The flat upstairs has flooded mine. Who pays the excess?
My tenant’s upstairs neighbour has flooded their bathroom, and have left me with a soggy ceiling. We’ve had to make a claim on insurance. Who pays the excess?
This is a very common question, and in order to make sure that we can answer it as precisely as possible, we’ve turned to the experts at Property Quote Direct to ‘tap’ into their years of experience in this area!
Water is one of the biggest bugbears in a rental property, and whether a leak comes from a neighboring property, storm damage or a dodgy washing machine, the damage that it can cause can be huge.
In this instance, it is obvious which property is at fault (someone leaving a tap on doesn’t leave much room for dispute!) so arranging who is responsible for the claim isn’t too arduous. But in some cases, picking apart responsibility can be a little trickier. Unfortunately, your neighbours insurance policy will only pay for the damage to your property if you are covered under a block insurance scheme, if not, you will have to make a claim on your own insurance.
As a landlord, you have a legal responsibility to provide a safe, well maintained property for your tenants to live in. Section 11 of the landlord and Tenant Act 1985 details that you have a responsibility for the maintenance of:
- The structure and exterior of the property
- Any installations that provide a supply of water, gas and electricity and for sanitation (including basins, sinks, baths and sanitary conveniences, but not other fixtures, fittings and appliances for making use of the supply of water, gas or electricity)
- Installations within the property that provide heating and heating water.
With this in mind, the ceiling falls under the first point of Section 11, the structure of the property. Therefore, paying the excess would fall to the landlord. This will have many people gnashing their teeth, as obviously, the carelessness of an upstairs neighbor is nothing to do with you or your tenant, why should you have to pay! Do remember though, your insurer will be best placed to manage the chasing of funds in order to handle repairs and actions on your behalf, so whilst it may seem frustrating to have to claim for something that isn’t anything to do with you, realistically it is a far safer policy to hand the risk to your insurers than try and pursue the upstairs landlord for any resolution personally.
When you are faced with something as serious as a collapsing ceiling, it’s likely that there’s also going to be some surrounding damage. Depending on the amount of water ingress, it is possible that you could be looking at new floor coverings, light fittings and furniture, if it belongs to you. Your contents insurance should cover damage to any of these fixtures and fittings, but you will have to make a separate claim for this.
It is also vital to make sure that your tenant has contents insurance in place – your insurance will not cover damage to their personal possessions, so if the ceiling has caved in onto their priceless grand piano, they are going to be left seriously out of pocket. It is not uncommon to ask to see a copy of tenant’s contents insurance upon check in.
It is vitally important to choose the correct policy, for situations just like this. Whilst it can seem attractive to go for a policy with a minimal monthly cost and a sky-high excess, thinking ‘I’ll never need it’, it can be wise to spread your risk a little. No matter how well maintained your property, or careful your tenant, you never know what’s around the corner, or hovering over your head…!
Every situation is different, and whilst the information that Property Quote Direct have provided is suitable for the majority of claims, it would not apply for every incident – after all, no ceiling or bath overflow is ever quite the same!
If you need any further advice on this soggy situation, or help to choose the perfect policy for your property, Property Quote Direct can help provide comprehensive landlord insurance, ensuring that you, your property and your tenants are well protected against life’s little accidents - taking the worry off your shoulders. Contact the team on 0800 515 381 to see how they can help.
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