When you're facing a sudden crack in the glass of your property window, the first thing is to not panic. It probably looks worse than it is, and before you launch into quickly passing the buck it's important to consider all the angles.
Some good property management skills therefore can come to the rescue, and help you sift through the circumstances to not only quickly repair but then confirm who picks up the tab for this.
Therefore here are 4 key stages to first consider:
1. The Cause
So first diagnose what has caused this sudden crack to occur, which will be a combination of considering the actual damage and crack and then the circumstances surrounding.
You might feel like a bit of a detective getting to the bottom of the 'crime', which is important to then determine how it's dealt with.
It could be an a obvious object hitting the glass and cracking it, maybe someone trying to break in, or someone accidentally banging into it. Sometimes even a gardener's lawnmower may accidentally throw a stone out to suddenly hit a window and break it.
Maybe it's from someone misusing the window opening as well, and forcing it open or closed too much.
However, it may be more down to the original construction and a more unusual cause. In addition to any inherent defects, like the wrong glazing in the misaligned frame, there can be the surprisingly popular issues of double-glazing suddenly having a crack across it because of a difference in temperature outside the glass than in between the glass panes.
Whatever it is, seek some expertise from a good glazier or window contractor to help bottom out. If they can't get to site and see for themselves, then take a photo of it and email or text across to then discuss over the phone.
2. The Clarity
Once you know the cause, you then need clarity on how to repair this and who is responsible for it.
This might take a formal proposal from a contractor, and hopefully just boil down to a new pane of glass rather than further window frame repairs.
Someone then needs to take responsibility, i.e. the person who is liable for this. This is straightforward of course for those who own the building they occupy, but in scenarios like a let-premises with a landlord and tenant then the lease will need checking and considering in the backdrop of general legislation.
So with, say, an apartment, for short-term tenancies this will probably fall to the landlord, however, check the lease and any other documentation to see if the tenant is responsible for this kind of damage if it was their fault. The landlord is still ultimately responsible and will need to arrange the repair, but as a separate issue they can pursue the tenant for reimbursement, maybe from their deposit.
But even if the leaseholder owns the apartment, this will still be through a form of lease that needs checking. This will prescribe what 'demise' or literal parts of the building are within their control, which may or may not include window frames, and may even state glass-liability as different from window-frame liability.
And even if the responsibility is with, for example, the ultimate landlord, they may be able to pay for this through a service charge to all tenants for the communal areas of the development.
3. The Claim
An insurance claim may be worth considering, whether it was from an accidental cause or not. This will often be through the main building insurance policy rather than separate contents insurance, although there can be separate plate-glass policies that a tenant is perhaps obliged to take out, for example with retail shop fronts.
Now the key point to realise is that insurance cover can be different to repairing liability, as detailed here. So even though a leaseholder may be liable to repair, it may naturally form part of the main building fabric and the building insurance that the landlord arranges.
When you do have this bottomed out, check that it's actually worthwhile processing a claim. Once you take into account the hassle, delays, and excess payment, it might be worth simply cracking on - if you excuse the pun - with the straightforward repair yourself anyway.
4. The Contractors
So you know what to do, and you know who will pick up the tab - you now need to instruct someone to carry out the repair.
This will hopefully be just a one-time fix, but if there is serious damage you may need to look at emergency boarding up to provide security to the building before a full repair after going through the above processes of cause, clarity, and claims.
Also, don't forget the little extras as well, for example making sure any broken glass on the floor is all cleared up, and touch-up repairs or decorations to the window frames or plaster are completed, and no damage is made to nearby items like curtains and an occupier's personal goods.
So when you place the final instruction, make sure this is then all implemented correctly. The right vetted contractor needs to be used, who considers health and safety issues like working at height in addition to practical ones like gaining access to the property to maybe first measure up before then completing.
You have to make sure as well that they deliver what they promise, as the smaller and emergency repairs are often more difficult to get a decent glazier or contractor to bother with.
Don't Crack-Up Under the Pressure of a Broken Window
As you face the daunting prospect of resolving a broken cracked glass before your eyes, take a step back and look at these four key aspects all beginning with the letter 'c'.
First get to the cause of the crack, before then gaining clarity on what needs doing and who is responsible for this.
You can then look at any insurance claim if appropriate, and finally arrange the right contractor to repair and send the bill to the correct person.
And hopefully this is a one off instance which won't happen again.
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