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Rising damp and moisture ingress – is this covered by insurance?

A recent claim involved consulting structural engineers to recommend a solution to an ongoing problem with rising damp and moisture ingress surrounding an extensive area of floors and walls in a ground floor flat.

The exterior of the flat – being common property exclusive use area, comprising part garden and part paving – was saturated. The cause of saturation was owing to multiple factors, including the following:

  1. General water table rise during rainy season along with the steep gradient of the property (this unit in question is at the bottom end of the steep gradient).
  2. Insufficient guttering and related down-piping, channeling rain water away from the base of the building.
  3. Possible underground stream (to be investigated and determined) as the property is located on a mountainside.
  4. Leaking waste and sewerage pipes in the kitchen and bathroom, serving the building (including this flat) and running under (and close to) the affected exclusive use garden and courtyard area. It was noted that the building is old and it is quite likely that these waste and sewerage pipes are brittle and prone to collapse.
  5. The courtyard area is situated in a part of the property that does not get much sunlight, even in drier summer months.

The owner of the flat suffers damage that manifests in severe blistering of paint on the lower end of the interior walls with related lime effervescent deposits, black mildew, etc. Upon inspection, it was found that moisture readings in the wall were extremely high.

The unfortunate reality is that these circumstances are not covered by insurance. Insurance policies typically exclude any damages caused by inherent defect, design flaw, ongoing or gradually operating cause.

The costs of remedial works and repairs in above matter are deemed to be maintenance expenses to be borne by the owner and body corporate.

The purpose of this blog is to help property owners better understand the cover provided by insurers and to avoid instances where expectations are not met.

Read our previous blog on a related subject: Damp problem: Am I covered?


Author: Brian Addison

Contact Addsure – The Leaders in Sectional Title Insurance – to get fit and proper advice from advisors who understand sectional title. Contact us in Johannesburg on (011) 704-3858; in Durban on (031) 459-1795 and in Cape Town on (021) 551-5069.