New Freeholders have left tenanted property in dangerous condition

by Readers Question

15:11 PM, 20th September 2016
About 2 years ago

New Freeholders have left tenanted property in dangerous condition

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New Freeholders have left tenanted property in dangerous condition

Our BTL flat is one of three flats above two shops. The Freehold of the whole building was sold in January this year. caution

Repairs are needed urgently to the roof and yet after initial contact and several visits by surveyors, the freeholder’s managing agent is now ignoring all calls and emails from us and our managing agent.

We cannot get any information about what’s happening. There is a hole in the roof above our flat and water leaks into the bathroom, causing damage and staining and is also dangerous as it leaks in to the light fittings.

A request for claiming on the buildings insurance was made two months ago, no info about that either.

Not sure how to proceed for the best – consult our solicitor?

Debbie



Comments

Neil Patterson

15:16 PM, 20th September 2016
About 2 years ago

Hi Debbie,

Two or more at least issues here, but first is the safety of your tenant and concern if the property is even insured !

Does the Freeholders management agent have an office you can visit? Do you know who the Freeholder is?

Deborah Manship

15:35 PM, 20th September 2016
About 2 years ago

Yes, we know who the managing agent is and we could visit their office. The annual maintenance charge is paid in Dec each year and includes buildings insurance. i am assuming that along with the relevant percentage of the maintenance charge, the buildings insurance was also transferred to the new freeholder.

Neil Patterson

15:38 PM, 20th September 2016
About 2 years ago

I would visit the office.
What if the tenant was injured or reported the condition of the property to the council.
All the Leaseholders could also get together and force a Right to Manage.
Please see the Leasehold Advisory service website as I am not an expert in this field >> http://www.lease-advice.org/

Deborah Manship

15:47 PM, 20th September 2016
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Neil Patterson" at "20/09/2016 - 15:38":

We were thinking of asking our solicitor to write to the managing agent and remind them of their obligations. Good/bad idea?

Bill O'Dell

8:48 AM, 21st September 2016
About 2 years ago

It's not a bad idea, but neither is it a good idea. You have a serious problem that is being ignored so you need to face up the managing agent and get it sorted. I'd take a conciliatory approach with them first - "...how can we resolve this together...?" then if no action, take Neil's advice and go for Right to Manage.

Mark Weedon

9:02 AM, 21st September 2016
About 2 years ago

Do you have a copy of the buildings insurance? If so contact the insurance company directly and notify them of the claim.

How much do the repairs cost? If is small it may be worth paying for the repairs.

I don't think an RTM would be available due to the commercial content.

Kate Mellor

12:35 PM, 21st September 2016
About 2 years ago

Obviously your first port of call should be the Leasehold Advisory Service.

My thoughts (for what they are worth) are that the insurance will be in the freeholders name and therefore they may refuse to discuss the policy with you unless you are specifically listed as an interested party.

Although if you notify them in writing of the damage they may contact the freeholder, as technically I believe he/she is obligated to report any information relevant to the policy/property insured.

Also, depending on the cause of the roof leak it may not be covered as mostly I believe insurance policies won't cover wear and tear, but if it were caused by lightening or storm for example it may be. You will need to obtain a copy of the policy to establish this.

As leaseholders I presume you would have a combined responsibility for the cost of the roof repairs with the freeholder arranging it by getting quotes and invoicing leaseholders individually etc. Is it an option to speak with the other leaseholders and agree the repairs between you, say with someone obtaining quotes and each party placing their share with a solicitor to enable the repairs to be carried out? You could perhaps then ask the managing agent to arrange any council permissions if closing footpaths might be necessary for scaffolding etc. Or if you have to do it yourself I suspect you would need to notify the freeholder & managing agent of your intentions in writing with say a months notice prior to carrying out the work, along with a detailed breakdown of the work planned, materials to be used, contractors details and a copy of their liability insurance, requesting written approval to carry out the proposed work in accordance with the details provided.

I'm just trying to think outside the box here as sometimes when you are facing zero communication and you've hit a brick wall you may need to go around it.

Mike

15:26 PM, 21st September 2016
About 2 years ago

As Kate said above, I quote As leaseholders I presume you would have a combined responsibility for the cost of the roof repairs with the freeholder arranging it by getting quotes and invoicing leaseholders individually etc. Is it an option to speak with the other leaseholders and agree the repairs between you, say with someone obtaining quotes and each party placing their share with a solicitor to enable the repairs to be carried out?.
However, there are some freeholders who would present you a massive bill and enforce it on you irrespective of how much you protest, so don't be surprised and shocked that a small repair work to your roof carried out by your freeholder and you get presented with a bill of say £5000.00 and perhaps other leaseholders also gets a similar bill, I know from my experience with my Cousin sister who was presented a massive roof repair bill of £10,000.00 along with other leaseholders.

If I were you, I would simply try and get your side of the roof patched up as best as it can be done, and since your side is leaking I doubt if the other leaseholder would entertain sharing cost with you. You need to think of what is in your best interest, and forget about insurance and freeholder, I personally would not even notify him since he has declined to answer any of your emails or letters. kick him out. (I would do this regardless and have dome this for a property where freeholder simply isn't interested and I had a roof leak where he said it was not his problem and when I also took it up with downstairs leaseholder she also declined to fork out any charges, so i just got some roofing contractor and asked him to patch up roof and he did that in half a day with no need for scaffolding and or notifying council. Keep it simple, and less complicated, and save yourself from getting taken to court by your tenant and having to pay back rent you have been charging, do your own thing, take a short cut. Thats my advise tale it or leave it. I am not interested in prolonging a situation that can cause a lot more damage and now we have winter setting in as well.

Kate Mellor

15:53 PM, 21st September 2016
About 2 years ago

I would tend to agree with Mike really. My suggestion was really taking the view that you could in essence act in place of the freeholder and spread the cost as is stipulated in the leases (especially if the roof is in an overall bad state of repair). The reality however, is that if the others aren't interested there is little or nothing you can do to enforce their obligations without the freeholder acting.

Whilst I was also looking to cover your back from any possible backlash from acting yourself, the real risk to you of acting is negligible in comparison to the harm to you of not acting. With this in mind in your place I would take the straight forward route as Mike suggests and get a quote to sort the leak at its source. It can prove pretty cheap to get these things fixed by a one-man-band roofing contractor whereas left undone you can be up for thousands in property damage.

Also the cost to you of attempting to enforce the freeholders obligations will far out-way the cost of the roof repair I would wager.

Nick Pope

9:36 AM, 24th September 2016
About 2 years ago

I wonder whether a visit to the local Environmental Officer would be appropriate if there are dangers to the tenant. They have powers to require work to be done and ways of tracking down freeholders etc.


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