Share of Freehold : building maintenance issue

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    Share of Freehold : building maintenance issue

    Hello Everyone,

    I am new to this (great) website, bear with me please if this question has already been asked.
    I own a flat in a share of freehold for about 4 years now, and there are 3 flats in total.

    The other two members of the freehold have been renting out their flats for more than 15 years, so they don't care much about the building maintenance.

    The lease explicitly mentions that the staircase area need to be maintained clean by the Freeholder all the time, and redecorated every 4 years.
    It also says the freeholder has to repaint the external walls every 7 years...
    We are 3 directors in the freeholding company, for which the incorporation documents are very light and don't mention anything about the building maintenance etc...

    The building is currently in very bad condition, and haven't been redecorated for more than 20 years...
    I have a building survey report done recently that highlights all work that need to be completed (painting, fire alarm system, etc...).

    The other members are not responsive to my requests (in emails) to redecorate and repair the building.

    My question is : what's the best way to "force" the other members to pay for the building maintenance work?
    Do I have to engage a solicitor? If so, any help to find a cheap one would be very helpful.

    Many thanks!!
    Jo




    #2
    Not directly answering the question, but:

    One wouldn't expect the company articles to say anything relevant; that will all be in the leases.

    It sounds like the company is committing criminal offences under, at least, the 2005 Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order.

    If it needs fire alarms, it may be a section 257, and committing offences under that legislation, as well.

    I would make sure that you are calling regular directors' meeting, with these items on the agenda, and either getting your requests minuted, or getting the failure to achieve a quorum recorded, as you may need this to defend against criminal charges, especially if someone is seriously harmed in a fire.

    I think you have the 7 and the 4 years mixed up. 7 is a typical internal interval, and 4 a typical external one. If all that is wrong is breaching these, you would have to sue, as a leaseholder, not a director, for the breach of the contract formed by the lease.
    Last edited by leaseholder64; 13-02-2018, 19:27 PM. Reason: Typo

    Comment


      #3
      leaseholder64, thanks for your quick reply.

      Do you know who is the best professional (solicitor, lawyer?) to assist me in the legal action (as a leaseholder) against the freeholding company?
      I am based in Fulham, and many London based solicitors/lawyers are ridiculously expensive...

      Comment


        #4
        Solicitors for L&T Act problems in central London area can charge £300 per hour or more.

        You may be able to get free legal advice from LEASE ( www.lease-advice.org ) or if you join the FPRA ?

        http://www.flat-living.co.uk/links/9...sociation-fpra

        https://www.fpra.org.uk/

        Comment


          #5
          Section 257 should have read section 257 HMO.

          Comment


            #6
            Its irrelevant if the other LHs dont live there its still their property and they must abide by the lease.

            You have found the slight flaw in shared ownership in that the owners are both LHs and FHs (shared) so it can end up in the wierd scenario of suing yourself if a LH doesnt comply with the lease.

            This sounds like it would be better settled with all 3 coming together instead of one of you using a solicitor, IMO solicitors are rarely needed, many of us here have been involved in complicated legal action, it just needs reasonable intelligence.

            If the other 2 are not interested then eventually the building will collapse or suffer some major damage then they wont be able to rent to anyone.
            Advice given is based on my experience representing myself as a leaseholder both in the County Court and at Leasehold Valuation Tribunals.

            I do not accept any liability to you in relation to the advice given.

            It is always recommended you seek further advice from a solicitor or legal expert.

            Always read your lease first, it is the legally binding contract between leaseholder and freeholder.

            Comment


              #7
              Im not sure if HMO rules apply to 3 flats in one building, as it isnt a house - https://www.gov.uk/house-in-multiple-occupation-licence
              Advice given is based on my experience representing myself as a leaseholder both in the County Court and at Leasehold Valuation Tribunals.

              I do not accept any liability to you in relation to the advice given.

              It is always recommended you seek further advice from a solicitor or legal expert.

              Always read your lease first, it is the legally binding contract between leaseholder and freeholder.

              Comment


                #8
                We are talking about a section 257 HMO, which relates to converted flats not converted to modern building regulation standards. Fire alarms are only needed in the communal areas of flats to compensate for fire safety defects. A conversions to modern standards is unlikely to require such compensation, which makes me think this may be a pre-1991 standard conversion, and therefore subject to section 257 HMO rules.

                Comment


                  #9
                  This is the text of section 257: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga...34/section/257 As more than one of the flats is being sub-let, it also meets the less than 2/3 owner occupied condition.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    The overriding point is that the lease provisions do not simply melt away just because the leaseholders have bought the freehold. If the leases state that external and internal redecoration must be done at certain intervals and that subletting is not permitted without the freeholder's prior written consent etc. then those provisions must still be enforced...

                    Comment


                      #11
                      The obligations should be in the lease, not the incorporation documents. Whilst it is possible to change the former, and easier to do so than change the leases, it is not the right way.

                      I think you, urgently, need to read the RICS Residential Service Charge Guide. The contributions should be defined in the leases and do not belong to the company, but rather to one or more statutory trust fund(s).

                      Generally all the company articles would do in this respect is enable the company to manager the service charge, and if it is the freeholder, own the property, and possibly limit the circumstances in which it could sell the property.

                      Comment

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