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Joshua
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 25358
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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I am a leaseholder in a building of 10 flats most of which

Resolved Question:

I am a leaseholder in a building of 10 flats most of which I believe are owned by the property management company. It is this company I am having trouble with. They do not answer the majority of my emails, rarely answer the phone and getting any maintenance work done is proving futile. The communal corridor (shared by two of the lower ground floor flats) is in a bad state of disrepair. We originally spoke about the work required in January 2011. I have chased often since then and they got as far as getting one quote for the work in November 2012. The company is not a member of the ombudsman and I don't know where to turn. Any advice would be appreciated.
Thank you
Caroline
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Joshua replied 3 years ago.

Joshua :

Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practicing lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.

Joshua :

Is the property management company to which you refer a limited company which owns the freehold for the building please?

Customer:

Hi Joshua

Customer:

Thank you for responding. It is a limited company and I believe they own the freehold

Joshua :

Thanks. Shall we proceed on the basis they do or would you like to confirm first?

Customer:

Lets proceed on the basis they do - I'm 95% sure!

Joshua :

Thanks. How many of the 10 flats are owned by them?

Customer:

That's what I am unable to find out at the moment. I only know for sure the other basement flat (who share the communal corridor downstairs) is not owned by them. Btw - I've checked and the Lessor of the Freehold is the gentleman who operates the limited company

Joshua :

Thanks. from what you say, would it be safe to conclude that the freeholder definitely owns more than 50% of the flats in the building? How do they come to own so many-did they develop the building?

Customer:

Its pretty unclear. The building itself is Grade II listed but I do know the lower ground floor was divided into two flats in the 80s. Its my understanding they own more than 50% of the flats in the building.

Joshua :

thank you. The reason for my questions is that if the company owned less than 50% of the flats in the building, you together with other flat owners forming a majority of the flat owners could potentially look at exercising your right to take over management of the building from the landlord. This is a statutory rights and cannot be resisted by the landlord however if the landlord owns more than 50% of the flats in the building, this is not possible

Joshua :

if this is the case, then you are limited to forcing the landlord to attend to his maintenance obligations. The first document to examine is your lease which will set out the extent of your responsibility and that of the landlords. There is no universal rule which specifies what the lease may or may not say but typically, a lease would provide the you are responsible for the internal parts of your flat, i.e. plaster and paint etc and often the windows and doors and the landlord is responsible for the common parts of the building as well as the structure of the building including roof and foundations.

Joshua :

Accordingly, it is likely that the landlord would be responsible for the communal parts including the door and corridor but it is important that you confirm the position by checking your lease. If you do not have your lease, you can obtain a copy either from your solicitor that acted for you when you purchased the property or alternatively from the land Registry. Please let me know if you would like further information about how to obtain your lease from the land Registry

Joshua :

once you have established the landlord's responsibility in this respect, you can write to the landlord formally setting out all of the issues which you consider require maintenance and point out the landlord's obligation to maintain these parts of the building as provided for by your lease. You can go on to advise your landlord that unless you receive confirmation of a date by which time the landlord will attend to such maintenance obligations, you reserve your right to make an application to the leasehold tribunal to force the landlord to observe his maintenance obligations

Joshua :

if you are forced to make an application to the leasehold tribunal you can do so using the following form:

Joshua :

http://hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk/HMCTS/GetForm.do?court_forms_id=3090

Joshua :

you can prevent the landlord from adding any costs to your service charge in respect of attending and dealing with your application to the lease or tribunal by also completing this form:

Joshua :

http://hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk/HMCTS/GetForm.do?court_forms_id=3091

Customer:

I'm fairly sure he owns more than 50% - I got this from discussions with another owner a while back when I was considering trying to take over the management. I do have the lease - it states communal areas are the freeholder's responsibility and he has been very clear I am not to proceed on my own. (There is also history here with damp proofing that was a condition of the mortgage that took him 9 months to get done despite the fact I obtained quotes and was ready to proceed in month 1). Thank you for your feedback - I will write to the landlord formally. I am wary of applying to the leasehold tribunal as this may make it hard to sell the flat in future but I'm starting to think this is the only way to resolve things. Either way, it does help to have this information - many thanks

Joshua :

an application to lethal tribunal does not necessarily prejudice the sale but you are correct in that any dispute can give a buyer cause for concern. However, a lack of maintenance as to the common entrance areas can also significantly devalue your flat and accordingly the two issues need to be balanced in your mind.

Joshua :

hopefully, a sternly worded letter in the above form may convince the landlord to attend to his obligations however if not, ultimately be only legal recourse is via the leasehold tribunal which will enforce the terms of the lease against the landlord

Customer:

That's an aspect I hadn't considered, thank you for widening my focus. I think the sternly worded letter using some choice phrases from our conversation could work (he previously only responded to a rat problem after I used the words 'without prejudice' in a subject line. Thanks again Joshua - I'll sign off now. Best wishes, Caroline

Joshua :

and to you.

Joshua :

If you have no further questions for now I should be very grateful if you would kindly take a moment to rate my service to you today. Your feedback is important to me. If there is anything else I can help with please reply back to me though.

Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 25358
Experience: LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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