27th October 2018
Q: I own the upstairs flat of a converted house, and the roof is leaking into my flat. Whose responsibility is it to get the roof fixed, and who will pay for the damage to my flat?
A: Unfortunately, water leaks are very common in buildings containing flats. When your upstairs neighbours use washing machines, showers and have radiators, leaks can occur; or in this case when you’re on the top floor the roof will probably be your main worry.
You should look at this problem as you would with any other leak, first find out the cause and what action, if any, you can take to prevent further damage; or if you can even perhaps put a stop to it. In some situations, you may not be able to find the cause of the issue, as water will always travel through the building to find the lowest point before leaking into a flat, so the leak could be coming from above the flat next door but running across the roof into yours.
If your apartment building has a management company, they will take over from this point and do all the leg work once you have reported the issue. However, if you as a group of leaseholders look after the building, then you will have to do the leg work yourself.
Once the source of the leak has been found, you can move on to find out who is responsible for the costs and repairs. Normally the leaseholder will be responsible for pipes in their flat, and any communal pipes or water tanks will be the responsibility of the freeholder or block managers. However, check your lease carefully, because they can vary.
In this situation, your freeholder will be responsible for the repairs as it is the roof, however, it is a good idea to report the leak to your buildings and contents insurers as soon as possible in case a claim needs to be made. Also, with issues concerning a roof leak they will need to be notified right away, and will provide you with a plan of action that you will need to take.
Water leaks are commonly covered by insurance, but there is likely to be an excess payable. The excess on buildings insurance will either be recoverable from the party responsible for the leak or all leaseholders through the service charge depending on the type of claim.
If you are finding yourself in a similar situation then please do get in touch for some initial free impartial advice.