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Question

During the Tenancy (England) | England | Periodic and Other Visits (England)

Escape of water at property. Landlord’s obligations

12 Nov 2021 | 1 comment

I had a call at 07:50 this morning from the father of a tenant whose upstairs bathroom basin pipe perished last night and hot water was escaping for apparently 45 minutes.

The water has soaked the tenant’s sofa and mac laptop and the father is jumping up and down demanding alternative accommodation for the daughter. The landlord attended this morning and has hired a dehumidifier to start the drying out process. He will arrange for a replacement basin/pipework to be fitted.

The father is demanding I call him this evening but he isn’t on the tenancy agreement, so the landlord has said not to deal with him, just the tenant. The landlord has given his number to both tenant and landlord if they want to discuss the issue.

The landlord’s insurance covers the building  but as your agreements state, the tenant should take out their own contents insurance. Is the landlord liable to replace items damaged by the escape of water?

The landlord is asking why the tenant didn’t call me yesterday when the leak first happened as I/we could have told her where to turn the water off and perhaps got an emergency plumber round that evening.

As for emergency accommodation, there is nothing in the agreement offering this and as the bedroom is fine, the cooker and WC is still operational, does a wet sofa qualify for providing alternative accommodation?

The father wants my opinion on who is responsible. I don’t want to go back to him without getting some advice please 🙂

Answer

1 Comment

  1. guildy

    There’s certainly no need to be calling in the evening! You can choose to only deal with the tenant if preferred.

    From what’s described, there’s certainly no requirement to provide alternative accommodation. That being said if the buildings insurance includes it and a claim is being made for the repair, it could be mentioned to them that the tenant has asked. That way it’s the insurance companies decision not yours.

    Assuming there was no previous mention of a leak and there was no negligence causing the pipe leak, the duty to repair only arises once notice of the defect has been given (only just now). There’s still no breach as long as the repair is carried out “with reasonable expedition”. As there’s no breach, there’s no compensation payable.

    As you say, the tenancy is clear that they are advised to get insurance and that’s for exactly this reason.

    This is an almost identical case to O’Brien v Robinson and is worth a read.

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