Reasonable admin charges

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    Reasonable admin charges

    We recently approached our management company to tell them we wanted to replace the windows in our leasehold flat. They have asked for £125 admin fee to give permission, plus £450 if they need to inspect.

    They also detail other works that require permission such as replacing a bathroom and kitchen, replacing doors and lights (which we also want to do).

    Can anyone advise whether these charges are reasonable as:

    a) windows are freeholders responsibility under the lease so couldn't we wait until they fall out and get them to replace as it is their obligation.

    b) Internal works which I understand are nothing to do with the freeholder- so why do we need any permission at all.

    I think we will also try to get the other people in the building to go down the right to manage route as this company are incapable of even organising a cleaner!

    Please note I have read s.158 of Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 and Sch 11 and they appear to have met these requirements, but it is not clear to me what TYPE of thing they can charge for.

    Thanks in advance

    #2
    Have you informed the freeholder (via the management company) that window repairs are required? If so, what was their response?

    Depending on the wording of the lease, internal works such as you describe do not usually come under the remit of the freeholder. Always rely on the terms of the lease. However, if the works involve you re-positioning communal pipes in the structure of the building then you need the freeholder's permission. Are you changing the position of pipes or drilling through the structure?

    In my opinion, it is not unreasonable for a freeholder to levy a fee for granting permission for works by a lessee.
    • considering your proposed plans (may involve professional advice)
    • suggesting changes where necessary
    • ensuring that works meet statutory requirements where necessary
    • providing written approval
    • inspecting the work

    For something as important as windows, I would guess that the freeholder would insist that any new windows are largely the same design as the existing windows and probably FENSA rated.

    Comment


      #3
      £125 sounds reasonable, although slightly high. £450 doesn't!
      JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
      1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
      2. Telephone advice: see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=34638.
      3. For paid advice about conveyancing/leaseholds/L&T, contact me* and become a private client.
      4. *- Contact info: click on my name (blue-highlight link).

      Comment


        #4
        Thanks for the replies.

        The lease is not very clear at all, think we may need a specialist to interpret it.

        There is no mention of windows whatsoever, apart from the fact we are responsible for everything that the freeholder does not have insurance for. As they have BUILDINGS insurance I assume windows are covered, but they argue differently. The lease does specifically mention other things such as drains that they are responsible for, but it does not say tenant responsible for everything else.

        As for the kitchen, we are not doing any structural or pipework whatsoever. However, more careful reading of the lease suggests we have to get permission for ANY internal work. I assume this also means redecoration. The old freeholder never enforced such things but the new one is much more up on this kind of thing. As the lease also says that we must repaint every 3 years that basically gives him the right to demand £125 every 3 years. Seems a little unfair (and probably unenforceable) to me but just don't want to be caught out as retrospective permission costs £500.

        I suspect that many leases have such terms, and are rarely enforced, but I don't want to go down that route. Looks like the only way to avoid over £500 in fees is either lie or get everyone else motivated to sack the management company and do it ourselves. As the guy downstairs has just fully refurbished everything I imagine it would be in his interest too.

        Anyway just moaning now, but if anyone has any further thoughts on such lease terms, i.e. who is responsible for the fabric of the building and do we need permission for cosmetic changes that would be much appreciated.

        Comment


          #5
          There is a practical problem in that when you sell, your buyer's solicitor may well want to see copies of landlord approvals for alterations.

          In my experience, even if there is an argument for saying that the landlord's approval is NOT required for the particular work you are doing, a buyer's solicitor will always err on the safe side and require it.

          Some landlords make a point of adding unnecessary "information" to letters confirming payment of ground rent (if you can get such a letter!). The letter could be along the lines of "We want to take this opportunity to remind lessees that our consent is required for [they then list everything under the sun that you might want to do]..."

          It may well be that if the matter went to court it would be decided that the landlord's consent was not required for a particular piece of work - but it is expensive to go to court and Landlords know this and manage to extract unreasonably high fees for consents. A client of mine recently had to pay £650 because some years previously a window in a ground floor maisonette had been converted into a patio door. It was a 999 year lease at a fairly low ground rent so I cannot imagine how it harmed the Landlord's interest in the property - it was sheer money making. The client was anxious to sell the maisonette so had little choice in practice.
          RICHARD WEBSTER

          As a conveyancing solicitor I believe the information given in the post to be useful (provided it relates to property in England & Wales) but I accept no liability except to fee-paying clients.

          Comment


            #6
            What about indemnity insurance? Costs less than L's demanding.
            JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
            1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
            2. Telephone advice: see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=34638.
            3. For paid advice about conveyancing/leaseholds/L&T, contact me* and become a private client.
            4. *- Contact info: click on my name (blue-highlight link).

            Comment


              #7
              Just to clarify my last post...Buyer's solciitors want to see ground rent receipts so if a Landlord provides one or answers some other query the seller's solicitor provides, he can add some spurious (unhelpful) information about the need for consents - or as I have seen - a suggestion that the lease was defective.

              The seller's solciitor may then have to copy this to the buyer's solicitor who then immediately takes the hint and asks the question of the sort the Landlord was hoping would be asked. Seller end sup asking Landlord for consent for something or the other even though he might not think a consent was needed!
              RICHARD WEBSTER

              As a conveyancing solicitor I believe the information given in the post to be useful (provided it relates to property in England & Wales) but I accept no liability except to fee-paying clients.

              Comment


                #8
                Hi Patricia,

                It sounds to me like you should proceed with the exercise of Right to Manage as soon as possible.

                For more information on this Right, please click on the following link:
                http://www.proleagle.com/righttomanage.htm

                Your Managing Agents have so far requested unreasonable amounts from you. This amount could be much better spent ensuring that you have full control over management of your property. This way should be much more economical in the long run too.

                Kind regards,

                Yours sincerely,

                CORINNE TUPLIN
                SENIOR SOLICITOR
                PRO-LEAGLE
                www.proleagle.com
                CORINNE TUPLIN
                SOLICITOR
                PRO-LEAGLE
                www.proleagle.com

                ___________________
                Please note that any comments made are personal opinion and do not constitute legal advice.

                For Service Charge Disputes, you may wish to use Pro-Leagle's online Service Charge Dispute Analyser: http://www.proleagle.com/servicecharges.htm

                Comment


                  #9
                  Hi Patricia,

                  If you think that your freeholder and managing agent is not complying to the lease or think the agent is not giving satisfactory management , then you should use the right to manage route to take over the running of the building.

                  How many flats are you in the building ? What is the name of the freehold company and agent ?

                  I suggest that you contact Selcha Trading ( tel: 01424 201680: based in Hastings ) and get a quote for "delivery of RTM." We are using Selcha now for RTM and recently we reduced the cost of building insurance to half. ( Solicitors charge more and its difficult to canvass and get support from qualifying 50% + of the lessees in the block to start the RTM process based on solicitors rates.)

                  Comment

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