Extent of freeholder's rights over minor work carried out by leaseholder

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    Extent of freeholder's rights over minor work carried out by leaseholder

    I recently asked a question here https://forums.landlordzone.co.uk/fo...-of-%C2%A32000 about a problem I have got with my freeholder. This topic has a safety component and a leasehold/freehold component.

    Just to concentrate on the leasehold/freehold aspect, FH states that I must replace my front door (which forms part of my property) and imposes a stringent set of requirements in relation to who does it, what qualifications/certs they have, what specification the door is, etc.

    Safety-wise I do not dispute that we must comply with current guidelines and this may involve replacing the door. I do not object to the idea in principle.

    The specification provided by the freeholder is very detailed, and even dictates the colour of the door. From a common sense point of view it makes sense that all flats have matching doors, but I question the legal basis for this.

    Can my freeholder require me to fit a door of a particular colour? Can they require me to submit my contractor's method statement to them for approval before doing so? Can they charge me £116 as they propose, for vetting my contractor?

    It all seems excessive. FH rights are not unlimited, nor are LH obligations.
    There is a fine line between irony and stupidity. If I say something absurd please assume that I am being facetious.

    #2
    Only someone who has read your lease can answer your questions so far as they fall within landlord and tenant law.

    Apart from that, the question is whether the council can, under any other law, require an upgrade. Standards are continually being upgraded, but in general the rule is that there is no obligation to continuously upgrade your property.

    Comment


      #3
      Thanks Lawcruncher.

      I think it is mostly a matter of law. The lease is not specific enough to address these points and (as with most leases in my experience) is often ambiguous.

      It does state that FH can include in the service charge costs for "repair/renewal of fire doors/alarms equipment and other structures to comply with current regulations". However, I would understand this to mean non-demised fire doors. I don't see how it could mean otherwise really, since costs relating to a leaseholder's demised property would not be charged to communal leaseholder expenses.
      There is a fine line between irony and stupidity. If I say something absurd please assume that I am being facetious.

      Comment


        #4
        I don't think that it is uncommon for leases to flats to contain a clause that basically says that leaseholders cannot do anything that would affect the uniform appearance of the building (my certainly does).
        A clause of this type could allow the freeholder to dictate the colour and appearance of front doors - even if the doors are demised to the leaseholder. Leases don't automatically give you the right to do whatever you like with the demised property, there can be restrictions (and usually are).

        Comment


          #5
          Thanks. I don't think my lease contains such a clause but I will check.
          There is a fine line between irony and stupidity. If I say something absurd please assume that I am being facetious.

          Comment


            #6
            There is also a clause under 'Improvements' which says:

            "When any improvements are carried out to improve the quality of the Building for the benefit of the residents the Tenant will be charged for the expense and costs thereof at the time the work is carried out..."

            "...this may include:"

            "Replacement of existing doors with new fire doors and any other improvements to meet current standards of fire resistance".


            But I don't think this is particularly significant here because:

            (a) I understand "the building" to mean the communal part, not my demised property.
            (b) I don't particularly take issue with replacing the door, anyway.

            It comes back to the oddity that typically such work is done by the freeholder under Section 20. But in this case FH is requiring changes to my property at my cost and dictating exactly how it should be done.
            There is a fine line between irony and stupidity. If I say something absurd please assume that I am being facetious.

            Comment


              #7
              What is the definition of "building" in the lease?

              Does the description of the flat include or exclude the front door?

              Comment


                #8
                "THE BUILDING : comprising a block of Flats known as No's 1 to 21 [address] the expression the Building where the context admits includes all (if any):
                car parking areas (coloured grey);
                drying areas (coloured yellow);
                refuse areas (coloured green); roads, footways, garden and grounds"


                Ownership of the door is not explicitly stated but FH said it is mine and I would agree, presuming that is the default case.

                "The description the Flat means:

                the plaster ceiling and the floor slab (but not the ceiling of the flat below or the floor slab of the Flat above (if any) and the internal and external walls of the floor upon which the flat is situated and that the walls of the passage and staircase are party walls severed medially."

                There is a fine line between irony and stupidity. If I say something absurd please assume that I am being facetious.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by Macromia View Post
                  I don't think that it is uncommon for leases to flats to contain a clause that basically says that leaseholders cannot do anything that would affect the uniform appearance of the building (my certainly does).
                  I can't find any such clause in my lease but it wouldn't seem problematic here anyway. The freeholder is proposing to replace all doors with new ones - different from those which exist now. It would be clearly unreasonable to change all the doors and say 'All of the other doors have been replaced, making yours the odd one out, so you are now in breach of the terms of your lease".
                  There is a fine line between irony and stupidity. If I say something absurd please assume that I am being facetious.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by doobrey View Post
                    I can't find any such clause in my lease but it wouldn't seem problematic here anyway..
                    You asked if the freeholder can dictate details such as the colour of a door. If your lease contains a clause requiring leaseholders to do nothing that alters the uniform appearance of the block, then the answer is that they can.
                    If other clauses do require you to upgrade the door to the safety spec the freeholder has given, you could do so without keeping the colour of the door (or other solely cosmetic details) the same as other doors in the block - unless the lease prohibits this.


                    If the lease requires you to keep your door the same as those of other flats in the block, but does not require you to upgrade your door to current safety specs, it is highly unlikely that a clause requiring all doors to be uniform can be used to make you change yours to match the others if the majority of other doors were replaced (in that case it could easily be argued that the replacement doors chosen should have been made to match the existing ones.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      From my reading of the lease there is no clause which states that I must not do anything to affect the uniform appearance of the block. Nor have I found a clause which states that I have to ensure that the front door complies with a particular specification.

                      I have read post #10 several times because the first and last paragraphs seemed contradictory when I first read them. If I understand correctly, the point being made in the first paragraph is that if there is a suitable clause in the lease, the freeholder can dictate that a leasheholder's door must remain the same style and colour as all doors in the block were originally, in order to maintain a uniform appearance.
                      There is a fine line between irony and stupidity. If I say something absurd please assume that I am being facetious.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        I have received the Fire Risk Assessment from freeholder today.

                        One of the members here has given me advice by PM.

                        I continue to respond to communications from freeholder by questioning the legal basis for their demands. They have said why they want me to do these things, but have not explained how doing so is within the scope of their authority (other than suggesting in the original letter that it is a requirement of my lease, which I don't see is the case).
                        There is a fine line between irony and stupidity. If I say something absurd please assume that I am being facetious.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by doobrey View Post
                          If I understand correctly, the point being made in the first paragraph is that if there is a suitable clause in the lease, the freeholder can dictate that a leasheholder's door must remain the same style and colour as all doors in the block were originally, in order to maintain a uniform appearance.
                          Correct.

                          But if there is no clause (or law) that requires the leaseholder to upgrade the specifications of their door, they cannot be made to do so - and if it is the other doors that are changed the leaseholder who doesn't change their door could argue that all of the doors that were changed should have been chosen to match the existing doors.
                          Even if the lease requires you to ensure that your door matches others, you can almost certainly only be made to change your to match others in the building if the lease, or a legal requirement that applies, somehow requires you to upgrade the door - or if you choose to change your door and change it to something that doesn't match.

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