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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 8445
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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Can my Freeholder/Lessor charge the other 7 flats for the

Resolved Question:

Can my Freeholder/Lessor charge the other 7 flats for the costs of works due to an Abatement order from the Council for works on the 8th flat that has been abandoned by its owner. We are currently looking at possible fines of £20,000 but can see no reason in our lease why we should pay as it is for repairs to windows, which are the leaseholders responsibility. ?
Submitted: 27 days ago.
Category: Law
Customer: replied 27 days ago.
Should the Abatement Order not have been issued to the Flat owner anyway and not the Freeholder ?
Expert:  Nicola-mod replied 26 days ago.
I've been working hard to find a Professional to assist you with your question, but sometimes finding the right Professional can take a little longer than expected.
I wonder whether you're ok with continuing to wait for an answer. If you are, please let me know and I will continue my search. If not, feel free to let me know and I will cancel this question for you.
Thank you!
Customer: replied 26 days ago.
Hi Nicola
Thankyou for your reply. I am happy to wait a few more days.
If you can think of any other details i need to provide don't hesitate to ask.
Many Thanks'
Expert:  Nicola-mod replied 25 days ago.
We will continue to look for a Professional to assist you.
Thank you for your patience,
Expert:  F E Smith replied 25 days ago.

I will try to assist you with this.

Could you explain your situation in a little more detail please?

In particular, what was the abatement notice in respect of but all the background would be really helpful. Thank you.

Customer: replied 25 days ago.
Thanks' for your reply.I am currently at work and do not have access to the Abatement Notice.
But from what I recall it relates to rainwater ingress to the property through rotten window-frames (including a few missing panes).
Our leases state that it is the responsibility of the flat owner (Lessor) to maintain and repair the windows and the responsibility of the Freeholder to paint them.
The windows are about 80 years old and in my opinion need to be replaced by the other flat owner and not by the Freeholder, who states he intends to bill the other flats (as the owner of the offending flat has been absent for several years and refuses to do anything.
Please help as I have allways paid my Service charge in full and maintained my windows but am now expected to pay upto £4,000 for my share of the works.Thanks'
Expert:  F E Smith replied 25 days ago.

Who issued this notice against the absent leaseholder? The landlord? I don’t know why you referred to this as £20,000 of fines rather than £20,000 of extraservice charge

I cannot see why this override section 20 in respect of the amount chargeable.

In my opinion, you are absolutely correct, this is nothing to do with the other leaseholders. The landlord brings action against the leaseholder of this property for failing to maintain and ultimately, gives notice of foreclosure on the lease for breach of covenant.

It appears that the freeholder wants to get this work done and the leaseholder of that flat would get the benefit of it at all your cost. If the flat has been abandoned by the Leaseholder for any reason, the correct course of action is for the Landlord to apply to court to forfeit the lease and the landlord then gets the property back to do with it whatever he wishes.

As it appears there are 7 flats all being charged the same amount of money here, it might be an idea of you all got your heads together and put a nominal amount of money into a pot to get a solicitor to write to the landlord telling him that you will not countenance this.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Please rate the service positive. It’s how we get paid.

The thread remains open.

Best wishes.

Customer: replied 22 days ago.
Who issued this notice against the absent leaseholder? The landlord? I don’t know why you referred to this as £20,000 of fines rather than £20,000 of extraservice chargeThe Abatement notice has been issued by the Local council and has to be served within a Month.
It requires works to be done on the specific flat so as to make it water proof, the problem is primarily with 4 large bay windows (wooden) that have become rotten and have missing panes. This will cost £8k alone for scaffolding as its on the second floor.
There is also a fine of £20k that can be imposed by the Council if the repairs are not completed within the Month.
The absent flat owner is doing nothing, so the fine will be imposed on the Freeholder who is actually a Company formed from a group of the flat owners, including the absent leaseholder. This Company has no funds of its own, it only administers the Maintenance of the building from the monies collected as a Service Charge. Therefore they intend to take the monies from the Maintenance fund (of which I pay 25%).Thanks' for your reply so far, it makes sense. The only problem as I see it is that if the Freehold Company gets sued by the Council, it won't be able to pay and it will be bankkrupt. Leaving me with a worthless lease.Should the Council not be issuing the Abatement order to the person legaly respnsible for making the repairs and not to the Freeholder ?.Many Thanks'
Expert:  F E Smith replied 21 days ago.

If the absent leaseholder is responsible for this, then the absent leaseholder is responsible for it.

The freeholder however is not enforcing against the absent leaseholder and hence, the abatement notice would be served on both absent leaseholder and freeholder.

The way of dealing with this is for the landlord freeholder to commence foreclosure proceedings for substantial breach of covenant against the leaseholder with a view to the leaseholder forfeiting the lease.

The will then lose the property and the freeholder can grant a new lease.

If the freehold company went bust, then it’s possible to buy the interest from the official receiver for just a nominal amount of money because the freehold is not worth anything usually, or, it is possible to obtain absent landlord policies.

The freeholders need to see a solicitor because this is resolvable and it’s resolvable without the leaseholders having to fork out in the long term.

Please don’t forget to use the rating service so that I get paid. Thanks.

F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 8445
Experience: I have been practising for 30 years.
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