Questions of Cash: What are my rights if my leak is caused by neighbours’ roofs?


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The Independent Online

Q: I have a severe water leak coming in from two sides of an upstairs room in my terraced house. The property was reroofed a few months ago.

I fear the leak is coming in via the roofs of one, or both, of my neighbours’ houses. One of them is in a very bad state of repair and the other is not properly waterproofed at the chimney. I need advice on where the water is coming from, whose responsibility it is to conduct the repairs and how to force the owners to do this.

I also need help to get the semi-derelict neighbouring house put into a decent state so that it does not cause damage to my house – there is a smell coming from there, probably from blocked drains, while dumped rubbish in the back garden may have attracted vermin.

A friend suggested that if the damage is covered by my insurance policy, I should engage a loss assessor. What do they do?

AN, Manchester.

A: The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) suggests that you contact a building surveyor, although with the caveat that they will only be able to inspect your property. A spokeswoman for Rics says: “If the problem is found to stem from the attached property, then the building surveyor can only propose a method which does not violate boundaries to resolve the damage.

She adds: “There are legal complexities relating to damage caused by attached properties and the responsibilities of property owners in rectifying damage. Rics also has a dispute-resolution service for boundary-related matters and offers a free 30-minute consultation on 02476 868 555. Your reader can use the Rics ‘Find a Surveyor’ service at, which is a UK-wide database of Ricsregistered surveyors.”

Loss assessors represent people making a claim against an insurer – on a home insurance policy, for example. Henry Dony, president of the Institute of Public Loss Assessors, says: “The first thing to do is to ascertain exactly from where the water is coming into the house. There may be more than one source and a structural surveyor needs to be instructed by the homeowner.

“Once she knows where the water is coming in from, there might be a valid claim under her policy for damage caused to parts of her home.

“With regard to the alleged causing of a nuisance by one or both of her neighbours, this might be a matter that needs to be dealt with by a solicitor. Under [the reader’s] policy, she may have legal benefits cover and this might enable her to get the nuisance abated.”

Alex Balcombe of the loss assessor Harris Balcombe adds: “Ingress of water is always a tricky area with insurers, especially when roofs and gutters have not been maintained. If your reader intends to make a claim then a loss assessor is exactly who they should speak to. Fees are normally a percentage of the claim.”

Q: I purchased a new car from Allen Ford in Romford, taking out a “personal car service plan” that fixed the costs of my services. In October, I queried the amount of funds left in the plan. I was unable to reconcile the figure and was told to contact TWG Services, which administers the plan. TWG said that I had been charged £32.31 for authorising and processing an invoice for a service.

I took out the plan to cover five services, so that means I will pay £161.55 just to have the invoices processed. Any potential benefit of being in the plan would be lost. I have been offered a refund of just £47.17. AN, London.

A: TWG Services did not respond to our repeated communications.

However, either because of our efforts or those of yourself, you tell us that you have now received a full refund of your payments, less the car service costs.

Questions of Cash cannot give individual advice, but we’ll do our best to help if you have a financial dilemma.

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