Freeholder neglecting building, damage to my flat

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    Freeholder neglecting building, damage to my flat

    Hello all,

    I would appreciate some advice on my current situation, which probably amounts to a fairly standard neglectful-freeholder problem, but has a couple of other possible wrinkles. I basically need work out what action to take, and in what order.

    In short, I own a leasehold flat in converted house of 4 flats. My flat is currently let. More than 80 years remaining on lease. Freeholder is a private individual, lives elsewhere, and there's no management company.

    As far as I'm aware, no maintenance has been done to the building since I've owned the flat (~3 years), nor, by the look of it, for quite a while before that. There's water coming in the front wall of the building that has (and still is) damaging the hallway walls and ceiling, wooden windows, and carpets in my flat. It's been continually damp since last year and has suffered multiple leaks as well. Here's brief timeline of of communication with the freeholder:

    Nov 2014 - Letter to freeholder informing them of the leak and requesting the gutters to be cleared and the building to be inspected and repaired as necessary.
    Jan 2015 - Another leak causing further damage, another letter to freeholder reiterating the problem and requesting the gutters be cleared urgently and the building inspected and repaired as necessary.
    Feb 2015 - I paid for the gutters to be cleared
    March 2015 - Letter from freeholder's son notifying me he was taking over the freeholders affairs due to illness. Acknowledged my previous requests for maintenance and promised to address the problem.
    July 2015 - Another leak, photos from my lettings agent indicate the damp problem has been getting progressively worse. Sent another letter to freeholder by recorded delivery, which was received last week. No reply yet.

    As far as I'm aware at this point, the freeholder has taken no action whatsoever to address the leaks or ongoing neglect of the building.

    I haven't issued any notice to the freeholder yet, but I'm considering applying to the leasehold tribunal to get a manager appointed, and to the county court for damages. I'm currently thinking of issuing notice at least for the application to the tribunal if I don't get a response and action from the freeholder by the end of this month.

    Does the freeholder's situation (possible illness) cause any complication here? Is the son now legally responsible for the freehold after his letter in March? Should notices be served to his address? What order should I do things in - apply for a manager to be appointed and to the court damages at the same time? Or for damages after the actual cost of repairs is known (which may well have to be after a manager has been appointed, if the freeholder refuses to act)?

    Also I've recently discovered that the previous owners of my flat took out a 25-year indemnity policy in 2007 against an absent/insolvent/otherwise useless freeholder that covers subsequent owners of the flat. Would it be simpler to attempt the insurance route rather than court? Or is it only possible to do this if damages are unrecoverable from the freeholder? If, say I applied to the tribunal, a manager was appointed, they fixed the problems and billed the leaseholders, would I still be able to make an insurance claim then? I've attached the summary wording of the policy.

    Should I perhaps just pay a solicitor to try and sort this all out for me?

    Thank you
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    #2
    If your question is about possibility of claims under insurance, you should re- post in insurance section where ther is more expertise..

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