Factors! I hate them. Do I need a lawyer? Small Claims?

16 replies
Found 24th Aug 2016
Are all factors this bad?

As the owner of a ground floor flat I came home one Friday to find water coming from a dark hole in the cupboard above my boiler...going through the boiler. I contacted the building factor (via email) as there is no other way to contact them over the weekend (no emergency numbers) and received no response. I couldn't stand to watch it anymore and got my own plumber to come out who confirmed it was a leak coming from a communal pipe between my flat and the one above and he was unable to fix it as it was communal issue that the factor would need to sort. I contacted the factors with this new information and they replied saying they would get back to me when they were back in the office!

They did get back to me but said I needed to contact the flat above who would need to get their own plumber out, that took a week. Eventually when that plumber came he confirmed what my plumber has said and it was a communal pipe leak that would need to be fixed by the factors. Argh.

I confirmed this with the factor owner and he assured me they would get their plumber to contact me....5 days later...still nothing so I sent another email and received a reply saying that the factor owner thought it was already fixed! Argh. When the factors plumber eventually came out he confirmed what the other plumbers had said but that he couldn't fix on the spot as he needed to go back to the factors to get the work authorised (leaving it over yet another weekend). He arranged to come out on the Monday but then never turned up and never bothered to let me know. He finally fixed the leak the day after.

As the leak was left so long I need a new boiler, new flooring and a new door. Most of the communication was done through email.

I have asked the factors to confirm in writing who is responsible for paying the excess for the damage on my property (£1000!) but have had no response to several emails and the deadline I finally asked for of this Friday looks like it will come and go.

Would I be able to claim the excess back via small claims? Is it worth going to the home owner housing panel? Or do I just need to suck it up and pay for it?!

15 Comments

If it was me I'd send a registered letter threatening court action to reclaim any losses/damages as their current lack of support/service/action has caused more damage than necessary. Had they been able to authorise the original plumber you contacted the overall cost would have been much less (I assume)

With these sort of water leaks, you will need to claim on your buildings insurance. They should cover it.

First of all I have never come across the term factors ever before but we live and learn.
The way you describe the situation is that I assume their is a body responsible for maintaining and repairing "common" services/utilities/land/etc. I guess you and other residents/owners contribute some money towards this. In other words you have a contract. Only be examining the T&Cs of that contract will you be able to determine whether the factor has broken that agreement in any way. If they have, and are not prepared to reimburse you for your loss then yes you can try taking court action. As mutley said you can claim against your insurance - maybe buildings and contents - but you may not have any. You may also have some legal cover in the insurance if you have any - worth checking out.
I hope you get this sorted in an amicable way, but do contact Citizens Advice - they hear similar issues every day.
Oh and BTW when you do get it sorted you may wish to suggest to the factors it would be in their best interests to improve their service response arrangements.

Original Poster

Thanks everyone. Yes, I do have building insurance paid directly to the property factors, insurance arranged by them, hence the large £1000 excess if I claim from them. I just wondered if it was was something that should be split between flats as I'm sure the cost of repair will be between all flats.

It just seems very unfair that there could/should have been zero damage if they had fixed the leak when reported. The insurance brokers couldn't do anything and I just had to watch it happen. They have a 'statement of services' and that gives a period of two days for emergency works. So yes they went well over that.

louyoung

Thanks everyone. Yes, I do have building insurance paid directly to the … Thanks everyone. Yes, I do have building insurance paid directly to the property factors, insurance arranged by them, hence the large £1000 excess if I claim from them. I just wondered if it was was something that should be split between flats as I'm sure the cost of repair will be between all flats.It just seems very unfair that there could/should have been zero damage if they had fixed the leak when reported. The insurance brokers couldn't do anything and I just had to watch it happen. They have a 'statement of services' and that gives a period of two days for emergency works. So yes they went well over that.


Ahh now I understand - you live in Scotland!
You may find this of interest:-
citizensadvice.org.uk/sco…-s/
Scottish Shelter has a similar web page
scotland.shelter.org.uk/get…ors

Banned

Who or what the f are factors?

Original Poster

Citizens advice are impossible to get hold of up here and I contacted shelter through their web chat but they only quote from their website. It has detail about who pays for common charges but not damage or insurance claims for homeowners internal damage resulting from communal issues.

A property factor looks after all the common works of the building I.e security guard, bins, lighting, lift repairs etc. They take a fee for organising it all.

louyoung

Citizens advice are impossible to get hold of up here and I contacted … Citizens advice are impossible to get hold of up here and I contacted shelter through their web chat but they only quote from their website. It has detail about who pays for common charges but not damage or insurance claims for homeowners internal damage resulting from communal issues.A property factor looks after all the common works of the building I.e security guard, bins, lighting, lift repairs etc. They take a fee for organising it all.


These days people like Citizens Advice and Shelter initially only provide "information" rather than "advice" - at least at the first point of contact. They like their clients to attempt a solution themselves having given them the accurate information. If clients then attempt a solution and are still ahving difficulties of any sort then they will go to the next level(s) which ultimately leads to advice. Bear in mind the people in these charities are often volunteers - still well trained but just like any job some of their volunteers will be more experienced than others but are always supervised by an experienced member of staff.
I know it can mean taking time out but many CAB offices do a "drop-in" service so that might yield something.
You need to dig out the details on your insurance.
From what you said earlier you have an enforced buildings insurance policy with the factor with an excess of £1000. Without seeing the policy I am not clear whether you are covered for a new boiler/flooring/door. Reading between the lines this enforced insurance policy seems to protect the factor against any negligence claim. The policy almost protects them against any claims of negligence or tardyiness in their response.
In the longer term, I have no idea whether you and the other parties to employing this factor can shop around or not when the current factor agreement expires.

Original Poster

tardytortoise

These days people like Citizens Advice and Shelter initially only provide … These days people like Citizens Advice and Shelter initially only provide "information" rather than "advice" - at least at the first point of contact. They like their clients to attempt a solution themselves having given them the accurate information. If clients then attempt a solution and are still ahving difficulties of any sort then they will go to the next level(s) which ultimately leads to advice. Bear in mind the people in these charities are often volunteers - still well trained but just like any job some of their volunteers will be more experienced than others but are always supervised by an experienced member of staff.I know it can mean taking time out but many CAB offices do a "drop-in" service so that might yield something.You need to dig out the details on your insurance.From what you said earlier you have an enforced buildings insurance policy with the factor with an excess of £1000. Without seeing the policy I am not clear whether you are covered for a new boiler/flooring/door. Reading between the lines this enforced insurance policy seems to protect the factor against any negligence claim. The policy almost protects them against any claims of negligence or tardyiness in their response.In the longer term, I have no idea whether you and the other parties to employing this factor can shop around or not when the current factor agreement expires.




Thanks, i'll try their drop in again although Ive been twice before to the city centre one and it has been closed within their advertised opening hours. I have spoken to the broker and there is no problem with claiming through my own policy, I just needed to get quotes, which I have done. My issue is that I don't feel I should be the one paying the full £1000 excess when the damage was made from a common issue and factors not sticking to their own terms of service and taking weeks to fix an emergency leak.

Unfortunately our factors are also a letting company who work from around 80% of the building renting out owners flats. There are only around 6 people in the block who own and stay in their homes meaning that they will be near impossible to get rid of.
Edited by: "louyoung" 25th Aug 2016

louyoung

Thanks, i'll try their drop in again although Ive been twice before to … Thanks, i'll try their drop in again although Ive been twice before to the city centre one and it has been closed within their advertised opening hours. I have spoken to the broker and there is no problem with claiming through my own policy, I just needed to get quotes, which I have done. My issue is that I don't feel I should be the one paying the full £1000 excess when the damage was made from a common issue and factors not sticking to their own terms of service and taking weeks to fix an emergency leak.Unfortunately our factors are also a letting company who work from around 80% of the building renting out owners flats. There are only around 6 people in the block who own and stay in their homes meaning that they will be near impossible to get rid of.


Not sure which part of Scotland you live in but some of the CAB offices offer telephone assistance also. You can always enter your postcode on their website cas.org.uk/ and I know if you live and work quite some miles distance from both they don't mind which one you contact.

Original Poster

I'm right in the city centre and for some reason they don't pick up the phone, ever! I've found the closest one and so going to try their offices again tomorrow. Thanks

Other then depriving other residents was there a reason why you couldn't turn off the supply and save the damage?

Original Poster

Yes, it was leaking from a communal waste pipe which meant it leaked every time a boiler was used in the building...or maybe just the 5 flats about me. The only way to fix it was to remove the section of pipe between my flat and upstairs!

Surely you could have redirected the leak away from your boiler into a large bucket or at least protected the boiler oO

Original Poster

Impossible, the leak came from too high up to reach or see and the gap between the top of the boiler and top of the cupboard is approx 2 inches. There is an access panel above the cupboard that I opened straight away that I could squeeze a towel into but the way the pipe work is fitted it barely redirected the water. Absolutely zero room for a bucket/tray or anything else. Thanks for the helpful input!
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