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Water Leak From an Upstairs Flat? – Useful Guide

Leak in Upstairs Flat - Who is Responsible? UK

Having a water leak at your home or business is not a nice thing to deal with, even when it is something that you need to sort yourself. But what if, for example, you have a water leak from an upstairs flat above you? How does that work and who is responsible? We look into that in this in our informative guide to help understand what to consider.

We’ll explain the situation briefly and then give some water leak tips to consider when looking at how to handle a water leak from an upstairs flat and the three best people to speak to.

Who is Responsible for a Water Leak From an Upstairs Flat Above?

This is a question we get asked regularly when doing our leak detection work, especially because we do commercial leak detection too, including for landlords, property management companies and home insurance companies. On that, our page regarding business interruption insurance is useful too.

The simple and honest answer is that it depends, but why is that?

Water Leak from an Upstairs Flat - Who is Responsible. Tenant, landlord.
Water Leak from Upstairs Flat – Who is Responsible?

Well, as we alluded to earlier, if you live in your own (freehold) property and have a water leak inside, it will be a case for you to resolve and possibly involving your home insurance company. In some cases this might be two as some people have separate companies for buildings and contents insurance. There may be a few instances where a neighbour is involved, say in a semi-detached house, but generally you will be in control of the situation.

When you have a water leak from an upstairs flat many people could be involved, including possibly the following:

  • Yourself (obviously)
  • Your insurance company (sometimes contents only)
  • Your neighbouring flat upstairs (could be several affected)
  • Your neighbours insurance company
  • Your landlord (if you are renting)
  • Your landlords insurance company (buildings insurance)
  • The property management company
  • The property maintenance company
  • Possibly a residents association
  • A University in student flats accommodation
  • Your local council (if council flats are involved)
  • Possibly a heating engineer if you share this across a few flats
  • There could be others, but you get the point!

Plus that is only in relation to indoor leaks, if you want to understand about outdoor water leaks, see our article about how to report a water leak outside, for which your local water company may be involved too.

The actual cause of the leak could have an impact too, especially if someone is at fault (even if accidental damage has caused it) or been negligent in causing the leak in the first place. Each case is different so treat this as a general guide.

Water Leak - Landlord Insurance or tenant?
Water Leak – Landlord Insurance?

So, as you can see it can get complicated. Sorry to add to that complexity but there is something else to think about too, which we will explain next.

How do I know if it is actually a Water Leak From an Upstairs Flat?

This is true, if you suddenly spot a damp patch (or running water) from a ‘ceiling leak‘ it may not actually be a water leak as such, it could be a spillage or accidental damage (say from leaving a tap running). We discussed other things that look like leaks but are not as such in our article about a shower leaking through ceiling and linked to that, shower drain leaks

Leaking Water
Signs of Leaking Water

The other thing to consider is that , some of the usual signs of a water leak are trickier to spot on flats. Looking at that guide we just linked to, here are the 10 things we mentioned alongside a few comments that might make spotting these harder:

  1. Visible Signs – you can see your ceiling but not above likely
  2. Sound of Water Running – insulation might suppress this noise
  3. Boiler Losing Pressure – the leak is less likely on your own boiler
  4. Increased Water Bill – unlikely to show on yours (or could be shared)
  5. High Humidity / Condensation – less likely in your flat
  6. Structural Changes – one you will likely see
  7. Strong Musty Odours – possibly supressed (unless sewage)
  8. Mould Appearing – possibly, but more likely in voids between floors
  9. Low Water Pressure – less likely to be noticeable in a block
  10. Stains on Walls or Ceilings – yes, perhaps the most likely!

So, as you can see, with a water leak from an upstairs flat, many of these useful signs related to ceiling water damage are likely less clear to see than in a house or other property. Assuming you have established, or strongly believe it is a water leak, then one of the next questions is…

Water Leak From an Upstairs Flat – What to do?

First and foremost, do not ignore a water leak, even if it is a water leak from an upstairs flat. Leaving it could be risky, especially with leaks that have come from above. After you have spoken to the right people (more on that next) make sure that if nobody knows exactly where the water leaks is that a professional leak detection company such as ourselves is appointed. We are experts at finding leaks in all sorts of buildings, including a water leak from an upstairs flat.

We have a separate guide explaining how to find a water leak effectively.

If the leak is obvious then arrange for a plumber to fix it, or ask that your landlord or property manager does so (they may have one they use regularly). On that, we have an article explaining why water leak detection experts are better equipped than a local plumber for water leaks.

Local Plumber
Local Plumber

We mentioned earlier about the fact that lots of people could be involved in a water leak from an upstairs flat but consider prioritising the following three groups of people:

  1. The Person in the Flat Directly above you (if it is safe to) and especially if you know and get on well with them. They will likely thank you. Wouldn’t you like to know if the boot was on the other foot and you have a water leak?
  2. The Landlord or Property Management Company (if you have one) because in general when you have a water leak from an upstairs flat, that will be normally claimed (if they do claim) and manged through the owners buildings insurance. If contents are damaged that will often be dealt with separately, which brings us onto…
  3. Your Insurance Company (for contents) with the previous point in mind, it can also be useful to speak to your own insurance company. It is likely that they will give you help and advice and, if repair work is required on your flat, they could help sort that and claim back from the insurance policy of the other party (most likely the landlord / owners policy).

As an aside to the above, you might find our article about making a water leak insurance claim useful also, it includes some safety tips too.

We hope you found our article about what do do about a water leak from an upstairs flat useful. Remember, as we said at the very start of this article, there are many scenarios when you have a water leak from an upstairs flat, so be aware of the situation in your own flat (which you will know most about) as that will have an impact on how to manage this.

Each case is different but if you need help with a water leak, get in touch wish us and we will help to trace and access it for you and help with any water damage restoration to your home, should that be needed.

Ceiling Leak
Ceiling Leaks

On the subject of such leaks, you may like our article about loft tank leaks and similarly our useful guide to water leaks in houses.

Additionally, we have a great video and article on Testing Mr Muscle Drain Gel.

Who Pays for a Water Leak from an Upstairs Flat?

If you have a water leak from an upstairs flat, it is often the case that the owner / landlord (leaseholder) of the property is responsible (or their insurance company if they claim) to pay for the cost of the damage and repairs. But a number of things can affect this depending on the individual setup for those flats.

Who is responsible for water damage from a flat above?

Deciding or understanding who is responsible will depend on a number of factors including the parties involved, their role and responsibilities in looking after the flats and of course the cause of the leak. For example, if it is a leak in the general block plumbing that may be treated differently from a washing machine from the flat above. logo logo