Freeholder ignoring my calls to fix leaking roof

by Readers Question

10:26 AM, 13th December 2016
About 2 years ago

Freeholder ignoring my calls to fix leaking roof

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Freeholder ignoring my calls to fix leaking roof

I have bought a flat with a short lease (64 years), above a letting agent. I have noticed the roof is leaking into my flat, and probably the other top floor flat that adjoins mine. I have contacted the landlord to fix it, he has ignored me for 2 months.V2 Ignore

Is there anything I should be doing so I can legally force him to do the work? Obviously I can’t let the flat out as the water is damaging the flat and a tenant wouldn’t put up with this and would probably open me up to them suing me for an unfit place to live, so can I also seek compensation from the freeholder for lost rent?

I have read that I should get in touch with environmental health, as they can issue a notice to force the freeholder to repair the roof, is this the way forward?

Many thanks in advance

Alex



Comments

Neil Patterson

10:29 AM, 13th December 2016
About 2 years ago

Hi Alex,

Water leak issues are very common and it is madness for your Freeholder not to fix a roof leak as the damage will only spiral out of control if left.

There must be a management company as well for you to speak to asap.

Also the Buildings insurers will be very unhappy if this is left so please check who your block policy is with and again talk to the above.

Please also consult the Leasehold Advisory Service as they are the reference point for leasehold issues. Please see >> https://www.lease-advice.org/

Alex Brambleside

11:48 AM, 13th December 2016
About 2 years ago

Hi Neil
Thankd for the prompt response.
Unfortunately there is no management company, the freeholder manages ( or doesnt in this case) the property himself.
Can i contact the building insurers myself regarding the issue? Should i tell the landlord that i will contact the insurers if he doesnt respond and fix the problem within a certain timeframe?
Thanks again

Kate Mellor

19:26 PM, 13th December 2016
About 2 years ago

Hi Alex,

If you have the details of the insurance policy and you've already contacted the freeholder about the problem without success I would certainly try the insurer myself. You may be listed as an interested party on the policy, although they may well refuse to speak to you about it if you are not the policy holder. The thing to consider regarding this is the cause of the leak. Why is it leaking? Do you have some broken or missing tiles? Was it caused by storm damage or impact of some sort? Your freeholders policy will not cover a general leak without covered cause. Ask your Freeholder for a copy of the policy if you don't already have it so you can determine whether this damage is covered.

Who is the Freeholder? Is he one of the Leaseholders of the Letting Agent or the other flat, or is it someone separate? If the leak is not covered by insurance the cost will need to be covered proportionally by the Leaseholders (check your lease to establish the liability). The Freeholder will arrange, organise and manage the repairs and then charge the individual Leaseholders according to their liability (usually relative to the relative area of their property, unless you have been paying into a sinking fund which may then be able to cover the cost of the repairs). If your Freeholder is not also one of the Leaseholders you will find that they will not necessarily try to keep your costs down to a minimum, but may go all out for a new roof, or something of that sort.

You may therefore be well advised to get a cheap one-man-band contractor to take a look for you and replace any missing or damaged tiles if that proves to be the problem and be done with it. If on the other hand he establishes it is in fact an expensive and extensive repair job or a replacement roof is necessary, then you could either speak to the other Leaseholders and work something out between you, as ultimately it will be the three of you who will be footing the bill whether the Freeholder gets involved or not.

If it turns out to be an expensive job and you can't get any joy out of the other Leaseholders but are happy to pay your proportion, you could try doing a Land Reg search on the Freehold Title and checking whether their is a mortgage on it (for the princely sum of £3). You could then inform the lender of the issue with the roof and thereby leave them to force the Freeholder to manage the repairs and recharge the Leaseholders individually for their portion. Of course you then lose control of the cost involved and will have to suck it up and pay your share. You will also be persona non grata with your Freeholder from here on in. Not sure I'd want to go down that route.

In reality it will probably turn out to be something and nothing as a lot of roof leaks are, in which case I'd just get on with it and get it fixed.

Puzzler

10:36 AM, 15th December 2016
About 2 years ago

You are entitled to a copy of the insurance, sounds like yours is the only flat above a shop? Do you have a mortgage? What service charge do you pay?

Alex Brambleside

11:53 AM, 15th December 2016
About 2 years ago

Hi Puzzler
There are actually 3 flats above 2 shops in a detached building. Mine is the first and 2nd floor and the oher 2 flats are adjacent and are over the same floors. One of the reasons i originally bought the flat was to split it into 2 separate units to mirror the 2 next door. The freeholder responded to my original enquiry into this and said he would get back to me in a couple of days... that was 2 months ago and havent heard from him since.
No idea on service charge as he hasnt invoiced me yet.
No mortgage at all as my plan to split into 2 would have just been more complicated if a mortgage company was also involved.
Thanks


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