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Advice About Repair Issue

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I'd be grateful for any advice you can offer...

In Nov 2010 we noticed a small leak in our bathroom ceiling, and informed our landlord (we rent privately from a Housing Association). They promptly sent a repairman round who agreed that the leak was coming from the shower in the upstairs flat (rental- owned by a 'charming' man to be known as Graham). They agreed to contact Graham and sort it out.... nothing happened.

On 27 Dec 2010 we returned home after visiting family for Xmas and the ceiling was in the bath. 200 years of horsehair, plaster, etc had collapsed and there was a torrent of water (the upstairs tenant was in the shower, and all the waste water was coming through the bath sized gap). Being a Bank holiday the Housing Association was not keen on sending someone out - I insisted (as the ceiling light had 1 inch of water in it, and I strangely thought this may be dangerous...). An electrician came out, told us not to use the electrics in the bathroom as they were 'lethal' but didn't turn them off.

Being a Bank Holiday our caring HA wouldn't do any more, so we contacted Graham ourselves to get him to sort it. He arrived, and after several patronising comments and moans about having to travel 200 miles to do a job that a 'trained monkey' could do, he used cable ties to bodge the pipework. The next day it leaked again, and to cut an extremely long story short, 4 months later it is still leaking, we still have no electricity in the bathroom and only a temporary ceiling. Other than sinks, the bath is the only place to wash in the property, and it is now unsafe to use (the new temp ceiling is soaked and could collapse any second). Graham keeps blaming his tenants for 'misuse', but the HA workmen took photos of the pipework and a 5 year old could see it's not watertight.

Our HA, although very sympathetic and helpful when we call, just don't seem to have the power / desire to sort it out. What can we do? A few months back they threatened to force enty upstairs, do the repairs and claim from Graham, but nowt has happened. As the leak is from upstairs, we seem to have no recourse - can we take legal action against Graham to force him to do repairs? We contacted the local council Environment & Housing Office who say we can make a complaint (which we are doing) but it doesn't seem to hold much weight. The Fire Service say that although there is an electrical hazard, there is not much they can do.

We could move out, but the rent is about £200 cheaper than any equivalent in the area, and with moving costs (and hassle) we'll be out of pocket - due to personal reasons it is also not practical to move at the moment.

If anyone has any suggestions I'd love to hear them. With the days off work, damaged goods, etc this has cost us a lot of money, and I really don't know my rights.

Many thanks

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Have you seen the local CAB? They will spend a lot of thir time contacting the local HAs on behalf of their clients, and their involvement sometimes means the HA realise that the problem isn't going to go away & it will be less hassle for them to deal with it. Also, they tend to be able to get at people a bit higher up the management ladder than you can.

Also, if it's flats there will be a freeholder (unless you're in Scotland??) S/he / They should have some powers.......

What is the freeholder responsible for?

The freeholder is usually responsible for:

  • repairs to the building's structure, including the roof and guttering
  • repairs to shared parts of the building, such as lifts and communal stairways
  • buildings insurance (to protect the entire building from accidents and disasters such as fire or flood).

The freeholder is only responsible for these repairs if s/he knows they are needed. The freeholder doesn't have to inspect the property to check, but some freeholders may do so, particularly in large blocks of flats. You should therefore write to her/him as soon as there are any problems. Give details of the repairs that are needed. Give the freeholder a realistic deadline for carrying them out. Date your letter and keep a copy.


I take it it you don't have the resources to pay a tradesman to repair it & sue Graham for the bill? (Take advice from the CAB before you go this route.)

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Thanks for your reply,

Our HA is the leaseholder, but the leasehold team is worse than useless. We will try to see the CAB - thanks for the suggestion.

We do have the money for repairs (we're private tenants), but have been strongly advised not to go this route (the property is in a grade 1 listed building / historic monument and should any repair we pay for fail, we will be liable for any damage caused). We've got reps from the Council doing an inspection on Tues - and depending on what they say, we may issue a formal notice of disrepair.

Thanks again

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I also rent a flat in a grade 1 listed building. Repairs can easily cost many times more in such a building than they would do anywhere else, depending on the restrictions in the listing. Original building materials may have to be used: so, for example, if horsehair was used as insulation and that is now staggeringly expensive, new horsehair may have to be used to replace it. That in turn can create extra cost in making electrical and plumbing installations safe. In short, it could be that your HA is dragging its feet because they fear an almighty bill.

The visiting nephew of my former neighbour once put a football through a c. 1638 stained glass window. The repair bill came to five figures, and the trust would not renew my neighbour's AST when it was up - they made her leave, and, unsurprisingly, kept her entire deposit.

Edited by The Ayatollah Buggeri

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