Nightmare of only half the Freeholders paying for repairs?

by Readers Question

10:46 AM, 15th July 2016
About 2 years ago

Nightmare of only half the Freeholders paying for repairs?

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Nightmare of only half the Freeholders paying for repairs?

I live in a property in Hove, East Sussex of 6 flats as part of Victorian building.nightmare2

I am very stressed with the problems of the flat and need some external advice on the matter.

Here are some of the facts

5 of the flats are share of freehold , 1 is just a leaseholder.

Due to disagreements over the years we have finally got ourselves a managing agent as we were not able to sort out repairs between us.

We have a person on the top floor who is not paying service charge or anything towards repairs – we have instructed a solicitor in this regard and we are awaiting a court date . the top floor is disputing the quality of the work which we have paid for and refuses to co-operate.

We have another person who has decided not to pay anything nor the service charge towards the repairs.

We have a person who owes service charge from previous years, but is now paying the monthly service fee, but is not paying the additional costs of running the building – it is not enough to keep the building running and recently there was a shortfall in the insurance payments which I ended up paying for!

That leaves 3 of us out of 6 in the block pretty much paying for everything and we are running out of money with the legal costs before we even get to court!

it’s a nightmare

Can anyone help me please
I cannot see an answer to this problem nor a way out!

Many thanks

Susan

 



Comments

Michael Freer

11:42 AM, 15th July 2016
About 2 years ago

It does sound like a very difficult position that you find yourself in. Be confident that you will find a solution, because there is one if you keep looking.

There are members here with much more knowledge and experience than me and so all I can give are thoughts on what I'd do in a similar position.

1) Is lawyer you've instructed a specialist in Leasehold property law? The average high street practice would not be suitable for such a case.
2) Have you spoken with the mortgage companies who have a charge on the flats not paying their due amounts? This may end up being corrected but I believe they would be interested as they expect the leaseholder to comply with the terms of the lease and where that isn't the case, they will pay the amounts owing and add them to the mortgage.
3) Have you visited the site that has lots of advice in this area? http://www.lease-advice.org/

As above these are simply my thoughts and others will undoubtedly give more specific guidance.

Good luck with whatever direction you take and try to see this as a learning experience rather than a stressful one, as this way of thinking will allow you to think even more clearly. It may be one of your toughest lessons yet but you'll have knowledge and experience at the end of it that will be of benefit to you and others around you and that will be a wonderful reward for your time, effort and patience.

terry sullivan

11:49 AM, 15th July 2016
About 2 years ago

pls explain how there are 5 freeholds and one lessee--that sounds very unusual

Lease and/or Carlex may have info--try them online for advice

David Aneurin

12:31 PM, 15th July 2016
About 2 years ago

I would expect the managing agent to be giving the correct advice on the liability of the leaseholders. With reference to the collection of service changes from mortgage holders is that they now will not normally pay the outstanding amount until it has been to court. They then may pay to protect their interest.
It all comes down to the leases and any other documentation which refers to paying for the maintenance of the building.

David Price

12:57 PM, 15th July 2016
About 2 years ago

This is a problem with many leasehold flats, you are not alone. Try a 'no fee to freeholder' solicitor and if that fails you will have to allocate funds for a hefty court case. Our last case with the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal (Now the First Tier Tribunal) cost £26,000 and we had two barristers 'discussing the merits' (AKA arguing) over a bill of 2 pence. We won in the end and still the leaseholder concerned did not pay. Took another two years before he sold his flat and the new owner was left with the bill.
Would be pleased to help if you care to contact me through Property 118.

Nick Pope

7:35 AM, 16th July 2016
About 2 years ago

Just a thought.You might like to mention to all three that if they ever come to sell they could have difficulties if there is a dispute over service charges. Purchasers solicitors and mortgage lenders are very wary of lending on anything with an on-going legal dispute.
In addition if the block is not properly maintained their saleability and value will also be reduced.
So far as the legal position is concerned that will depend on the leases but there is usually an obligation to pay ground rent and service charges (subject to them being reasonable) and if they don't cough up the freeholder can put a caution on the title meaning they won't be able to sell at all until it's sorted. It's difficult for many owners of shares of freehold to appreciate that there are 2 titles in each property i.e. the (in this case) one fifth share of the freehold of the building and a totally separate ownership of the leasehold interest. The rights and obligations of each are separate. The 3 recalcitrant occupiers are harming their own interests as much as anyone else's.

Puzzler

9:22 AM, 16th July 2016
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "David Price" at "15/07/2016 - 12:57":

Interesting, why did new owner foot the bill? Surely the debt would have been paid by the sale proceeds? Or were there insufficient funds?

David Price

9:51 AM, 16th July 2016
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Puzzler " at "16/07/2016 - 09:22":

Because that was what was in the conditions of the auction sale. The owner was broke, having spent £50,000 arguing over a £1,500 bill, and had no option but to pass the service charges onto the next owner.
I cannot even quote what our middle aged lady barrister said about him, suffice it to say it was not complimentary.

Nick Pope

10:49 AM, 16th July 2016
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "David Price" at "16/07/2016 - 09:51":

Was his name Richard?!

David Price

12:44 PM, 16th July 2016
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Nick Pope" at "16/07/2016 - 10:49":

I feel that I am missing the hidden meaning in your question but the simple answer is no.

Nick Pope

16:25 PM, 16th July 2016
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "David Price" at "16/07/2016 - 12:44":

Contraction of Richard is Dick!

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