damp patch wall property management guideThis time of year brings a whole host of water leaks into play, a lot coming of course from rain and the weather elements. This doesn’t stop other leaks still happening though, and must be remembered when diagnosing a problem.

A Sudden Example

A scenario last month brought this all to light. A phone call was received regarding a damp patch on the outside wall of one flat above another in a small block, and a keen letting agent from the flat below wanting the management company of the block ‘to sort’. To make matters worse, they had a new tenant move in a few days later to then spot a serious leak from the ceiling above into the kitchen area, not a great start for a new tenant having to dot saucepans around to catch these drips.

At this point they wanted the leak stopping there and then, that very day, with signs of sheer frustration at the end of the phone at the reality of not having a magic wand to immediately do this setting in. Taking this example, it’s worth going through the thought process involved of resolving this step-by-step to understand the issues at hand:

1. You Need to Narrow Down Where You Think it is Coming From to See Who is Responsible For This 

Although it was on the outside structure which the management company looks after, it logically could not come from here. There was no trail of water down from the roof, no communal pipework nearby, and it was near a flue coming from a property which suggests it was emerging from inside the top flat.

2. You Need to Contact the Owner of the Source to Stop This

Sounds simple, but practically you have to dig out contact details and do this, leave messages etc. 

The managing agent has to do this and not hand out contact details to everyone considering Data Protection issues, and you then need to allow a reasonable amount of time for them to reply and respond, probably at least 24 hours.

Try and think of any practical ways to do this at the property as well, so in this instance we had the cleaner on the same day anyway to help locate the number of the flat above as it was not clear from plans – also the new occupier below was asked to knock on the door as well.

3. Only if Very Urgent Do You Need to Look At An Emergency Break in to Stop Running Water

It may sound tempting to barge in and break the door down, but hold your horses and check your rights for doing this and reasonable time for them to first respond. This may sound strange, but even added damage being caused by waiting can be their added cost even it this seems wasted.

4. Remember the Final Clear Up and Cost to Resolve

This is everything, including the damage to other areas inside and out which emerged from a different location. It may take an insurance claim, or it may be worth agreeing to pay or arrange contractors directly. Be careful though that this is clearly noted in writing.

Getting on Top Of

Hopefully this is something that can be appreciated before being in an actual urgent situation needing on-the-spot resolution, although if you are caught short then it’s still worth a few minutes of your time going through these four steps and making a rational decision.

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