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to my neighbour?

(76 Posts)
donotlikeit Fri 05-Aug-11 16:02:17

Long post - sorry!

We bought an apartment a couple of months back. It is an older property divided into two flats. We have the upstairs one. The owner downstairs X owns a building repair company and rents his flat out to one of his workers. He has owned the place for 2-3 years.

A couple of weeks back I got a knock on my door. X had some problem with water blockage downstairs. Apparently water is backing up in the kitchen downstairs and not draining properly. I told him to speak with DH regarding it. But also told him that if he wanted to charge for anything as communal repairs, he would need to send us an invoice first for us to agree on, and we would prefer a neutral third party company to do the work.

A day later, some guys come and did the work of pressure cleaning the drain and repairing an iron pipe that had cracked a bit with age.

A week later X knocks again on my door, and said that the tenant below was on holiday and the apartment below was flooded as his kitchen sink had backed up with water, and we musn't throw cooking oil/lard down the sink. We never deepfry anything. We are vegetarian and pretty much bake everything. And in any case, even if we did use oil, we would never throw it down the sink. So I was quite offended and told him that we know how to manage our apartment and we are not stupid to throw stuff down the sink. I an Asian, and I felt that he thought I was lying and frying pakoras all the time hmm.

DH contacted X and said that if the drains downstairs had backed up again, it really has nothing to do with us, and the repair guys didn't do a proper job. It seems all was ok.

Well, today we got a bill from X for £300 as as our share of the drainage work and the changing of one pipe on an outside wall. In that letter, was a long explanation on how his kitchen was damaged. I called him up and said that the bill was too high and that a) the drainage blockage in his apartment was really not our issue b) I was not comfortable with him using his own company workers, we would have preferred a neutral third party quote c) I would be willing to share the material cost of replacing the split pipe, but that would be it.

X got quite aggressive on the phone and saying he had done us a favour and we now didn't want to pay and that I was insulting him. I told him I did not want him to raise his voice with me and that in future I did not want him knocking on my door and that he should set up a time to come by when DH is around to resolve any communal issue. And I put down the phone.

Guess what, 20 minutes later, a knock on my door and there X was, asking for money and generally being an arse. I told him that I had told him not to come by when I am alone at the home, and next time I would call the police.

I am usually quite calm but this guy really riles me up. He is aggressive, a bit sneering and generally seems a bit of a loose cannon. Also, I work from home and do not want to be disturbed without prior notice, except if there is an emergency.

So,
AIBU to have said I will call the police if he makes a nuisance of himself again?
AIBU to not want to pay £300 for something that I am not clear is a communal issue?
AIBU to not give a rat's arse about the condition of the kitchen below and think that it is really not my problem?

RevoltingPeasant Fri 05-Aug-11 16:09:02

I can't really visualise the plumbing situation here, but I can't imagine that you are responsible for the health of downstairs's drains.

IIWY I'd ring an independent plumber to get that assessed: does your waste water from the kitchen sink somehow get filtered down his pipes?

If the answer is no, then get that written from the indy plumber and tell X to take a running jump.

If it is yes - which it might be if it's an old single-unit house - then maybe think again....

donotlikeit Fri 05-Aug-11 16:18:37

RP,

I am not sure either about the plumbing. But in any case wouldn't a 'normal' person
a) Introduce themselves to a new neighbor, be a bit apologetic for disturbing and then discuss any problems they think might be communal?
b) Get a quote from a neutral third party building company and then discuss the amount first before starting the work? If it is £600 job, then I would have preferred a few quotes first.
c) Slide a note under our door and ask us to call when we have a chance to discuss, instead of knocking on our door whenever he feels like it?
d) Not come by and bother me in a non-emergency when I have specifically told them not to do so?

He has just sent a message to my DH saying that he is feeling 'insulted'. For FFS, why should my DH care about his emotional well-being?

donotlikeit Fri 05-Aug-11 16:24:46

I imagine the drainage problem could occur if either:
- I throw crap down and block the drain so the water doesn't flow out but backs up into the downstairs drain
- or the tenant below throws crap down and blocks their own drain.

Well, we don't throw crap, so as far as I see, not our problem.

AgentZigzag Fri 05-Aug-11 16:25:33

How sad that you presumed he thought you were lying because you're Asian.

What made you think that?

ElbowFan Fri 05-Aug-11 16:27:12

Try your local Environmental Health Dept - and this might be useful information

www.problemneighbours.co.uk/problems-with-drains-who-responsible-for-what.html

WhereYouLeftIt Fri 05-Aug-11 16:29:35

His use of the word 'insulted' is suggestive, isn't it? It's so close to the Mafia as portrayed in films, talking about 'disrespect'. I rather imagine he sees himself in that sort of light, a big man (because he owns a company) losing face in front of one of his employees. He's so used to his employees saying 'yes, boss' that he can't seem to handle normal social interaction and co-operation, he has to be the one calling the shots.

YANBU to have said you will call the police - in that situation, I would probably have done the same or cursed him to his face like a fishwife .
YANBU to not part with £300 before ensuring you are actually liable for it and it is a reasonable sum for services rendered.
YADBU to not give a rat's arse about the condition of the kitchen below and think that it is really not your problem?

AngryGnome Fri 05-Aug-11 16:39:38

I think you really need a 3rd party to look into this. I can see why you are annoyed - he seems to have started communicating with you aggressively about this, and moved on to threatening. Not good for neighbourly relations and YANBU to not want to see him alone.

But on the other hand, he only has your word for it that you don't throw crap down the sink, and of course from his point of view you are hardly likely to admit you have been if it means you are liable for costs. I also thought it was interesting that you thought he assumed you were lying because you are Asian - is he otherwise racist in his actions/attitudes/language?

I think that this could turn pretty nasty pretty rapidly - I think you need to get an independent plumber in as soon as possible.

Good luck.





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Pendeen Fri 05-Aug-11 16:41:09

Not sure of the legal situation here?

You say you bougt the flat?
Is it Commonhold or Leasehold?
Is 'X' your Landlord or not?
What does your deeds / tenancy agreement say about common services i.e. plumbing / drainage.

There will be / really should be clauses dealing with this situation.

Pendeen Fri 05-Aug-11 16:42:45

Oh, and I don't understand the "lying because I am Asian" reference.

izzywhizzyletsgetbusy Fri 05-Aug-11 16:45:33

Did you buy your apartment with a share of the freehold, or is it leasehold with ground/service charge etc being paid to a non-resident landlord?

Have you checked out your buildings insurance in the event of emergeny repairs?

YANBU and you've handled this matter properly except that, depending on the terms of your lease, you are within your rights to insist on 3 quotes for any repairs that fall within the category of 'communal'.

In view of the unreasonable behaviour of X and the nature of his business, I'm wondering if he's pulled similar stunts before with previous owners/occupiers of your apartment? I can see that alleged repairs in his own property could be something of a cash cow for him, but I should make it clear in these cases I am inevitably suspicious of the motives of others and I may be completely wrong in this instance.

BTW, 'drains' can be a tricky issue as single and shared dwelling waste pipes evacuate through the main drains. A blockage in another separate property can have a knock-on effect and cause back up/overflow in the ground floor of neighbouring premises.

If this is a recurring problem it may be advisable to ask your regional Water Board to investigate.

breatheslowly Fri 05-Aug-11 16:47:16

He sounds like he is taking the piss. From your description £600 seems like a massive bill for very little work and I wouldn't be confident that you would be liable for the costs anyway. I can understand him using his own guys to do the work - but I would expect that to result in a much lower cost and you are being perfectly reasonable in expecting quote first to ensure that you aren't being ripped off.

Reality Fri 05-Aug-11 16:50:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

festi Fri 05-Aug-11 16:54:08

is your property free hold or lease hold and do you have property or management company responsible for repairs? if so contact them as it may be that it is thier responsibility to have delt with drainage problems. If so your neighbour did not go through the appropriate chanels and so is his bill to pay IMHO, if you do I suggest you contact them.

If there is no management company the sensible thing to have done was as you stated use a third party who would have been able to provide a diagnostic, with out this there is no true way of finding out if you are at all responsible or partly responsible for the blockage and repair. I think you need to contact CAB if you do not have a property management company as if you had not agreed to the work being done or had made an agreement to use a third party then he has gone back on this.

festi Fri 05-Aug-11 16:55:54

x post izzy

Nagoo Fri 05-Aug-11 16:59:44

If the drain has backed up and ruined the kitchen then surely he should claim on insurance?

YANBU.

festi Fri 05-Aug-11 16:59:44

also you only have his word for this, that the work even happened, how do you know this neighbours property flooded and he replaced the pipe. I would be suspiciouse he isnt attempting to scam or hoax you out of money, if he is a reputable buisness he would have known how to go about this. Im suspicious to tell the truth.

AgentZigzag Fri 05-Aug-11 17:02:24

Just because there's an often repeated prejudice Reality, shouldn't lead a person on to presume it's directed at them.

Unless the OP knows otherwise, which she hasn't said in the OP.

mankymummymoo Fri 05-Aug-11 17:03:23

My ex is a plumber and FWIW that cost sounds way too expensive for clearing a sink waste and renewing a small section of pipework. Even when we used to have to dig pipes out with a trench and renew the pipework it would very seldom be more than £250 for a short i.e. less than two metre, length.

I would recommend getting a second opinion on the value of the work done.

AgentZigzag Fri 05-Aug-11 17:05:11

It just seemed an odd remark to throw into the post with no other evidence.

If she thinks the man is being racist wouldn't that have been an imortant subject running through the post?

Reality Fri 05-Aug-11 17:05:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AgentZigzag Fri 05-Aug-11 17:12:29

Yes...I see what you mean now Reality.

But he could be saying that to anyone, I suppose I'm saying that it's possibly the OP who's assuming he's only saying it to her because she's Asian and wouldn't if it was someone from somewhere else in the world.

donotlikeit Fri 05-Aug-11 17:16:47

Agent,

I am probably going to get seriously flamed for this, but i will tell you what I feel honestly. It helps that this is an anonymous forum, I would NEVER say this in RL to anyone except family.

My general experience in UK has been within a professional crowd and upper class neighbourhoods. Never had any type of problem there. In fact my boss in my previous job, who really supported me in the company, was a part of the old boys network and used to moan that white men are having it so difficult and women and people of color are getting it so easy hmm. And to be honest, I never took it personally because I knew he was talking to me as a friend and he did not even realize how inappropriate his conversations were and I would be the last person to be sympathetic to his cause! So never really felt personally 'looked down' upon iyswim, even though some of the people I interacted had different views to mine.

However the only time my gut tells me a person is being condescending towards me, is with some lower class Brits. For example, I have felt it with a friend's wife. He is well-educated, has worked all over the world and we get along famously. She on the other hand, has ishoos, and is always doing me a 'favour' and being 'nice to me'...I cannot point to what it is exactly, but there is a palpable sense of 'let me tell you how to do things', even though on an objective basis of education/earnings/experience, I have a PhD and have a good job, while she doesn't even have a univ degree. Not that matters, but not sure what the superiority is about, to be honest. There have been probably 5-6 times over the years that I have felt that someone is judging me based on my ethnicity, and in all cases except one, the person was less -educated and from a working class background.

In this case regarding the AIBU post, we bought a flat in a working class neighborhood as it is next to my DH's current workplace and is a good investment as part of our pension pot. Mr X from downstairs, seems to think very highly of himself because he put a few bobs together through his building trade. His experience of Asians probably comes from Daily Mail, and I think he sees me as "less than him". My being petite doesn't help the cause either, because it probably makes him feel even more superior and he can literally "look down his nose" at me grin. I asked my DH (who is white), and has met X whether I was over-reacting and he said no, "X is probably dying to call you a Paki."

So, flame me now and tell me I am the worst type of reverse racist and a class-divider and paranoid and the rest of it...confused

G1nger Fri 05-Aug-11 17:20:18

I agree with the suggestion that you should insist on at least one other quote now. Send someone of your own. I'm afraid I wouldn't pay if I had told him what you said in advance. And yes, I'd feel intimidated too.

SnapesMistress Fri 05-Aug-11 17:25:24

YANBU, agree with some of the other posters that he might be trying to pull a fast one.

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