Leaseholder or freeholder responsibility?

Leaseholder or freeholder responsibility?

11:25 AM, 12th December 2022, About A year ago 8

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Hello, A question on financial responsibility for the roof of a block of flats that has been sold to another ‘user’.

We’ve had an item on our service charge for legal fees that were run up by the freeholder in relation to legal fees for issues regarding works to the roof of our building by the 3rd party, – we do not own this area as it has been sold with the air space to another person who wishes to build on it.

Is this correct – anyone?

Thank you,


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Laura Delow

12:28 PM, 12th December 2022, About A year ago

Your post is not clear with regards the specific issues the legal fees were run up for. The service charge should only be charged for costs to manage, service & maintain the block. Also, were you/the leaseholders given first right of refusal to buy the air/roof space?


12:36 PM, 12th December 2022, About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Laura Delow at 12/12/2022 - 12:28
It was before my time, (I'm told around 15 years ago) and I can't answer if the leaseholders then were given first refusal, as I recall it was peanuts, we are still paying for roof maintenance and repairs ironically. The new owner has consent to build, whether or not he can or if it's worthwhile is probably unlikely as he needs to extend the lift, and all the stuff that will come with 2 new flats on a roof..
I haven't been told what the legal costs were for, I can find out - would we pay for the freeholder's legal work in respect to dealings with the roof leaseholder - nothing will be related to our flats obviously and we already pay roof repairs as I said.

Ian Narbeth

12:49 PM, 12th December 2022, About A year ago

I have been involved with "sales of airspace". They are never simple.
Your post omits important information.
1. Has an additional floor been built? It sounds as if not yet.
2. Has a new lease been granted of the "airspace"?
3 Alternatively, is there just an agreement to grant a new lease?

In the first instance, you and other leaseholders may wish to challenge the freeholder to explain why, if the roof has been demised to the 3rd party, you are being asked to pay.

If the sum is significant, you and the other leaseholders may want to take legal advice. I very much doubt that a forum such as this can give you a definitive answer as it all depends on the factual position.


14:07 PM, 12th December 2022, About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Ian Narbeth at 12/12/2022 - 12:49
The freeholder will be responsible for the building 'envelope', which includes the actual roof itself (not necessarily the space immediately beneath). Any structural repairs will be charged to your service charge (and they often use this ploy to extract additional income for overpriced work!). If there is a loft space (which is not usually included in a lease) it may have been demised to a previous leaseholder, but if they didnt use it, why did they bother? Or... the freeholder owns it and plans to build on top. You shouldn't be responsible for a freeholders legal fees in connection with a 'sale' to a 3rd party. What are these legal fees for, precisely? You should speak to the new leaseholder who wants to build.


10:56 AM, 17th December 2022, About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Ian Narbeth at 12/12/2022 - 12:49
Thanks for the response, no building works have been started consent has been received for the new additions
A new lease has been granted for this airspace to the new owner.
I did raise this with the managing agent and his response was that as our lease says that we pay the maintenance of the building and fees that this bill comes to us. I doubt that we'll be any better off is we pay for advice as the sum is £3,500 but I'd like to know if we have any grounds incase this arises again - which it very well may do as this new leaseholder will want to build in the next 2 years before his consent runs out. Thank you


11:16 AM, 17th December 2022, About A year ago

What does your lease say? The actual words which state what your maintenance costs cover. The lease is a legally binding contract on the named parties to it and service charge must be paid to the ‘landlord’ ie the entity named to enforce the lease and collect service charge and hold it in a section 42 trust account to be tax exempt. Usually all costs relating to the building structure including roof is a cost to the freeholder. If lease not clear then apply for determination by the FTT.


11:33 AM, 17th December 2022, About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Kizzie at 17/12/2022 - 11:16
Repair and obligations by the landlord:
Subject to and conditional upon payment being made by the tenant of the Interim charge and the service charge at the times and in the manner herein provided:
'To maintain and keep in good and substantial repair and condition: the main structure of the building including the principal internal timbers and the exterior walls and foundations and the roof thereof and main water tanks main drains gutters and rainwater pipes (other than those included in this demise or in the demise of any other flat in the building'.

I think my point is that we don't own the roof anymore the new leaseholder does - the damage was caused by him during exploratory works - the landlord will charge us for everything (running a new flue for the boilers due to new building regs that now have to use the underside of the balcony above - £2,000 plus legal fees for example) but resisted a higher wall for security as this was deemed 'betterment' in which case it would be down to them (apparently)


12:35 PM, 17th December 2022, About A year ago

In my opinion and I’m not legally qualified this contract seems to me to contain unfair terms. What type of registered title to each long residential lease held by each leaseholder at the land registry: good or absolute? Does your lease actually state in terms that it covers the cost of roof and structural maintenance repairs as well as repairs and maintenance of common parts?

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