Freehold management failing to carry out repairs?

Freehold management failing to carry out repairs?

0:01 AM, 9th July 2024, About 2 weeks ago 11

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Hello everybody, this is my first post but I have been following and reading the forum on Property118 for quite some time. My question is this: What to do if your freehold management company is failing to carry out remedial work on the property.

I bought this flat in a converted building in 2019 and the freeholders were in between changing management companies at the time and a new lease had just been signed too.

For the first several years I paid ground rent and service charge and then noticed at the beginning of 2023 that nothing was being repaired despite the (obvious) rising service charge fees. I emailed them to keep all correspondence recorded, informing them that before paying next year’s service charge, I wanted to see how the previous years’ funds had been spent as nothing/very little had been done.

I carried on paying ground rent fees and held back on the service charges and continued to email them on their two email addresses approximately every month or two.  They have never written back despite numerous (10+) emails, requesting for assistance regarding the issue. In the meantime I had emailed them on other matters which they were very quick to reply to me on. All on the same email addresses used prior to this.

After making my request, I have now received an account statement showing that I have an outstanding balance (not a horrendous amount) that I am questioning and wondered if anyone else here has had similar experiences? They have never threatened me with any kind of debt recovery etc.

I have requested a Data Subject Access Request (DSAR) before going any further, along with any signed/deemed contracts. I am more than happy to pay for a service that I am receiving – maintaining, repairing and upholding their side of any contract as of course this looks after my investment too.

I just don’t believe it is fair to pay for a service while parts of the property get completely neglected and haven’t undergone any remedial work whatsoever since the property purchase in Feb 2019.

Thanks in advance for any assistance that anyone might be able to give and I am forever grateful for those on this forum for their dedication in helping other landlords with new and old issues that we face in these trying times.

Thanks,

Omar


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Kizzie

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10:12 AM, 9th July 2024, About 2 weeks ago

Your freehold man co should have an office registered at Companies House.
The HMLR will have address registered to the freehold title.
Your lease a legally binding contract with the parties to it and will set out to whom you pay service charge and GR and what repairs and maintenance you contribute to.
Under section 48 landlord & tenant act the man co must provide an address at which notices can be served and s 21 (1) of the act notice gives right to inspect the accounts.
It may be the man co is insolvent and there may be notifications on companies house records for the man co.

Omar Kouch

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15:26 PM, 9th July 2024, About 2 weeks ago

Hi Kizzie,
Thanks for your comment!
It is the current management company I am in touch with and have been paying GR and earlier Service Charge to.
The DSAR was sent to this company and the name I referenced was indeed as written on Companies House.
The previous management company's details I have in paperwork form from when the purchase was made.
I have just looked back and it took from July 2019 (purchase month) until October 2020 for the original MC to confirm they were handing over to the new and current MC.
In this time I made countless attempts and requests to make payment for GR and SC.
I do not ever remember receiving any kind of updated contract from the new/current MC, only confirmation that they were taking over.
The suspicious part is their absolute failure to respond to any requests I have made of previous spending and evidence of this spending in conjunction with any repairs carried out. I guess that this is due to none being done. Other than a push fit vacuum button replaced for a safety light in a corridor and painting of this corridor which has been carried out non-professionally and over existing wallpaper.
There are many other repairs needed to 2 doors, low brick walls in the carpark, other vacuum light switches and to damaged railing at the front of the property. I'm sure there are others too.
Am I within my right to offer payment conditionally once I have been given proof of spending? It is clear that I have paid to a point as shown on my account. GR is paid annually in full as well.
Thanks in advance for any further help you may be able to offer.
Omar

Kizzie

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16:53 PM, 9th July 2024, About 2 weeks ago

Hi Omar

You can only pay sc to the Man Co written in your lease.

Your sc has by law ie section 42 LTA 87 to be held in a statutory trust account.

It is not company money and can only be spent on what it says in your lease.

I’d ring them and tell them you can only pay sc to the original man co as landlord and what are they playing at.

You should apply to FTT first tier property tribunal on ground failure by man co to perform contractual obligations in your lease.

Application form downloadable off internet.

If they don’t allow you to pay sc then repairs cannot be done and your flat and lease unsaleable

havens havens

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19:02 PM, 9th July 2024, About A week ago

It sounds like you're dealing with a frustrating situation with your freehold management company. It's definitely concerning when you're paying service charges but not seeing any of that money go towards necessary repairs and maintenance.

First off, good move on keeping all your correspondence recorded and requesting a Data Subject Access Request (DSAR). That's smart because it'll give you a clear picture of where your money has been going and what contracts are in place.

It's odd that they're responsive on some matters but completely silent when it comes to addressing your concerns about property maintenance. Have you considered reaching out to other residents in the building to see if they're experiencing similar issues? Sometimes there's strength in numbers when it comes to pushing for accountability from management companies.

Since they haven't responded to your emails despite numerous attempts, you might want to consider escalating your complaint formally. This could involve contacting a property ombudsman, if available, or seeking legal advice from a solicitor specializing in property management issues. They can advise you on your rights and what steps you can take next.

In the meantime, continue to withhold service charges until you receive satisfactory answers or see evidence of the necessary repairs being carried out. It's your right as a leaseholder to ensure that the service charges you pay are being used properly to maintain the property.

Hopefully, with persistence and the right approach, you'll be able to resolve this issue and ensure that your investment is properly cared for. Good luck, and I hope it gets sorted out soon.

Omar Kouch

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22:43 PM, 9th July 2024, About A week ago

Thank you both for your supportive answers.
I am certainly contemplating legal advice. I will check if this kind of issue is covered by my insurers as well.
I will also look at FTT as that seems like a good route too, thank you!
I wanted to be sure that I wasn't doing anything that wasn't safe or sensible and have limited knowledge of the laws surrounding this.
I shall wait to hear from the MC and obtain the DSAR before taking any further action. As there hasn't ever been any mention of legal proceedings etc on their behalf, I feel there is plenty of time to settle this matter and, dare I say, with a good leg to stand on doing so.
I shall post an update when I receive info back just incase anyone else follows this discussion and might find help from any eventual solutions/outcomes.

Kizzie

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7:36 AM, 13th July 2024, About 7 days ago

Contact the free government supported Leasehold Advisory Service. Details on internet.

Judith Wordsworth

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10:58 AM, 13th July 2024, About 7 days ago

Reply to the comment left by Kizzie at 09/07/2024 - 10:12
If the management company is not a Ltd they are not registered at Companies House

Judith Wordsworth

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11:03 AM, 13th July 2024, About 7 days ago

Reply to the comment left by Omar Kouch at 09/07/2024 - 22:43
Check your buildings insurance policy that you are, and your mortgage provider, noted on the policy.

See if the policy has legal cover?

Do not withhold ground rent.

Omar Kouch

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14:13 PM, 15th July 2024, About 5 days ago

Hi everyone and thank you for your replies.
Both old and new management companies are LTD so that's all OK. At time of purchase, they were in between exchanging. I contacted the old MC several times only to get fobbed off for week or months at a time. It eventually took a year and several months before I l heard from the new MC.
Have made sure to pay ground rent and my conditional offer very much rests upon the information they send me (SAR and proof of spending and repair work carried out). I am currently waiting for a SAR from them which is due in around 21 days. At this point I will have all info I need.
Yes, my landlord insurance covers me for everything (made that mistake and got away narrowly in the past) and no mortgage to consider with this property.
I have also drafted a letter to the Leasehold Advisory Service as this could escalate. I do not seem to have an actual contract with new MC that I can currently find although this could have easily been lost (unlike me). Would I have had to have signed a new contract with any new MC that had taken over?
Forgive me, I'm a beginner but also fairly stubborn when it comes to paperwork and making sure things are fair.
Thank you.

Kizzie

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18:17 PM, 15th July 2024, About 5 days ago

Hello Omar
Your lease contract is only with the Man Co and Company Registration Number CRN limited liability registered at Companies House written as Party in your lease.
Unless the new company has the same CRN as the old company that is has only changed its name.
That should be registered at Companies House and also HMLR.
Your lease is legally binding on the parties to it. You cannot pay any money to the ‘new’ company. If you do then your property and your money are at risk because you will have no legal protection.
It is good you are contacting LEASE. Have your lease at the ready.

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