Windows poor condition, how to get freeholder to repair/replace

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    Windows poor condition, how to get freeholder to repair/replace

    Hello all, lurker here, first post.

    I own a purpose built flat from the 70s, which has original crittall windows (steel frames, wooden surrounds) in it. The windows are becoming rotten from the exterior, and need replacement.

    The lease states:

    1. The Lessor hereby demises unto the lessee ALL THAT flat....
    (e) all windows of the flat and the glass contained therein including the internal and external frames and sills of such windows (but excluding responsibility for painting and decoration of the external surfaces of such windows and window frames and window sills).

    2. The Lessee so as to bind the Lessor for the time being of the demised premises... The Lessee hereby covenants as follows:
    (5) Not without previous written consent of the Lessor to make or allow to be made any structural alteration in the plan elevation or appearance of the demised premises nor make any addition thereto nor cut maim alter or injure any of the walls or timbers thereof nor erect or remove any internal partition for dividing rooms.

    Which I understand, and others I've checked with (like LEASE, various window contractors), that the windows are my responsibility, but the maintenance and decoration is the freeholder's responsibility. This aligns with everything else I've read generally on the topic. If I want to replace the windows I need consent, as the windows technically count as an alteration (though arguably they're not structural, and if I use very similar looking windows then it's not modifying the appearance).

    I would like to claim to the freeholder that my windows are in such poor condition because they've not maintained them, and ideally seek compensation, and the cost of repair/replacement.

    Can anyone advise on the best path to follow for such a claim?

    I would just replace the windows, but obtaining consent has been complicated and onerous due to new conditions requested by the freeholder. Historically flats in the blocks were readily given permission to replace (90s, 2000s). But now the freeholder wants lintels installed above the windows, and a structural engineer to assess the replacement windows. This stems from some flats (maybe 3 of 90) in other blocks have experienced some movement around their bay windows, almost certainly due to structural building defects which the freeholder wants to avoid liability for, so has blamed the issue on flats replacing the original 'load bearing' windows with double glazing, and now required these new conditions for consent. Despite written confirmation from the original window manufacturer that the windows and frames should not have been load-bearing, most flats not being affected despite nearly all having replaced windows, and an assortment of other independent evidence.

    So i'd like to investigate claiming for failed maintenance rather than replacing myself. Any tips, comments, opinions?

    So you've established that the windows are part of your demise. Are you absolutely sure the freeholder is responsible for the maintenance of them? The except from the lease that you've posted suggests they are only responsible for painting and decorating the outside of them.

    What does the lease say in relation to the responsibilities of the tenant and landlord in relation to repairs and maintenance etc in general? Are you responsible for that for your demised premises?


      Have you previously complained to the freeholder (or their managing agent, if applicable) about the lack of proper painting of the frames?

      As the frames are demised to you, it is likely that you are responsible for repairing/replacing them.
      To get the freeholder to compensate you for any part of the cost you would have to be able to argue that the work was necessary as a result of their negligence (which in this case would be their failure to keep the wood suitably painted to prevent the frames rotting). If you had to go to court it would be much easier to argue this if you had emails, or letters, you could produce that tell them the frames need painting, or that painting that had been done was of poor quality.


        To Chris1544, I understand the lease states its my responsibility to repair and maintain the demised premises.

        "From time to time as often as occasion shall require during the said term at the Lessee's own expense well and substantially to renew repair uphold support maintain cleanse amend and keep in good and substaintial repair and good decorative condition the demised premises... including keep in repair and replacing when necessary all glass in the windows and doors..."

        There is discussion about the lessor providing repairs and maintenance in relation to the maintenance fee.

        Also: "6. The lessor hereby convenants with the lessee as follows...
        That (subject to contribution and payment as hereinbefore provided) the lessor will when and as necesaary maintain repair cleanse repaint redecorate and renew:
        (a) roof gutters
        (b) main structure, foundations, exterior walls
        (c) passasges lifts
        (d) common pipes and ducts
        (e) forecourts"

        This section doesn't explicitly spell out the maintenance of the exterior windows, like previous section did.

        To Macromia, I've not yet complained to the freeholder/agent about the lack of painting, because I only recently realised this was their responsibility. I don't have a paper trail because of this.

        Why do you think it's my responsibility to notify the managing agent? Or rather why would I need to show this, or a history of doing so? Surely if it's spelt out in the lease, the managing agent has a duty to undertake the responsibility on a reasonable ongoing basis?

        I do plan to notify them of their responsibility, but before complaining, i'm researching the issue, and identifying the best course of action. That's what I'm trying to do here, identify the best approach to raising the issue.

        I agree i'm responsible for repair/replacement under the lease. But the point is I want to argue that I'm needing to repair/replace because they've failed in their requirement to maintain the windows.

        I have only owned the flat a couple of years, and the windows were crap when I arrived. I've asked the residents association if anyone has records of painting, and most don't, because they had their windows replaced years ago. I consider the current poor condition of the frames is clearly indicative of lack of exterior decoration and therefore indicative of the freeholder's/agent's failure/negligence.


          It's not that it's 'your responsibility' to notify the managing agent that redecoration of the window frames is necessary - they should be inspecting the property regularly (probably twice a year at least) and should identify that maintenance of this type is necessary before it reaches the point where any significant damage will occur from rotting due to water increase.

          However, leaseholders (especially resident leaseholders) can't deny that they have some responsibility to inform the freeholders/managing agents who are responsible for maintenance when they notice that there are issues that need to be addressed.
          If you had informed the freeholder/managing agent that the window frames needed redecoration, it would likely make it far easier to argue that they are responsible for the cost of repair as a result of maintenance - especially if you could produce evidence that you had informed them of this repeatedly over a period of several years!

          I would suggest that you don't say that you have only just realised that painting the external parts of the frames is their responsibility, because the alternative would be that it was your responsibility to keep the frames painted to prevent this kind of damage.
          Since the lease demises the frames, including the external parts, to you, you should have made sure that they were kept properly painted, either by doing it yourself or by ensuring that the freeholders responsibilities were carried out.
          The freeholder has still been negligent and failed to fulfil their duties under the lease, but I'd expect a court or tribunal to potentially find that you share some blame.


            Thanks for clarifying comments and insight on the tribunal.

            I actually have maintained them by repairing and repainting once in three years, after moving in. But I planned to replace the windows, so didn't worry about spending excessive time trying to maintain the poor current condition. It was only when I was advised of the onerous requirements for consent to change the windows, that I paused, and the replacement went on the backburner until recently. I have evidence of this by obtaining planning permission 2.5 years ago.

            Do you know what records (if any) are required to be kept?

            And, any comments about the best path to walk in terms of addressing this, ie. letter to freeholder, then... etc?


              Originally posted by hapjac View Post
              And, any comments about the best path to walk in terms of addressing this, ie. letter to freeholder, then... etc?
              If I were honest, I'd have to say that my course of action in this situation would likely be to write to the freeholder pointing out that the window frames were rotten as a result of their negligence and now needed replacing.
              I would ask them for written permission to replace the windows and suggest that they should contribute to the cost because of their failure to fulfil their painting obligations.

              The best that I think that you can expect though is that they give permission for you to replace the frames at your own expense - and, unless you also have other issues that you wish to take to a court or tribunal, I wouldn't consider it worthwhile taking court action to try and get the freeholder to contribute. I would refuse to pay any sort of premium that they might try and demand for 'allowing' you to replace the frames.


                That's my thinking too. Appreciate the discussion and sounding board. Cheers.


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