered to come and look)

I don't know what to do. i have about 10 plastic containers dotted around the affected areas. Plastic sheets on the floor etc. But the leaks and drips keep moving. The newly recorated and replastered walls, ceilings, window sills and a cupboard are all getting ruined. Soon it will be the new carpets and large wall fitted sideboard. Maybe the new wall fitted TVs. I can see potential for £10/£20k damage.

I have withheld half of the service charge (which i believe i may not be entitled to do, anyway it's little compared to the cost of the damage). We cannot have friends or family visiting (we live 100 miles away from them now), as we have lost the use of 2 rooms. And although recovering from 2 major ops i am suffering all the upset and stress and spending half my time cleaning, mopping up, washing cloths, writing to the agents etc.

And we are due to be away for a week soon. So with no-one to empty containers and watch for new leaks, there will be damage.

HELP. What do I do?

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1. Contact the environmental health depatment of your local council.

2. Seek legal advice as you may be entitled to alternative accomodation.

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Thanks Richlist. I don.t think it's bad enough yet for your suggested measures. Managing Agents are now due to put up scaffolding in February and do work in March subject to weather conditions. Hopefully the cracks won't get any worse and my preventative sheeting etc will stop any damage to my contents.

But it's unbelievable that my content insurance are suggesting I may not be covered because the problem has gone on too long (not my fault!), and the block's insurance are saying the same. Suppose I just have to fight them if it comes to that.

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