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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
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Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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Our Building is a house into two flats. Each 'family' is a

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Our Building is a house into two flats. Each 'family' is a freeholder and also a leaseholder under a lease from 1999.
In that lease the 'landlord' who I take it means the freeholder/s covenants to insure the building and the leasholders covenant to pay an 'insurance' rent to cover it. There is no other ground rent mentioned in the lease.
Until now there have been separate insurance policies and I am convinced ours at least does not cover the situation and we are not doing what the lease says.
I have a quote for a landlord's policy over the building s that I want taken out in the names of all the freeholders. I am even prepared to pay the whole premium, at least at first, to have peace of mind.
My co-freeholders upstairs are ignoring my letters (2) on this subject and my renewal date is looming.
Can I take out that policy without them signing the proposal (I will include them on the policy). I am sure I have an insurable interest so can one of the freeholders act in a sort of force majeure way if they believe there is a risk due to the inaction from the other freeholder?

Is the situation here that the two of you own the freehold of the building but it’s the other person who takes control or is the situation that the other person owns the whole freehold?

Are you saying that with regard to the separate policies, each freeholder ensures the other person’s property?

Are you also saying that your policy adequately ensures the other person’s but you are not convinced that the other person’s insurance adequately insured yours or that they have it at all?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
There are two flats. The owners of the flats have leases from the 'landlord'.
Each flat is owned by a couple. We live on the ground floor; they live in the upper two floors.
The landlord is actually the two (sets of) freeholders of the whole (semi-detached) house.I have no idea what the other people's policy says although I believe they have one. If it is like ours it does not mention the split of properties and so I do not think it could cover the other flat. It is just a simple policy 'covering' our flat. However I don't think that is appropriate because if the upper floors were damaged there could be nock on effects not covered by our policy and at the very least two insurance companies would be involved, complicating the claim(s) and possibly disputing ho is responsible, if either.

I’m still not certain who the freeholders are. You say that it’s two sets of freeholders of the whole semi detached house. However you then refer to your co-freeholders upstairs ignoring your letters. Are you saying that you co-own the freehold with the person upstairs? If so, is it the person upstairs that you think is failing to insure adequately? Why has the person upstairs taken control of the insurance issue?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Apparently co-owning the freehold with fellow 'tenants' of leasehold property is quite common nowadys and becomig more so. The precise names on the lease and title deeds are not really the issue here it is the principle and I have come to the conclusion from your questions that you are not going to grasp what the problem is adequately. If you can't do that you won't be able to give me sound advice or solve it.For example, you introduced the idea of someone else controlling the insurance issue. I have never said they are and I can't think that you would conclude that they are from anything I have said. So my statement above covers the situation completely and asking me about the motives of someone who hasn't 'taken control' and hasn't even communicated with me is clearly not a sensible question. what would be the point of my speculating?

Co-owning freehold with fellow tenants has actually been common for a long time. I grasped the situation completely but that’s not how you explained it unless it was just me who was interpreting what you said wrong. There is also usually a provision in the lease that any sale of the lease must be done contemporaneously with the transfer of the freehold. Not at all uncommon.

I think the question that you’re asking is that as your co-freeholder is not doing anything about insurance (which you should do jointly) and ignoring your correspondence, can you simply do it alone, noting everyone’s interest, do it on one policy, and then seek 50% of the cost from the other person. Is that it?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
That's the nub of it. Sorry if you thought I wasn't being clear. Getting 50% of the premium back would certainly be a good outcome, but not something we would go to court, for example, to recover!
The most important thing is to have insurance cover, that can be relied on, over the whole semi-detached building that incorporates the two flats. A nagging doubt as to whether and how easily a claim would be settled is something we want to avoid. So can we as one of the freeholding parties take out a policy on behalf of both, or over the whole building just in our own names.
That leaves another question of course viz.whether any insurance company would want to take on the proposal. At least if they could, I expect there will be some companies that would.

No need to apologise. We resolved it in the end.

Copy the page in the lease which refers to the insurance covenant and send it to the other freeholder along with quotations for an overall freeholders policy and say that unless you hear from him by a particular date, (perhaps 10 days hence) you will arrange the cover yourself and note both his and your interest on the policy. You will then require him to pay half of the cost of the premium to you.

The most important thing here is that you give him notice so that if there is a dispute in the future, he cannot say that you went off on frolic of your own. This type of policy may not be available on the Internet or a price comparison site and you will be better going to see a broker to make sure that you get a product which fits exactly your needs.

There is no reason why you cannot do exactly that.

Can I clarify anything for you?

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We can still exchange emails.

Best wishes.

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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
That makes sense. The first of my unanswered letters in fact had the appropriate extract from the lease.I will get a quote from a broker (I have found aone specialising in flates etc.) and will do as you suggest.Thanks

I am glad to help