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aimee | 00:12 Tue 19th Dec 2006 | Law
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The tennant in my flat let the bath overflow and flooded the flat below, causing damage to the carpets and the lighting circuits of the neighbour.

The tennant claims the overflow on the bath is blocked which caused the flooding, but I think he shouldn't have left it unattended.

Who is liable for the costs? Do you claim from contents or buildings insurance?

Please help!!

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I would think its contents insurance and he is responsible for the claim. I would also say he is responsible for the overflow as part of the fixtures and fittings. If the flow of water is considerably fast then no overflow would be able to stop the water to a rate that it would never overflow.
Question Author
Thanks Mrs Pegasus (when you say he, do you mean my tennant or the person who lives below?).

His (my tennant's) contents insurance will only cover the contents of the flat he is renting - not the flat downstairs contents.
Irrespective of whether there's any insurance in place, anyone who suffers loss or damage, through the negligence of another person, is entitled to claim (and receive) compensation from that person. (If there's no negligence or intent involved, then no claim can succeed).

Your tenant is effectively claiming that you were negligent for failing to unblock the bath overflow. However, unless you had previously been made aware of the problem, he almost certainly hasn't got a leg to stand on.

You, on the other hand, are claiming that he was negligent for failing to keep a check on the water level. If the relative merits of your arguments were to be tested in a court of law, I'm sure that you would be the victor.

That means that it is the tenant who is responsible for paying for your neighbour's repairs. If he hasn't got insurance to cover it, he will be obliged to find the money out of his own pocket.

That's a summary of the legal position but, as far as retaining good relations between yourself and the neighbour are concerned, it might not represent the most practical way of dealing with the problem. i.e. if the tenant has no insurance and a zero bank balance, the neighbour still won't get the repairs paid for, even though he has a legal right to receive compensation from the tenant.

It might be worth having a word with your insurers. They might consider a claim under the 'third party' provisions of your insurance. (It's more likely to be the buildings insurance than the contents insurance). However, if they did so, they would be entitled to make a claim (through the courts if necessary) against the tenant, to attempt to get the money from him.

Chris
Question Author
Thank Chris - that is very helpful. I share the buildings insurance with the flat downstairs as we own a share of the freehold and my tenant should have their own contents insurance (to cover their belongings). Presumably if the buildings insurance pays for the damage then if there is an excess, I will remove it from my tenants deposit.

It just frustrating that we (the flat down stairs and myself) will have to pay via our insurance which affects our premium.
Just a quick add to Chris.
I had a flat that wasn't freehold but leasehold. That meant I was responsible for the contents but the management company had to have in place the buildings insurance.
I did have a similar situation with the bath leaking and contents wouldn't pay it had to be a buildings insurance claim so who owns the freehold of your property that you pay your maintenance to?
More complicated was the fact that we all owned 10% of the freehold in my case.
* sorry, just realised you pay with your neighbour the buildings insurance....
I don't know whether this claim will be covered under contents or buildings, but most contents policies include a provsion covering the insured's legal liability arising from occupation of the property. It seems to me this sort of thing (i.e. he is liable because he has been negligent) might well be covered in that way.
1 aimee, did you reach a conclusion?

2 A similar situation:
The bath in my flat has been overfilled and flooded last week, possibly damaging electrics and certainly damaging plaster in ceiling and walls of the downstairs (unoccupied) shop unit.

The landlord of my flat is also the landlord of the shop below.

I had alerted the landlord to the slow drainage of the bath some four months previously*.

I attribute the overflow and flood to the poor drainage as the water coming out of the taps was no torrent.

The shop was flooded two weeks previously by a leak from the poorly installed washing machine in my flat. The ceilings were damaged. Thus some of the repair work engendered by the bath flooding would have had to be carried out irrespective of the later, bath, flood.

The landlord made no claim on me the tenant for the first flood, yet is asking for compensation for the second. I intend to dispute this.

*
The bath drains extremely slowly (and has since day one).
Even a short shower entails standing in three inches of
water. I suspect that this is due to builders' detritus
making a partial blockage someway down the waste pipe.
This could/will become progressively worse and possibly
lead to blockage, leakage and rot.

quote from email sent to landlord re poorly draining bath
Question Author
Was the plug in when it flooded? In my case the tenant had walked away and forgotten about the bath which was running (with plug in) so he was liable for the damage to the downstairs flat. However he resolved in amicably with the girl downstairs. Electrics tend to dry out and work ok. Carpets can be cleaned and a dehumidifer works well.

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