Management Company / Insurer Dispute
I am currently in dispute with a property management company and would appreciate some advice. Long story, so I will endeavour to summarise:
• I own a studio flat which is in a block of 12.
• The property is managed by a large national organisation and buildings insurance cover is provided by a household name insurer. I’m not clear on the legal implications of naming names so will not do so here. The total annual premium of buildings insurance for each property owner is £178.53; total premium for the entire building is £2,102.49.
The issue and dispute:
• December 2016 - I commission a survey and valuation of the property which was carried out by a reputable RICS regulated chartered surveyor. The report notified roof damage to the block.
• January 2017 – I notified the management company about the reported roof damage but received no response. Expectation was that having been notified of the issue the management company contacted the buildings insurer and a repair was arranged.
• January 2018 – I, and all the other property owners, receive an invoice for £168 for roof repairs, enclosed with the invoice was an email from the buildings insurance claim handling firm (also high profile) stating that the claim for roof repairs submitted by the management company had been rejected because “we have run a and obtained a weather check and note that wind speeds do not meet our minimum storm criteria of 50mph”.
• January 2018 – I write to the management company requesting information about exactly when the damage was caused. To my simple mind if the insurance company had ‘run and obtained a weather check’ they would need to know exactly which date to request the ‘weather check’ for.
• January 2018 – The management company reply stating that the damage was reported on 21st July 2017.
• February 2018 - I write to the management company stating that I have a surveyor’s report confirming the damage existing in December 2016 and that I notified them as such, along with the surveyor’s report, in January 2017. I request they ask the insurer to reconsider the claim as it is clear neither the management company or the insurer know when the damage occurred and therefore the ‘weather check’ reason for dismissing the claim is absurd.
• Between February and September 2018 I receive several invoices and statements from the management company for other things, each statement includes the roof repair amount. Each time I write to the management company explaining that roof repairs are a matter for building insurance which is why there is a total premium for the property of over £2000, this amounts to 5 letters. I receive no further information from the management company regarding the roof claim.
• October 2018 – I receive a letter from the management company stating they have instructed a debt collection agency to collect the outstanding amount for roof repairs and court action will follow if there is non-payment.
My summary (you may disagree):
• The property owners have not been notified of any genuine grounds for the insurer to reject the claim, the one ground they have provided is ridiculous.
• The management company should not have accepted the rejection reason from the insurer.
• The ‘small time’ property owners are being taken advantage of by the ‘big time’ management company and insurer.
What to do next?:
• Refuse to pay and go to court or just pay the money, accept I have been abused by two unscrupulous well-known companies and walk away.
Is there anything else I could do? Complaints procedures? Ombudsman? Is there any legal representation included with RLA membership? I can’t afford solicitors fees (which is what these crooked companies are presumably banking on)
Thanks for reading, any advice would be really appreciated.
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