Advice needed regarding a lease dispute with my freeholder

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    Advice needed regarding a lease dispute with my freeholder

    Hi

    I own a leasehold maisonette above a commercial premises. The owner of the shop downstairs owns the freehold. I have found the freeholder to be a very difficult person to deal with and they always seems hell bent on causing problems. They also live a long way away and have been very poor at keeping on top of what maintenance is required, and seem generally disinterested. Recently I have raised a serious issue regarding potential subsidence twice and they ignored this and only responded complaining that I am in breach of my lease as I have friends lodging with me and the lease states that the property should be let to one family only. Unfortunately the garden has been a bit of a mess recently and they are saying that the mess is affecting the rental potential of their shop.

    I am very concerned about this. I have tidied the yard and apologized for this and promised that it will not happen again, but would like to know if there is anything else I can do as it is important to me to keep my lodger. I also feel they have been neglecting the property in terms of their obligation to organize maintenance.

    Does anybody have any good advice that could help me. I have tried to maintain a friendly relationship with the Freeholder but am getting the impression they are not interested and are considering involving a solicitor. Obviously I do not want this to happen but would like to know what my rights are. I would be interested in buying a share of the freehold if this is within my rights, but do not think this will help in any way with the lease

    Thanks

    #2
    Read your lease.

    What does it say about the demise of the yard, and the need to keep it in a tidy state. It seems unlikely that your lease would forbid you from taking a lodger (as opposed to a spouse) - what is the exact wording? What are the manifestations of the supposed "potential subsidence"? What is the relationship between the freeholder and the occupier of the commercial premises? If not one and the same, are they too having problems?
    Is the building insured, have service charges been properly requested according to the lease, and have you paid such charges?

    Comment


      #3
      Hi

      Thanks for the reply. Although i don't have a copy of the lease in front of me now, I have checked this in the past and there are 2 separate sections of the lease. One states that the property cannot be divided internally, and the second area states that it can only be used as a single private dwelling for one family only. I will check the exact terms used tonight, but it is the second part that concerns me. I have not divided the property internally but was not aware of any clause stating that only a single family can live there.

      Unfortunately there was a boxed in pipe in my property that was leaking. This lead to damp problems in their property below (which the failed to inform me about for several months). by the time they informed me it had lead to the ceiling to collapse although if they had communicated with me earlier this probably would have been a very minor issue. They are in the process of making an insurance claim on this. On investigating into this damp this is what has brought my attention to cracks in the exterior walls and probable subsidence. At the same time they are trying to double the shops rent to the existing tenant, and they are complaining that the yard is a mess and is a health hazard in order to avoid the rent hike (even though they only have access for fire escape and to take their bins out). There has been some rubbish blown out of the recycling boxes in the wind, but i would not say this is particularly excessive. The Freeholder is a little irrational and blames me (and specifically the fact that i have a lodger) for the leaking pipe and the small amount of litter in the yard for their potential loss of rental income. They also seem be blaming me for the fact that a drain that is used by both properties floods and was smelling. This only happened after they changed the plumbing in the shop which connects to this drain resulting in them digging up the drainage pipes and re-installing it. I have cleaned the drain myself even though this is something i would expect the freeholder to be responsible for arranging in exchange for the management fee they charge. Instead they seem to be blaming me even though this is no longer a problem since i maintained the drain for them.

      In general the freeholder is very untrustworthy. 2 years ago they claimed that I was responsible for them not receiving a building control certificate because they needed an integrated fire alarm system as a direct result of me having lodgers. When i rang the BC department they told me they would require it regardless. To my knowledge this has still not been fitted.

      Anyway it seems that they are going to try and hold the fact that i have a lodger against me, and im curious to know how much wait that clause in the lease bears and if it is even relevant in this day and age.

      Thanks for your help

      paul

      Comment


        #4
        We need to see the exact wording in your lease.

        This will assist you in identifying the insurer and contacting them. It is criminal offence to fail to respond.
        http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1987/31/schedule/3
        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.

        Comment


          #5
          Alas, many post on here and forget the most important bit..the Lease !!. This is your conract between you and the freeholder, it all very well the FH moaninng about the state of the yard and wehther you have a lodger but both of these may have nothing to do with him !.

          It is worth nothing though that if there are such provisions within the lease, it could be serious, perhaps even leading to you forgfeiting your home, although rather unlikley.

          As for the FH's alleged breaches, you could sue him for damages should you be able to prove that he is not performing his obligations.

          So get hold a copy of the lease, read and understand it, find out what you can and cant do and find out his repairing obligations and write to him a professional letter, no need to threaten legal action just yet.

          Andy
          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.

          Comment


            #6
            hi

            thanks again for the help. I have now transcribed the relevant sections of the lease :

            (user) (11) Not the use the demised premises or permit or suffer the same to be used otherwise than as a single private dwellinghouse in the occupation of one family only

            (assignments etc.) (17) Not to assign underlet or part with the possession of a part only of the demised premises

            (18)Not during the last seven years of the term to assign charge underlet or part with possession of the demised premises without the previous consent in writing of the Landlord which shall not be unreasonably withheld in the case of the respectable and responsible person (not being a corporate body) who shall first enter into a covenant with the landlord to pay the rent hereby reserved and perform the covenants on the part of the Tenant and observe the conditions herein contained during the residue of the Term

            (19) within twenty-one days of the date of every assignment underlease grant of probate or administration assent transfer mortgage charge or other devolution of the title to the demised premises to give notice thereof in writing to the landlord's solicitors for the time being and to produce to them such assignment underlease asseent transfer mortgage or change or in the case of the devolution of the interest of the tenant not perfected by an assent within 12 months of the happening thereof to produce to the said solicitors the probate or administration under which such devolution arises and to pay to them such registration fee as the landlords solicitors shall reasonable demand


            I believe i am only likely to have breached point 11. I have also notice that there appears to be a typing error in this section. "Not the use the demised premises" does not sound like proper sentence to me and makes me think that this section cannot be upheld as it is illegible. Could this be possible or am i clutching at straws?

            any advice will be greatly appreciated. Does anybody know if i can still have my friends staying with me as lodgers legally based on the wording of the lease?


            Thanks

            Paul

            Comment


              #7
              What about an obligation upon you to keep the yard/garden tidy. ?
              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.

              Comment


                #8
                You have also breached part 18, and likely 19 by not having given notice.

                If you have tidied your garden then you can force the issue of insurance and settlement as above and by listing the repairs required give your landlord notice of your intention to purse legal action through say http://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/pro...tocol/prot_hou.

                if he asks you about the lodger then perhaps the answer is “without prejudice, having a lodger is the only way that I will be able to afford to pay the service charge to enable you to do the repairs. Please turn a blind eye for now and I promise that I will keep the yard spotless and check the yard twice daily for any loose items."
                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.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by andydd View Post
                  What about an obligation upon you to keep the yard/garden tidy. ?
                  hi

                  there is some items in the lease about this stating that the place should be maintained and look good and rubbish should only be stored in bins. The issue here is recycling has been blowing out of the recycling containers. I have no problem with making sure the place is tidy outside in the future. I am now more concerned with the freeholder seemingly determined to try and stop me having lodgers.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Which you cannot have. That said as they have no real security as soon as he takes action you terminate the lodging and the breach has been resolved.
                    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.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      I dont want to do that they are my friend. I will continue to be nice to the freeholder and make it clear that i will make sure the yard is kept tidy in future. Does anybody have any other advice that may help me keep my lodger if they decide to be unreasonable? Will the typing error in the lease provide any kind of a legal loophole that i could cling to?

                      thanks

                      paul

                      Comment


                        #12
                        There is no other advice to give you as, as a friend, you are not family and you have let part of your home. You are in the classic glass house predicament- don't throw stones.

                        They are not being unreasonable they are insisting on the lease being complied with. You need to persuade them to be unreasonable in doing what they are obliged to do under the lease yet not enforce that term on letting. Your best tactic is the commercial one, we'll behave and that wil help me pay, which imprioves the building and helps you with the commercial tenants complaints.

                        I have heard of a lodger situation where a quiet word in an ear explained that " I would rather they be regarded as lodger than be outed" resulted in the HA landlord backing off on pursuing the terms of the lease. The fear of damages for discrimination harrassment and quiet enjoyment settled their mind.
                        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.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Hi

                          Thanks again for your advice. i feared that may be the case. Hopefully they will not make an issue of it as long as I keep the house and yard maintained to their standards. I didnt quite understand your last paragraph though

                          Comment


                            #14
                            it was reference to a similar situation where the landlord wished to take action against a flat owner who had lodger. If you read it again you will see that the flat owner implied that there is more than one reason( lodging) for two people to share a flat and that further inquiry might be embarrassing for all concerned.
                            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.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              haha i actually have 2 lodgers so that would be quite the scandal! i dont see it working though. i may have to foster my lodgers!

                              thanks for the help

                              Comment

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