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LondonlawyerJ, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 818
Experience:  Solicitor with over 15 years experience.
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I own a top floor flat in a converted property with two other

Customer Question

I own a top floor flat in a converted property with two other flats and I am a joint freeholder together with the owners of the other two flats. The lease requires us to share the costs of roof repairs and we are all in agreement that the roof needs replacing. We have obtained three quotes and myself and the owner of the first floor flat are in agreement that we want to accept the middle-priced quote as it was provided by someone who's done work for us before and there were discrepancies in the cheapest quote so we've ruled that out.
The owner of the ground floor flat wants us to use the contractor he recommended, but he took 2 months to provide a quote and in spite of being provided with the other 2 quotes his quote was still nearly 20% higher than that of our preferred contractor. Having told the owner of the ground floor flat which contractor we want to use, he is refusing to respond.
The work is becoming more urgent as when it rains water leaks into a timber beam in my bedroom. He was initially the one pushing to have the whole roof replaced due to a sag in the roof caused by the removal of supports when the loft was converted. Having spoken with two building surveyors, I don't consider addressing the sag to be particularly urgent, but I've agreed to replace the whole roof as it's generally in a poor condition and the urgent work we do need doing would have to be re-done when the roof does fail. We have an email from the ground floor flat owner agreeing that the roof needs replacing.
We are also all in agreement that the exterior of the property should be painted when the roof is replaced and we also have this in an email, but I'm aware that this is cosmetic so would not be classed as urgent.
Can we instruct our preferred contractor and, if necessary, take the other freeholder to small claims? His share amounts to about £2,500 excluding decorating. If not, what can we do to ensure the work gets done?
Many thanks
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Nicola-mod replied 3 years 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!
Expert:  LondonlawyerJ replied 3 years ago.
Hello, I am a solicitor with 20 years experience. I will try to answer your question. Normally there is a management company or some other formal method for joint freeholders to reach agreement on joint work.
There will normally be rules etc. governing the instruction of contractors and how to resolve disputes and what to do in the event of one person refusing to co-operate. Do you have such a document sand what does it say?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

There is no company. My understanding is that there would need to be at least 4 flats involved for the majority to insist on one being set up.

The freehold was bought prior to me buying my flat and I believe the solicitor who acted at that time is the owner of the ground floor flat's solicitor. The lease was not re-written at the time so it only refers to a single freeholder. I do not believe a declaration of trust was drawn up at the time, or any other such document.

Expert:  LondonlawyerJ replied 3 years ago.
So there is no written procedure to decide how these problems are to be resolved?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

No, hence my question.

Expert:  LondonlawyerJ replied 3 years ago.
This will not be straightforward as a piece of litigation. You will need to write to the recalcitrant owner repeating the history, explaining why you and the other occupier want to use the contractor that you do want to use. That you need him to agree to it as well. Ask him to do so within a time limit (say 14-21 days) and advise him that if you do no hear from him you will proceed with your preferred contractor and look to him for his contribution.
If he fails to pay you can take him to the small claims court with a reasonable prospect of success. It is of course best to try to reach agreement with him