I am a solo leaseholder / flat owner and a severe gale force storm recently blew in the window/patio door of my seafront- facing flat in East Sussex.
The managing agents/landlords have refused all help to me to get my window repaired, including temporarily securing it.
They requested pictures of the damage and when I sent them over, they rejected them saying that as it is damage to the window frame, not the glass and that I should have replaced the window myself and attended previously to servicing the window. They also refused to send me a copy of the full insurance policy. All they could send me was a Certificate of Insurance, which mainly just has the name of the insurer and broad details of the policy.
However, the damage to my window is extensive. The bottom of the window is flapping about every time there is a gust of wind with nothing to secure it. I have had to push my sofa and chairs against it to close it. I pointed this out to them, told them I had in fact previously had the window serviced by a local company and asked for their help with a temporary securing of the window. There was no reply from them.
I am now very concerned about future storm damage and my flat is close to uninhabitable: I am just about managing to sleep there.
Could you give me any pointers as to what to do now? Could I, contact the insurer myself as I am being given no further information by the landlords or managing agents? Would it be possible to find out from them exactly what the cover is, with a view to putting in a claim?
A simple glass replacement would ordinarily be the responsibility of the leaseholder however the window frame / patio door frame form an integral part of the building structure. Consequently it would normally be down to the freehold landlord / managing agents to facilitate any such repair of damage to the framework either through an insurance claim or use of its own approved tradesman and a subsequent levy through the service charge.
It is recommended in the first instance to seek legal clarity on the lease as to who is responsible for these repairs.
Secondly if it can be evidenced that the leasehold owner occupier has contributed to the cost of the buildings insurance via a service charge paid to the managing agent then there is no reason why they cannot contact Aviva for further details of the policy and its coverage. Aviva may in turn refer them to an insurance broker if the policy were placed by one but again they should be able to assist with details of policy coverage. It is unlikely however that Insurers will accept a new claim and proceed with repairs without the approval of the managing agent in the first instance.
In the event that it is clear from the lease that the freehold landlord / managing agents are responsible for building repairs and that the insurance policy arranged by the managing agents for the building should respond to such a claim then respectfully suggest taking legal advice to encourage the freehold landlord or its managing agents to take this course of action.
If all else fails they could check if the managing agent is a member firm of The Property Ombudsman and if so file a complaint for them to provide a free, impartial and independent alternative dispute resolution service.
Mike Backner, Director of Bridge Insurance Brokers