A frustrated tenant in a housing association managed flat got in touch with us to seek our advice regarding a leak they had coming from the property above them. They were struggling to identify who was to blame and resolve the problem. Here is what our team of property solicitors advised:
Q. We are private tenants in a block managed by a housing association. Our landlady and the people living upstairs have bought their flats and there is a bad leak coming from the floor above into our bathroom.
The housing association will not speak to us as we are private tenants, whereas the neighbour upstairs does not know where the leak is coming from.
Our landlady is being very slow to respond. How can we get this sorted? It appears to be a structural issue, rather than a problem with the upstairs flat. Can we withhold our rent to encourage our landlady to fix the leak more quickly?
A. Your landlady has sublet the flat to you, presumably with the consent of the freeholder. Though she is not occupying the flat, she is still bound by the terms of her lease. You will have a written tenancy agreement with your landlady who should deal with her responsibility for repairs, and you will be required to report necessary repairs to her.
The freeholder of the block will be responsible for the common parts, structure and exterior of the building. Under the terms of her lease, your landlady will be obliged to report matters needing repair to the freeholder.
Write and/or email her and the housing association explaining the problem and copying in your neighbour. If there is no response, write and/email again, keeping copies.
The problem may be covered by building’s insurance so ask your landlady to check. If your belongings are damaged, this may be covered under your content’s insurance. Do not withhold rent if your landlady fails to organise repairs as she could apply to a court to evict you.
You could carry out minor repairs and claim back the cost, but that may not be possible without accessing the other flat.
Report the matter to environmental health, if the leak affects your health, or take court action against the relevant parties to ensure the repairs are done.
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