13 January 2022

Who is responsible for fixing a leak in a rental flat?

What should I do if there is a leak coming through the floor of my upstairs neighbour’s flat, but I cannot contact them? James Carpenter answers the reader’s question in The Sunday Times.

“I’m unclear on how to tackle this: it seems as if they can get away with damaging my property…”

Property Litigation Associate, James Carpenter, answers the reader’s question in the Home section of The Times on how to deal with a leak from an upstairs neighbour’s flat when you cannot contact them to alert them to the issue.

James outlines that the most effective response would be to take action against the freeholder of the block, as the freeholder is the landlord of both the reader and the neighbour.

The terms of the reader’s lease should oblige the freeholder to enforce covenants in the leases of its other tenants. As such, the reader should write to the freeholder, to demand that they force the neighbour to remedy the leak, or, failing that, carry out the work themselves. If the freeholder fails to take action, they will be liable to the reader in damages.

The reader may also have claims against the neighbour and his subtenant in the tort of nuisance, but as this is a specialist area, the reader should take legal advice.

In the meantime, James advises that the reader continues in their efforts to contact the neighbour and its sub-tenant to alert them to the issue.

Read the answer in full here, behind the newspaper’s paywall.

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