Leaseholder not interested in property upkeep please advise

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    Leaseholder not interested in property upkeep please advise

    Hi guys,

    I am new to the forum so hello!

    My partner purchased a leasehold flat 8 years ago. He owns the ground floor flat and there are two flats on the first floor, both tenanted. He purchased the freehold to the whole building about 4 or 5 years ago but at the time was fairly new to it all and also had zero cash to do any works to the property.

    The previous freeholder had done nothing with the building and now there are problems racking up. My partner foolishly did quite a few jobs himself and never requested payment from the other leaseholders, and as they do not live in the building they show no interest. Even getting ground rent and insurance out of them is a wait of several weeks.

    My partner has been writing and emailing the owners of the upstairs flats since around Christmas time re works to be done, politely asking for their comments / thoughts but gets no real response. We paid for an independent damp survey which uncovered a leak under the floor in the communal hall, and have had a damp course done plus the plumbers fee to sort out the leaking pipe. We have also had to call out drains people twice this year and are now having to go through the buildings insurance as there is a cracked sewer pipe. I anticipate there being problems with us getting the money back for these jobs.

    My main question is this... there is a communal drying area which is a total mess. We have asked for the other owners to come up with ideas but as usual, nothing. We informed them a week ago that to save money we would hire a skip and do the work ourselves, and that they were more than welcome to come and help. Today, one of the owners has emailed us and told us that she will not pay as it is our "choice" to tidy the garden. Never mind the fact that her tenant has complained to her about the state of the drying area!

    She tells us this AFTER we have hired and paid for the skip. I sent her a long email, very polite, explaining that it was not a reasonable state to leave the area in. I also copied her the relevant pages of her lease explaining that she is liable for 1/3 share of the costs. She rang this evening and has volunteered to come down with her husband today (Friday).

    In her email reply she has said can we not undertake any works without consulting her first. I understand that people are not made of money, but really apart from the damp and drains issue, the costs recently have been for things like carpet cleaning the communal area... which I personally did and hired the equipment to save costs. She is mainly just peeved because up until this point they have dodged having to pay anything. The fact that she doesnt reply (neither does the other owner) means every little job is painful.

    I'd like to hear other people's comments on this. I also happen to know that she received 12 months rent in advance in December from her new tenant, so she does have the money. Sadly we had to pay for my partner's mother's funeral in January and so have little in our bank account.

    Your thoughts and advice are much appreciated x

    I suggest you read the leases very carefully as this will set out the freeholders covenants (responsibilities) , the service charge provisions including what can be charged to the leaseholders and when (in advance and on account or in arrears) and also the leaseholders' covenants with the landlords.

    It sounds like things have evolved on a piecemeal basis and the two other leaseholders have very much benefitted from it.

    It might be worthwhile finding a local managing agent or solicitor who could help out but as you will see from these forums leases can be a minefield!

    What does the lease say about service charges?

    Oh and you don't have to consult with the leaseholders unless they will have to pay more than £250 each for the works. I am assuming they are not involved in the freehold.


      It's great that you have done the work, but now it's time for a little reading.

      The law in this is that you must look after the property which you are responsible for to the extent and the standard in the leases; if you have to maintain drains and clear up drying areas, and do so in a manner and cost that is fair and reasonable, that is your task whether they like it or not.

      Recovery of Costs: This is bit more complicated. You will have to read the leases to work out two things
      1: When others have to pay for it
      2: When and how you add up that cost.
      It's rare for leases to allow billing as and when and typically an estimate for the year is billed in instalments, or costs are added up over a period of time,and most leases require you to produce a simple statement at the year end set in the lease eg 31-3.

      Consultation: In a small block this is advisable but you also have a statutory obligation to consult if any lessee is going to have to pay £250 + for any one job. If you don't then your "bill" for that job, is capped at £250 ( nb this doesn't apply to Insurance).

      I expect that once your leases have been read you will have to
      a: produce a simple statement of costs
      b; bill the total as per the lease
      c: make sure that the invoices contain the statement below and are sent with the summary of rights ( Notice under section 47 & 48 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987 that the name of the landlord is X and the address for service including proceedings in England and Wales is Y)

      Finally leases often have quirks and may differ from the above so do come back then.

      Information on ground rent billing summary of rights and consultation are all found here.
      Based on the information posted, I offer my thoughts.Any action you then take is your liability. While commending individual effort, there is no substitute for a thorough review of documents and facts by paid for professional advisers.



        Many thanks for your replies

        I note that the lease states we can ask for payment in advance. Our problem now is that there are lots of jobs that need doing, so we are going from no charges to hitting them with one after the other. Despite the fact that neither leaseholder is strapped for cash, they are not gonna be happy. I suppose I just have to see how it goes!

        One of the leaseholders did send her parents to help us with the garden clearance, and they returned a couple of days later with an electrician who sorted out some issues in the communal hall. It was a bit of a cheap job but it was a start. I was just a tad annoyed that they just "showed up" on Bank Holiday Monday without any notice (we had guests over) but in the spirit of getting some sort of relationship going we smiled through it!

        They played around with the front door lock, which has been damaged due to years of being slammed by feckless tenants. It looks decidedly shoddy. They also tried to persuade us that we should partition off the back third of the drying area which we have just cleared, as it is very uneven ground and the wall is damaged at the back. They do not want to have to spend any money. I suppose in their world they can afford to throw away land- round here every bit counts and I don't think they quite understand that.

        There were several trees in the garden which I have had felled- luckily I have a friend in the business! Unfortunately he couldn't borrow the stump grinder, and due to the size of the garden and the number of stumps, they really do need removing. I spent all weekend cutting and bagging / burning the branches and got someone to take the logs... I don't see why I should feel bad for getting a professional in the remove the stumps and bill them for their third.

        I suppose all I am looking for is some reassurance that I am being reasonable so any comments are welcome


          You still appear to be doing things on a bit of an informal basis which maybe fine but could run into problems later.

          I assume the leaseholders havnt had to pay any service charges over the last few years , it may come as a shock to them, but many leaseholders have to pay hundreds and normally thousands per year so maybe you should start billing them.

          It would appear you are being rerasonable although be aware that this term may take on a different meaning if you were ever to go to an LVT, for this reason it is important that there are invoices/proof of any work done.

          Advice given is based on my experience representing myself as a leaseholder both in the County Court and at Leasehold Valuation Tribunals.

          I do not accept any liability to you in relation to the advice given.

          It is always recommended you seek further advice from a solicitor or legal expert.

          Always read your lease first, it is the legally binding contract between leaseholder and freeholder.


            Yeah I send a copy of the invoice with a correctly worded demand. I have started to send out an invoice, give them 28 days, they "forget", I chase them and then by this point I need to bill them for the next round of bits done.

            We're not talking huge amounts here, last bill was £60ish, next one will be less than £100. We had some damp proofing done (my partner didn't want to mess around waiting so he just got it done and said he wasnt even going to try and get them to pay... which I convinced him was insane!) but I am guessing I can only ask £250 each. I can try I suppose.

            Has anyone had any experience of using the services of a managing agent? I just wondered what the costs were and who pays. I know it sounds silly but we have a hell of a lot on at the moment and its just one pain I sometimes feel we can do without.

            Thanks again for your help


              It doesn't matter if the demand is correctly worded with the supporting documents, it is only valid if the lease allows one off demands.

              You have to look at the lease, and if as is common it only allows an annual estimate of charges billed periodically you may have to plan the work in that time scale and prioritise work.

              Frankly I would suggest you do the research as suggested, and with a little planning, a days effort can have you organised set up and billing, and even consult with the residents about the plans, deciding what you can do at home on a DIY basis and those that you need contractors for.

              Your lease may even allow the landlord to recover some of their costs of the landlords "management" duties.

              On a small block like this most agents who have the ability to manage ( rather than the common local estate or letting agent that say they do to earn a little extra in tough times) means that you are going to be paying upwards of £1000 ( shared if the lease allows, via service charge). £1000 is a lot of repairs.
              Based on the information posted, I offer my thoughts.Any action you then take is your liability. While commending individual effort, there is no substitute for a thorough review of documents and facts by paid for professional advisers.


                If you don't mind me adding my two penneth you need to approach this in a formal and proper fashion and stop trying to do it on an informal and collective manner.

                I appreciate it is necessary to get on with your neighbours but you have to remember your flat is most likely your biggest single asset and you need to treat it and maintain it as such.

                I would have a local managing aget or solicitor explain the lease to you so that you can go about this properly. As LHA mentions above a specialist managing agent will set you back £1k per annum - money better spent on maintaining the building.


                  I am presuming that as freeholder you are collecting ground rent from them. Somewhere in the leases there must be information about insuring the building!!and collecting their share. Also information about maintenance.
                  Mrs Dingle


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