How can I better manage Freeholder/Leaseholder maintenance issues?

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    How can I better manage Freeholder/Leaseholder maintenance issues?

    I am the freeholder for a purpose built maisonette (2 flats). The lease includes a "peppercorn" rent so i don't receive any service charge or ground rent from the leaseholder but there are provisions in the lease that allows me to determine the use of surveyors and allocate the costs of repairs between both flats (myself living in one of them).

    The issue I have is that I generally maintain my own flat myself and have never contacted the landlord in the other property to join in any issues. I also maintain the property when i notice issues e.g unblocking shared outdoor drain due to landlord tenants long hair, regular maintenance of guttering, clearing shared paths etc. I've never known how to charge him for this although i know if i didn't do it this it would either fall into disrepair or need to be done professionally and we would each be liable for half the cost.

    In contrast the landlord of the other flat will contact me 3 or 4 times a year whenever his tenants have any sort of issue which can vary in severity and need. Often it does not require me to intervene and in general feels like he is trying to have me manage his tenants issues for him. When work is required he is demanding about the issue needing to be fixed urgently, but refuses to assist in resolving the problem, which then requires me to work out the issue, organise tradesmen for quotes and take time off work to monitor whats going on. The cost of the actual work is split equally, but would generally say it benefits issues in his property more and doesn't account for my time.

    There are also some other issues I have with him ignoring requests to maintain his garden (overgrown with ivy now growing up property) and getting a surveyor in and then demanding i pay for unnecessary work/surveyancing costs with some long winded discussions spanning months when I've disagreed or pointed him to the terms of the lease.

    As a result I have tried to be firmer and told him that I am no longer willing to personally deal with issues and in future any problems he has will have to go through my surveyor at his expense. This kept him quiet for 6 months but he is now back complaining about a damp issue and asking me to organise external work to the roof and rendering which i suspect will be expensive and am not certain if its needed to resolve the issue (he has not provided any photos or evidence of the problem). He has at least also requested permission to install vents in his bathroom and kitchen and has claimed he will carry out additional internal works i believe in an effort to get me back on side, although am also dubious if this will get done.

    I don't want to do anything until he has completed his internal work to see if this resolves the issue, but also now want to get a surveyor or some sort of management company to deal with this on my behalf as I can't handle the stress of dealing with him and organising the repairs any longer and feel like its important to set clearer boundaries. I have looked online at surveyors but am struggling to understand what sort of service I require so if anyone has any suggestions or can provide alternative ways I could better manage this it would be much appreciated.

    #2
    Being the freeholder is a hassle, but its a lot better than dealing with someone else!

    Comment


      #3
      You need to have a change of perspective.

      Pretend the Freeholder is someone else. Wear that hat and act accordingly. You might need to do right by the building.

      e.g unblocking shared outdoor drain due to landlord tenants long hair, regular maintenance of guttering, clearing shared paths etc.

      You need to contact the other flat and tell him you will charge £xyz (as a neighbhour - personal capacity) and a professional may charge £dfg around. Who does he want to go for?. Say if you dont' hear from him, you have no choice but to call a professional tradesman.

      You can only charge for things which are in the lease.

      You can get a surveyor and it is helpful from time to time. If you call a builder to carry out work and it does not fix his problem, he may claim it was an improper job or unnecessary. He may say he does n't want to pay his share. The surveyor will legally protect you (particularly) in larger works.


      I don't want to do anything until he has completed his internal work to see if this resolves the issue,

      Tell him you will instruct a surveyor, but if it turns out to be his fault, then it is chargeable to him.

      Comment


        #4
        You need to make sure that you understand what the freeholder's responsibilities stated in the lease are, what the responsibilities of each leaseholder are, what costs you can expect the other leaseholder to contribute towards, and what the legal requirements that you have to adhere to are.

        It may well be worth you paying a suitably qualified person to go through the leases with you (you should have a copy of the other leaseholders lease in addition to your own, if you have one yourself) and explain the legal requirements for freeholders - but it's worth getting a better understanding first so you know what to ask!

        Start by finding a copy of the RICS residential service charge management code (version 3 is the current one I believe, and should be possible to find online) and read it carefully.
        Also read all leases for your property carefully.

        Comment


          #5
          I agree with Macromia, you should understand your duties and responsibilities as a freeholder. you should obtain and read both leases and the RICS residential management code.

          The leases may allow you to appoint a managing agent to carry out your duties but you may have difficulty finding an agent which is willing to take on a building with only 2 units,

          Instructing a surveyor each time the leaseholder raises an issue is likely to be considered excessive and the lease will probably require you to share the cost.

          Above all else, you should try to improve the relationship with the leaseholder, disputes can escalate out of control, so the sooner you can deal with them amicably the better, The price of a coffee or a beer will be insignificant compared to the costs of a legal battle,

          Comment

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