How to deal with a water leak in a leasehold flat
By Nadeem Hussain, Legal Adviser at [glossary_exclude]LEASE[/glossary_exclude] March 2017 Water leaks are a common problem in buildings containing flats. The...
You should look in your lease to find out if the fix is the freeholder’s responsibility. If the freeholder is responsible then they should try to fix the issue straight away. Write to the freeholder as soon as there is a problem – you can use our Template repair letter.
If the freeholder does not respond, these are the things you can do:
- An action for damages
This is taking the freeholder to court, to get compensation from them for the damage you or your neighbours have suffered. You should get advice from a solicitor before doing this.
For example, if a water leak from a burst pipe was not fixed by the freeholder, and you could not live in your flat for a month, then the compensation could be equivalent to a month’s rent on a similar flat, plus the cost of repairing any damage to your flat and possessions.
- An order for specific performance
This is taking the freeholder to court, to get them to fix the problem. You can do this as well as an action for damages. You should get advice from a solicitor before doing this.
- Self help
If you have contacted your freeholder and asked them to fix a problem, and they then do not fix it, you have a right to arrange for this to be fixed, and to then claim the money back from the freeholder. You will need to take the following steps:
- Tell the freeholder of your intention to take this action if the repairs are not carried out.
- Allow the freeholder a reasonable time to do the repair.
- Get three estimates for the cost of carrying out the repair. Send copies to the freeholder with a final warning that you will be arranging for the repairs to be carried out.
- Engage the contractor with the lowest price and have the work carried out. You will need to pay the contractor yourself.
- Send a copy of the contractor’s invoice to the freeholder, asking for the cost to be paid back to you.
- If the freeholder does not pay you back, you should take the amount owed from future service charge payments.
For example, if you did self help to repair the roof of your building, and it cost you £500, then you could take that out of the next service charges bill. If the service charge bill was £800 then you would pay just £300.
Before using this right you should check if the lease has a clause that says rent must be paid in full without any deduction or set off. If it does have a clause like that then you will not be able to do self help.
- Apply to the First-tier Tribunal for the appointment of a manager
A manager can be appointed by the tribunal to take over the management of the building. They are given directions by the tribunal, for example to carry out repairs. They will be expected to follow professional codes of best practice to manage the building in the interests of all. If you want to apply to appoint a manager, you can start by sending notice to the freeholder. Use our Template preliminary notice – application for the appointment of a manager.
More information you might find useful:
- Case study – disrepair
- Case study – self-help (fixing an issue that is the responsibility of the freeholder)
- What does appointing a manager mean?
- Service charges and other issues
- More Frequently Asked Questions on Service Charges
Still not found the answer?
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