brick structure deteriorated, the proposed steel temporary props unaffordable

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    brick structure deteriorated, the proposed steel temporary props unaffordable

    I am the leaseholder and occupier of the first floor flat, and one of the RTM directors of this building.

    There has been some rain water leak from the front bay ceiling [that is the balcony of the second floor flat], which got worse to become a ‘water fall’ in my front bay, and the downstairs flats [ground floor flat, and basement flat] also having a leak on the same piers on the same day. Their wall plasters were heavily stained.

    So, the water is running down very quickly.

    The bottom of the balcony (i.e. the first floor front bay ceiling) was exposed to see where the water is coming from. Then, we found a steel beam is sitting on top of the pier, and the brick structures are fractured, the balcony joists are unsupported due to the timber structures heavily rotten. The steel beam supports the second and third floors and the roof (according to the structural engineer, 20 tons or so of loads).

    As the water is running down fast ‘through’ the pier brick structure or behind the plasters, the deterioration of the pier brick structure itself and/or support timbers was suspected, meaning the steel beam (and the 20 tons of loads) are not well supported.

    The structural engineer instructed the property manager to install a very large steel construction as a temporary prop, built from the basement ground up to the balcony (i.e. 3 storeys high) inside of the rooms, ‘as a matter of urgency’. This will require to remove the windows and to make holes in the ceilings/floors to accommodate the steel bars.
    The engineer’s drawings were given, but we can’t afford to install it [it’s a 5 figure sum, which is only for the temporary props, excluding the labour and actual remedy of the leaks]. The local builders are not familiar with the procedures, therefore some specialists’ help is needed too.

    The local builders and a local surveyor are saying this is overkill.

    But to explore other options, we would need to expose the brick structures to see the condition of the pier below the first floor.
    If we can prove the condition of the pier structure is good enough not to rely on the large steel temporary prop, there may be other ways for propping. If the exposure of the full height of the pier structure is possible and if done, this will give us new insight, hence the structural engineer’s opinion might change.
    But the structural engineer is saying that that is a risky option, if the condition is very poor like in the first floor, disturbing it now may lead to a tragic consequence, therefore propping should be installed before further opening-up and investigations.

    If asked, another (second) structural engineer may be biased by the first engineer’s proposal, as there is no new information to reconsider the option.

    The local builders offered a quote for the light treatment with only propping from the first floor; just addressing the balcony and first floor pier structure [according to the structural engineer, this type of props will not suffice to fully support the steel beam and 20 tons of loads]. No investigations of the ground floor and basement floor and no propping downstairs. This would be cheaper, but the structural problem itself may not be fully addressed, because the brick fracture or timber deterioration might have happened in the ground floor and basement piers as well but will not be treated in this scenario.

    We need the consent of the leaseholders of the ground and basement floors for installing the steel props or for any kind of works there. They are resisting, as the ground floor flat is currently on sale and the ground flat leaseholder wouldn’t want to disturb anything. The basement flat leaseholder doesn’t want to disturb the tenants (she doesn’t let the tenants go).

    Also, as mentioned, we can’t afford the 5 figure sum for just temporary props. We have been trying the insurance pay-out, but unsuccessful so far.

    If forced to install the said steel props, this will have a direct financial consequence to all leaseholders, some of who may need to sell or the property will be seized.

    I think, just for forcing the structural engineer’s proposal to be installed, we can involve the council and to get the improvement notice or enforcement order be issued. If the finance is not an issue, this option would be efficient.

    What would be the best approach with this??

    Thank you for sharing your insight.

    a) It hardly seems likely to be an insured event
    b) Why on earth do you need the council to intervene to get an enforcement order - that makes no sense. The RTM already has sufficient power - who are you enforcing against - yourself???
    c) It is hardly likely that the lower flat has a lease that can enable him to prevent or resist urgent works. Who or what says you need "consent"


      Thank you AndrewDod for your swift response.
      Basically no one can afford the proposed work unamended. The structural engineer says it is the final plan. But then, if no one can pay for it, no builders will do that work at the moment.

      If somehow going ahead, some flats will be seized because of the financial impact, I think.

      What is the best approach for this? Should we go ahead and some flats to be repossessed/seized? Is this the only way??

      Thank you again for sharing your thoughts.


        Step 1: RTM Directors look at the lease
        Step 2: They make an impartial decision (not taking account of their own interests) whether the work has to be carried out according to the lease
        Step 3: They carry out a rapid S20 process, or if the work is urgent and it is a safety issue just issue demands for the work simultaneously
        Step 4: Hire a lawyer and initiate legal action against any lessee who does not pay within the timescale. Lessees either take a loan, approach their mortgage companies for advice and additional mortgage, or yes, they lose their flats or place them on the market at whatever price they can get (and pay legal fees into the bargain)

        Carrying out unnecessary additional "holding" work because some lessees will not pay is not a solution, is highly inappropriate, and is likely to get the RTM sued

        Follow the steps. If you cannot carry them out dispassionately then hire a managing agent and a lawyer to carry them out.

        And yet again you do not need consent from the lower flat (unless the leases are highly unusual).


          OK, I will consult a lawyer on Monday. Thank you AndrewDod. Much appreciated.


            Get lawyer who deals with leasehold properties - not any lawyer who will know less than many on this forum.


              OK. Will endeavour to get a right one. Thank you!


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