Help! Leak from above- Landlord ignoring

Hi everyone,
I am really hoping someone can help before my ceiling falls in!!
My tenants have water coming through their ceiling. I reported this to the landlord upstairs a few weeks ago & he said his tenants didn’t have a leak. I went to the flat yesterday & my ceiling is ruined & I’ve had to remove plasterboard and can see water coming from above.
A plumber has said that if there is no obvious leak, it could be damaged pipes in the screed of his floor which would need digging up.
The landlord upstairs is now ignoring all calls and texts so I have no idea what to do.
If the leak continues my whole ceiling is likely to cave in & even if I got that fixed, it doesn’t stop the leak so would just keep happening!
I have been in the flat upstairs myself & cant find water anywhere.
Without the landlord upstairs calling a plumber what can I do? Do I just have to get a plumber out to fix it and bear the cost because he won’t respond to get this fixed? Surely this can’t be the case?
Any advise would be greatly received!
Thank you
Ps I have informed the managing agent who have said it’s nothing to do with them as it’s within the flat, not communal area.

Carina you say “my tenants have water coming thru” .do you mean a landlord upstairs has tenants and you own the flat below?In that case you should report to local council, , get a solicitors letter to that landlord telling him you will sue him for compensation. Take pictures, keep a record of all communication… Some managing agents only do look after just the communal areas

Hi Colin,
Thank you for your reply.
Yes I own the ground floor flat and the leak is coming from the middle floor flat into mine.
The tenants in the middle floor have had their washing machine out etc to check there is no leak and can’t find anything so really we need a plumber to locate where it could be coming from to stop it.
The landlord that owns the flat above mine is ignoring everyone’s calls and messages so it looks like I will have to get a plumber out at my own cost.
Someone has suggested it could be damaged pipes under his screed so I would also have to pay to have this dug up if that’s the case but then wonder if I’m liable for damage to his flat.
If he refuses to answer calls I’m at a loss as to how I get the issue resolved without fixing it out of my pocket, paying to also have his flat fixed up and trying to get the money back through the small claims court.

got it He is totally liable .You will have to get a solicitor involved. He will send a letter to the landlord. If no response and you have to pay to get it done. Then it is all costs down to the Landlord above and compensation to you. If he does not pay a charge can be put on the property in your favour so if ever sold you get paid first. keep pictures and record of all events PS dont do anything without checking with a solicitor first

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Thank you so much Colin, this is really helpful.

If the block of flats has an apartment committee that looks after the grounds, common areas and the structure (forgotten the name for such), contact them as they may have responsibility. Equivalent to a leasehold management company.

Good luck

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john 45 I bought a flat for my daughter and I had previously done work for the management company on their other properties. I checked on the one I had bought and all internals the owners paid for, the externals the management company had the responsibility for… Though it may vary across the board… When carina bought the place the lease and detiails of what they should handle may have been in the legal pack

Thanks Colin3. My only experience is two-fold:

  • I and my neighbours sacked our management company: their only responsibility was to maintain our side roads
  • I nearly bought a flat for myself many years ago. The management company had boosted it’s charges well in excess of inflation over the previous few years and a tenant explained to me that they were changing all the windows without tenant consent.

So I have no idea as to what is normal in a block of flats!

My current situation as a tenant: the structure (not apartment entrance doors and apartment windows), common areas and grounds, including my letter-box, parking and drives are maintained by the equivalent of a management company, with members forming the management committee, and presumably they appointed the Facilities Manager years ago who also has his apartment in our block.

I was fortunate in that I had worked as a builder in the repairs to their properties and I knew they were fair in their charges. I also got to learn a little about their way of working. Not all these management companies are good , some are only in it for the money

Ours are 100% in it for the money!
Collectively they are charging us about £1500pa for ‘fly tipping’ removals (which no one has ever seen) and fail to produce a break down of this and about 3k for ‘gardening’ when there is about a postage stamp sized grass area! Apparently the garden comes weekly and “picks up rubbish”?!
Service charges are not far from daylight robbery but nothing you can do without the freeholder agreeing to get a new managing agent.

Carina how many flats where you are do they manage?

I’m not entirely sure- maybe about 50.
I thought about managing it myself & setting up a company etc but just don’t have time at the moment.
I’m going to write to all of the flats though and try to get people involved & questioning their fees.

If you are insured call your insurance company - they should sort the whole lot out, including dealing with the other landlords insurance.

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My understanding is that the landlord above is only liable to fix damage to your flat if he has shown malice or negligence. So if he has done something likely to rupture a pipe, he is responsible, if not, then he has no liability. Similarly, if he immediately took action to fix the leak, he would have no liability for the damage to your property - maybe point this out to him. Having been told about the issue, on the face of it he would be negligent by not investigating, but you would have to show that the only place the water could be coming from is his flat, and with water it is surprisingly hard to show that because it flows down the outside of pipes, so the leak might come from further above. If you have contents insurance, this is the best bet, as they have a vested interest in fixing the issue before it gets worse.

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If more than 50% of the owners agree you can set up your own management company , soyou control all expenditure

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Freeholder / management company will arrange building insurance, which you pay for, ask for the details,
It will normally cover escape of water with a £500 excess or something,
go down that route? then argue the excess later,

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This is the management’s company responsibility to sort out. They should demand that the landlord gets this fixed. Its very possible that it is pipes in the screeding. This has happened twice to a block I used to manage. Inform the freeholder of the building and inform the insurance company. A leak detection company will be the only people who can find the source of the leak if it is not visible, a plumber will only be able to give an educated guess. Hope this helps.

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I had an exact same scenario. The landlord didn’t respond, and water was coming out the lampshade location so dangerous. I called the fire brigade and they smashed the door down on flat above. When we went in there was absolutely no sign of water anywhere and we were all flummoxed. Then an alert fire crew asked if the laminate flooring was new. It looked new. He found a nail in the threshold strip and guess what it was a concrete floor. Had to break away the concrete and found it was all damp and indeed a water pipe to radiator lay under the floor. That was the problem. So concrete had to be chipped away to facilitate a repair.

The building will be insured via the Managing Agent.
This is a buildings property claim and the responsibility of the Managing Agent to either manage or point you to the Insurer
Depending on the age of the property it is very common for water pipes to rupture when buried in concrete flooring.

  1. Take photographs
  2. Notify your Managing Agent.
  3. The Manging Agent should send an emergency plumber to the property above.
  4. All repairs upstairs will be undertaken under the Policy
  5. Ditto for your property.
  6. Depending on the buildings policy it will provide temporary accommodation for your tenant which may be more difficult in current circumstances; and even loss of rent.
  7. If the agent has not included this in the policy questions should be asked - in writing
  8. You may have to claim on your or the tenants contents insurance if damage to their contents or carpets etc occurs but with a cross claim to the buildings or the property above, if possible this is a last resort as there will be seen as a claim on your property even if the other party pays. Hence your premium could go up.
  9. If neither the Managing agent or the landlord above plays ball, call Citizens advice, often they will create a letter to sent to either party to get things moving
  10. If that fails then its a solicitors letter & possible court action.