Is the Freeholder partly responsible?

by Readers Question

15:39 PM, 24th September 2018
About 3 months ago

Is the Freeholder partly responsible?

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Is the Freeholder partly responsible?

We own 3 apartments in a building, the only 3. The landlord owns the freehold and the estate agency below. Only our tenants use the entrance door/hallway, theoretically* (I will come onto that later)

We have a Service Charge agreement/split of 42% him, 58% us. Simple.

So the first question: is the Freeholder liable for his portion of the electricity, repairs, and anything else in the communal area? I say he is, he states he is not as it services my apartments only, my argument is that it is in fact “communal”?

The lease states obviously for repairs we are jointly liable for the property but does NOT explicitly state the hallway/entrance communal area. Its quite a bit of money over 5 years.

*he let out to his wife and son (this separate address) as a postal address for their companies also. That’s why I say theoretically*

BTW He recently took us to First Tier Tribunal over several issues and lost on each count, costing him thousands, making up fake quotes on work to overcharge us was among the things he lost on.

Second Question: To manage the Service charges he has a bank account, he insists we pay all fees and he doesn’t need to contribute, my argument is its a bank account to manage the whole property, not just our 3 flats, or it should be anyhow.

Any opinions??

Thank you for any advice

Paul



Comments

Neil Patterson

15:43 PM, 24th September 2018
About 3 months ago

Hi Paul,

Always start with the leasehold contract as you have done and also the Leasehold Advisory Service (The Gov reference point) see >> https://www.lease-advice.org/

Very crudely it sound as if the Freeholder is trying to get away with things on the cheap and everything you have said seems more than reasonable to me.

Paul McCarthy

17:43 PM, 24th September 2018
About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Neil Patterson at 24/09/2018 - 15:43
Thx Neil. But in your opinion is a landlord is liable to pay a share of bills for communal areas per se? electricity, fire prevention etc..(nothing in the lease, so its an opinion)

AA

19:55 PM, 24th September 2018
About 3 months ago

"The lease states obviously for repairs we are jointly liable for the property but does NOT explicitly state the hallway/entrance communal area".- where agreements are silent on this type of issue it is the default position of equal liability.

Paul McCarthy

19:56 PM, 24th September 2018
About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by AA at 24/09/2018 - 19:55
Thank you. is that law or an opinion??

Paul McCarthy

19:58 PM, 24th September 2018
About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by AA at 24/09/2018 - 19:55
please note it's not about repairs, it's about electricity, fire prevention etc.. in the communal area! and who bears the costs

blair

11:07 AM, 25th September 2018
About 3 months ago

Common sense doesnt have to come into it. Its what the lease states unless that is clearly wrong in law or facts. Are the common parts every mentioned in your lease. There is a service charge spilt and thats that. The leases could have being written that only the parts served by the communal stairs etc are to pay the upkeep. The solicitor drafting the lease was easy but to your advantage. It might be unfair to the LL but that what the margin struck when the leases were agreed!

AA

12:33 PM, 25th September 2018
About 3 months ago

In law. This issue often comes up when obligations are contested and reference to leases / title deeds are required. When they are silent on the subject - 50/50.
But in agreement with Blair - your lease already stipulates the %age for services. Additionally repairs also includes maintenance. Compliance with current legal standards is maintenance. Supply of lighting in the hallway and fire safety costs are thus apportionable.

Steve Masters

16:05 PM, 25th September 2018
About 3 months ago

"Only our tenants use the entrance door/hallway, theoretically*
.....
*he let out to his wife and son (this separate address) as a postal address for their companies also. That’s why I say theoretically*"

Why would he not use his own address? That sounds a bit "dodgy" to me, an indication of the type of person you are dealing with perhaps.

I own three flats in a block all on their own communal entrance separate from the others, I pay for my communal lighting, just to keep the peace. In my case it's trivial, so I don't mind. You could take that approach and invest in energy efficient lighting.

But on the other hand, the Landlord/freeholder should have read his/your lease agreement(s), fair or unfair, that is what you and he signed up for. It doesn't matter if he doesn't use the communal area, you don't own it, it's communal, so the lease dictates the split. Sounds like he is just trying to get out of his responsibility. He should have thought of that before he bought, "caveat emptor" - buyer beware!

Paul McCarthy

16:13 PM, 25th September 2018
About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Steve Masters at 25/09/2018 - 16:05
Thank you for your opinion...along my lines of thought also...

Howard Michaels

18:30 PM, 25th September 2018
About 3 months ago

A lot will depend on the actual wording in the leases. I have a building with 7 flats. The basement has its own entrance and no access to the entrance and staircase to the rest of the building. Under the leases all flats contribute to the lighting, heating[electric], furnishing, repair and decoration of the common parts. The issue was raised some years ago by the basement owner. There is case law [I can't remember the case] which established that even though the basement had no benefit it had to contribute its stated share of the costs unless specifically excluded [as is the case in my building for the lift].


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