Damaged wallpaper responsibility

Question from helen updated on 11th January 2016:

The roof on the commercial property I lease has had numerous repairs over the last 12 months and this has caused extensive damage to the wallpaper. My landlord did call out a repair man on each occasion he was notified but the quick fix hasn't been a solution.

Initially, the landlord agreed to pay for the re wallpapering but reneged. He said I had to make a claim on my own insurance. I have stat and public liability but no contents insurance.

The landlord has done little maintenance to the building in 25 years and water leakages have affected most of the tenants in the six row of shops. On each occasion the landlord has said, 'should you have an issue through the failure of the building, you claim on your insurance who will then claim on ours'. This sounded rather odd seeing that the tenants pay the buildings insurance.

Can you tell me if the landlord is responsible?


Our expert Myles Noble responded:

Assuming the wallpaper belongs to you (as tenants usually pay for the fit-out), if  you had Contents insurance you could have claimed the wallpaper damage under your own policy. Then your insurer could then subrogate against the landlords Insurer.

However, as you don't have Contents insurance, you need to take action to enforce the landlords obligations under the lease (ie: legal action - as commercial tenancies don't fall under the Disputes Tribunal jurisdiction). The only other option is to cancel the Lease Agreement for breach of contract, but this probably won't suit you as a business often depends on its location and loyal customer support to survive.

However, both the above options might be more effective and less costly if all the affected shops seek legal action together.

Myles Noble is head of claims and earthquake response for Crombie Lockwood. He also holds various advisory board positions in the insurance industry.

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