Who accepts responsibility for poor building works?

Who accepts responsibility for poor building works?

9:34 AM, 18th December 2023, About 3 months ago 10

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Hello, I am the landlord of a property which is divided into two flats, I am also the owner/leaseholder of one of the flats with an overseas leaseholder owning the other. As a landlord it is my obligation to make sure the building is insured and I request the 50% share from the overseas leaseholder, which he duly pays.

Over the past 24 months, the lower flat which is owned by myself has had severe water ingress. The ingress is only apparent when it has been raining heavily for several days. The ingress has caused considerable damage to walls, doors and lighting fixtures. Fortunately, the insurance has agreed to pay for the internal redecoration and rectification of the damaged area but only after the cause has been dealt with, insurance will not cover this as they see it as a maintenance problem.

We have been in communication with the leaseholder of the above property over these 24 months as it appears the source of the water ingress originates on their terrace which forms part of the roof for lower demise. We have had several drainage experts view the area and it seems they think that the problem is that of a poorly constructed conservatory that was erected by the upstairs leaseholder prior to our purchase.

We have requested from him any plans, or landlord certificates that would have been required for him to build the extension but nothing has been forwarded. Planning permission was approved by local council and I have managed to view the basic drawing which unfortunately lacks any detailed information on the rainwater drainage.

It is apparent that the conservatory has been built over the original gully and drain. This gulley is left open so that when rainwater is falling heavily over a long duration the gully fills up and drain cannot cope so the level of water seeps under the conservatory floor and finds a low spot to release itself into the lower flat.

We have had a drainage engineer install a pipe into the gulley (underneath conservatory) so as to direct rainwater into drain which then distributes water through the building and out into the public drainage system. A baffle is fitted to the entrance of the pipe so that rainwater flow is slowed down and the terrace will have to cope with the excess until the pipe and drain can accommodate this rainwater. Drainage specialists were unable to send their investigative camera into the drain as it is due to the angle and it not being within a pipe.

These works which have been urgently required so as to rectify the lower demise are not guaranteed to eliminate water ingress completely but they hope it will certainly reduce the flow. Problem is with the poorly built conservatory which requires its floor to be dug up and the gully dealt with correctly.

The overseas leaseholder has been asked for 50% of the intermediary works but is refusing to pay, insisting it is not a problem for himself but that of the other leaseholder. I feel I have now reached the crossroads of being polite and need expert advice on how to go forward with perhaps exposing his illegal build, negligence and forcing him to rectify.

Can any Property118 please advise.

Thanks,

Sarah


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Comments

NewYorkie

11:38 AM, 18th December 2023, About 3 months ago

If you are the freeholder, I think you could issue a S20 for necessary work, but all leaseholders have to share the cost (including you!), which isn't really fair, but would help. Did the leaseholder get permission to build from the previous freeholder?

Much as I hate to say this, as freeholder, you have a lot of power over the leaseholder. Does the leaseholder pay a service charge? Does the leaseholder have a mortgage, and if so, do you know who with?

N N

14:09 PM, 18th December 2023, About 3 months ago

Generally the current overseas leaseholder would be liable and inherit the issue. He may have some recourse himself if for example, lied to in legal enquiries, non compliant with building control. I get that he may not fully understand this though.

Your ability to invoice the costs lies completely with the terms of the lease and lease plan. GENERALLY, external elements like outside drain fall with the freeholder property and normally have the right to invoice the costs of the fix. Study the lease.

Chris Bradley

17:07 PM, 18th December 2023, About 3 months ago

If you are the freeholder for both properties you should be advising the leaseholder of the needs for work which will cost them more than £250 in a year.
There is a set process and the leaseholder can suggest possible workmen, you need a few quotes and then you simply bill the leaseholder for their portion.

Provided you have followed correct procedure they must pay or be in beach if the leasehold agreement and risk being sued or the leasehold terminated or a charge being registered against the leasehold

Take expect advice and get it right

Kizzie

14:11 PM, 19th December 2023, About 2 months ago

In response to previous posts, what exactly do the leases say is the leaseholders responsibility.
The freeholder in role of landlord must legally serve a Section 20 landlord & tenant act 1985 consultation 3 part process on identifying need for major repairs if the landlord wishes to include the costs of repair in service charge.
Failure to undertake this legal process means the landlord taken to First Tier Property Tribunal

Sarah Riach

9:35 AM, 20th December 2023, About 2 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Kizzie at 19/12/2023 - 14:11
Thank you for your reply - upon reading lease the clauses relating to the issue are as follows:
- to put keep and maintain in good tenantable repair the demised premises AND all walls roofs sewers drains pipes cables wires and appurtenances thereto belonging. (The gully and drain is the issue)
- Ability for landlord to enter demise for
reparation to permit the Lessor and its agents with of without workmen or others at least twice in every year at reasonable hours in the daytime to enter upon and view the condition of the demised premises and to repair and make good all defects and wants of reparation of which the Lessor gives notice in writing within three months after the giving of such notice. (To get access is extremely difficult)

- To pay to the Lessor 75% of the cost attributable to the building of maintaining and repairing the party walls and the foundations supporting the demised premises which are included in the premises retained by the Lessor
(ii) _To pay 50% of the cost of maintaining and repairing thc Southern pier on the gr,:und floor coloureci green on the said plan
(iii) To pay a fair proportion of the expense of maintaining and repairing cleansing and renewing all sewers drains pipes Watercourses and other things the use of which is common to the demised premises and the owners and occupiers of other adjoining or neighbouring premises

- 2-(e) Not to make any structural alterations or additions to the demised premises or any part thereof without the previous consent in writing of the Lessor PROVIDED THAT the Lessee may carry out the proposed alterations shown on drawing number 815/2 Revision D annexed hereto comprising
the replacing of the existing first floor door on the front elevation by a timber window replacement of existing door and windows Such works shall be carried out in all respects to the satisfaction of the Lessors Surveyor and in accordance with drawing 815/2D

(P) Not to do or permit to be done any act or thing in or upon the demised premises or any part thereof which may be or grow to be a damage nuisance or annoyance to the Lessor of the owners or occupiers of the adjoining premises

- To pay all costs charges and expenses including Solicitors' costs and Surveyors' fees incurred by the Lessor for the purpose of or incidental to the preparation and service of a notice under Sections 146 and 147 of the Law of Property Act 1925 (including any such fees payable in respect of the preparation and service of any schedule of dilapidations) notwithstanding that forfeiture may be avoided otherwise than by relief granted by the Court
********
No mention of conservatory in lease, only the formation of a patio which was pre conservatory. I have requested from lessee a copy of landlords permission, it may well be that no permission was given.

Sarah Riach

9:40 AM, 20th December 2023, About 2 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Chris Bradley at 18/12/2023 - 17:07
Yes - I will do. Seems I need to escalate the problem.

Sarah Riach

10:57 AM, 20th December 2023, About 2 months ago

Reply to the comment left by NewYorkie at 18/12/2023 - 11:38
Yes - as the recipient of the water damage we have so far foot the bill for emergency works. We asked if he would share some of the cost as it is a roof/patio shared structure but he does not reply. The seems the only way forward is to now engage a lawyer and serve a section 20 which will be for partial removal of his ‘possibly illegal’ conservatory, for which, I believe, he will need to take 100% responsibility for.

Sarah Riach

10:59 AM, 20th December 2023, About 2 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Kizzie at 19/12/2023 - 14:11
I can see that the lease states that the lessee requires 3 months written notice for the carrying out of necessary works.

Kizzie

11:05 AM, 20th December 2023, About 2 months ago

Section iii in your lease terms appears to indicate that the costs of repairs can be included in the service charge under ss 18-30 landlord &tenant act 1985 and therefore a section 20 consultation must be served and process followed.
All service charge costs in leases must be reasonable in law.
The apportionment must be the same as used for service charge.
If the leaseholder continues to withhold their contributions after section 20 process then as landlord apply to the FT property tribunal for a determination.
You need to continue to communicate with the leaseholder pointing to the relevant clause in the lease as a legally binding contract with you in your role as landlord.
You may need legal advice because of the issue of the legality of the conservatory construction without planning permission and this fact not brought to your attention by your conveyancer when you purchased the freehold.

Judith Wordsworth

11:11 AM, 23rd December 2023, About 2 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Sarah Riach at 20/12/2023 - 10:57
You do not need a solicitor to do the s20. A freeholder ie yourself does it. It’s not difficult

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