Suing managing agent

Hello, does anyone have ideas how to deal with this situation please?

-I own a small one-bed in London, rented out
-the ceiling in the bathroom has fallen down, door frames warped and electrics mostly gone because of a leak from the 2 flats above
-managing agent is vague about what caused it (probably a communal pipe buried in a wall)
-has said they will repair
-but is dragging heals and not replying now

I have had to cancel my tenant’s rent as they are still there but flat is nearly uninhabitable

  1. who do I sue? The managing agent? The freedholder?

  2. have any leaseholders here claimed back loss of rent from managing agent or freeholder because of leaks?

I don’t have rent protection in my landlord’s insurance for my flat.

Thank you,

The managing agent is just that, an agent. There should be building’s insurance in place which you claim against. Check your lease clauses about freeholder/landlord obligations.

If it comes to it and there is no insurance policy, you sue the freeholder who is responsible for maintaining the fabric of the building. If you have a share of the freehold with several/many others, not only will you be responsible for your fair portion of the freeholders’ costs if you sue but you are likley to become quite unpopular with the other leaseholders when they have to cough up. This route is expensive and long. Good luck.

Thank you very much for your reply.

-the managing agents are of course involving the building’s insurers

-but they are being slow to remediate

-balking at costs, saying their electrician is too expensive but then not finding another one after two weeks, when they’re supposed to be professional managing agents

  1. at what point does this become breach of contract - is there a duty for them to manage the remedation “reasonably” or professionally somewhere?

  2. have you seen a claim for loss of rent be successful against building insurers before?

Yes, I’ve seen the use of the word ‘reasonable’ in this context as well as others and in relation to timeframes many times. No one is prepared to give you a definitive answer of what period of time equates to reasonable in a particular circumstance. I’ve lost hair and sleep over such conversation and email exchanges. It ended in nothing but deep and lasting frustration in dealing with the utter gobsh*tes that are managing agents. I wish I could be of more help.

You can try to appeal to the insurers directly?

The flat does sound uninhabitable to me and you are in danger of a legal case from the tenants. I suggest you speak to a housing solicitor about whether you can claim that the tenancy contract is frustrated so that you can move them out asap.

Thanks again. Tenant doesn’t want to move out. In the whole situation, my needs are:

  1. get the managing agents to repair it

  2. recover the rent I have lost

Agents are now stonewalling so I need to take some kind of legal action to get them to act.

What governs who I can potentially claim lost rent from?

I have no sight of the freeholder’s insurance contract so maybe they disclaim it. If they do, how do I go about recovering and from whom?

you need a solicitor to do this for you

Thats not really relevant. You have a duty of care and the Council could come after you with a fine. If its not habitable you need to end the tenancy asap.

Tenant has been made aware of the condition and risks and has accepted them in writing. We are not charging him rent and he is happy to stay. How is this a council matter?

Hi. It could be a problem if T were not happy and complained. But it’s not your case. Theoretically, it’s against the law to allow T live in not habitable property. In practice, it happens all the time.
My partner is doing EPC part-time, and now he’s doing EPCs for around 30 properties of a millionnaire slum LL, who also owns an established Estate Agency and a chain of trendy cafes. These are really in non habitable conditions, and TT have complained for years. But somehow, they’re still there, paying their very low rent. Nobody holds them there, they chose to stay because it saves them thousands every year.
Nothing seems to happen to LL, either. TT know if they rock the boat too much, the will lose their cheap home in a nice area and will have to move out of the area or go into shared. As you don’t charge rent at all now, it looks like you have all support of your T. It seems like a good deal for them.
What if you asked them to move out and they refused? Would it still be your responsibility? I wouldn’t be a stickler for the T law now and concentrate on a real problem. Your property well may be unsellable now, too. So, it has to be sorted out, sí o sí.

The tenant cant consent to this, in writing or otherwise. It will still be your legal liability. Your insurance also wont cover you if you permit the tenant to remain in an uninhabitable property.

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