Dispute with other leaseholder over roof repair costs

**I need some advise over dispute with upstairs flat leaseholder. I own ground floor flat /leaseholder (its a residential house convert to 2 flats) and according to the lease the structural repair responsibility is shared between us as leaseholders (Freeholder is a private owner and we pay just ground rent). We had a roof leak last year, through couple of broken roof tiles and hole in the membrane. Upstairs leaseholder demanded several thousands to repair a section of the roof and suggested changing the whole roof, and demanded my half contribution for this and for the internal plasterwork repair from the leak. I disagreed and got my own quotes from credible roofers I found online. Upstairs leaseholder refused to accept my roof repair quotes despite their credibility and the quote ranged to only couple of hundred pounds (to put new roof tiles in the damaged area and repair the hole in the membrane). After not hearing from her for a year, she has returned now and pursuing me again for the roof repair (apparently another leak happened now 1 year later) for several thousand pounds and I found out the roofing contractor she wanted to use last year and again now is owned by people with the same surname as hers (I suspect it’s her parents/sibling); they quoted her nearly £3k for the roof repair and nearly £10k for new roof. She is apparently a solicitor and doing what she wants and hasn’t bothered to take my quotes into consideration. She provided additional quotes and one of them around £500 and I agreed to use that roofer and again she ignored my request and wants to use that same roofer for several thousand pounds. What can I do? She even demanded I contact my landlord insurance and make a claim under my policy. Why would I do that when roof repair should cost only couple of hundred pounds instead of using her roofer for several thousand pounds - what can I do here? I don’t want to be landed with a bill for thousands and I suspect fraud. Also am I liable to pay towards plasterwork repair in upstairs flat ceiling?

Just do the same thing. Tell her the quote is too expensive and you will get some alternatives. At the end of the day she can’t force you to pay an inflated quote.

So, most likely she has nothing to do with it. The freeholder is most likely the person who needs to get involved. Check your leasehold.

Secondly, there should be a building’s insurance to deal with her flat’s issues. Request access to assess and document the damage if she insists

Thirdly, write to her and demand to know if the company who carried out the quotes is owned or run by friends or relatives to her. I would report her the the solicitor’s regulatory body if she behaves dishonestly

Lastly, and most importantly, Google section 20 leasehold. There is a maximum amount the freeholder can decide to make repairs before they need to follow a statutory procedure (£250 per annum I think).

She has no standing as a leaseholder.

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she is trying to rip you off .Stand up to her do what PER suggests. The leaseholder cannot make another leaseholder pay for it . it has to be the Freeholder . Keep a record of all that happens and is said Keep all quotes provided. and build your case

If I was a rogue In the upstairs flat I would get a quote ,say its 10k for the job .I would tell the downstairs nice party ,that the quote was 20k and get an invoice to "prove"it. That would mean that the downstairs person pays it all. This is of course a imaginary senario. with imaginary figures. I cannot see a solicitor being a rogue tho . We all know they are upright and honest.!!!

I would advise against you chasing your insurance company for a claim at this point.
They are most likely going to send round someone who will inspect and state that that it will be either a pre-existing condition or natural breakdown of materials (aka wear and tear).
Maybe they chased their insurance company previously but managed to get their interior repaired under Accidental Damage previously. If they did and got paid they should have fixed the repair properly and should not be now chasing you for recompense. If that did happen then they cannot chase you for issues now.
I thought whomever has 100% use of the loft space in a shared accommodation is the person responsible for the roof?
Maybe check your title deeds and where your boundary lies, it may be possible you are not responsible for the roof materials.
If the lease says structural, you may wish to check that includes the wording ‘roof materials’, sounds pedantic, but structural is more, stuff that holds other stuff up.
If materials are not mentioned it will be inferred and not specifically noted, meaning you might be able to argue that roof materials are not part of the ‘structure’ of the house.
If it is a couple of cracked tiles, and the condition of the roof is good, then it is repairable and a quote for £200-£500 sounds about right depending on the contractor with a ladder, location of the damage, i.e. not under a glass conservatory or near power lines.
If it is accessible then you get a guy with a ladder and roof ladder and a matching tile and a piece of membrane and the job will get done in 2-3 hours at £60-120 labour per hour with £12 for the tile and £5 for the membrane*.
*If the membrane is not bitumen based.
If it is bitumen based and the house is pre 1999, then you may have asbestos contained materials aka ACM’s.
This then becomes a slightly more costly affair. So much so, the roof may need to be replaced if someone has split the membrane deliberately or by accident as the asbestos fibres will have been released. Proving deliberate damage is another matter. And this scenario is worst case.
You can repair bitumen membrane as long as you do not disturb or release and ACM fibres. Please bear in mind that pre 1999 there is a higher probability of ACM than after.
If the roof and ‘area of concern’ (aka the damage) is not accessible (e.g. directly under a glass conservatory) then you have to get a tower at whatever the day rate would be for the tower and you have to take into account the assemble and disassemble of the tower including the time to do the work. This can run from £400-£1500.
Thankfully you said you do not have a slate roof. If you had then you have a worse problem as repair work depends on the contractor. If you see a person with a sealant gun and a slate tell them ‘politely’ to go away.
If you see person with matching clothing and a well kept van and mentions Slate straps or ‘tingles’, then you have the right person for a mid priced job.
If you have someone who says they condemn the roof without even looking at it then they are chancers and ignore any quote.
You should be well within your rights to disagree with a quote if you think it is too high, never agree to works if you feel it is over priced and never agree with a solicitor without saying or writing “without prejudice” first and make sure if you do agree to anything make sure you state, as a “gesture of goodwill”. Meaning you disagree, but to keep the peace, you are offering a small token to help them out.

Don’t be intimidated by them being a solicitor. Their speciality may not be in this area of law, and if they are, they may go to extremes but will cave in before they meet the judge, as has happened with other solicitors in similar situations. Just follow the advice already given, keep detailed records and dated notes of conversations, and you should be okay. Find a way to relax when stressed. Hopefully with the advice given, no need to stress.

You certainly thought wrong. So you thought the individual who buys the top floor flat on how own needs to maintain roof, flashing, gutters and therefore be responsible for water ingress in the whole building?

You are giving advice that is dubious. You’re mixing responsibilities of leaseholder and freeholder without knowing what is what.

Hi, thank you for your roasting.

Firstly. It was posed as a question and not a statement, and that should have clearly indicated to you (via the question mark - ?) that I was unsure and certainly not a statement or considered advice.
If it was taken as advice I would like to provide a disclaimer and apology for any misunderstanding that it was meant as a question and not advice.
This is why I qualified my question with a suggestion to check the deeds.

Secondly water ingress is not exclusive to joint parties as proof would be required first to ascertain the source and cause first. Water ingress is a description of an insured peril. Proving the insured peril is another thing. Proving blame to a joint party is even harder if the cause cannot be found.
If it is wear and tear or pre existing then insurance will not cover it, i.e. declined, especially if there exclusions to the policy.
If it is damage caused by the person on the top floor then they would be liable for the repair. Unless you feel that would be unfair and considered joint venture?
If there is joint venture in repairs the extent would be what the lease deeds would suggest. If there is any ambiguity or inferred liability for the person on the ground floor, there maybe chance to deny excessive repair costs or them altogether.
Update on my ignorance on Freehold vs Leasehold.
Having now Googled “leasehold, who owns roof”, the link I found suggests that a freeholder is responsible for structure issue inc roofs etc unless stated otherwise in the lease or deeds.

Per is correct .If the damp proof course in ground floor flat needs replacing ALL share the cost

I wrote to the leaseholder that I am under no obligation to pay the more expensive quote. She just replied as below:
“Having consulted with my insurance company with regard to your position in your email below, I am advised to proceed with Company X Roofing’s instruction and request your insurer’s details. Please provide these by 4pm on Friday 15 October. In the event that you refuse, my insurer have advised that the matter will be passed to their recoveries team. I hope that this will not be necessary and instead that this matter can be resolved amicably so as to reset the tone of our on-going relationship as co-leasees of ***** flat”

This is what my lease says in terms of repair responsibilities etc

And this

Can her insurance company really do as she claims?

So, your images relate to landlord - tenant, i.e. freeholder and leaseholder. She has no standing

Yes, you are liable to pay but not on a whim. Anything exceeding a certain amount does need to follow statutory guidelines, this means she cannot (even if she is the freeholder) carry out expensive works without consultation (see my earlier quote).

So, I have dealt with lots of these people before. I would write to her in a similar manner to this

Dear Madam,
Please note that I am not taking responsibility for any of the issues with the roof you have mentioned. Please provide me with documentation that you are acting for the freeholder. I am not aware of the freeholder having carried out a consultation in accordance with section 20 of the leasehold act.

Please note that you are to cease and desist all communications with me on this matter. Should you wish to contact me you are commanded to instruct an independent solicitor to do so.

I am noting, with some surprise, that your conduct in this matter falls short of what is expected of the SRA.

Yours sincerely,
Xx

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Good thing is: if she has contacted the insurance company the only thing you’ll pay is the deductible.

Make sure this is only paid once works are complete and inspected.

But the upstairs leaseholder wants me to instruct my insurance company as well and I am not sure if insurance will cover under storm damage and its not sensible to make a claim under my insurance when the cost of repair should be couple of hundreds. This was the leaseholder’s full email response:

"As you rightly point out, we have a joint responsibility for the roof. It therefore follows that we each bear responsibility to mitigate risk.

On 10/08 you insisted I obtain relevant quotes and supportive evidence for remedial repair work to the roof at 101/101a Crofton Road to enable each of us make separate insurance claims with our respective insurers and cite storm damage as the cause. You informed me on the same date that you would notify your insurer, have you? Insurers require to be advised immediately of a claim otherwise they may be invalid.

Following receipt of the quotes and supportive photographic and video evidence, on 16/09 you confirmed your consent to XXX on the basis of quote amount only rather than reference to the work itself, which differs to that of both Resilient, Homecraft, and Supreme O Roofing. I infer from this that the impact on your future insurance premium is your primary consideration.

You are aware that on 04/10 my insurance company confirmed their agreement to the work as detailed in the Resilient Roofing quote and approved their instruction.

Having consulted with my insurance company with regard to your position in your email below, I am advised to proceed with Company X Roofing’s instruction and request your insurer’s details. Please provide these by 4pm on Friday 15 October. In the event that you refuse, my insurer have advised that the matter will be passed to their recoveries team. I hope that this will not be necessary and instead that this matter can be resolved amicably so as to reset the tone of our on-going relationship as co-leasees of ***** flat”

There are bunch of lies in here because I have leaseholder’s email from last year responding to my insurer directly and they couldn’t get hold of her insurance or the roofing contractor she wanted to use. I raised the claim as she sent me a quote for >£4k for roof repair last year. Only when I got my own reputable roofer quotes I realised >£4k is unreasonable. Should I mention about the contractor she wants to use having the same surname and suspect they are her parents/sibling? and whether she declared this to her insurer

Can I actually verify if there is indeed a roof leak and damage? Its all been via email and whatsapp and she hasn’t provided access to the flat and claimed her tenant was self isolating last year for an operation when I requested access

When was the last time the building was inspected and a report made?
When was the last time repairs or maintenance carried out on the building or roof?
How big is your buildings insurance excess?
From my perspective, you would only really want the insurance company to get involved if the damage is greater than your bank account will allow.
The initial sentence is technically correct, if there is responsibility on your part to jointly repair issues to the building, and if they have made a claim then, and if there is a possibility that you have insurance coverage then you should instruct your insurance company as well to mitigate your costs. Unless you have the cash to pay for the issues without the requirement of going through your insurance company.
But that’s a lot of ifs.

Sounds like they are just trying to bully you into something, don’t let them. Claiming that the recoveries team has been actioned means very little and they would need to prove you are liable for the actual recoverable damage. If you insurance policy does not cover you for betterment, which is likely, then it will and should cover like for like repairs. So they should not be able to chase you for more than the damage caused. Like Per mentions.

As you mentioned, I would indeed ask for evidence of the damage, the cause and their claims. You are entitled to see the roof and any interior damage that back up their claims.
If they cannot provide it you may wish to get your own building surveyor out to collect the evidence for yourself.

Looks like you are responsible for repairs and maintenance equally, but it does not mention anything about arguing over costing for those repairs. Which you are entitled to do.
If you were handy and had a ladder could you do these yourself and not have to pay out for expensive third party contractors if the cause of the damage means you are liable.

If they have made any of that up and there is potential fraud involved you will want to cover yourself and any potential liability toward that.
Either yellow pages for a surveyor, or you could contact your insurance company and make a claim. That may affect your policy renewal premium for next year.
Have you got any insurance cover for disputes?
You may wish to let them deal with it if you have?
If you make a claim on your buildings insurance, your insurance company might send third party surveyor to validate your claim.
Basically a person with a measuring tape, a phone, a camera on a very long pole.
If the claim is for Storm, they will need to see dislodged tiles from the roof and then water ingress into the property which would be consistent with one and another. Like a domino affect. Storm hits roof, damages tiles, leads to a one off water ingress.
If there is no storm damage outside, i.e. dislodged tiles, ripped up lead work etc. the roof will be declined and the interior will only be covered under Accidental Damage (A/D) as a water ingress and not a storm peril.
Unless they have exclusions which also state they are not covered for water ingress. Then the claim will be declined.

If they have asked their insurance company to access the damage and they have accepted the claim, you will need to see proof that this actually happened and the report that generated from the claim.
This is something to do with burden of proof. They seem to be asserting something without providing sufficient evidence.
You are entitled to see the evidence, they claim, which backs up the quotes and claims they have allegedly received.
Even if a recoveries team has been actioned, which implies the insurance company have accepted the claim, if you are in dispute with the other person the insurance company should not be able to proceed until they have satisfied you with the requests you have made.