Advice needed: foul water seeping from neighbour's house into my subfloor

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sammy.se

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Hi,

Since March, there's been a bad smell in my dining room. I got the home insurance involved in June, and this week the contractor finally came and pulled up my ground floor dining room wooden floor (suspended wooden floor, with sub floor void).
They cleaned the stinky sludge, and I can now see where the water is coming from.

It is seeping through the wall, at the footings, from the neighbours house (it's a victorian terraced house) .

Previously, I assumed that a sewage blockage from from garden manhole flooded the garden and went into the subfloor via the air bricks on the other side of the room.

So, does anybody have any advice on how I should proceed here, regarding my neighbour? (Neighbour is a tenant, I don't know the owner)

I will of course call my insurance tomorrow, but I would appreciate any advice

Thanks
 
Hi,

Since March, there's been a bad smell in my dining room. I got the home insurance involved in June, and this week the contractor finally came and pulled up my ground floor dining room wooden floor (suspended wooden floor, with sub floor void).
They cleaned the stinky sludge, and I can now see where the water is coming from.

It is seeping through the wall, at the footings, from the neighbours house (it's a victorian terraced house) .

Previously, I assumed that a sewage blockage from from garden manhole flooded the garden and went into the subfloor via the air bricks on the other side of the room.

So, does anybody have any advice on how I should proceed here, regarding my neighbour? (Neighbour is a tenant, I don't know the owner)

I will of course call my insurance tomorrow, but I would appreciate any advice

Thanks
I'd just rock up, knock on the door and say you live next- show driving license if it puts them at ease to prove you live next door in case they think you are a random nut job - and say you might be having some structural work done and need to have a chat with the owner, and could he\she point you in the right direction.

It's polite & you aren't lying - most folk (I'd hope) would get you contact details of at least the letting agent (if it's thru an agent) or the owner if direct let.

It's a starting point.
 
I wouldn't mention nor ask about any smell to the tenants. For all you know, they might have brought it up and got nowhere with the landlord - and bringing it up might put them in the middle.

Just saying you might be thinking of doing structural works - gives the tenants plausible deniability, in case the landlord is an "awkward" soul.

Could be an idea to pop round with chocolates or a (cheap'ish) bottle of wine - say hello, introduce yourself (before Question Time - LOL ), if nothing else get to know your neighbours too.
 
for 3 quid you can get ownership details from :
landregistry.gov.uk
if you Google that a bunch of con artists come up who want big money so go direct to the gov.uk address. if the property is unregistered, bad luck and back to plan A above.
 
Thanks all

Should I expect my insurance company to deal with this, by communicating with the neighbour or the neighbours insurance?
 
Thanks all

Should I expect my insurance company to deal with this, by communicating with the neighbour or the neighbours insurance?
If you have a valid claim on your insurance for damage to your property the insure has rights which are referred to as subrogation which means they can pursue the owner of the property to recover their costs. The owner of the property is committing a tort of nuisance by stopping you from enjoying your property alongside any physical damage their leak is causing. If the landlord has any sense he'll want this sorted quickly.

The tenant will know who they pay the rent to so I would start there. As mentioned above the land registry becomes an option if that draws a blank. There are far more respectable than rogue landlords so hopefully getting sorted won't be a problem for you.
 
I wouldn't mention nor ask about any smell to the tenants. For all you know, they might have brought it up and got nowhere with the landlord - and bringing it up might put them in the middle.

Just saying you might be thinking of doing structural works - gives the tenants plausible deniability, in case the landlord is an "awkward" soul.

Could be an idea to pop round with chocolates or a (cheap'ish) bottle of wine - say hello, introduce yourself (before Question Time - LOL ), if nothing else get to know your neighbours too.
Sadly, it is true that many tenants are asked to leave because they ask for repairs to be done. This landlord may want to maintain the property but the tenants do not know this until they point out a defect. Do they feel lucky and gamble their home.
 
Because this is a health issue then contacting the local public health as Jacob has said is one call but is the problem with the customer side of the drainage system or the main drains in which case also contact the people you pay for your water / sewage. Just because a drain is on your property does not automatically make it your sole responsibility, the deciding factor is whether it flows just your poo or poo from other properties as well. If a combination of poo then it is not your problem, otherwise it is.
 
Thanks all.
I can't get through to my insurers (axa, not taking any calls currently 'please call again later')

I contacted the neighbour (nice person) and will meet him tomorrow to show him the issue, so he can let his landlord know.

The drainage company who are currently here doing the clean up work have verified that water is seeping in from next door. I'm going to ask them for a copy of the report to show my neighbour.

The insurance's claim handling company said that Its all down to me to sort it out with the neighbour... but I have asked AXA to call me directly to discuss what should happen next.

For context, the dining room now just has floorboards, a bad smell and no furniture. So it's unusable for me and my family.

I have buoldings insurance, but not contents insurance.
 
If you have a valid claim on your insurance for damage to your property the insure has rights which are referred to as subrogation which means they can pursue the owner of the property to recover their costs. The owner of the property is committing a tort of nuisance by stopping you from enjoying your property alongside any physical damage their leak is causing. If the landlord has any sense he'll want this sorted quickly.

The tenant will know who they pay the rent to so I would start there. As mentioned above the land registry becomes an option if that draws a blank. There are far more respectable than rogue landlords so hopefully getting sorted won't be a problem for you.
Someone said something nice about landlords - Thank you Sir - some of us are not scumbags and it's nice to hear it said. You would be amazed how many tenants will not report things like this I case the landlord blames them, it's happened to me and cost quite a lot extra in repairs that would have been cheep if done on time. I would be really careful of what you say to the tenants as above, I also would not assume the letting agent is proactive so if you can find out who they are ask them to put you in touch with the landlord and don't let more than a week go by before going down the land registry rout. I don't think this applies but with my own house I had a leak in the bathroom, insurance assessor was coming to look so I took the tray out to expose damaged timber and start the drying out process - cost me the claim as they said the leak was via mastic and not covered, I knew t wasn't but all proof was gone. I will not be helpful again, be careful what you clean up you may pay a bill they should.
 
Thanks all.
I can't get through to my insurers (axa, not taking any calls currently 'please call again later')

I contacted the neighbour (nice person) and will meet him tomorrow to show him the issue, so he can let his landlord know.

The drainage company who are currently here doing the clean up work have verified that water is seeping in from next door. I'm going to ask them for a copy of the report to show my neighbour.

The insurance's claim handling company said that Its all down to me to sort it out with the neighbour... but I have asked AXA to call me directly to discuss what should happen next.

For context, the dining room now just has floorboards, a bad smell and no furniture. So it's unusable for me and my family.

I have buoldings insurance, but not contents insurance.
I would ask the neigbour nicely for the landlords contact details. "As you do not want to put the neigbour in the middle".

You do not know what the neigbour will say to the landlord. They will have their own motives which will not match yours or the landlords. You can also end up with Chinese whispers.

I would keep a written account of everthing you say to the Neigbour/ Landlord, in a note book or email to yourself so dates recorded. Also record the times spent dealing with the Neigbour/ Landlord so that you can get the time paid for by Axa if it becomes long winded.
 
Someone said something nice about landlords - Thank you Sir - some of us are not scumbags and it's nice to hear it said. You would be amazed how many tenants will not report things like this I case the landlord blames them, it's happened to me and cost quite a lot extra in repairs that would have been cheep if done on time. I would be really careful of what you say to the tenants as above, I also would not assume the letting agent is proactive so if you can find out who they are ask them to put you in touch with the landlord and don't let more than a week go by before going down the land registry rout. I don't think this applies but with my own house I had a leak in the bathroom, insurance assessor was coming to look so I took the tray out to expose damaged timber and start the drying out process - cost me the claim as they said the leak was via mastic and not covered, I knew t wasn't but all proof was gone. I will not be helpful again, be careful what you clean up you may pay a bill they should.
The trouble is nearly everybody has come across one of the bad landlords.
 
Thanks all

Should I expect my insurance company to deal with this, by communicating with the neighbour or the neighbours insurance?
The insurers (or more likely their claim handlers) will handle the communication. The handler will ask you for some contact details in the first instance to get the ball rolling but they'll be able to proceed without them via their own enquiries. I personally wouldn't expect too much hassle from your neighbour, just keep it friendly and vague, can you have contact details of the landlord or their management company for an insurance matter. Even the landlord probably won't be too bothered since the vast majority of the claim is itself likely to be insured.

However speaking as a former claims handler I can tell you nothing is going to happen until the handler sees the report. If this is the first visit from the contractor the report will actually have been the primary reason for the visit, may take ten days or so for it to turn up on their end. Once they've seen it they should be in touch to advise how the claim is going to proceed.

Subrogation claims such as this do take time to sort out. Fortunately the case law is especially clear in the case of leaks, however just because it's reaching you via your neighbour doesn't mean they are liable, it may be reaching them from another property or public land.

 If your insurer is able to recover their full costs including admin fees you should get your excess back and your no claims shouldn't be affected, but that's a big if and wouldn't expect it to be sorted in much less than 18 months. Generally insurers will respect each other's reports so their shouldn't be any need for your neighbour's insurer to repeat the inspection although they may wish to appoint their own contractors for remedial work. From the perspective of your neighbour's insurer this is a liability claims, the handling companies typically don't have delegated authority for those. That means they need to go to the underwriter for approval before spending any money. From your perspective this happens in the background, but it does slow things down.
 
The insurers (or more likely their claim handlers) will handle the communication. The handler will ask you for some contact details in the first instance to get the ball rolling but they'll be able to proceed without them via their own enquiries. I personally wouldn't expect too much hassle from your neighbour, just keep it friendly and vague, can you have contact details of the landlord or their management company for an insurance matter. Even the landlord probably won't be too bothered since the vast majority of the claim is itself likely to be insured.

However speaking as a former claims handler I can tell you nothing is going to happen until the handler sees the report. If this is the first visit from the contractor the report will actually have been the primary reason for the visit, may take ten days or so for it to turn up on their end. Once they've seen it they should be in touch to advise how the claim is going to proceed.

Subrogation claims such as this do take time to sort out. Fortunately the case law is especially clear in the case of leaks, however just because it's reaching you via your neighbour doesn't mean they are liable, it may be reaching them from another property or public land.

 If your insurer is able to recover their full costs including admin fees you should get your excess back and your no claims shouldn't be affected, but that's a big if and wouldn't expect it to be sorted in much less than 18 months. Generally insurers will respect each other's reports so their shouldn't be any need for your neighbour's insurer to repeat the inspection although they may wish to appoint their own contractors for remedial work. From the perspective of your neighbour's insurer this is a liability claims, the handling companies typically don't have delegated authority for those. That means they need to go to the underwriter for approval before spending any money. From your perspective this happens in the background, but it does slow things down.
So, I got through to both AXA directly and the claim handler. Both said they will not get involved and will want me to deal with my neighbour to get it fixed.
I was surprised, because it means they won't claim their costs back from the neighbour - but this is what they said...

They said they would clean up any pooled water again, as a new claim or on this existing claim, but they didn't want to get involved with the neighbour or his insurance.

This is the 5th visit from the claims handler subcontractor:
1st = inspect the pooled foul water, and identify the source
2nd = clean the pooled water in the void (which was just them putting chemicals on it - had to be redone)
3rd = re-inspection, after I complained it wasn't done properly
4th = new survey of work needed
5th = currently being done: Thorough cleaning, by lifting floorboards, vacuuming, disinfecting etc.

it is on this 5th step they identified the root cause from the neighbour.
 
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