Can I withhold service charges?

Can I withhold service charges?

15:33 PM, 15th September 2022, About 3 weeks ago 1

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On June 4 2022 , the communal roof of my 7th floor apartment which I rent out was breached by rain water causing damage.

The event was a major inconvenience to my tenant who had to vacate the premises for a time. This was reported to the property management company, both by phone and through the repair reporting system and we were subsequently told that the roof had been repaired.

I then sent in pictures and videos of the damage to my apartment in order to claim on the insurance which should be covered through the service charges I pay.

At first I was told by the management company that there would be a £400 excess charge. They later backed down when challenged.

Three companies attended with view of preparing a quote, but the management company claimed to have received only one quote and were chasing the other two.

On the 8th of September 2022 more leaks started coming from the same roof, causing more damage and misery to the property and my tenant. The company that did the inspection on the new damage informed us that the roof had never been repaired. Meaning that we had been misled all along.

As winter is fast approaching and the management company’s apparent disinterest in resolving the issue, despite continuing to charge for services not rendered – a breach in the terms of contract – it has become is major cause for concern.

As even if I repair the flat with my own money, I have no guarantee that it will not be damaged again.

I have written to the directors and phoned numerous times but feel that I am being fobbed off.

Any ideas?

Alt



Comments

Laura Delow

10:14 AM, 17th September 2022, About 3 weeks ago

Sadly similar questions to this have been posted on this forum before. Damage to your flat will hopefully be covered by your claim on the block building insurance policy, but I strongly suggest you request in writing a copy of the policy schedule & T&Cs (which is your right) & then contact the insurer direct and ask how best to progress your claim if the damage to your flat is ongoing as the cause has not yet been made good by the freeholder.
With regard to the roof itself, in Feb 2020 Neil Patterson replied to a similar problem stating; Please check out the Leasehold Advisory Service section on chasing for repairs https://www.lease-advice.org/faq/who-is-responsible-for-repairing-and-maintaining-the-property/ where you can download a template for a chasing letter to repair, and asked that you check your lease to see who is responsible for leaking roof repairs, for although it is normally the responsibility of your freeholder for maintaining and repairing your building’s structure including the roof and guttering etc, sometimes for example in rare cases it is the sole responsibility of the top-floor flat.
Assuming it is your freeholder's responsibility, it may be claimable on the buildings insurance or dependent on your lease terms, the cost of repairs may need to be covered by your building’s reserve fund.
If the repairs aren’t covered by your freeholder’s insurance policy or the building’s reserve fund, you might be required to pay a share of the total cost through the service charge.
If your freeholder still doesn't satisfactorily repair the roof & quickly, you may be able to take them to court to force them to do so, whereby they may also be forced to pay you compensation as well as make good the damage to your flat, and you should also be able to recover your legal fees provided you can prove that your freeholder has neglected the problem, hence it is important to put everything in writing.
In many cases, just the threat of court action alone is sufficient to motivate the landlord to carry out the works.
You can also request assistance from your local council’s environmental health department if your roof problem poses a risk to health and safety. In many cases, your council can order the freeholder to carry out the repairs without you having to go to court.
I suggest you book a 15 minute free consultation with LEASE for their free legal advice but as it can take a while to get through on 020 7832 2500 to book the appt, I suggest booking an appointment online - copy/paste this link https://clients.lease-advice.org/#/

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