Freeholder just discovered work needed in Leaseholders Ground Floor

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    Freeholder just discovered work needed in Leaseholders Ground Floor

    Hello
    I'm a new Freeholder of a large house that contains two properties. I live in the upper floors, the leaseholder lives downstairs on the ground floor. She was very old and died in the summer. Her children are now selling the flat and when my mum came to view it she saw there was a lot of damp in a couple of the rooms. This is news to us, despite having had external maintenance work done earlier this year.

    We never inspected inside her property as she was very old and ill and didn't think it right to bother her too much. No one pointed out the problem of damp to us and officially still hasn't advised us this work is needed.

    Clearly this is going to cost a few thousand pounds to fix, but having just spent the same on maintenance we're a bit broke for a while. Does anyone know where we stand in regard to having to pay our half - as prospective buyers will certainly expect this work to be done.

    Any advise of other's experience shared is very appreciated!

    #2
    What does the lease say as regards maintenance? And is there a second lease for your flat or is it only one lease in the property?

    Comment


      #3
      Maintenance split is 50/50. We as Freeholders have met our obligations regarding looking after the building since we moved in having done several things this year. It is equally the Leaseholder's obligation to let us know about this damp issue. They may have known about this for years (we purchased 20 months ago).

      There is no lease for us - just one from 1904 for the Lessee that says they are responsible for keeping there flat in good repair - and redecoration every 7 years, which has not been done!

      Comment


        #4
        As you are the freeholder, you will be asked many questions regarding the sale, and expected maintenance costs envisaged in the next year and or the next 3 years.
        If you are not asked what the next years costs will be, then you tell them.
        Insurance, gardening, pruning, driveway repairs, damp proofing, and the list goes on and on.

        You can evaluate the damp now, get verbal off the cuff estimates and inform any buyers of the next years costs of maintenance, one of which will be a damp course / damp proofing, or whatever it is decided is the best.

        You can also state that the flat has to be, according to the lease, be well maintained, and you expect the sellers or buyers to make good the interior of the flat within 6 months of sale / purchase.

        The lease will be bought ( they buy the lease, not the flat ) and a price negotiated on the current condition, and knowing that there will be costs incurred in future for the damp proofing. ( Because your information supplied to the buyers will show the future costs.)

        The buyers have a choice, buy at advertised price, if at market value, or reduce the sale price to compensate for the forthcoming charges, of which you will have notified all buyers of.

        see http://ram2.hostbyet2.com/ and click on SELLING1.DOC

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by Stells View Post
          Maintenance split is 50/50. We as Freeholders have met our obligations regarding looking after the building since we moved in having done several things this year. It is equally the Leaseholder's obligation to let us know about this damp issue. They may have known about this for years (we purchased 20 months ago).
          In that case I think you have very good cards. Do what ram suggested, start putting together a schedule of maintenance works. Presumably you have a covenant in the lease that the freeholder can inspect the leaseholder's flat to check it is up to date, so if they don't give you access for this you may need to go down the route of demanding access formally (again something which you subsequently disclose to any willing buyer).

          Comment


            #6
            That they have damp depends on the cause- is it rising damp or just condensation and atmospheric damp caused by a long vacant flat.

            You then have to look at the leases to see if "maintenance" means that the freeholder ( with both lessees chipping in 50%) makes you responsible for remedy the cause.
            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


              #7
              Is it actually damp (as in is the brickwork damp), or is it merely condensation. In an older property condensation can be caused by salts from chimney stacks as well as cold external walls. If the brickwork is damp there is invariably a reason such as raised ground levels, failed gutters, cracked render etc.

              I would engage an independent damp surveyor if I were you in order to find out.

              Beware free damp surveys that are there to recommend injected dpc's and internal rendering. They do not work and cost a fortune.

              Comment


                #8
                Injection does work but not in sme materials and where it will solve or manage the problem. The trick is to use a company that drills the holes and injects it and who are not a dpc company, then its relatively cheap. You can do t it 3 or 4 times for the cost of one go with a guarantee.

                I had one client who had damp diagnosed in the party wall to the other side of the building. I diagnosed it straight away the sink and worktop were sloped, no mastic bead to the wall and tiles and water was literally running down the back. A month of dehumidifier ( no outside window to the kitchen) and £5 on mastic and a gun from the corner post office/ Arkwrights which I did then and there for them and hey presto rising damp was gone.

                Ripping off seasoned citizens should be a hanging offence, hanging by the bits not the neck too !
                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
                  I disagree, the injected dpc inevitably does not work, but the hard render that is always applied internally stops the damp showing through (this is where there is damp in the brick usually penetrating damp). Trouble is, in an older house it can still be affecting timbers. Also the still damp wall will be cold possibly inducing condensation.

                  And if the damp was condensation in the first place then completely useless.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    We'll get shunted off to the other forum on this line of discussion but I disagree injections can and do work. Forget concrete walls or blockwork or indeed certian types of mortar but in the main older porous and dried out bricks will absorb injected materials, but if the do not then thats another thing.

                    Where moisture is rising and not from lateral sources or downward penetrating rain or indeed condensation, then steps need to be taken to reduce or divert water outside or lower the internal soil or base and provide adequate ventilation to timbers. In some cases weepers need to be installed to achieve that where soil is very wet and prone to saturation or flooding.

                    While hard render interiors to tank there is always the trouble with screw fixings to skirting s and wiring etc not to mention overenthusiastic DIY not to mention the deterioration of the brick work behind as it is still saturated.

                    That said we agree it is usually a lack of heating and not being used that leads to condesnation and agenrtallowring of the tremperature of the structure so that it feels cold, and even rainy days can increase moisture levels in the plaster that feel damp when they are not actually serious.

                    The best test is scraping the areas that are "damp" and fif after a few scrapes the plaster is hard and dry it usually indicates that it is inside out eg condensation and a damp feeling unoccupied home.

                    De humidfier and bang on the heating for a few days and take another look.
                    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
                      Glad it is not only my Planning Thread hijacked by discussions on damp proof courses - move them all to an appropriate thread please!

                      Returning to topic we are leaseholders of a tenanted ground floor flat. About five years ago we had local patches of rising dampness that were just above skirting board level and not giving high meter readings. We therefore decided that the upheaval and cost of replastering and inserting a chemical damp proof course was disproportionate to the benefits. At that time we interpreted the complicated lease as stipulating this work was our responsible. We and previous leaseholders had not realised that the defined repair obligations of each leaseholder (basically roof to the first floor flat and foundations etc to the ground floor flat) could be included in a service charge and shared equally! A new owner occupier who is a solicitor interpreted the lease as meaning we should share half the cost of the roof repairs. Although we stated that we felt she should have negotiated those repairs with the vendor of the first floor flat we agreed to share the cost of her urgent roof repairs on the basis of one reasonable estimate. To some extent she has now made a rod for her own back alleging that our property is damp and demanding an inspection under the terms of the lease. We have therefore said we want her to pay half the costs for the installation of a chemical damp proof course and we need to proceed with this immediately on the basis of the most reasonable estimate from a reputable specialist contractor.
                      With just two flats the wrong interpretation of the lease has for many decades been the easiest to manage! Each floor of the property had freedom to sort out those matters that were most likely to affect them! With each leaseholder having a share of the freehold there could be difficulty in getting unanimous freeholder decisions on work priorities!
                      The deeds are complicated in so far as the two flats were, about ten years ago both separate Freeholds. The document changes to make them two leasehold flats with a shared freehold were executed with minimum changes to the freehold deeds. At no time did Freeholders of either flat consider they had the need or right to inspect each others flat!

                      Stells needs to read the freehold and leasehold documents very carefully. If they are like ours they will only work when leaseholders and freeholders get on with each other!
                      Vic - wicked landlord
                      Any advice or suggestions given in my posts are intended for guidance only and not a substitute for completing full searches on this forum, having regard to the advice of others, or seeking appropriate professional opinion.
                      Without Plain English Codes of Practice and easy to complete Prescribed Forms the current law is too complex and is thus neither fair to good tenants nor good landlords.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        While only a minor discussion it is not a hijack and the bulk of the post relates to the likely problems that they may face when diagnosing damp. The lease will define who is responsible for what and implicit in that is working out what ( damp condensation soil build up dodgy gutters no underfloor ventilation etc) is.
                        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

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