Hello, I am calling to report a leak..

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It’s 3am in the morning and your peaceful sleep is shattered by a panicked call from a leaseholder in a prestigious block.

There is water pouring into their unit from the flat above, and while you try to calm them down,  you begin to recite the lyrics to REM’s “It’s the end of the world as we know it” to yourself.

Your mind is filled with visions of their Yorkshire Terrier (which they are not allowed in terms their lease) dog paddling across the engineered wood floor in their living room (which should be carpeted).   Who will you call? How long will it take  for them to get there?  Where is the water valve for that building? What about the flat below? Insurers will need to be notified!  Maybe I should call an electrician to make sure the Yorkie isn’t electrocuted, why does it always happen at 3am?  The list goes on….

Finally you manage to get the flat owner off the phone, so you can in turn get hold of that firm that promised they offered a 24 hour emergency response service for situations just like this.

Is this really your problem?  As a conscientious property manager you will probably be trying to help despite the fact that your function is (mostly) to manage the service charge and the common parts.  In a block, leaks are always going to be a possibility (perhaps probability is a better choice of word!).

It’s a good idea to send a copy of your building insurance policy schedule to everyone with a covering note.   Leaseholders are legally entitled to have a copy of the insurance schedule anyway, so this is an ideal opportunity to highlight how they can help reduce leaks.  You may suggest that they regularly check that their appliances are correctly connected and that the waste/supply pipes are securely connected.  You might ask them to check that mastic seals around the shower and bath or kitchen sink are in good condition and that waste pipes are not leaking.  You could even go further and remind them to let you know if they are remodelling or altering their premises because these works carry an inherent risk of leaks into the flat(s) below.  You could ask them to let you have current contact details  – you never know when you will need them!

At 3 am in the morning though, please make sure you ask them if they have knocked on the door of the flat above first before you call that expensive 24/7 emergency plumber…!

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