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Stuart J
Stuart J, Solicitor
Category: UK Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 22620
Experience:  PGD Law. 20 years legal profession, 6 as partner in High Street practice
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In the evnt of water damage (non negligent) to a downstairs

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In the evnt of water damage (non negligent) to a downstairs apartment which they claim from insurance, amd I liable to pay the excess on their behalf? Also, as the excess is at quite a high level, in the event that the remedial work does not exceed the excess, and a claim is not made, does the claimant have the duty to ensure that costs for remedial work are not excessive ie:maximising their opportunity as a result of the incident. Can I use my own contractors to resolve the damage?

Thank you for the question. It is my pleasure to help you with this today. Please bear with me if I ask for more information.

How is this non negligent? Do you own upstairs flat?

How did this occur?

How much is the damage costing to fix?

can we have full background please?



Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I own the upstair property which is currently rented out. The leak was as a result of some cracked grouting and gaps in the silicone around the bathtub which was allowing water to escape during bathing/showering. These are original bathrooms as installed by the developer. Current excess on the property insurance is £500. Damage is paint peeling in the downstairs bathroom's ceiling. I am awaiting the cost/quotations from the downsatirs property owner. I believe the damage to be in the region of £50-£100 to make good (quotation from my contractor based on photgraphic evidence). In the event that the downstairs owner tries to claim significantly more than the quotation I have received, what are my rights to contest?

From the fact you have given me, you are not in a strong position
I’m sorry to have to tell you, but that is negligence. It is failure to repair.
You are liable for the cost of repairs to the downstairs flat.
The downstairs people are entitled to be put back into the position that they would have been had the damage/negligence not occurred.
That means that they are entitled to recover from you their policy excess, and if they claim on their own insurance, any increase in premiums.
Indeed, the owners of the downstairs flat do not need to claim on their own insurance because they could sue you personally and you would then have two put it through your own insurance.
You have no right to insist that your contractor does the work, what you can ask for three estimates. You can also ask for your own expert to look at the damage to ascertain the likely cost of making good so that if it comes down to an argument, you have some evidence.
From the description you give, it seems that it is going to be cheaper to simply pay the cost, rather than argue.
If this is the kind of work that does not need a builder to do it, and it is simply redecoration, rather than replastering you might want to make an offer to settle simply to get rid of it.
In cases like this, I never suggest making an offer. I suggest sending a cheque. Armed with a cheque in the hand for some of the amount they want, compared to an argument over the whole of the amount, (and arguments that they may win or lose) the cheque in the hand is a pretty powerful incentive to accept it.
So consider deciding how much you would like to pay the (you need to make it attractive enough) and send it with a covering letter headed “without prejudice save as to costs”. That means that they cannot produce the letter in court as any proof that you admit owing them any money at all.
Tell them in the letter that you are offering this money in full and final settlement of all claims against you, past, present and future, and that by cashing it they accept it as such. Tell them that if they do not accept it, they should return the cheque to you and if they issue legal proceedings, you will defend them on the basis of A, B, C, whatever.
Tell them that if they do not understand the significance of the letter. They should take independent legal advice.
I can tell you this approach works nine times out of 10, provided the offer is reasonable and not derisory.
For legal reasons which I will not bore you with but which go back several hundred years, the cheque must not come from you, but was come from a third party, friend, relative, solicitor, our accountant, neighbour, girlfriend, wife, husband, whoever, just not from you.
Here is some rather heavy reading

if they send the cheque back, you know that they really do mean business.
The amount of the cheque is entirely up to you, but from the figures that you have quoted, it needs to be attractive enough to both them and you to get rid of this issue and my suggestion would be £200.
They are actually also entitled to something for the inconvenience and that is why I have suggested a little more than your estimate.
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