Freeholder refusing responsibility for roof repairs?

by Readers Question

8:30 AM, 28th February 2020
About 7 months ago

Freeholder refusing responsibility for roof repairs?

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Freeholder refusing responsibility for roof repairs?

I have a problem with my freeholder, a large national company. I live in Cyprus so am not on the spot so to speak. The leaseholder in the flat below mine in the UK which I rent out, contacted my agent to say the roof had been damaged in the recent storms and the agent passed the message on, the leaseholder below seems to think it is my sole responsibility to repair. The block is an end of terrace, 1 flat up and 1 down insured as one unit covering both flats

Since as normally the freeholder is responsible for maintaining the structure and common areas, I contacted them to request repairs. The response some 3 days later, was to request payment of the insurance premium which was only billed the same day and fortunately I had paid it by return and confirmed this to them.

Their next response was to send me a copy of the demand to them for payment for the whole block policy, giving details of the policy and that I should contact the insurance company. They advised that I need to deal with it myself and that they had posted claim forms to me to an UK contact address as they do not post overseas. They will of course take weeks to reach me

I queried their procedure and asked why they were not managing and dealing with a structural issue themselves and throwing it back at me as a leaseholder in part of the property and that it was their responsibility as freeholders.

Their response to that was that “the freeholder only owned the ground my property stood on”. Despite the fact they are responsible for insuring said building.

I sent them a copy of the relevant section of the lease which reads:- “The lessor hereby covenants with the lessee (subject to contributions and payments as here in before provided) as follows”.

“During the said term to keep in good and substantial repair, and to repair redecorate renew amend and clean when and as necessary and appropriate:- The main structure of the building save and except those parts for which the lessee is responsible under clause 3 (4) hereof”. Clause 3 (4) refers to the internals of the flat which is the subject of the lease.

To me it seems quite clear it is their responsibility to deal with it.

Sorry this is so long, but I thought the detail was needed as I am seeking the help of someone who can give me legal guidance on this as no regular maintenance or inspections have ever been done, they just collect the ground rent and insurance premium.

Bill



Comments

Neil Patterson

8:36 AM, 28th February 2020
About 7 months ago

Hi Bill,

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/

"Who is responsible for repairing and maintaining the property?

This will depend on the terms of your lease. Under most leases of flats the leaseholder is responsible for the internal parts of their property unless they are structural. The freeholder is generally responsible for the exterior, structure and any common parts.
Download a template for a chasing letter to repair – action required by landlord"

Puzzler

8:39 AM, 28th February 2020
About 7 months ago

I am fairly sure your freeholder is wrong. It may be the person who responded was inexperienced, get on the phone to a manager or customer service operative (complaints). Why does a large national company own the freehold of a two-flat block? What is the ground rent? Or do you mean the managing agent and it is a shared freehold?

Ask them to scan and email you the claim forms, this is the 21st century.

terry sullivan

9:27 AM, 28th February 2020
About 7 months ago

i assume the freeholder manages the property or, at least, has a managing agent?

Bill Williams

12:08 PM, 28th February 2020
About 7 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Neil Patterson at 28/02/2020 - 08:36
The freeholder is responsible for external repair my quote from the lease appears to make this quite clear.

Bill Williams

12:14 PM, 28th February 2020
About 7 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Puzzler at 28/02/2020 - 08:39
Puzzler, they seem to be dinosaurs. They will not e mail They own the freehold of several 2 flat blocks on the estate. I am a leaseholder and am only responsible for internals in my own apartment. They are only interested in collecting the ground rent and not in providing any services. I have been trying to find out which redress scheme they belong to as this is not shown on any of their documents, No response so far.

Gracie

15:53 PM, 28th February 2020
About 7 months ago

Your freeholder sounds pretty clueless. You're right, it IS their responsibility, but they only pass the costs onto you anyway. I'd love for my freeloader / manageless agent to send me the full insurance details, so I can get straight onto some comparison quotes, check what the MA is getting as a commission / kickback / overcharge. If you're not paying a managing fee, then no wonder they don't want to do the work, and I'd be quite happy to do it myself. I get your're abroad but can't you do it all by email? What worries me more is that they only asked for payment after the problem - were you covered at the time of the damage? If so and they're just that bad that they didn't charge you for it at the time of taking out the insurance, then they're pretty disorganised and all the more reason to take on the duties yourself - it's safer if you know you'll do them properly.

Ian Narbeth

16:57 PM, 28th February 2020
About 7 months ago

I assume you have a copy of your lease to hand. You should write, not telephone, the freeholder. Draw attention to the obligations in the lease on the freeholder to (a) insure the building and (b) to claim on the insurance and to carry out repairs.
Assuming there are such obligations in the lease, tell the freeholder that you require him to deal with the insurance claim, that you are not named as insured in the policy and that he is. Advise him that if he does not comply with his obligations and you suffer loss that you will hold him responsible.

In the meantime, when you get insurers details, telephone them to see if they will deal with you. If they will, the line of least resistance may be to manage the claim yourself but without prejudice to your claim that the landlord should be doing so.

You really need a UK agent to act for you.

Bill Williams

17:17 PM, 28th February 2020
About 7 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Ian Narbeth at 28/02/2020 - 16:57
Thanks Ian
Yes I have a copy of the lease and quoted the relevant clause in my 1st comment.
The Management Co are still holding firm and not accepting responsibility. Their latest reply under., total BS as far as I am concerned.
I am awaiting an opinion from lease org before I bother arguing with them again. Totally pointless arguing with them.
I have no contact details for the other leaseholder affected who does not seem to be conversant with her lease anyway. So on my own with this one.
On the bright side I have got a claim form from their insurer, all I have to do now is get 2 repair quotes and photographs for the property while here in Cyprus and complete the form.

Management Co reply
"Dear Mr Williams
We manage 15,597 properties and are well versed in our responsibilities.
With specific reference to your property the lease does not specific a standard schedule of works with service charge headings that would require the involvement of a property manager on a regular basis. If it did we would appoint a sub-contract manager who would be registered with a redress scheme as they would hold leaseholders funds.
The requirement to be registered with a redress scheme only exists if you hold leaseholders money on account in order to meet the service charge requirements. Insurance and Ground Rent are not leaseholders funds but instead they are defined obligations that you must meet.
In this instant there is a dispute between you and another leaseholder as to who is responsible and as such the matter is not that simple as the liability is not clearly identifiable and we’d need to be in funds from both parties for the full estimate before we will commence any management.
For that reason we believe it is in your interest and economic benefit to arrange the matter between yourselves. If the leaseholders come to the agreement that you’d like us to oversee the matter we will of course do so, subject to being placed in funds with our estimates.
Kind Regards"

Bill.

Ian Narbeth

17:41 PM, 28th February 2020
About 7 months ago

Bill
Is your end of terrace a house that has been converted into two flats or is it part of a larger block?

Bill Williams

17:49 PM, 28th February 2020
About 7 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Ian Narbeth at 28/02/2020 - 17:41
No it is purpose built on a newish estate, purchased new. A common layout, row of terrace houses with 2 flats at each end. Usual story. Developer sold on the freehold. There are several of these flats on the estate, not sure if the houses are freehold or leasehold. The estate grounds and roads come under the separate responsibility of a management company owned by the residents and nothing to do with the freehold owner of the flats.

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