I have a leak, what should I do?

19 May 2017

Leak in my rented propertyImagine this scenario, you come home from work to find water dripping through your (rented flat’s) kitchen ceiling- it’s not pouring through but there is a steady drip. What to do?

The first thing to do is put a pot or a bucket under the drip to catch as much of it as possible. Then, if it’s anywhere near the light fitting on the ceiling, turn off the light. I know we don’t always know our neighbours but now is the time to make friends!

Go up to the flat above you and chap on the door, explain that you have a leak coming in and once you establish which room is above your leak, perhaps find out if they are running a washing machine, dishwasher  or if the sink is perhaps leaking from underneath- the same applies if its bathroom ( you get the idea!)

Yes, it’s the tenant’s responsibility to do this, some tenants advise that they feel awkward as they don’t know the neighbour, this is your opportunity to get to know them! If your flat is managed by an agent then contact the agent to notify them and keep them informed. There is normally an obvious place and the problem can be quickly solved, it might be a leak from the back of a washing machine, or the front seal and the water is then making its way down through the floor to your flat. In most cases, once the source of the leak is found and the problem fixed, if it hasn’t been a major leak then the ceiling will dry out and perhaps just need a lick of paint. In some cases, the problem is bigger and a portion of the ceiling might need taken down and replaced once dry. Electrics will normally be checked too if it has come through a fitting. The cost of this should be borne by the landlord.

What if the neighbour is not in? In that case, pop a written note through the door explaining the problem and wait for the neighbour to get in touch. Again if it’s managed by an agent let them know. In some cases, there may be no response, the occupier might be on holiday, not living there etc, those cases can be more tricky. You can’t force access into a property unless the problem is continuous and ongoing so while your agent should be trying to get information on the owner, there is little that can be done. The last port of call is contacting environmental health, who will, if the problem is causing major issues, force access and turn off the water.