Walter Mitty top flat owner?Make Text Bigger
Converted into 2 flats a Victorian semi detached large house. I purchased the ground floor flat which came with the freehold and peppercorn rent of £10 pa is due from top flat. I have right to see his insurance.
All repairs up to top of ground floor windows are my responsibility and from top of ground floor windows to gutters are the responsibility of top floor flat. Gutters and roof are joint responsibility (all this spelled out specifically in deeds). Deeds also state rear yard (to which I can have free access as freeholder) into which a metal fire escape runs goes with top flat. Deeds also state fire escape sole responsibility of top flat – currently with the council as the fire escape is solid metal and the 4 legs have nearly rusted through and is dangerous, but the council is taking its time to deal with.
However, the top floor flat was later sold and the latest owner has been a pain for 5 years and getting worse now he has a mouthy girlfriend. The roof really needs replacing, but we know he has no money. We got quotes etc some years ago, but he would not engage and we knew he would not pay his half of £5k so told him that if he would not lodge this sum with a solicitor to pay the roofer we would not proceed to re-roof which is what he wanted us to do.
His flat of course has suffered considerably from water ingress. We had to pay for some interim roof/gutter repairs which, after starting legal action, he paid half back in instalment, but not the full amount. We then had further issues with leaks from his flat pipework and also blown render above the ground floor windows and round his back door on the top of the fire escape and boiling water escaping from his boiler and him installing a waste pipe which was not secured and wetting all the side of the building.
All this caused severe damp and mould issues in our flat and he would not deal with it. We obtained quotes and sent them to him with covering letters and also hand delivered them with an independent. He would not engage and was eventually told we would do the work required and where the issue was his we would look to recover the money as it was impinging on our flat. He refused point blank to pay and we have been in correspondence for some time.
Of course, the roof is now failing badly and he has suddenly decided (via his girlfriend) to get repair work done and wants us to pay half. We have advised when he pays us what he owes for the first set of roof repairs plus the other work plus his peppercorn rent we will then look at the issue.
We know he cannot afford legal advice and we also know to describe him as Walter Mitty is being subtle. He plays the idiot wonderfully when it suits him. Any advice other than following the legal route to get back money we have paid out plus what is our position as freeholder if he pays for some repairs to the roof in the interim?
I should mention the girlfriend is now harassing our tenant making unsubstantiated allegations vie e mail to us, which we ignore, ie drinking, drugs, wild parties but the tenant is more than capable of standing up for herself and we just brush off various allegations the girlfriend is making and, for peace of mind and because we have a good tenant, we have installed cctv around the property to protect our tenant.
Anyone come across this situation before?
Sadly he owns the flat and paid a silly amount for it some years ago so is in negative equity so it is not as if they will put it up for sale any time soon. Given what he owes us is far more than we could end up owing him if he does have a repair to the roof what would any legal outcome be?
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