Freeholder's right to enter leasehold premises to carry out repairs

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    Freeholder's right to enter leasehold premises to carry out repairs

    I bought the freehold to a small block of flats, of which I own (and let) one, as the previous freeholder didn't maintain the building and I couldn't persuade enough of the other leaseholders to agree to set up our own RTM company. I have finally got everyone paying the service charge and am (very slowly) undertaking the long-needed repairs, which, on the whole, is appreciated by the leaseholders and/or their tenants.

    The problem I have is this: one of the leaseholders (who lives in his flat) has got a rotten window (without a lintel) and a constantly running overflow, both of which are affecting other flats and the building as a whole. When I rang the leaseholder and asked him to address the problems (as they are his responsibility), he said he would, but hasn't. I then wrote to him formally ('served notice'), requiring him to carry out the repairs within 30 days, as set out in the terms of his lease, but he has ignored the letter (which I hand delivered) and me when I went round to talk to him about it.

    The lease states that 'if the Tenant (leaseholder) shall not within one month after service of such notice proceed diligently with the execution of the repairs then to allow the Landlord (freeholder) to enter upon the demised premises and execute the repairs and the cost thereof shall be a debt due to the Landlord from the Tenant and be forthwith recoverable by action'

    I am not sure what to do next - order the replacement window, arrange for my builder to come out and write to the leaseholder informing him of the time and date of the proposed repairs? The builder will need access to the flat, I don't have the key and I'm sure the leaseholder wouldn't answer the door (or even be in). I know there are a few threads about this, but (as you'd expect) they all seem to be from the leaseholder's point of view. Also, even if I do gain access and get the repairs done, how easy will it be to recover the money from him? Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated!

    The problem here is that it is one thing having a clause in a lease which seems to give you what you need and quite another enforcing it. What it comes down to is that you need to get the leaseholder to let the builder in. If he flatly refuses the only option is a court order. Before applying to the court (which has to be a step taken only after the most careful consideration) it is advisable to give the leaseholder every opportunity to comply. I think the next step is to write to the leaseholder along the following lines:

    I refer to clauses [quote the relevant clauses] in your lease and to the notice dated [insert date of notice]. No action has been taken by you to carry out the repairs referred to in the notice. Accordingly, in accordance with clause [insert clause number] you are required to alllow access to your flat to enable workmen to carry out the necessary work and to reimburse the cost incurred. Please contact [insert name of contact] to arrange a date and time for workmen to call.

    In the absence of your failure either to carry out the necessary work yourself or allow workmen to attend, the matter will be put in the hands of a solicitor.

    If you like you can deliver a separate letter headed "WITHOUT PREJUDICE" along the following lines:

    I am rather disappointed to note that you have not carried out the necessary repairs to your flat despite having promised to do so. The present situation cannot be allowed to continue as the failure to carry out the repairs is affecting the building and other flat owners. I do not wish to have to resort to the measures referred in the formal notice served on you today and hope that we can sort the matter out informally. I am happy to meet you to discuss the best way forward.


      Thanks lawcruncher. I take it the leaseholder would normally be liable to pay my legal costs, should it come to it (I will double check what the lease says)


        Obviously if the court orders the tenant to pay the costs he has to pay them. If it does not get to court it depends, as you say, on what the lease says. The costs will not only have to be reasonable, but reasonably incurred. Consulting a solicitor, let alone starting proceedings, should be a last resort.

        I meant to mention in my last post that there may be a need to go through a tribunal before going to court. Others with more knowledge on the procedural aspects will be able to advise on that.


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