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LondonlawyerJ
LondonlawyerJ, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 777
Experience:  Solicitor with over 15 years experience.
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Dear Sir/Madam I would dearly love your advice on a leasehold

Customer Question

Dear Sir/Madam
I would dearly love your advice on a leasehold property Matter:
I bought a leasehold property 6 months ago (technically a flat, but it's on 3 levels with no neighbours above or below, so it is, to all intents and purposes, a house). The property is on a private estate comprising of 72 properties and a handful of commercial units. I will refer to this estate from now on as 'the complex'. The complex is located in Whitechapel, London. The complex, for the sake of management of communal areas, is split into two separate management companies as the freehold of the entire complex is owned by two separate freeholders. Each freeholder and management company is responsible for 36 properties each. This arrangement has been in place since the complex was built some 13 years ago. This unusual break-up of freeholders occurred due to the complexities of the commercial units in part of the complex. The arrangement has never been reversed even though those complexities are no longer relevant to the day to day running of the place.
Apparently, it is very unusual for one complex to have separate freeholders who employ separate management companies. And it's a nightmare! The half of the complex that my property sits on, is managed by a company who are fairly competent (if not, in reality, too busy to deal with the issues I am about to outline to you, that are arising there). The other half of the complex has disastrously incompetent management. Unfortunately, the incompetent half oversees the management of all the crucial services of the entire complex. These are, namely, the vehicle gates, pedestrian gates, intercoms, surveillance, lighting, refuse management. In the six months I have lived there, the gates have only worked half the time. They are broken as I write!
My questions are as follows:
Is it, in fact, legal for there to be a management company who is looking after my essential services (ie. security and refuse) but with whom I have no ability to have any correspondence with? My half of the complex looks pretty, but the rest is shambolic. As leaseholders, we are living in an unlit and unsecured, unmonitored and off the beaten track cul-de-sac. Due to mismanagement that we have no control over whatsoever, we have drug takers coming into the private property, with gates permanently open, and no cameras or lights to deter them. We have had car vandalism, theft, fly-tipping, vermin, threats to residents from thugs....and we PAY our maintenance but cannot shout at that management company because we have no rights through them As they are not our management company! It surely cannot be legal for such a scenario to exist can it? Our management company wish to take over management of the whole complex, but they're not really getting around to resolving this, so I wanted to know if, legally, we have rights to challenge a set-up in which our rights are not being fulfilled.
Lastly, if this situation does not improve, I am thinking that I will have to sell because I am not prepared to spend £750,000 and feel threatened in my home environment. I bought this property as it seemed ideal for me. I wanted a house, but in a gated, private, secure development as I travel away for work and wanted this security. I also bought the house as it is located next to the new Crossrail network and I wanted a good investment. In reality, I have bought something very different from what I was led to believe. If I feel the need to sell, having exhausted all other avenues, is there anyone I am able to sue for damages? I have spent a lot of money on the house and renovations, I could lose money if I sold now, and I will lose all those anticipated financial benefits from my investment. This is not to mention the stress and heartbreak of having to sell. This should have been my ideal property to live in, but it's not the complex I thought I was buying into, and the idiosyncrasies of the arrangement are, if not illegal, then certainly intolerable. I feel I should have some power to change the situation, and I certainly feel someone else should be held to blame if I have to bail out and sell up, and lose all that investment potential I envisaged. I look forward to your advice.
Yours sincerely,
***** *****-Williams.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  LondonlawyerJ replied 1 year ago.
Customer:

Hello I am a lawyer with 20 years experience. I will try to help you with this.

Customer:

This is a spectacularly complex situation. What is the attitude of the occupiers of the other half of the building what are they doing to get their management company to do their work properly? Is there a Recognised Tenants Association for either part of the development?

Customer:

There are potential actions against the management company of the other half in negligence if they are failing to do their work properly. If they leave the premises insecure and this leads to drug users using the site (hardly surprising in Whitechapel) and the other problems then you and the others on your side may well have an arguable case for compensation. It would be easier to enforce if there was a contractual relation between you and the management company. Do you know if there is. It would probably either appear in or be referred to in your lease.

Customer:

What do your neighbours say about all this. What about your management company, their clients will be having their freehold investment damaged as well, what is their attitude?

Customer:

I think the only way to move things forward for you is to meet with your fellow leaseholders on both sides of the development to see if others agree that action should be taken. In a situation like this you will need to instruct a solicitor face to face perhaps sharing the costs among other concerned occupiers. I think the general position is that occupiers of the other half of the development could be able to take action against their management company or the freeholder himself for failing to fullfill their obligations (I assume they pay a service charge) under the terms of their leases. The occupiers of your side may have an action against them in negligence but it is very complex and you need to band together and instruct a lawyer to meet with your face to face.

JACUSTOMER-49kbpsu9- :

Thanks so much for your reply. I'm working right now, but, to answer one of your questions, the occupiers in the other part of the complex have apparently tried to resolve this problem with their Management Company in the past but, after the Management Company failed to satisfactorily resolve the situation, they have now, for some time, been refusing to pay their maintenance charges unless the problems are resolved, which has had a further negative impact on the maintenance of the essential services to the complex (security gates, communal lighting etc). So it's a bit of a vicious circle!

Customer:

This sounds horrendous. The only option really is for you all to get together. In order to force action you may need to form possibly 2 recognised tenants associations and maybe the other half may need to think about trying to establish a right to manage. These are technical difficult issues that require the use of a solicitor. You need to get some like minded leaseholders together to share the costs and then bring the others along with you.

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