Is my neighbour responsible for compensating me for my broken roof?

My glass conservatory roof was broken by my neighbour's builders. They admitted liability but are haggling over the amount of compensation. Is my neighbour ultimately responsible for compensating me?
Question: My glass conservatory roof was broken by debris falling from scaffolding at my neighbour's house. Rain came in and my furniture and floor were damaged. The builders admitted liability but are haggling over the amount of compensation. I'm told their insurers said only the builders can make a claim. Is my neighbour ultimately responsible for compensating me?

Answer: It sounds as though you have two potential claims — directly against the builders for damage caused by their negligence, and also against your neighbour for nuisance. The law would treat the builders as the neighbour's agents, and therefore he would be liable for damage caused by his agents.

Have the builders admitted liability in writing? Perhaps they haven't formally notified their insurer of the claim and are trying to deal with you directly to avoid claiming, or perhaps they are not insured. Write to your neighbour saying you intend to make a claim against him. This should prompt him to notify his own home insurer, who should appoint a loss adjuster. Alternatively, it may make your neighbour press his builders to deal with your claim.

You will need to prove the amount of your claim. Get quotes for the repair and replacement on a like for like basis and make sure you take steps to mitigate your loss, such as getting a temporary conservatory roof repair done to prevent further rain damage. Consider claiming on your own insurance — your insurer may pursue your neighbour and/or his builder on your behalf. If you still have difficulties you may need to consult a solicitor.

These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor. 

What’s your problem? If you have a question forFiona McNulty, please email legalsolutions@standard.co.uk or write to Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, London Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, W8 5EE. We regret that questions cannot be answered individually but we will try to feature them here. Fiona McNulty is a partner in the residential property, farms and estates team at Withy King LLP (www.withyking.co.uk).

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