When an insurer paid for a couple to move into alternative accommodation while subsidence damage in their flat was being fixed, further problems came to light. We helped to find out who was responsible.

What happened

Michelle and Emma contacted their insurer when they first suspected that their flat had been affected by subsidence. The insurer appointed a firm of surveyors to inspect and monitor the situation.

It became clear that subsidence was affecting the entire block of flats and it would take a lot of work to fix it. The insurer paid for Michelle and Emma to move into alternative accommodation for eight months, while work was carried out on their flat.

It was over nine months before the work was finished. And when Michelle and Emma visited the flat, they said it was still not in a fit state to live in. They told the insurer that the uneven state of the concrete floor was unacceptable. They also submitted a long list of 'snagging' items that they said needed to be fixed before they could move back.

The surveyors said that the poor state of the floors was nothing to do with the subsidence or the repair works, but the age of the property and the poor quality of its original construction. The surveyors did, however, agree that the 'snagging' items needed attention.

The insurer agreed to pay for Michelle and Emma to continue living in alternative accommodation for a three more months. After that time, the couple returned home but they were still unhappy about the state of the floors. Unable to get any further with the insurer, they referred the dispute to us.

What we said

We looked at all the evidence from both Emma and Michelle as well as the insurer. In our view, the insurer had acted reasonably in carrying out the repairs and then extending the period during which it paid for the couple to stay in alternative accommodation.

We accepted the surveyors' evidence that the poor state of the floors didn’t result from subsidence, the repair works, or any other insured event. So we agreed with the insurer that it wasn’t responsible for any work to restore or improve the state of the floors.

But we felt that Michelle and Emma had been caused additional and significant inconvenience and distress by the need to extend their stay in alternative accommodation. So we told the firm to pay them £1,000 in compensation.