Overseas Landlord in a bit of a mess

by Readers Question

12:36 PM, 8th December 2014
About 4 years ago

Overseas Landlord in a bit of a mess

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Overseas Landlord in a bit of a mess

In brief: Overseas Landlord in a bit of a mess

Three years ago I bought a flat from developer in a refurbished building, developer owns the Freehold and the managing agency.

First 2 years paid the ground rent and maintenance fee on demand. Managing Agent was ok…a bit disorganised but ok.

Year 3 did not receive a request for ground rent and maintenance. Sent email but no reply from Owner.

Now, it looks like the managing agent is no longer trading? Website down, not answering emails, company Answerphone is working but no one is answering/returning any messages.

My tenant is receiving some assistance from local authority.

Currently rent is 4 months in arrears. Not sure if this is due to the tenant or the agency.

I need to make sure that no more money goes to the Agency but I cannot contact the tenant unless I send her a letter posted from overseas.

What are the next steps that I have to take to recover the rents due and to ensure a smooth transition?

Will the local housing authority give me contact details of the tenant and/or confirm how payment is made, I am concerned about liability for the tenants deposit also.

Should I just engage another agency to sort it out for me?

What are the implications of the freeholder not claiming the maintenance? My concern is that statutory checks are not being maintained and it may prove difficult to sell the property if documentation is not being kept up to date.

Where can I check who owns the actual freehold?

How do you deal with an absent Landlord who appears to have no interest in his own building any more?

I can carry the rental loss on this if needs be but I want to get it sorted once and for all and try to get everything on a more professional footing.

Many thanks

Mark Wain



Comments

Mark Alexander

12:42 PM, 8th December 2014
About 4 years ago

Hi Mark

Have you checked the company status of the freeholder and the management company with companies house?

I would certainly look into appointing another letting agent to deal with your tenants. Have you got copies of the important papers, i.e. tenancy agreement and deposit protection certificate? Was the letting agent a member of a professional body and if so, which one? Did you check to ensure they have professional indemnity insurance and client money protection?

If you decide to change, please see >>> http://www.property118.com/letting-supermarket-amend-pricing/68829/
.

Tony Lilleystone

17:48 PM, 8th December 2014
About 4 years ago

Hello Mark,
It seems that you have two separate problem areas
1. Managing Agents/freeholder not complying with their obligations
2. Tenant not paying rent (or paying it to agents who aren't sending it to you.)

Am I right in thinking that the Managing Agents you refer to also acted as letting agents in arranging the tenancy?
Normally Managing Agents would be appointed by the freeholder to manage the building, arranging buildings insurance and dealing with maintenance etc., but I wouldn't expect them to also handle lettings on behalf of flat-owners.
You certainly need to sort things out with the tenant and get rent paid to you or another letting agent. – this is an area where you really need advice from someone more expert than I am about tenancy matters, although I can't see that there is any problem in contacting them from abroad (unless you don't want them to have your contact details.)
However you do have a serious problem if the freeholder and Managing Agents can't be contacted and the building is not being properly managed.
You can find details of the freeholder by checking with the Land Registry (if building is in England or Wales) see https://www.gov.uk/search-property-information-land-registry and try writing to the registered address. (The solicitors who acted for you on the purchase might also be able to provide the details from their file, but this may not be up-to-date.)
If the freeholder is not complying with its obligations then you would have a bit of a problem with selling your flat, although this can often be covered bya one-off Absent Landlord indemnity policy.
But your more immediate problem is to ensure that the building is properly insured as it could be disastrous if it isn't. Sometimes when freeholders disappear flat-owners will arrange this themselves as well as any other regular maintenance on an informal basis.
There are ways in which flat-owners can either buy the freehold or take over the building management if the freeholder has disappeared or won't comply with its obligations, but these take time and money as well as requiring all flat-owners to co-operate. (see http://www.lease-advice.org/ for further information or contact your solicitor.)
I assume that you are probably not in contact with the owners of other flats in the building, but it might be worth trying to contact them to see about taking further action. Again you can get details of owners from the Land Registry.

Neil Robb

16:59 PM, 14th December 2014
About 4 years ago

Hi

Do you not have anyone who can visit the flat and get contact details from the tenant or pass on your details and let them know to pay the rent directly to you until this can be sorted out . Is your flat even still got the tenant in it.

Is it possible for you to arrange come back and check what is happening with the flat. There is lots of things you need to try sort out as soon as possible.

Do you know anything about your tenant at all.

Property 118, they have an association with a letting agent with very reasonable fees ask Mark Alexander he never tells people to use them but reading what others have written in the past they are very happy with the service they provide. I don't know where your property is located but they seem to cover most of the UK.


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