What can be done about an Irresponsible leaseholder

by Readers Question

11:36 AM, 26th October 2015
About 3 years ago

What can be done about an Irresponsible leaseholder

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What can be done about an Irresponsible leaseholder

I am a leaseholder of 2 small studio flats in a block of 6. The management company are only responsible for paying the insurance and the communal electricity.lease

There is no management fee, no maintenance liability and no sinking fund. Each leaseholder has responsibility for various parts of the building ie ground floor flats are responsible for the grounds and pipes, the first floor flats are responsible for the roof guttering etc.

It’s not a great lease and one leaseholder in the block does not carry out her maintenance responsibilities and lets her flat to those with high support needs. Her most recent tenant is a convicted drug dealer who is likely still dealing and is causing much anti social behaviour. Police are involved.

I am wondering how to go about getting the management company to obtain leasehold forfeiture and I understand me or the remaining leaseholders would have to pay legal costs. Can you advise if this is a recommended course of action and anyone have any idea of likely costs,or any ideas please?

Many thanks

Hilary



Comments

Neil Patterson

11:38 AM, 26th October 2015
About 3 years ago

Hi Hilary,

I am afraid I couldn't give advice, but I am sure some readers are experienced in this sort of situation.

However I would start with the Leasehold Advisory Service please see >> http://www.lease-advice.org/

Tony Lilleystone

16:24 PM, 26th October 2015
About 3 years ago

Who owns the freehold of the block? In the first instance it's really up to them to take action.

But it's virtually impossible to forfeit a lease of residential premises, because that amounts to taking away a valuable asset from the leaseholder.

Assuming that the lease does actually contain a forfeiture clause, a notice under S146 of the Law of Property Act 1925 would have to be served by whoever owns the freehold.

But such a notice cannot now be served unless the leaseholder has agreed or admitted the breach or there has been a determination by a court or the Tribunal that a breach has occurred. (Section 168 of the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002)

Even when a S146 notice can be served the leaseholder has to be given the opportunity of making good any breach. And if they fail to do so and an application for forfeiture is made to court, the courts have extremely wide discretion and are most unlikely to grant forfeiture except in case of a most egregious breach of covenant which is quite incapable of being remedied.

If the leases contain a provision enabling one leaseholder to take sue a fellow leaseholder directly for breach of covenant then you might consider taking action to enforce the repairing covenant or require payment of damages if your flats have suffered damage. But you would really need advice from a solicitor (or direct-acess barrister) who specialises in property disputes.

A 'letter before action' from a lawyer might be sufficient to goad the person into action, but don't count on it!


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