Having a dispute with your neighbour can cause a strain on your day-to-day life. You may not appreciate the loud parties they throw, their litter-dropping habits or the fact that they leave you short of car parking space. But what would you do if a dispute left you suffering from some sort of financial loss?
Whether it was an accident or not, we look at whether your home insurance will cover damage caused to your property as a result of a neighbour.
Damage to your property
Some of the most common ways a neighbour can damage your property include electricity, gas and phone lines being cut off, leaks as well as damage to garden walls, ornaments and windows. Another source of claims can be from the roots of trees in your neighbour’s garden cracking your drains or damaging your foundations. If your property is damaged in one of these ways, you may think that it’s your neighbour’s responsibility to put it right, but this is not always the case.
For example, say that you went into your attic and realised that there was a damp patch on the side of the party wall that you share with your neighbour. On further inspection of your own home you realise that the damage is being caused by a leak in the roof of your neighbour’s property. To make a claim from their home policy (assuming that they had one) you’d have to prove that the damage caused was the fault of the neighbour.
Their insurance providers may not pay out if the cause of the damage is due to poor maintenance of the house. And unless your neighbour agrees to pay up, you may be forced to claim on your own home policy. Check the details of your policy to see what you’re insured for, and if you can prove that the damage can be attributed to the possibility of fire and flood, you could be covered. This sort of situation could be covered by accidental damage as well so it’s worth checking whether this is included in your policy.
Live in rented accommodation? It’s your landlord’s responsibility to repair damage caused by your neighbours, although any belongings that are damaged as a result are not their responsibility to replace.
If neither your or your neighbour’s insurer is willing to take on your claim, you may want to discuss the situation further. When doing this try to remain as calm as possible, as you need their co-operation on the matter – and remember, the damage caused to your property is unlikely to have been intentional. If you and your neighbour can’t come to an agreement over whose responsibility it is to cover the cost, then you may have to take legal action against them.
As part of your home insurance policy, you might have taken out legal expenses insurance for a small fee and this could help you cover the legal costs that you’ll now have to face. You should collect any evidence that could support your claim including photographic evidence of the damage.
As a pre-emptive measure, whenever you start to notice any signs of damage to your property, you should inform your neighbours as soon as possible and start to collect evidence from this point onwards. This will give you a good amount of evidence to fall back on if you ever do need to take further action later on.