Litigation: Damage To Your Property - What Are Your Legal Rights

Litigation: Damage To Your Property - What Are Your Legal Rights. From navigating mortgage rates, deposits, buyers’ schemes, and various other matters, buying a property is one of the most stressful and expensive purchases most of us will make. Buying a property represents a milestone in one’s life, and it can be heart breaking when your enjoyment of your own property is affected.

What Is The Law On Property Damage?

When you let someone into your home to do building or repair works, it is expected that the work will be of high quality, good value and for them to treat your property with adequate care and respect. Unfortunately, sometimes accidents can happen, and in some cases sub-par workmanship can cause immediate and lasting damage to your property.

Most homeowners will have home insurance cover, however, accidental damage caused by alterations, repairs, maintenance, restoration and renovations are not usually covered by buildings or contents insurance. Before hiring someone to conduct work on your home, it is prudent to check they have liability insurance to cover anything that goes wrong and whether they are part of an official trade association.

You could also use a legal document such as a contract for works, that both you and the trade person sign before work begins. This will set out the scope of work, your requirements, and what will happen if there are problems.

If damage is sustained to your property, first contact the tradesperson to raise the issue with them and invite their proposals to remedy the situation.

If they refuse to address the problem, we would recommend contacting one of our solicitors who will be able to write them a pre-action letter which will make them aware of your legal rights and their obligations to respond, and the intention of further legal action if necessary. Should no adequate response or action be taken, our experienced litigation solicitors will be happy to issue a county court action and progress the matter to trial or earlier settlement on your behalf.

How Do I Handle Damage Caused By A Contractor? Can I Sue Someone For Damaging My Property?

In construction projects there is always the risk of damage being incurred from or to surrounding structures. This is particularly the case when the construction work involves high levels of noise or vibration, deep excavation, demolition, dewatering, and so on. Developments and works in the nearby vicinity can cause a host of problems to your home, ranging from subsidence to damp.

When significant construction work, such as demolition or excavation, is to be undertaken near to other structures, the developer should carry out a condition survey to assess how the work could feasibly affect its immediate surroundings. This survey will also be used to identify and record any deficiencies in the site or property, such as the extent of cracking prior to work beginning.

The recordings from this survey are used as a ‘base line’ for identifying damage caused by the planned works. Developers can establish the liabilities that may be incurred by them, allowing them to consider special provisions or limitations about the undertaking of the work activities.

It is standard practice for builders and developers to have suitable Contractor’s all-risk insurance, a policy that covers all risks normally associated with a construction project. This will apply should a builder cause damage to the site or adjacent property while carrying out works.

If the owner of an adjacent property has concerns about the potential or ongoing works causing damage, we would recommend contacting our solicitors who can write to the developer, making them aware of their liability to repair any damage should any be incurred.

In the event that the developers continue with the work without taking steps to limit damage, it can be possible to threaten or obtain an injunction to prohibit construction works until acceptable actions have been taken.

It may be that you have adequate home insurance in place that will remedy the damage to your property. In which case you may still be liable to pay the excess from your own pocket, often amounting to thousands of pounds and your premium may rise in the future. Our first point of call would be to contact the developers and their own insurers and if need be, bring a claim against them for the cost of repairs, loss in value, loss of enjoyment and other valid heads of claim.

If your property has been affected by issues relating to developments, building works or repairs, please contact Asim Arshad on 01444 460131 or aa@bennettoakley.co.uk who will be happy to advise as to the next best steps in furthering your case.

October 2018

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