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I rent out a first floor flat. The management company of the building tell me that a leak from the boiler condensation pipe  has caused some damage to the flat below and although covered by insurance there is a 500GBP excess that I will be liable for. The management company took 21 days to contact me following notification from the flat below and it was sorted within a couple of day of them notifying me. My questions are 1) should I be expected to pay this as they did not notify timeously? and 2) should the tenant bear some responsibility for ensuring everything is OK and notifying me if not? The Gas Safety check was done in June 2020 and all was OK and in January 2021 the expansion vessel on the boiler was. recharged and leak sealer added to the system so it is not that this boiler has been neglected or lacked maintenance. live in another country and it seems harsh that I should have to pay for others mistakes. Any advice, opinions would be appreciated.

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Your liability depends entirely on wether you have been negligent. 

My understanding is that boiler condensation pipes leak a small amount of water normally......that's design intent. If the leak was greater than normal but you have had checks / adjustments carried out in line with recommended maintenance requirements and the leak was a result of a gradual, unforseen failure then you have not acted negligently.

You are not responsible for gravity. 

Ask  the management company to explain why they think you have been negligent. Respond to them with dates of maintenance and dispute their claim.

 

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Condensate is acidic and so corrosive, but even so I would be surprised if the leak would cause serious damage. More often these sorts of stains are dealt with by a coat of undercoat followed by emulsion, not usually near the excess cost never mind whatever the claim is for.

I would want to interrogate this. But if the mismanagement company are Comptons they don't discuss and enjoy ramping up the charges via their 'not' in house solicitor who works for them.

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One thing I learnt about leasehold buildings insurance is this......

The lease will contain an obligation for the service charges/ management company to arrange buildings insurance. Often, in order to keep the premiums as low as possible they agree to having an excess..... £500 excess is not unusual. However, the lease requires them to effect full buildings Insurance for the leaseholders. It does not permit them to effect partial buildings insurance where the leasehold has to pay a £500 excess. Therefore should a leaseholder need to claim on the b/insurance then the excess should be reimbursed to them by the management company from the service charge account.

If you are a leaseholder......don't just pay the insurance excess without checking if you are legally required to do so.

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1 hour ago, Richlist said:

One thing I learnt about leasehold buildings insurance is this......

The lease will contain an obligation for the service charges/ management company to arrange buildings insurance. Often, in order to keep the premiums as low as possible they agree to having an excess..... £500 excess is not unusual. However, the lease requires them to effect full buildings Insurance for the leaseholders. It does not permit them to effect partial buildings insurance where the leasehold has to pay a £500 excess. Therefore should a leaseholder need to claim on the b/insurance then the excess should be reimbursed to them by the management company from the service charge account.

If you are a leaseholder......don't just pay the insurance excess without checking if you are legally required to do so.

Thank you for this info, I have requested a copy of the insurance.

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Thanks for the replies. Bit more info to add to my original post. The management company were advised on 17th March the lower flat had a leak. I was only contacted on 7th April and arranged to allow access for it to be checked within a couple of days. My tenants tell me the plumber came in and said it was the condensate pipe and fixed and sealed it in 10 mins. Although my tenants were present they did not actually see the detached pipe and they tell me a few days before this there was a lot of noise from work being done in the flat below by the plumber who subsequently checked our boiler and said there was a leak, it was was so bad it caused my flat to vibrate and shoes fell off shoe racks  We said this vibration must have caused the pipe to become detached but the management company said this noise was caused by the plumbers investigating the leak. I have not been shown any photographic evidence of my boiler being at fault and in fact any work they did to ‘fix’ it was not done with my consent as I had only agreed to let them in to inspect. They have not claimed I have been negligent but obviously are expecting me to pay out up to 500GBP for so called remedial work.

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You are only responsible if you have been negligent.

A pipe falling off doesn't sound like thats you being negligent. 

You are innocent until proven guilty. It's up to them to prove your guilt not up to you to prove you're innocent.

Of course they are going to try it on....... you need to fight your corner. Bag the issue back to them and ask them to prove negligence.

Do you have a lettings agents dealing with the property for you ?

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55 minutes ago, Richlist said:

You are only responsible if you have been negligent.

A pipe falling off doesn't sound like thats you being negligent. 

You are innocent until proven guilty. It's up to them to prove your guilt not up to you to prove you're innocent.

Of course they are going to try it on....... you need to fight your corner. Bag the issue back to them and ask them to prove negligence.

Do you have a lettings agents dealing with the property for you ?

Yes we do have a letting agent who has said they shouldn’t have done any repairs without their or my authorization. 

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4 hours ago, Richlist said:

One thing I learnt about leasehold buildings insurance is this......

The lease will contain an obligation for the service charges/ management company to arrange buildings insurance. Often, in order to keep the premiums as low as possible they agree to having an excess..... £500 excess is not unusual. However, the lease requires them to effect full buildings Insurance for the leaseholders. It does not permit them to effect partial buildings insurance where the leasehold has to pay a £500 excess. Therefore should a leaseholder need to claim on the b/insurance then the excess should be reimbursed to them by the management company from the service charge account.

If you are a leaseholder......don't just pay the insurance excess without checking if you are legally required to do so.

I have now received the policy, it is in the name of the company formed by the leaseholders and shows the excess of 500GBP, the policy wording is

“The EXCESS stated in the CERTIFICATE OF INSURANCE applied separately to each EVENT at each separate PREMISES”

I’m not sure this means each leaseholder is liable or that the excess is applied to each event that happens at each separate premises, so if a leak affects two flats then there will be 2 excesses applied. What does anyone think?

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I don't see what this has to do with the original question.

You haven't mentioned damage to your property only to the flat below. We can only comment on the information you provide. That insurance policy looks pretty standard to my inexperienced eye.

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There is no damage to my property, when I mentioned damage to two properties  it was an example to try to decipher what the policy wording meant. I have not been shown the damage to the flat below only that they will get a quote and send me the bill. I included the info re the insurance for advice as I was advised to check it to see who should pay the excess.  I'm still not sure who should pay the excess based on the wording of the policy and hoping someone might advise before I go back to the management company. 

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If there is a policy excess it would be paid by the person making the claim i.e. your neighbour in the flat below who has incurred the damage. If you had been negligent it would be your responsibility to reimburse your neighbour for the excess they have paid. So, any payment that's necessary on your part hinges on wether you have been negligent. Nothing in this thread suggest you are responsible so ask the management company to prove your negligence.

As a side issue Im suggesting that someone checks the wording of the lease because it may be that the insurance excess should be refunded from the service charge account held by the management company.

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  • 4 weeks later...

The person making the claim would pay the insurance excess. If you do anything that gives the insurance company reason to doubt that the loss occurred exactly as you state, the insurance company has the power to deny your claim outright, and they may be justified in doing so. By keeping the broken plumbing parts, you can preserve your proof.

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