Freeholder requesting access for a surveyor to access my leasehold flat

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    Freeholder requesting access for a surveyor to access my leasehold flat

    My freeholder is requesting I allow a surveyor into my first floor flat to look for a smell, the type of which he cannot explain, that the downstairs tenant is complaining about. I am not happy preferring he contacts the environmental health officer to give a ruling. If I deny him access what would be my position be, where could it go next ? According to my lease I do, subject to him giving me sufficient notice, have to allow him access ? it's a long story, but I would prefer an independent ruling by an independent, rather than one engaged by him

    #2
    To be honest i would not see the issue, if there is a leak from your flat and it is somehow making its way downstairs then a quick resolution would be in order surely. Why are you so concerned ? I would be happier for a professional like a surveyor to come rather than a public sector bod who may know very little about your buildings structure and how, and where, leaks may travel. The council may not even come out, most of them are so hard pressed at the moment that even the critical things are not being done..........a smell...... i would be amazed if they agreed to come out.

    Comment


      #3
      Why not ask the environmental health people to come to check out your apartment instead of breaching the lease covenants?
      When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
      Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

      Comment


        #4
        There is no leak, purely an odour. I rent the flat on an AST and apparently the lady cooks fresh foods as opposed to the previous tenant who was a microwave man. The downstairs tenant, who is also the freeholder says the problem has only occurred since the new tenant occupied the upstairs. So despite me advising him of this, as well as other potentials odours from her, which include camphor balls in the sink and toilet, he insists on a surveyor.I perceive it to be a neighbour thing, he considers it to be a freeholder / leaseholder thing...I disagree as I have recently carried out a very expensive refurb, prior to her occupation, so know the property is in very good order. In any case, surely smells rise ?
        The environmental health will only accept issues which are reported by the downstairs tenant, via a form on the local authority website. I cannot action that and the downstairs tenant and freeholder refuses to go through that process, preferring to instruct a surveyor. I have thirty years of experience with this chap. He is a control freak and I resent him wanting to send in a surveyor for what I perceive to be little reason. I appreciate it would appear easier to adhere to the lease covenant, and I may go that route. Should I do that I would probably instruct my own CS to be there at the same time. However I have little trust in the freeholder so would prefer to deny access should the consequences not be too egregious.

        Comment


          #5
          The freeholder does have the right to inspect etc. based on the terms of the lease. However, the freeholder cannot force entry and if you decline to let the freeholder inspect they would need to apply to a Court. In this event, assuming the freeholder's request was reasonable, the Court might award the freeholder's costs against you.

          Further, if the problem complained of worsened owing to the fact you did not allow access , you may be liable here too.

          The environmental health would be unlikely to become involved at this stage.

          You may want to reconsider and allow the surveyor access. You can, of course, state you will only allow the surveyor access (i.e. unaccompanied by the freeholder if this is your issue though you do not need to state this in your letter). You can also probably reasonably prevent the surveyor taking photographs in your flat save photos of LL's fixtures/fittings which the surveyor suspects may be related to the problem.

          Comment


            #6
            vmart,

            Thank you, I have sent a more elaborate explanation of why I am resisting the CS which is awaiting moderation on this site. Can I reasonably prevent the surveyor digging behind kitchen units, sanitaryware and anywhere else where ff's may prevent easy access ? Also can the freeholder realistically levy the cost of the surveyor to me ?

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by lrwi View Post
              Also can the freeholder realistically levy the cost of the surveyor to me ?
              Yes they can, and no, you cannot stop the freeholder from charging ALL flats, the cost of an inspection.

              Even if your flat does not get inspected, the surveyors fee will be split between all flats

              A problem has been reported, but you don't want the Management to investigate -- and that's not a good plan on your part.

              A smell could be dead rats under floor boards, in the wall cavities, pigions getting into the loft, pooing everywhere which then gets the grubs crawling into every flat.
              And you don't want any of this to be inspacted --- I would think again about your actions.

              Irrespective of your problems you have with your freeholder, and don't take offence at the following but who delegated you to be the Heath and Safety officer, or the Property Manager responsible for the safety of the building and the residents, whereby you decide that inspections ( for whatever the reasons ) do not apply to you.

              Yes I may be shouting at you, but just so you know, I am a rent paying tenant: A service charge paying leaseholder, a Company Secretary, a shareholder; a Property Manager, and I let out houses / flats here and overseas.
              So I have seen and ALL aspects, in real life, of leasehold, tenants, sub-tenants, renters and tenants, so when I basicly say, let the surveyor in, I am not taking sides with any one,

              Am only advising you that you shoud let the surveyor into your flat, based on ALL sides I see in my day job. ( and for other reasons stated in posts above. )


              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by lrwi View Post
                Can I reasonably prevent the surveyor digging behind kitchen units, sanitaryware and anywhere else where ff's may prevent easy access ? Also can the freeholder realistically levy the cost of the surveyor to me ?
                That may depend on the terms of your lease, what the issue turns out to be, and whether you have previously been asked to get the matter investigated yourself. It may also depend on whether the costs can be claimed from the building insurance.

                If the lease says that you are responsible for keeping all pipes that serve only your property, you have previously been asked to find the problem, and it turns out that it is one of your pipes that is leaking, you might end up being considered responsible for all costs.

                If the problem ends up being with pipes that the freeholder is responsible for maintaining, the costs will likely be added to the service charges and you will pay a share.

                If no cause is found for the smell the cost will likely be added to service charge costs (if there are clause that allow this), but might be chargeable to the leaseholder of the property that wanted the matter investigated..


                You can "reasonably expect" the surveyor not to do anything that is unnecessary, especially if it will cause damage, but if there is an issue that needs investigating you might have to allow whatever is necessary, even if you don't like it.

                Comment


                  #9
                  The flat I own is a 3 bed maisonette above a shop, with the freeholder living in the rear area downstairs which was a yard. He has converted this yard area without building regs adherence, although he did gain a certificate of lawful use, to living accomodation. I have owned my property 31 years and have personally refurbished those areas he considers to be creating an issue, so I know the structure of the building intimately. I have photographs of prior and post refurb. My flat is let on an AST to a lady who cooks exotic cuisine from scratch.. She also uses camphor balls quite liberally around her bathroom, WC and kitchen. Previously it was let to a fella who purely microwaved food, so no cooking smells. He has only started smelling the odour since she moved in. So if it is her lifestyle that he considers and is found to be causing an unnacceptable odour to him, surely I cannot ask her to stop cooking or using her own choice of air freshener ?

                  Comment


                    #10
                    You should help th surveyor as the next problem may lead to you asking for the freeholders assistance with some other problem.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Now you have explained i get your concern, Simply be there when the surveyor turns up and explain what you have said above about the cooking, it is her lifestyle and that is the way it is, lots of people are keen to cook so any other person living there could be causing the the same issues. I take it you have told the Freeholder about all the cooking she does ? Can he make life difficult for you if this current tenant stays ...... he no doubt understands the problem but want to put pressure on either you or the tenant to change behavior.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by lrwi View Post
                        He has only started smelling the odour since she moved in. So if it is her lifestyle that he considers and is found to be causing an unnacceptable odour to him, surely I cannot ask her to stop cooking or using her own choice of air freshener ?
                        Ref your post number 8
                        Had you told us first, in your first post, I would have replied differently.


                        Comment


                          #13
                          From your first post it is unclear whether there is a separate tenant downstairs complaining to the freeholder or whether the complaint arises from the freeholder's personal experience as he lives in the property conversion created in the yard.

                          It does not sound as though the services of a surveyor is required. Perhaps, as a next step, you should write to the freeholder to clarify whether the odour could be related to cooking and/or air fresheners. It may be you need to install an extractor fan in the kitchen or a more robust replacement to address the issue. While you may be able to reasonably bring the matter to the attention of your tenant, you certainly cannot instruct them not to cook dishes of their choice.

                          Given you do not live in the property, I do not understand your particular concern allowing access to the surveyor were that necessary.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            vmart,

                            Yes, the freeholder lives downstairs. He also operates an office as a lettings agent as well as a shopfront with a spurious key cutting business only open three hours per week, to satisfy usage limitations.

                            My contention is this is a neighbour issue. If the lady living upstairs is cooking and maintaining a lifestyle that he may be at odds with, he should broach those issues with her in the first instance. However this is a regular occurrence him raising issues and using the tool of the lease to try and beat me with covenants. It's possibly a commercial strategy to try to get me to sell him my property, thereby enhancing the value of the building should he want to sell.

                            This is a man who emails me to tell me he has received a parcel for the tenant and could I advise her of the same, despite all he has to do is ring her doorbell !! He does not engage with me or the tenant, purely sending threats and then resorting to the lease threats and the fact he can recover costs from any aspect of the lease he wishes to pursue, however nefarious

                            That is my concern related to allowing a CS into the property. The freeholders ability to develop a cost base by instructing action where in fact there is no good reason. The issue could be resolved through him being more specific rather than " I can smell something and I will be sending someone in to see what , where and how, if at all, it is coming from in your property"

                            I am a responsible leaseholder. I have replaced the roof, all the windows, and kept the property in tip top condition throughout my ownership, but resent his constant demands over many years of which there are too many to list here

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Thank you all for your valuable advice. I have decided to contact the CS and request the reason for the visit, the outline of where how and what he intends to cover during that visit ,along with his Covid protocols and vaccination status. The tenant is in the vulnerable category and I think it only reasonable these queries are answered before I make a decision as to whether I grant access

                              I too have covenants within the lease which protect my rights to peaceful existence. It could be argued these are being, and have been breached by the freeholder with his constant spurious complaints....watch this space

                              Comment

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