Q: I have a dispute with my neighbour and need advice. I live in a townhouse complex with a unit directly above mine. The unit is owned by a Muslim advocate and is rented out. His bathroom is situated directly above my bathroom and over the past 4 years, there has been a leak from his bathroom directly into mine. Initially when I complained about the leak he would have plumbers come out and attend to it. I would then, at my own expense repair my bathroom. Some time later the leak would return and the same thing would happen. This happened about 3 times. I have told him in writing that whilst I have not claimed the costs of repairs from him in the past, I would do so in the future as the situation was getting out of hand. I moved out of the complex and let the unit out. Whilst my tenant was there, the leak returned. Initially it was small and I notified him. he called out his plumbers, but the leak did not stop. The leak then became progressively worse. He called out his plumbers again who said the leak is coming from the roof. There was a problem with the roof area to his unit and despite the fact that his tenants complained about it, he did nothing about it and did not notify the body corporate. The leak got even worse and I notified him and he said there was nothing more he could do and I should call out my own plumbers, which I did. My plumbers thought the leak was due to a blockage in the waste pipe to his unit, but he refused to investigate this. I then undertook to investigate the roof area and the waste pipes myself, but the body corporate refused to allow me to do so, as this is common property. Only he could access the waste pipes through his unit but he refused to do so and wanted me to bring my own plumbers and chop through the walls of his bathroom, which I was advised not to do. Eventually, I had to get a lawyers letter to the body corporate to get them to investigate the roof. They did so, found problems on the roof and repaired it. But the leak persisted. The body corporate then looked at his bathroom and confirmed that the leak was coming from his bathroom. Following notice from the body corporate, he then arranged for a specialist leak detector to come out and the leak was found to be in his unit coming from the wall and base of his shower. In the interim, about 7 months ago, my tenant vacated the unit and I have not been able to secure another tenant because of the nature of the leak and the extent of the damage. All along I have been notifying both him and the body corporate, that this rental income was my sole source of income and that this lack of income placed my in such a poor financial position that I was late on the payment of my levies and the body corporate issued me with a letter of demand. Since the leak has been confirmed to be coming from his unit, I sent him a letter asking him to repair my unit as well as to reimburse me for my financial loss. He has now replied that he is not responsible for my loss, because he called out a plumber and was told by his plumber that there is no problem with his unit. He also states that I should have done more to find the leak myself. I would like to point out that he has not once attended on the unit himself to investigate the leak, even though he lives within 10 minutes. I have asked to meet with him but he is not available. Anytime I send him and email, he will take 1 to 2 weeks to reply and then too only after I follow up with him. I find it unfair that he should bear no responsibility for damage and loss caused by a fault in his unit. I acknowledge that he did call out the same plumber each time, but he never ever supervised their work and did not get a second opinion. Also, how can I be responsible if his plumbers made a mistake. My situation is difficult financially and the loss of income is in excess of R80000.00. The damage to my unit is extensive and it will cost allot of money to repair it. I am also anxious to try and get the matter sorted out asap so I can generate a rental income. Please advise from an Islamic perspective if I am within my rights to ask him to reimburse me for the costs of the repairs and the financial loss.
A: He is not under any obligation to pay you for the loss in income. However, if he had caused some damage to your property then he should compensate you for that.
And Allah Ta’ala (الله تعالى) knows best.