Neighbour below threatens to go to court
We have a flat with a very nice tenant. In December, just before Xmas he informed us of a leak a day before to the flat below when he was using his washing machine. Although a leak was only one day and stopped, we phoned British Gas and had their plumbing engineer same day however he said that a drainage engineer needs to attend.
The following day a British gas drainage engineer attended our flat and removed a small blockage however stated in his report that it was not a cause of the leak. We have his report in writing. He also wanted to access the flat below. The neighbour below refused to grant access stating that he has all photos and videos from the day when he had a leak. We contacted the management company to update them on the status. They were very surprised that access was not granted and phoned the neighbour who then said that access can be granted.
We arranged for another British gas engineer to attend and investigate a cause of the leak (on 20/12) however he was not sure where it came from and thought that it is probably from communal pipes that management company is responsible for. The management company however states that all pipes in the flat our responsibility. We checked the lease agreement, which states that pipes exclusively serving the flat are responsibility of leaseholders. What is unclear now which pipe was leaking and whether it is leaseholders' responsibility. British Gas stats that the policy we have with them doesn't cover the pipe they think was leaking.
In the meantime, the neighbour below emailed us on 18/12 (when he refused access) his photos/videos and from the very first email stated that he will go to court if we don't pay for repairs (which are no more than a couple of hundred pounds - his own words). He demanded that we responded within 24hours, then asked us to respond within 48 hours. We passed him British gas reports that they think it is communal pipes however he doesn't want to hear and keeps saying that he will go to court if we don't pay a couple of hundred for repairs. His builders did the work on 24/12 and he sent us a bill much higher than originally stated and again demanding to pay within 48 hours! We responded that at least we should have been given a quote and that it is still unclear which pipe was leaking.
We had British Gas back again on 2 Jan, again in our flat only as we keen to understand where the issue is and what needs to be fixed and have explained our position many times to the neighbour and the management company.
A long post I appreciate however would be grateful for some thoughts in this situation on the following:
1) How to establish which pipe is exclusively serving our flat and not part of communal pipework? There is no drawing of pipework (checked with the management company who are freeholders)
2) Should we go back to British Gas as the management company plumber's view is different from theirs?
3) What can be claimed via building insurance?
4) What would fellow landlords do in relation to the neighbour's court threats? I am quite reluctant for this to continue but his behaviour seems totally unreasonable. We have never met him before the leak happened so not sure what sort of person he is and why would someone go to court without trying to sort things out first.
5) How to establish which pipe was leaking? We contacted leak detection companies (3 in total) and they all say they only deal with ongoing leaks.
Many thanks for all your comments:)
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