'Emergency Work' bypassiing Section 20 - fire alarm system

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    'Emergency Work' bypassiing Section 20 - fire alarm system

    Block of four 1930s purpose-built maisonettes -

    The managing agent informed us (the leaseholders) today that a wired fire alarm system in the communal area will be installed next week. Currently, the alarm is battery operated.

    We have been told that this is deemed 'emergency works' and falls outside the standard Section 20 procedures.

    A fire risk assessment in 2017 recommended this work, so we believe that this is not a genuine emergency and would like to go through a Section 20 procedure.

    What really is our position?

    #2
    Is this a common issue?

    Comment


      #3
      I agree with you. I don't see why a recommendation in 2017 has suddenly become urgent and little notice. You are in a difficult position. It appears the work is necessary but you have not been involved. Have a socially distanced or virtual meeting with the others. I understand your sole remedy is to recoup the extra you may have had to pay because a like for like cheaper contractor was not engaged. Who has engaged the managing agent ? Complain to Freeholder.

      Comment


        #4
        Unfortunately section 20 consultation requirements are now pretty much irrelevant and do nothing to protect leaseholders.

        Despite the fact that the freeholder would have had plenty of time to properly consult the leaseholders, a tribunal would grant dispensation from the consultation requirements (regardless of whether dispensation was sought prior to the work commencing, or at any later date) on the grounds that the leaseholders can still claim a reduction in costs if they can show that the costs demanded for the work were unreasonably high. This is now the only protection that leaseholders have from costs.

        You need to ask the freeholder/manageing agents to provide full details of the following:
        1. Why they consider it necessary to replace the fire alarm system (and why now, so long after the prior report).
        2. Precisely what the minimum specifications that they consider necessary are.
        3. What requirements they have for the company that gets the contract (e.g. qualifications and type/amount of liability insurance etc.)
        4. Why they consider these minimum specifications are necessary.
        5. What companies they asked for quotes for the work, and copies of the quotes that were provided.
        6. Whether either the freeholder or the management company has any links with the company awarded the contract, or any of the other companies that provided quotes.
        7. Whether any guarantee or future maintenance is included in the cost.

        To get any reduction in the costs you would need to show that either (i) the specifications were unnecessarily high, or (ii) that other companies would provide, and fit, an alarm system with the same specifications for a significantly lower price - and there is no good reason for the freeholder/managing agent to have chosen the contractor they used.


        Pure speculation, but one reason why the work might be justified as suddenly becoming urgent could be changes in legal requirements or that insurance companies have decided to insist on the improved alarm system.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by Macromia View Post
          Unfortunately section 20 consultation requirements are now pretty much irrelevant and do nothing to protect leaseholders.
          Has the law changed? It used to be that the managing agent can demand emergency works payments without going through the S20 process only with approval from a tribunal. I appreciate that the Daejan case at the Supreme Court blew a hole through S20 but that doesn't take the law off the statute book. If they claim "emergency" can we not still decline to pay until approval has been shown?

          Comment


            #6
            How tall is your building? Does it have cladding at all? If not, they can't really pull that one over you because 2017 was exactly 3 years since Grenfell the government promised to remove ALL dangerously combustible cladding but they have not bothered. Building owners/freeholders know this so, unscrupulous ones will blatantly rinse leaseholders under the guise of "safety", of course.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by kolle View Post
              Has the law changed? It used to be that the managing agent can demand emergency works payments without going through the S20 process only with approval from a tribunal. I appreciate that the Daejan case at the Supreme Court blew a hole through S20 but that doesn't take the law off the statute book. If they claim "emergency" can we not still decline to pay until approval has been shown?
              Whether or not you can legitimately decline payment until a section 20 consultation has been carried out, or dispensation has been granted, may depend on the terms of the lease. At best it can be argued that any sum in excess of £250 can be temporarily withheld.

              The reality is that, following the decision in the Daejan case, dispensation is pretty much automatic, with the argument being that the leaseholders should be obligated to pay whatever they would have paid if consultation had been carried out, and they can still argue whatever points they would have made during consultation.

              What this means is that landlords/managing agents can go ahead with work that an independent expert might determine is completely unnecessary, if they had the opportunity to see the site before work is carried out. However, if work is started without proper notification, by the time that a leaseholder is able to arrange for their own assessment it may be too late for their surveyor to be able to determine whether the work was needed, or how extensive the work should have been. This alone severally limits the potential for the leaseholder to be able to put forward a decent argument about the costs.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Macromia View Post

                Whether or not you can legitimately decline payment until a section 20 consultation has been carried out, or dispensation has been granted, may depend on the terms of the lease. At best it can be argued that any sum in excess of £250 can be temporarily withheld.

                The reality is that, following the decision in the Daejan case, dispensation is pretty much automatic, ..... .
                Thanks. Following the Daejan case, but not giving that as the reason, our managing agent (a high street name) sent round a circular saying they no longer needed to consult or apply for dispensation if the works were urgent. It sounds from what you're saying though that the law has not changed (1993 Act?) but again, as you say, what matters is the reality.

                Comment


                  #9
                  You could delay the installation by setting up RTM to manage your block of 4 maisonettes.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by Gordon999 View Post
                    You could delay the installation by setting up RTM to manage your block of 4 maisonettes.
                    It's what we ended up inadvertently doing. We applied for RTM in June and they initiated major works in July. RTM was an excellent foil against the nonsense.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      If all 4 leaseholders act together your RTM can take over the administration of the "service charge account" and replace the managing agent .

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Hi all

                        we are a mid terraced building converted into 4 flats, all rented.

                        is it mandatory to have this wired alarm system? What functions must the system be able to perform? We have only battery powered independent alarms and I wonder are we missing something.

                        thanks all

                        martin

                        Comment


                          #13
                          It seem the Freeholders have been lazy, they had ample time to carry out a S20.

                          You have to appreciate, if there was a fire and someone died, the Freeholder could be prosecuted. If they have waited for 3 years, an additional 2 months is n't going to make a difference, unless someone has made a complaint or a problem has come up.



                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by Scaramanga View Post
                            Hi all

                            we are a mid terraced building converted into 4 flats, all rented.

                            is it mandatory to have this wired alarm system? What functions must the system be able to perform? We have only battery powered independent alarms and I wonder are we missing something.

                            thanks all

                            martin
                            I'd be very interested in the answer to those questions. We are in a similar block of 11 units but the managing agents are not trying to bypass the section 20 notice - although they are yet to issue it. They have however referred to a fire risk assessment and said that the best price they have is £13k - which is £1188 per flat.

                            I've had a linked fire alarm system installed previously at a cost of £300 in a single flat and the communal area outside its front door.

                            Would you mind sharing what your quote was please, Martin?

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by Sydaton View Post

                              I'd be very interested in the answer to those questions. We are in a similar block of 11 units but the managing agents are not trying to bypass the section 20 notice - although they are yet to issue it. They have however referred to a fire risk assessment and said that the best price they have is £13k - which is £1188 per flat.

                              I've had a linked fire alarm system installed previously at a cost of £300 in a single flat and the communal area outside its front door.

                              Would you mind sharing what your quote was please, Martin?
                              Hi sydaton

                              sorry but I have not yet had any quotes. The wired system is old and defunct and was there when I bought my flat. I am doing a little cleaning up here with hardly any past records available.

                              As far as I have read up in the net, our property, and likely yours too, necessitates an individual fire risk assessment, relevant regulation seems to be the fire safety order 2005. i assume the presence of our wired system and also emergency lighting is the result of an earlier risk assessment. It would be great to know however what functions the system needs to perform and whether modern battery powered alarms do the same job. Any insights / experiences appreciated.

                              kind regards

                              Comment

                              Latest Activity

                              Collapse

                              Working...
                              X