Preparing for FTT

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    Preparing for FTT

    I need to take my neighbours to the FTT and am seeking advice to avoid making mistakes. My main cost are associated with replacing the roof. I am freeholder and leaseholder of one of the flats and the lease says that costs should be ‘fair and resonable’ when splitting between the 2 flats. My neighbours are elderly and have a lease less then 60 years and paid no ground rent or service charges for as long as my late father was freeholder.

    I completed a Section 20 consultation 1 year ago but the chosen contractor did not complete the job and left after the roof had been opened and a temporary covering installed. With this contractor the cost of the job would have been £10k. I’ve then found another person who quoted to do the job at short notice (with guidance from Building Control) and the job cost £15k. When I go to FTT can I reasonably pass on the actual costs to get the job done despite the previous Section 20? Prior to instructing the new roofer I informed my neighbours of the situation. Although the roof was open they continued to be disruptive which caused further delays and cost in getting the job finished as we lost a roofer who they refused access twice (despite being notified prior). At this point my solicitor wrote them a stern letter and they have been compliant ever since.

    In addition to not paying for the roof, they refuse to pay their service charge, their ground rent (6 years arrears) and the cost to fix damage to my property cause by a leak from their bathroom. I had a solicitor acting for me but he is expensive, slow to respond and I have found the experience and expertise on this forum to be more useful.

    Where do I start with filing with the FTT? What is the best approach to take?

    #2
    Have you sent your neighbour a 'letter before action'?

    Comment


      #3
      I suggest that you speak to your neighbours and attempt to understand why they are not paying ground rent and service charges. Why was no action taken against them in the past?

      Did you serve a new s20 notice? Why was an unreliable contractor appointed in the first place? Why did the roof suddenly require replacing? Is there an argument that it has been neglected in the past? Are you replacing the roof like for like or are you making improvements?

      It is impossible to assist you to prepare fully for a Tribunal hearing without knowing the facts and what your neighbours are likely to say.

      Comment


        #4
        This free guide may assist you:

        https://www.lease-advice.org/advice-...perty-chamber/

        Comment


          #5
          Gordon999 is quite right to draw your attention to the guide.

          I think that you can safely ignore that proceedings at a Tribunal hearing are “semi formal”, the Tribunal is usually headed by a Judge and you should definitely prepare for a formal hearing.

          Note the comment that you may wish to “seek legal advice and it is sensible to arrange legal representation if the argument relates to the interpretation of the law or the terms of the lease”.

          That would apply to most cases and it certainly covers yours.

          Pay careful attention to the “Alternative Dispute Resolution” section. Parties are expected to try to reach agreement between themselves and seek a remedy such as mediation. So supplying copy correspondence to indicate that you are (1) willing to meet the leaseholders, (2) seeking to understand the leaseholder’s position and (3) seeking to resolve any issues which may exist will assist you.

          Comment


            #6
            I would think the most that you could charge would be the appropriate share of what the second contractor would have charged if they had done the whole job.

            Even then, I think you need to be able to demonstrate that the the completion of the work was an emergency and to formally apply from dispensation from consultation. Even if you apply on the basis of an emergency, you are expected to do your best to consult within the time constraints.

            The fact that the new contractor is charging more than the total price from the original contractor, suggests that you were at fault in not properly pre-qualifying the original contractor, so the whole of the charge for the new contractor may be considered inadmissible. You certainly need to bring paperwork that demonstrates how you considered more than price in selecting the first contractor.

            Comment


              #7
              You are likely to be asked whether or not you carried out due diligence when choosing the 1st contractor and you should be prepared to explain what steps you took to satisfy yourself that he was capable of completing the work to a satisfactory standard.

              If a year has elapsed since the s20 notice was issued and you did not issue another s20 notice, you should be prepared to explain. “Informing your neighbours” is unlikely to be sufficient, you should be able to produce copy correspondence with the leaseholders.

              Comment


                #8
                All sounds a bit of a mess..you say the neighbours havnt paid for the roof or service charges, but the cost of the roof IS a service charge.

                1. Have you served compliant Ground Rent and Service Charge demands on them ?

                2. The S20 process sounds a bit imperfect as mentioned above, you must supply them with 3 quotes..its not clear whether the works increased in price and it also sounds like the LHs were left without a roof for some period and could maybe claim damages ?

                3. The issue of dispensation of S20 looks like it may apply.

                4. You can apply to the FTT whenever you like but you need to make sure you have complied with the quite vast legislation first, it is normally advisable to apply to the county court first and then it will be transferred to the FTT but check you have complied with all the CPR Pre-action Protocols first.
                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

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