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JimLawyer
JimLawyer, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 13954
Experience:  Senior Associate Solicitor
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I am a leaseholder of a property and apparently the gas

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I am a leaseholder of a property and apparently the gas pipes were put in illegally and the freeholder is saying the leaseholders should pay for these to be corrected, would this be correct?
JA: What steps have you taken so far? Have you prepared or filed any paperwork?
Customer: I have only just found out
JA: Where is the property located?
Customer: Liverpool
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: Not at the moment

Hello, this is Jim and welcome to JustAnswer. I will be the lawyer working with you today.
Sorry to hear of the issue. I will set out my written answer shortly.

I would completely disagree with that proposal.

The leaseholders simply own the (long) lease and not the freehold (usually). The freeholders own the building and the gas pipes should not be the leaseholder's liability - it should be the freeholder's. To pass on the cost to the leaseholder(s) is completely wrong in my view. You should ask them to point out where in the lease it says you are liable for the gas pipe works. I would bet there is nothing. If there is nothing then they have no right to look to you for payment. If they try to disguise the cost in a service charge you must challenge the service charge.....

You can involve the First Tier (Property) Tribunal in the dispute with the freeholder. Assuming you own the leasehold. The application costs £100 unless you qualify for a fee exemption, so if you are on a low income, have low savings or in receipt of benefits. If you do, this form must also be used when you apply :

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/apply-for-help-with-court-and-tribunal-fees

The tribunal route is quicker than the county court claims procedure and it's one form which you will need to complete and send to your regional tribunal. The tribunal will then make a decision which is binding.

The Tribunal is made up of 3 people: A lawyer (Chairman), a surveyor/valuer (who could also be Chairman), and a lay person (member of the public). You can present the dispute to them in person or use a firm (such as either of these law firms : https://www.bishopslaw.co.uk/first-tier-tribunal-property-chamber-advice/ or www.bradysolicitors.com who have a specialist department for these Tribunal claims).

The hearing itself is quite informal. Once made, the order is then binding - if the order is ignored then the county court will recognise it and you can apply for an injunction to force them to comply.

You will need to fill out the relevant form and then email it to your regional Tribunal. The Tribunal should then make a decision within 6-8 weeks.

I hope this helps and answers the question - my goal is to ensure you are happy with the answer and have the information you need. If you have any follow up questions then please let me know. I will reply as soon as I can to help with any further queries.

Many thanks,
Jim

Please let me know if the answer helped or if you need me to cover anything else?. I am happy to clarify the answer or if you have any follow up questions. If so, I’d be grateful if you would let me know. I am free most days, including weekends, so feel free to ask me anything you are unsure of.

Best wishes,

Jim

Customer: replied 20 days ago.
Thank you so much Jim! I feel better already. I just had a conversation with the agent of whom I pay ground rent. He told me that this is happening but didn't have any more details.

Thanks, it's like asking a tenant to pay for the landlord's work to the building - not in a million years. As I say, if you ask them to show you where in the lease is says the leaseholder is liable for the cost of those works, I would be keen to see it.

Customer: replied 20 days ago.
I am going get back to the agent, I just wanted to know that I am correct in what I am saying I will keep you posted.

No problems, thanks

Customer: replied 17 days ago.
Hi Jim - I have a copy of the lease. It does say under Tenant Covenants "to pay all costs in connection with the supply and removal of electricity, gas, water, sewage, telecom to and from the property.... I think he knew he did it illegally and then put this in the lease which my solicitor did not pick up on. I think this means I am liable.

Well, normally you would be liable - unless he has done something illegal which he has - illegality make a contract void so I still think you refuse to pay.

Customer: replied 17 days ago.
Ok. That sounds a plan. I shall see how they proceed from here as they haven't actually asked yet.

No problem, yes, in UK law if someone under a contract does something illegal it makes the contract void

Customer: replied 17 days ago.
Well. they have also not registered the house numbers correctly either and are now having to do so because the Council have told them to. They are going to do this and reissue the contracts so it is all very questionable. My house which I thought was number 4 is actually officially number 15!

That does sound rather suspect to me.

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