Leaseholder / freeholder responsibility for chimney breast

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    Leaseholder / freeholder responsibility for chimney breast

    Please advise if possible. I am a leaseholder and a freeholder of the building in which my flat is situated. One of my neighbours in the house is constantly requesting the freeholders deal with her problems such as moths, and other small concerns which I understand to be leaseholder responsibility.

    Most recently she has had damp in her chimney breast. Whilst I understand that this is normally a freeholder issue, she has been advised that "The problem with chimney breasts is that if not swept regularly they become contaminated by aggressive ammonium salts which are generally hygroscopic and attract moisture from the atmosphere." She has been clear that she has not had her chimneys swept since she has moved in (some years ago). As she has told us that this lack of maintenance is the cause of the problem, is it the responsibility of the freeholder to get her chimney's swept, and the stack repaired as she is asking? I ask as I understand that even short lease tenants are responsible for their chimneys being swept, rather than the landlord.
    Any advice on this matter would be appreciated. thanks

    It depends on what the lease says. Generally though, I would expect all routine maintenance that relates to just one flat and can be done without disturbing other flats would come under leaseholder responsibilities, so I would say the leaseholder cleans the chimney. On the other hand, I would have thought that stack repairs would be freeholder responsibilities, but the lease could change all that.


      Normally, any brickwork behind the plaster is the responsibility of the freeholder to repair / maintain if the outer bricks are letting in water / damp.

      It will be the responsibility of the leaseholder to have their chimney swept.
      ( you will not find this clause in any leases )

      One problem that arises, if in a large converted house, where you may have 4 floors, Basement ( was servants quarters with fire place ), ground floor, 1st and second floor. The chimney will serve all floors and on both sides of the building, so if she cleans the chimney from a ground floor flat, she will be cleaning 1st and 2nd floors chimney's as well.

      You can look at the outside of the building, or better still, a "bricky" to highlight if it needs repointing to clear the damp.

      Our large house has the leaseholders sweeping chimneys in the past, but all are now gas fires, so not so much contamination.

      The leaseholders pay for all maintenance, so whoever does the work, the leaseholders pay anyway via the service charges.


        Originally posted by ram View Post
        The chimney will serve all floors and on both sides of the building, so if she cleans the chimney from a ground floor flat, she will be cleaning 1st and 2nd floors chimney's as well.

        How would she do that then? Doesn't each fireplace have a separate flue going all the way to the roof.


          We each have a separate chimney flue and mine is blocked off at the top as it is not in use. What my question is really about is if a leaseholder is negligent in the cleaning and maintaining of the property, does the freeholder still have to pay for the bill? Hope you can clarify. thanks


            Where are the ammonium salts coming from if the chimney is not usable?

            From a bit of quick research it looks to me as though the salts will be in the bulk of the material and would have got there when the chimney was in use. I see no suggestion that cleaning a disused chimney would help, and I'm not convinced that cleaning an active one would, either.

            It may well be that this is something someone buying a lease would be expected to live with.

            Note that the damp will be coming from the air. The effect is similar to the way that silica gel dehumidifiers work.


              If a leaseholder deposited ammonium salt on the driveway ( common ground ), half a ton ( tonne ), who would be made to pay to remove it ?

              If a leaseholder deposited their rubbish on the driveway ( common ground ) instead of in a bin, or on the garden ( common ground ) who would be made to pay to remove it ?

              If a leaseholder, deposited ammonium salt, up a chimney via their actions of having a fire or using a gas fire, who would be made to pay to remove it ?

              Answer to above 3 questions is, The leaseholder.

              The leaseholders actions cause above, not the freeholder.

              Be careful when you sell your flat, as anyone can open up the fireplace and start a coal fire, and possibly burn the place down.
              Make sure chimneys are 1 ) not blocked off. 2) If caped, you tell the buyer.


                I think we are talking about a case where the salts were not deposited as a result of the actions of the current leaseholder, and possibly not as the result of the actions of any leaseholder; they may have been the result of use of the building before it was converted to flats.

                The fly tipping analogy is flawed,because this is the result of normal usage, not an abuse. If there were a communal stair carpet, who would be responsible for paying for the wear caused by the leaseholder walking on it, even if happened only to serve the one flat (e.g. top landing)?

                If the contamination predated the conversion, I could see an argument that either it was the freeholder's responsibility, as they let out something that was not in proper condition, or the leaseholder's as the premium they paid for the lease should have been based on the known history of the building. I suspect it would end up being the latter.



                  In my Lease the onus is on the Lessor to have the chimney swept not the leaseholder.


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