Urgent advice required – dry rot issue in my building and neighbour ignoring it

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  • Urgent advice required – dry rot issue in my building and neighbour ignoring it
  • tpbiker
    Member

    Hi all

    Following on from a post a few weeks ago, my top floor neighbour has found dry rot in the room above my bedroom. I’ve subsequently had the surveyor round and having stripped my wall and floor boards I have it as well. Infact the entire corner of the building is affected.

    Neighbour above has stripped out her kitchen, and my bedroom is deemed unsafe to sleep in due to her ceiling so we are both keen to get fixed asap, even if the worst case cost will be 11k per flat. Issue is with the lady below, shes elderly, and rents the flat through a friend who apparently lets flats. On hearing pretty much every other flat has an issue she sent her letting agent round who took one look, couldn’t see anything and said her flat is unaffected. I know for a fact that 3 of my floor joists need replaced, which will cost around a grand, which she is liable for half of.

    Now I suspect she may stump up for her share, and even if she doesn’t I’m prepared to pay her share just to make my property habitable. To fix my floor joists shouldn’t really affect her flat, ie the builders dont need access to her rented property to carry out the work. But here is the issue..

    myself and the upstairs neighbour need this work doing now, she doesn’t have a kitchen, and I dont have a bedroom. If I stump up her share of the joist fix then my flat is fixed. But there is no doubt that her flat is also riddled with dry rot which she cant see, and she seems to think her pal the letting agent can tell everything is fine without looking behind her walls. The agent is away on holiday so I have invited her round to see the state of my place, but I doubt she knows dry rot from cotton wool. I’m worried I pay out 11k to fix my flat, she does nothing, then in 18 months time the issue just comes back as she hasn’t bothered doing anything about it – which it will if she does nothing

    So what are my options? If she refuses to get a surveyor in to check her flat is fine, not only will it seriously hinder the planned sale of my place next year, but if I do stay I may have to do all the work all over again. If she refuses to do anything about it then can I hold her accountable for any future damage to my property through negligence?

    FYI – the cause of the dry rot, a blocked drain pipe, has been fixed, so the only way its likely to come back is if she doesn’t do anything about fixing the issue in her flat, and it spreads to mine.

    Advice gladly received, as i’m really stressing and want to know my options and bargaining chips before I meet her tomorrow evening

    thanks

    Premier Icon ads678
    Subscriber

    Speak to the letting agent and tell them they are talking shite.

    Premier Icon funkmasterp
    Subscriber

    Could you ask her for her friends details, cut out the middleman?

    Contact the owner of the property directly , not the letting agent or the elderly tenant.

    Unless  I’m reading it wrong and the elderly lady is the landlord?

    project
    Member

    The leaseholder will have building insurance to cover the costs hopefully

    tpbiker
    Member

    elderly lady is the land lord. Leasing agency sent a woman round who said no issue and landlord beleives them despite no surveyor being involved

    Buildings insurance wont cover dry rot

    If she refuses to do anything about it and my flat is subsequently affected can I make a claim against her for the value of damage to my property?

    I’d say she hasn’t a leg to stand on if the whole building is affected, same as when the council come knocking.

    If you get the damage again, would you seriously put up with the hassle again?

    I’d be taking legal advice now, unless any of us are clued up on property law and liability anything said is just opinion.

    tpbiker
    Member

    If you get the damage again, would you seriously put up with the hassle again?

    I’d be furious. I don’t want to hit her with the ‘ill see you in court if you damage my flat’ straight away, but if it comes to that I will. The work on my flat is only guaranteed as long as she carries her bit out, or at least gets the all clear from a surveyor. I’m going to write to the letting agency tomorrow requesting in writing that they have done a full inspection by a qualified surveyor (they haven’t) and no work has to be done. I think that is reasonable.

    Any legal experts that can advise I’d be massively grateful, otherwise I’ll be taking legal advice as a next step to understand my rights.

    paton
    Member

    HHSRS

    Housing Health Safety Rating System.

    Get council environmental health involved.

    rene59
    Member

    Don’t you have a factor or similar legal arrangement for this sort of thing?

    I’d be furious.

    That’s not what I asked.

    I only ask because my wife’s aunt had near enough the same thing happen except the second redo was a flood. She moved. The whole building had been stripped back to brick it was that bad, if you think this is an easy in/out job you are wrong as the contaminated wood has to be treated like asbestos to prevent the spread of spores which could start the whole thing again.

    But if it’s not guaranteed unless you neighbours flat is clear then tough shit for them.

    Rockhopper
    Member

    Do you own your flat (leasehold presumably)?  You need to speak to the Freeholder.  Your lease will say which parts of the building you are responsible for.

    Speak to the letting agent and tell them they are talking shite.

    Speak the the agent and ask to see a copy Professional Indemnity Insurance – ask them if it covers giving advice on dry rot.

    tjagain
    Member

    The council will have powers to enforce repairs on reluctant owners – it varies around the country

    First step would be a professional opinion stating that her flat needs to be properly surveyed.

    globalti
    Member

    As above, once the fungus is in a building it will continue to spread as it searches for moisture. That includes spreading through walls.

    Premier Icon dmorts
    Subscriber

    You’re in Scotland aren’t you? Therefore it’s likely there is no leaseholder for the building your flat is in.

    Can you pursue this via a statutory repair notice? The first stage of the repair being that the entire building is surveyed

    tjagain
    Member

    if its Edinburgh do everything you can to keep out of the stat notice system!  25% management fee and corrupt as hell

    tpbiker
    Member

    Thanks for the replies.

    I know that once the fungus is in the building it will continue to spread unless every part of it is treated. That’s the issue, everyone else affected is doing something about it, other than one landlord, who without having asked a surveyor, is telling me nothing is wrong. I will contact the council today to see what they say

    If I’m perfectly honest I plan to move next year so whilst I’ll need to let any buyer know I’ve had dry rot, I’ll also have a certificate my flat has been completely cleared. Technically I don’t think I need to tell them that the downstairs flat did nothing as its not been diagnosed in theirs.. But morally that is bang out of order.

    Premier Icon dmorts
    Subscriber

    keep out of the stat notice system!  25% management fee and corrupt as hell

    Might be the only, and possibly smoothest, option in light of wanting to move next year.

    Any (decent) surveyor of a potential buyer on seeing a dry rot issue is going to ask if the entire building was treated, surely?

    tpbiker
    Member

    Any (decent) surveyor of a potential buyer on seeing a dry rot issue is going to ask if the entire building was treated, surely?

    You’d have thought so wouldn’t you but the surveyors I spoke to told me that they never ask that question !

    tjagain
    Member

    IIRC the OP is in Scotland maybe Edinburgh.

    Edinburgh do have a “shared repairs” service which can enforce repairs in this sort of situation.  Use it to force her to co operate but whatever you do do not allow CEC to take over the project

    <p>I should add that my wife’s aunt’s flat was in Edinburgh (Dalry) and IIRC CEC were the ones doing the work or at least running it. Yeah, lot of hassle,</p>

    tjagain
    Member

    How much did they rip her off squirrelking? – the corruption in the old service was awful – inflating cost by 10X was not uncommon.

    I think if dry rot is spreading to your flat from another then they are causing you a nuisance.  Thats a matter for your solicitor (may be different in Scotland!).  Regarding the dry rot, the source of the original damp needs to be fixed and the structure dried out.  This is best done with big fans as opposed to dehumidifiers.  All infected timbers need to be removed and others treated to help prevent re infestation.  New timber needs to be treated.  If they are cut, the cut ends need treating before installation.  All masonry walls near the attack need to be treated including stripping off plaster.  If the moisture content of the timber is below 20% (I think) infestation will stop.  ventilation helps if this is possible.  Any concrete floors in the vicinity should also be treated.

    It would be worthwhile checking your house insurance policy as they may cover this and pay for the repairs and alternative accommodation if necessary.  They will then seek to reclaim this from the neighbour who caused the problem.

    cynic-al
    Member

    Seek professional advice!

    <p>TJ I think she was lucky enough to have it done through insurance but the inconvenience was bad enough!</p>

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Subscriber

    As a landlord the owner has ‘repairing standards’ to meet. My statements include things like rot, damp mould.

    Find landlord via Council or Landlord register, and if she/he won’t budge, report to council Landlord officer. I know ours in Perth and Kinross is very responsive to issues like this, and has no problems calling landlord and asking for inspection and meeting with others in a block of flats.

    Premier Icon tomaso
    Subscriber

    Dry rot needs water. It only thrives where there is damp and moisture.It will pass through joints in stone and brick. Any warranty for your treatment will only be valid if you neighbouring properties aee also treated.

    Your neighbours landlord is neither a surveyor nor a dry rot expert. Request they get a qualified invasive inspection. Failing that request your contractor or surveyor inspects.

    Dealing with an established dry rot outbreak is a bugger, and you (your neighbour) will need to expose all of the potential hiding places for the mycelium as it tries to find fresh timber to feed off before you have a fighting chance of eradicating the problem.  It wont be quick and it wont be cheap.

    I’ve inspected a house in that there London this week which has a dry rot issue affecting floor joists, sash windows, skirtings and a staircase over four floors, and the costs are already well into six figures.

    My only advice would be to try and get everybody in the block to agree to appoint one experienced building surveyor to manage the problem and you split the costs.

    shaznay2
    Member

    Hi im in greenock , live in a tenement and am on the top floor, mortgaged and freehold, no factor as a lot of 160 year old buildings don’t have. I went to sell the property in June and the surveyor for home report found a hairline crack on skirting in my bay window. I was advised to get a wood specialist surveyor which I did and dry rot was advised. Had to lift my flooring for it to be looked at. Had to pay for a survey for £140 from wise group then found another approved company who were a better price.  So straight away 5000 knocked off the price of flat then found out it was unmortgable yo potential buyers. Got the work between me and my downstairs neighbour started and found it had spread through the block and sideways from my neighbour through the wall via a covered up alcove. So the lintels were all crumbled and needed removed and replaced , queue accrow props and the floor open between me and neighbours. The rest of the neighbours in my block have had the work done now so middle floor and ground, now it’s back up to mine to get last room done as the builders don’t like to leave you with no available space yo live in. Council were advised and had to keep them in the loop, all they did was send out one letter to neighbours to get work done. Now I’m in position where my flat will be ok but it doesn’t look like I’ll get an insurance backed guarantee as the neighbours through the wall aren’t getting any work done and are thinking it’s ok to get a random non specialist builder in..So dry rot will probably creep back. Asked the council to intervene again have shown them survey indicating dry rot in other block but they don’t want to do anything. They advised them to look at their ” trusted trader” scheme which has no one for dry rot. I thought they would at least be able to place a repair notice on the building but their reluctant to do a thing. So I’ll let you know how I get on. My home insurer is interested as we may have to go down legal route otherwise they don’t pay out for dry Rot. This has cost thousands so far but their were some communal costs like for support lintels that we’re split x6 across the tenement block .

    tpbiker
    Member

    Thanks for that shaznay, sounds similar to position I’m in

    Update from me.. After insisting all was fine as she’d seen pics from the leesing agency telling her it was, the elderly owner came round to my flat and saw what was behind the walls. I think this has shocked her into getting a surveyor is so some progress at least. I also pointed out that the crack in my ceiling will be the crack in her ceiling in 6 months if she does nothing, and if so her flat will be unsafe to rent.

    shaznay2
    Member

    Good on you! They need to physically see it a lot of the time…unlike the next block who are burying their heads in the sand where I live( they’ve even been shown it )

    You could try and set a timescale with the woman downstairs …Aviva insurance advised me to do this.ie . I send a letter advising them to get work done, it’s devaluing property, health and safety issue and it would be even worse as a fall out ( court or legal) has to be declared when selling property and they have 14 days to get in touch with the specialist dry rot company/ myself…If they don’t get in touch I’ve to phone aviva back…

    I was wanting the work completed in my other room before I do the letter as I’m scared in case the rot has spread that way into neighbours at opposite side.  Once the flats done I want rid of it I’m now 8 months pregnant and wanted to move to a front and back door…this has been awful x

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