Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 30 September 2020

Homefront: 'Who is liable for water damage from the apartment above?'​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

The Dubai property owner says the leak has damaged his ceiling

Water damage in a property can cause a number of issues for tenants and owners. Getty Images
Water damage in a property can cause a number of issues for tenants and owners. Getty Images

I own an apartment in Dubai and recently noticed a leak coming from the apartment above, which has stained and damaged my ceiling. Who is liable for the repair in such a scenario? Is it me, the developer that manages the building or the landlord/tenants of the apartment above? SC, Dubai

Unfortunately, water damage is a common issue faced by owners and renters alike. The consequences can sometimes make the property unliveable with damage not only to walls and ceilings but to personal belongings and furniture too. Here are some factors to consider:

Generally, the landlord is responsible for maintaining a property and ensuring it is fit for purpose, in other words liveable and safe. In some cases, a landlord may refuse to repair the damage or not repair it quickly enough often causing further issues. In general, property maintenance is split into two categories: repairs that cost under Dh500 and those over Dh500. The tenant is responsible for the former and the landlord for the latter.

Some tenancy contracts have clauses that state what happens when damage is caused to a property through no fault of anyone, much like your scenario. The landlord may have taken out insurance for these eventualities, so it is important to get in touch with the owner as soon as possible to ascertain which way to turn next.

Accidents do happen which is why I always advise people to have some form of rental insurance. In this instance, speak to the owner or tenant of the above property to firstly explain what is happening to your apartment and to ascertain whether they have insurance that can be claimed against.

Before pointing the finger of blame, ask the occupants of the property above how the leak occurred. If it is as a direct result of their negligence, they will be liable for repairs to your apartment. However, if the leak is the result of poor maintenance, again the repair bill to your unit can be forwarded to the tenant/owner of the apartment above.

If the leak is just one of those things that cannot be blamed on anyone in particular, ask all parties to look at their respective insurance policies (if in place) to see who can claim. Ultimately, everybody ought to play a part in resolving this but as the leak has damaged your unit from above, any compensation ought to be given to you by the owners or tenants from this above unit.

Mario Volpi is the sales and leasing manager at Engel & Volkers. He has worked in the property sector for 35 years in London and Dubai

The opinions expressed do not constitute legal advice and are provided for information only. Please send any questions to mario.volpi@engelvoelkers.com

Updated: April 1, 2020 03:12 PM

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