My wife and I live on the 3rd floor of an apartment block. I am 70 and my wife is 69. Life is now intolerable because the lift is continually out of order and has been giving trouble for around two years now. We are reduced to buying only small amounts of shopping and there are friends who are our age who we cannot invite because they have ailments and require the lift. Watson's, the property management company continually tell us they are trying to arrange something but nothing is happening. One of the reasons we bought the apartment because the building has a lift. Are we in order to cease paying our management fees until the lift is satisfactorily repaired? David J XXXXXXX
Hi, thanks for your question. My name's XXXXX XXXXX I'm going to assist you with it.
Notwithstanding the county court's jurisdiction for breach of covenant, if a landlord has failed to maintain the areas he is responsible for under a lease (and his managing agent has failed to provide a meaningful response for a number of years) a tenant can consider making an application to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal (LVT) to appoint another manager.
In essence, the LVT has the power to appoint a manager of premises containing flats under s. 24 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987 if the relevant grounds can be established and it would be just and equitable to do so. It will need to be shown that there is fault with the current management of the property (which could include a failure to carry out repairing obligations). Such application cannot be made until a notice has been served on the landlord and managing agent which is compliant with section 22 of the 1987 Act. You can find a form of notice from the Leasehold Advisory Service here:
One leaseholder can serve the notice and it should set out the defaults complained of and invite the agents to set out how they intend to remedy them. A reasonable period must be allowed for this to happen. The notice should hopefully provide you with a resolution as s.24 is a useful tool to ensure that a building is properly managed (particularly if the leaseholders do not want to be involved with management themselves).
I entirely appreciate the logic behind withholding service charges if the property is not being maintained properly. However, it would not be prudent in these circumstances as there are only very limited reasons which this can lawfully be done. Below is a note on the LVT including some services that are available in additional to formal legal advice to assist you with the above actions.
I hope that's helpful. Can I clarify anything for you?