Landlord power to enforce fire hazard removal

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    Landlord power to enforce fire hazard removal

    Hi,

    Consider blocks with small communal hallways (5m front to back) leading to two downstairs flats, left and right, and a single flight concrete stairwell with metal ballustrade leading to two first floor flats. Built in early 1980s.

    Sixth schedule of lease - covenants by the lessee - is silent on not leaving things in communal areas (but these are not demised to the lessee anyway so presumably no right exists to 'trespass'?)

    Lease does say:
    -keep demised premises clean and tidy and place rubbish in recepticle in bin store
    -not to bring into the Blocks of Flats or any part thereof any article which is or may become dangerous to the development or the occupants thereof.

    and gives lessor power to make regulations (see below)

    RTM Landlord must ensure fire safety, so carries out a risk assessment and notes the high risk hazards in the hallways and issues a Residents Handbook instructing residents not to leave personal items in communal hallways (understairs is open) except for a folding wheelchair.

    Unidentified residents persist in leaving bundles of clothing and furniture in the void under the stairs and even old white goods etc in communal bin store.

    A bundle of clothes becomes dangerous if a discarded cigarette can ignite it. Furniture adds fuel. Apart from meter readers getting hernias trying to read the meters in the bin stores.

    RTM Landlord must act. But what bear traps exist?

    Does the Tort (Interference with Goods) Act 1977 apply? i.e. Landlord must take care of personal possessions even if left in communal hallway? And take "all reasonable steps" to locate owner? Meanwhile store the goods for three months? Cost on service charges?

    Or can RTM landlord simply issue a prohibition regulation notice under clause 8 of Fifth Schedule of lease which says:

    "The right of the Lessor from time to time to make or add to or amend regulations for the preservation of the amenities of the Development or any part thereof or for the general convenience of the occupiers of the flats and garages and parking spaces"

    ...to set an urgent, say 7 day, deadline for clearing communal areas or any items will be disposed of without further notice? After all, a fire risk waits for nobody. Even the most considerate RTM director.
    Do not read my offerings, based purely on my research or experience as a lessee, as legal advice. If you need legal advice please see a solicitor.

    #2
    if they are tenants personal possessions then they shouldn't be stored in the communal areas, particularly as they are combustible material.

    Have you had a health, safety and fire risk assessment and did the item come up?

    Definitely worth informing all that items shouldn't be stored in communal areas. If you have to forcibly remove the items, does the lease allow for the cost to be passed on to the offending property?

    Comment


      #3
      Hi Carine, thanks for reply.

      The RTMCo has had a H&S and Fire Risk Assessment and identified a high risk from things left in the hallways. Flats have been served residents handbooks and notices on hallway walls about not leaving personal items in the communal halls.

      The lease seems silent other than the Eighth schedule defining service charges to include: "Employing managing agents to manage and administer the development and paying all charges of such agents in connection therewith and meeting such other expenses as may be necessary for the proper administration or protection of the Development".

      So the last portion of the clause seems to allow charging for 'such other expenses' on the service charge.

      But the ClRA 2002 allows levying variable admin charges for breaches of a lease even if the lease does not specify this. The difference, of course ,is that admin fees can be levied on the miscreant flat alone.

      Would ignoring a regulation created and notified under the Fifth Schedule as mentioned in my first post be a 'breach' allowing admin charges if the offender could be identified?

      The problem is what to do if requests and notices are ignored and how long to wait.
      Do not read my offerings, based purely on my research or experience as a lessee, as legal advice. If you need legal advice please see a solicitor.

      Comment


        #4
        if a right exists then it can't be a trespass

        1 Send a general letter warning all that items will be removed on x day

        2 put a warning letter setting out the same on the items

        You will need to arrange a place to store the items and yes the 77 Act comes into play.

        The cost of storage is normally regarded as a general cost of management if the lease is worded accordingly or broad enough. You simply recharge the offenders.

        You are doing the right thing though I would add that with bulk goods it might be an idea to make a space for this and encourage people to use it with a number from the local authority collection service. I have used stealthy battery powered cctv cameras and having identified culprits, it soon stops.
        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.

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