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Disrepair - leak from a neighbouring property

This advice applies to Wales

If you live in a flat, you may have problems with leaks or flooding from neighbouring flats. When this happens your landlord may tell you to sort the problem out with the other tenant. However, in some cases your landlord may have a responsibility to do something.

This page gives general information about when your landlord may have a responsibility to repair water damage. These situations aren't always straightforward, so you may need specialist help.

What are your landlord's responsibilities when there's a flood or leak from another flat?

If a flood or leak from a neighbouring flat causes disrepair in your home, then your landlord is likely to be responsible for repairing the damage. For example, if the water causes a ceiling in your home to collapse or plasterwork is damaged.

Your landlord is responsible for repairing the damage in these circumstances because there's a term implied into your tenancy agreement, which says that they are responsible for keeping certain things in repair. It includes keeping the structure of your home in repair such as the walls, ceilings and plasterwork.  

Your landlord only becomes responsible for repairing the damage when they know about it.  

What happens if your belongings have been damaged?

If your landlord isn't responsible for the flood or leak, they won't be liable for any damage to your furniture or belongings.

If the flood or leak was caused by your neighbour being careless, for example, they left the bath to overflow, you could make a claim against your neighbour on the grounds of nuisance or negligence. You could claim for the damage caused to your belongings and compensation for inconvenience.

Court action should always be a last resort and it's best to try and resolve disputes before going to court, so try and reach some amicable solution with your neighbour first. Alternatively, if you have home contents insurance, you may be able to make a claim for your belongings on that.

What happens if a leak or flood was caused by disrepair?

In some circumstances, a leak into your home may be because of disrepair in a neighbour's home or a communal area.

Disrepair in another flat

If you share the same landlord with your neighbour and the cause of the leak or flood was disrepair in their flat which is your landlord's responsibility to repair, your landlord could also be responsible for the effects of the leak or flood.

The landlord may be responsible if your neighbour reported the disrepair to them but they didn't do anything about it. In these circumstances, as well as being responsible for repairing damage to your home, your landlord is also likely to be responsible for damage to your belongings and any loss or inconvenience you've suffered.

Disrepair in a communal area

If your landlord is responsible for a communal area and the leak or flood comes from there because of disrepair, for example, leaking service pipes, then your landlord is responsible for repairing damage to your home.

In these circumstances, your landlord is also likely to be responsible for damage to your belongings and any loss or inconvenience you've suffered.

Because communal areas of buildings are considered to be in your landlord's control, you're not required to give notice of disrepair in these areas in the same way as if the problem was in your home. This means your landlord becomes responsible for fixing repairs to common parts straightaway.

Repeated leaks from a neighbour's flat

If you're having problems with repeated leaks or floods because of something that a neighbour is doing or not doing, you may have to take direct action against them. For example, a problem with your neighbour's washing machine causes it to leak into your home when used and your neighbour fails to get it fixed.

It's best to try and resolve the problem between yourselves, so speaking to your neighbour is the best first step. If you find that difficult, a local mediator may be able to help. Ultimately, you could take court action for nuisance or negligence and get an injunction. You would need specialist help to do this.

If you and your neighbour share the same landlord, you could ask for their help with the problem. As a last resort, your landlord could take possession proceedings to evict the tenant on the grounds of nuisance, but they're likely to try other things before taking legal action.

If your landlord is a social housing landlord and they fail to help you, you could make a complaint.

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