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to not pay my neighbour's £1,000 insurance excess?

(122 Posts)
washerwoman2 Tue 25-Nov-14 23:39:15

Apologies for being so long! I live in a flat and the block has a caretaker. In March he left me a note saying the flat downstairs had reported a water leak and could I check it was my washing machine. I immediately went to their flat to ask about it. They were away for the weekend but I left a note with my mobile number on it. Over the course of a few tests - we never met - the tenant (the owner's son in law) told me it had been leaking for a few weeks but 'they had been away a lot'. Once the slow drip leak was established as coming from my washing machine it was fixed within 24 hours. I had not had a new machine installed so don't know why it started leaking.

2 months later the management co send me an email telling me the owner of the flat is making an insurance claim and I will be liable for the excess. Size of claim not mentioned. The owner of the flat was cc'd but did not respond when I said the tenant was at fault for not reporting it to me promptly and I would not pay it.

4 months later the owner sends an email including his bank details and asking for £1k. His insurance claim was for a whole new kitchen so approx 9k. I respond by saying I though the matter was closed as he had not contacted me for 4 months, am surprised at size of claim, can I see the damage and copies of docs including proof the excess is 1k. 4 weeks go by and I hear nothing. Then we meet at a residents meeting - even though he doesn't live here he owns 3 flats. His 2 children live in one each and he rents the third out.

He very nicely asks for £1k. I mention my email and he claims he never received it. I give him a hard copy and 4 days later he sends me the docs. As it's now 7 months since the leak, the damage has been repaired and I can't see it. My (suspicious) opinion is that some of the docs look like they have been edited and may not be the official docs. The amount paid out by the insurance co has been blacked out but is slightly legible and is more than he told me they had paid. The letter does say the excess is £1k. The emails he has sent are now full of comments about the flat being uninhabitable, the tenants had to live with mould, he has had considerable expense (which is a lie - he has paid £1k but is telling me it is more and the damaged kitchen was 18 years old so nearing end of useful life) and setting a seven day deadline to pay and if I don't pay we will enter a legal phase and it will end up costing me more.

AIBU to not pay on the grounds that I was not negligent (if anyone was negligent it's his son in law who knew there was a leak and did nothing), and he has not been open, timely and honest re communication etc. As I understand it, the law says he would have to prove I was negligent to take me to court and I don't think he could prove that.

thecatneuterer Tue 25-Nov-14 23:46:08

Good god that's ridiculous. For starters under what law are you liable to pay the excess? Not under any proper laws that's for sure. Is there a clause covering this in your contract?

One of my flats sprang a leak once and caused some minor damage below. My insurance company said that unless extreme negligence can be proved then it's up to the insurance company of the flat below to pay up. And any excess (and seriously when is an excess £1000, except in the case of subsidence?) would be up to them to pay.

ChimesAndCarols Tue 25-Nov-14 23:53:53

Surely you should claim the excess on YOUR insurance? Why should someone have to pay for your mistake? You caused the problem - why should he be out of pocket?

SantasLittleMonkeyButler Tue 25-Nov-14 23:55:24

Well, I'm not legally trained in any way, but I am of the opinion that your insurance = your excess confused. So in this case - their insurance, their excess.

Don't people often to choose to have a high excess on their policy in order to keep the monthly payments low? I certainly wouldn't pay anyone else's excess without proper legal advice.

thecatneuterer Tue 25-Nov-14 23:56:54

And if there had been any suspicion of negligence on your part then his insurance company wouldn't have paid up - they would have gone after your insurance company. And if he chose an insurance policy with such a huge excess (which I don't believe) then that's his look out - he is accepting the risk of having to pay it one day should he need to make a claim.

If you had been negligent - then your insurance would have paid up in full (with no excess). As he hasn't claimed on your insurance (because he can't prove negligence) then any excess is his responsibility.

Tell him to do one.

mineallmine Tue 25-Nov-14 23:57:27

He should be paying you £1000. Your leak and its consequences led to him getting a brand spanking new kitchen for only £1k smile

Seriously though, it sounds like he is totally taking the piss.

thecatneuterer Tue 25-Nov-14 23:58:44

No don't claim the excess on your insurance. By all means mention it to your insurance company and they will, I'm sure, tell you he's trying it on. Should it go to court (which it won't) then involve your insurance company. But as I've said it won't. If he'd had a claim against you then the whole claim would have been against you, not just the excess.

SnoogyWoo Wed 26-Nov-14 00:02:18

You have made your stance clear. Most people use the courts as a threat but don't forget they are there to serve you as well. The Judge is impartial and will look at both sides and make a decision based on the facts. It sounds like you are in the right so let him go the legal route and make your case to the Judge if it comes to that.

FishWithABicycle Wed 26-Nov-14 00:04:24

Unless you've signed a contract taking on this responsibility I don't think it's likely that you would be held liable. However, check whether your own home insurance comes with any free legal services - some policies do. It all sounds very dodgy to me. You did everything you reasonably could and were not negligent - you had it fixed within 24 hours of establishing where the issue lay, the extended damage was more due to them not being around, which is not your fault.

thecatneuterer Wed 26-Nov-14 00:04:52

chimesandcords this is something I've gone into in detail as I said it happened to me. And it is a fact that if there is accidental damage to someone's property, then it the person who sustains the damage that needs t claim on their insurance. It makes no difference if the accidental damage was the result of something unforeseen happening in someone else's property. So for example a leak from a flat above, or a tree blowing over in a storm and flattening your neighbour's house.

That's why we have insurance. The fact that he chose a policy with such a huge excess (if he in fact did) is the reason he is having to pay out for it now.

TheFairyCaravan Wed 26-Nov-14 00:06:45

Blimey! Who on earth has a £1k excess? I just renewed our insurance and our excess is £50.

Anyhow, I wouldn't pay it, they chose to claim and they chose their excess so tough! Have you got legal cover on your insurance, if you have ring them for some advice.

TensionWheelsCoolHeels Wed 26-Nov-14 00:14:38

OP you are right, he's wrong, he has no case and has no proof you have been negligent. I assume you have a trail via email of the dates you were aware of the leak & your invoices from checking/fixing the w/machine can show how quickly you reacted to being made aware of the problem. Just repeat what you have said - you had no way to foresee the leak happening & you are not negligent for any damage as you acted quickly as soon as you knew there was a problem.

GrottyPotPlant Wed 26-Nov-14 00:17:37

If it's a flat he probably claimed on the block's building insurance (that's what happens for leaks between flats in my block, and they are so frequent that the excess is now 1500!!!). In that case, the excess is usually charged to the flat where the leak originated, or if it came from the common parts then it is charged to the service charge.

If there is a caretaker, I'm sure there must be a managing agent, who will have been involved in the insurance claim, so can corroborate what was and wasn't claimed, and will probably have seen the damage as part of the process, so worth getting in touch with them.

Agreed that a whole new kitchen for a slow leak seems a bit sharp!!

washerwoman2 Wed 26-Nov-14 00:30:10

Your advice - and wording to use in my next reply - is really helping thanks!

He did say he has claimed on the block's building insurance. but if they though there was negligence they would be coming after me and my insurance. and they aren't. Someone told me that where excesses are 1k plus the mgmt co sometimes pays the excess for claimants. It wouldn't surprise me if he was claiming 1k from me and 1k from them so he's making a profit on his brand new kitchen.

I have called my own insurance co legal helpline and am waiting for them to call me back.

mineallmine that is my attitude - his kitchen was 18 yrs old and identical to the one I had when I moved in. I replaced it this summer (so now have a brand new washing machine) and paid full price for it. he got his for 1k.

whois Wed 26-Nov-14 01:34:16

he's massively trying it on! Tell him to do one, but with wording suggested by previous posters.

FoxgloveFairy Wed 26-Nov-14 02:35:20

He really is having a laugh. He can't force you to pay this with absolutely no evidence that you're liable, surely? You're entitled to see the insurance policy with the excess, see the damage and get your own quotes as well as see his quotes to satisfy yourself that you really owe for this damage and how much. At least I would have thought so.

daisychain01 Wed 26-Nov-14 03:19:44

I wouldn't waste any more energy on it until he makes the next (official) move, ie he would have to send a legal letter before I did anything else. You can already evidence the responses you have given and you have contacted your own insurance co.

I wouldn't allow him to send you on a wild goose chase, when he is massively trying it on.

Dunkling Wed 26-Nov-14 08:18:53

thecatneuterer is spot on in everything she says.

Accidental damage from another property is something you claim from your own insurance. You are not liable for damage to another house even if the damage arises from something your house causes. A highly publicised case a few years ago.... one thatched property burnt down spreading to the neighbouring property. The neighbouring property daftly had no insurance and thought they could pursue next door, it being their fire and all from their chimney. Apparently not. You are solely liable for your own property. Save for negligence... so the tree that falls would need to have had a warning it was unsafe. Or the chimney condemned but still used. A leak is just one of lifes things.

Forget the amount of excess, cost of kitchen, timeline. 'tis all boohocky and irrelevant. And neighbour is a cheeky trying it on git. He deserves a bottle of wine and an apology for his inconvenience but nothing more.

cheesecakemom Wed 26-Nov-14 08:32:26

Your insurance company should be liable - if not then let them sort it out by getting in touch with the other tenant's insurance co. If you hit another car you/ your insurance company pay up. Let the insurance Cos battle it out.

FunkyBoldRibena Wed 26-Nov-14 08:41:42

Your insurance company should be liable

I think if the other person wanted to claim on the OP's insurance, they would have had to do that before fitting a new kitchen.

cheesecakemom Wed 26-Nov-14 08:45:08

You are right, in fact why didn't he claim the damages from your insurance co anyway?

I doubt he is claiming 1k from you and another 1k from the building. You already said the building management co was in touch with you about paying the 1k.

It's silly to have 1k excess anyway!

WaroftheRoses Wed 26-Nov-14 08:47:32

I'm also astounded by the size of the excess! £200 maybe but £1000! Wow!

TheAlias Wed 26-Nov-14 08:50:36

If your are/were judged to be at fault then the whole thing should have been done through your insurance. Ask your insurance company for advice.

asmallandnoisymonkey Wed 26-Nov-14 08:55:24

A lot of people don't realise that the excess for an escape of water claim is high - check your policy, it's usually higher than the compulsory excess and the voluntary excess.

LoblollyBoy Wed 26-Nov-14 09:04:08

Washer, where do you live? A lot of this advice seems wildly wrong to me, but I'm in Scotland. Looks like it's an area where the law differs.

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