Almost every flat lease requires tenants to avoid activities that might cause damage, or annoyance or nuisance to fellow residents. One such clause became the focus of a case in which a couple who endured a series of water and sewage leaks into their basement flat won substantial damages from their upstairs neighbours.
The leakage incidents, some more serious than others, were spread over a 12-year period and were largely caused by deplorable workmanship in internal renovation works carried out to the upstairs flat. Pipes serving a Jacuzzi, a bath and a toilet all leaked intermittently and the downstairs tenants, who had logged more than 80 incidents, felt obliged to move out for a time.
The upstairs tenants argued that many of the problems stemmed from existing damp in the basement flat and were a consequence of the somewhat dilapidated condition of the whole building. It was accepted that they were not responsible for all the water damage, but a judge found that much of it was a direct consequence of their failure to employ properly qualified tradesmen to work on their flat. They had breached a covenant in their lease and were ordered to pay £15,600 in damages to the downstairs tenants.