Regular correspondent Lynn Thurston, who runs Gemco News in Braintree, Essex, with husband Andy, got in touch back in July. She asked: “I wondered if you could do some digging for me? We lease a council-owned lock-up shop with a council tenant above. The tenant was out and had a leak, which subsequently came through the ceiling and into the CCTV equipment, which is now unserviceable. We contacted the council and they got their insurance company to speak to us. They state that they have to cover the ceiling, but not the equipment.
“Our CCTV would still be working if it was not for the neglect of the tenants, so how does that work? They told us to claim off our insurance, which means we lose out.”
What the Thurstons’ problem came down to was that it depended upon whose fault it was. If the tenant left the tap running, for example, it was his (her) fault. If a pipe burst, then it must be the landlord’s.
I suggested it would be a good idea to get a solicitor to write a letter (and, as members of NFRN, it could do it for them) pointing out the negligence. I said give them a deadline and threaten with small claims court if they do not settle.
I also said that if they didn’t want to splash out on legal then they could write something themselves, and if they didn’t get a satisfactory response they could appeal to the insurance ombudsman.
Upshot: Lynn issued a £50 court summons to the council. She gave them two weeks to respond.
On 6 October Lynn reported back: “Just an update. The bailiffs turned up over a week ago (at the council) and they promised to pay. Today I received the full amount into my bank account as cleared funds. So job done.”