Cancelling/Restarting S20 Consultation

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    Cancelling/Restarting S20 Consultation

    I issued a "notice of intention" letter about 6 months ago to initiate a section 20 consultation - regarding some external redecoration work on a leasehold property.

    Having a lot of problems obtaining quotes for the work - so far it is looking like being MUCH more expensive than we had budgeted for.

    Also one of the flats in the building has been sold, so I'm wondering if the new leaseholder will grumble that they have not had the benefit of the consultation period.

    I'm tempted to stop the whole thing and have a rethink. Divide the work up and phase it over time to manage the spend, etc. I can't in all honesty recommend to the leaseholders that we go ahead with the work - it's way too expensive and there isn't enough money in the kitty to pay for it anyway, so it's a non-starter at the moment.

    Do I need to do anything to formally end the section 20 process? (the plan then being to come up with a revised strategy and then kick off the consultation again in due course)

    Thanks.


    #2
    Just recently issued a s20 notice then discovered after quotes in that the cost was less than the threshold, so discontinued it. I haven't read anywhere you can't cease the process as it is about ensuring lessees are not prejudiced by not being consulted on above threshold costs they will be required to pay.

    If you have nothing to charge them, no quotes in and no work done, and want to reset and recalculate, this country chicken would assume you just start again?

    You could throw a s20 notice farewell party?

    Naturally you would issue new notices if the new cost estimates require same.
    Do not read my offerings, based purely on my research or experience as a lessee, as legal advice. If you need legal advice please see a solicitor.

    Comment


      #3
      You can't split up the work to avoid consultation

      Whether you must do the work now or not do it at all is determined by the lease, not how much it costs, or how much money is in the kitty

      It is irrelevant that a lessee changes mid consultation

      Comment


        #4
        Give the "notice of intention" to the new leaseholder ----- Simple,
        and say as there is a delay, he / she has 30 days to comment.

        Again, you HAVE to do repairs within a "reasonable time" otherwise someone can take you to court for "refusing to maintain within a reasonable time, at a reasonable cost, and when due"

        **Case (can't remember ) V Case (can't remember ) Judge stated on the following lines "The inability of leaseholders to pay for maintenance is no justification for not carrying out said maintenance and repairs"**

        Hence service charge demands with 30 days to pay, or else.

        If there is no money in the pot, you send out another service charge demand after stage 3, S20, payable within 30 days.
        If leaseholders cannot afford to live there, they can leave. ( I hear there is plenty of camping space in Hyde park )

        You can let your own freehold house crumble about you, have faulty wiring etc, shabby décor, but you CAN'T impose that on other leaseholders.

        What do you do if a new roof is needed,- say the same thing ? It's too expensive, so we will let it rot further.
        Yes, I have a hard attitude, as that IS the only way to maintain a building with leaseholders who think buildings repair themselves.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by AndrewDod View Post
          You can't split up the work to avoid consultation

          Whether you must do the work now or not do it at all is determined by the lease, not how much it costs, or how much money is in the kitty

          It is irrelevant that a lessee changes mid consultation
          Avoiding S20 is *not* the objective here.

          i think the key problem is that all the builders are either overcharging or declining to quote. The objective is to get the work done to a good standard at a reasonable price. To find the right builder to do this is going to take time, and I simply don’t want that delay to trip me up re S20 compliance.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by ram View Post
            [

            You can let your own freehold house crumble about you, have faulty wiring etc, shabby décor, but you CAN'T impose that on other leaseholders.

            What do you do if a new roof is needed,- say the same thing ? It's too expensive, so we will let it rot further.
            Yes, I have a hard attitude, as that IS the only way to maintain a building with leaseholders who think buildings repair themselves.
            Slightly melodramatic language re rotting roof, faulty wiring. It’s redecoration work. Structurally the building is sound. I’m not neglecting my duties at all.

            Comment


              #7
              Some people are extreme ! Ram there is also a case , I can look it up, in which it was found that ability to pay can be taken into account if work can be phased without detriment.

              Comment


                #8
                The case is Garside and another v RYFC. 2011.
                I think you could just forget about current S20 and start afresh. To keep things today perhaps just notify everyone.
                Good to hear of a Freeholder being considerate of people's financed.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by scot22 View Post
                  Some people are extreme ! Ram there is also a case , I can look it up, in which it was found that ability to pay can be taken into account if work can be phased without detriment.
                  Only sort of...... If painting is required per the lease in a particular year or timeframe this and other cases are not relevant. The case you refer to involved very specific circumstances, long term historical neglect (ie. very severe prior breaches to the lease which were being suddenly corrected) and advance payment,.

                  It is not generally applicable -- all it shows is that there are some very specific circumstances in which a manager might take this into account. It is NOT however a case that says liability to pay service charges could be avoided simply on the grounds of hardship, or that works can be deferred based on hardship.

                  Since any attempt by a freeholder to breach the lease to "be considerate of finances" means that people without financial constraints would have their leases breached (effectively "consideration" to some only occurs because others are abused) -- it means the freeholder would have to pass every such decision, if of any magnitude (that breaches the lease) past a tribunal for consideration -- it does not mean they can just breach the lease with impunity because some cannot pay.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by bigalxyz View Post

                    Slightly melodramatic language re rotting roof, faulty wiring. It’s redecoration work. Structurally the building is sound. I’m not neglecting my duties at all.
                    As an aside, in one building I own the failure to redecorate according to timescale was later alleged (probably correctly) to have resulted in tens of thousands of pounds of totally preventable work (basically all windows and fascias and rooflines needed to be replaced). So yes, ram is melodramatic -- but that does not mean he is incorrect. If you make the decision to breach the lease you might want to put your own private money aside in case you are later sued (as happened in our property).

                    Comment


                      #11
                      There's nothing so urgent here - it's just a "spruce up" of the building which I think has been done roughly every 10 years in the past. The paintwork looks quite tatty and some guttering needs fixing. Also some plaster repairs. The building looks untidy but structurally it's rock solid. Roof in good shape. Brickwork in good shape. No rotting window frames. Do want to get the guttering done soon because if left much longer it'll start causing saturated brickwork, damp problems, etc. - and nobody wants that.

                      Best quote so far is £82k, which is a SHOCKING amount. I think the firm that gave me that quote don't really want the job.

                      £35k is in the budget and I hoped to spend less than that. The lease wording is fairly broad and I don't think breaching the lease is a concern at this stage.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        ps...I didn't make it clear (and maybe it's not important here) but I'm one of the leaseholders and also now a director of the RMC. Self-managed since summer 2019 (previous external property manager retired so we have taken it on ourselves)

                        Comment


                          #13
                          As a leaseholder who's spent years never to get back managing our gaff, I fondly recall how for thirty years prior to RTM no real refurbishment was done - or at least nothing seen to be done. A lot was charged. Fiddly little things, mind, but all expensive - all while the building rotted quietly. Never seemed to make the freeholder's agents tremble.

                          Now, as a volunteer RTM director trying to balance a budget every year and get people to pay up who seem to see the service charge as a credit card they can dip into that others pay, and not allowed as directors to go into deficit (make spending decisions without knowing we have the funds - oh yes contradictions lie everywhere for us innocent chickens), I see things differently ... a wee bit more balanced?

                          We have a long term agreed plan that accepts we can't do everything all at once or bankrupt our pensioners. We have over the years done the priorities first, like fixed holes in the roof and fire safety stuff and so on, one agonising budget year at a time.

                          In the end any leaseholder can get rowdy and serve a letter before action, and perchance make a 'profit' in costs if even their volunteer unpaid landlord is gullible to think everyone is reasonable and patient, and it is true some huge legal costs have landed on the really stupid companies who ignored written demands to do work, but on balance unless you are stupid and ignore a written request to carry out blindingly obvious maintenance obligations, I think there is no need for exaggerating the situation. Read plenty of case law and see the fine balance.
                          Do not read my offerings, based purely on my research or experience as a lessee, as legal advice. If you need legal advice please see a solicitor.

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