Communal cupboards - residents belongings stored within but removed by landlord>

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    Communal cupboards - residents belongings stored within but removed by landlord>

    Hi,

    I currently live in a small block of private residential apartments, I am the leaseholder. The block is managed by a third party, {Mod - name removed}.

    Each floor has 2 small 'communal cupboards', about 6ft square and the cupboards are lockable, I have a key to the cupboard adjacent to my apt.

    The apts were built in 2005 and up until 2013 residents used these communal cupboard without interference. In 2013, our designated building manager changed although the management company remained the same. Following this change, residents were told that the communal cupboards could not be used by residents any longer.

    The manager cited the following tenant's covenant from a schedule to the lease as the reason why "not to obstruct any part of the development nor to allow any cycle pram or other things or other goods or packages to be placed or remain in or upon any part of the block other than in the property". There has been no amendment to the lease, schedule or covenants, just ad hoc letters.

    Many residents have disputed this and it has been ongoing for some time. The cupboards are just that, they lead nowhere therefore nothing in teh cupboard obstructs anyone, there is nothing else in the cupboard such as utility meters. The managing agents have visited today while I was out at work and have cleared out the cupboard and removed all my belongings without any notice. I have no idea what has happened to them or where they have been taken. I only have the word of other residents about this at the moment as the agent has not seen fit to leave any note.

    I fail to see how an area which the agent himself refers to as a 'communal cupboard', to which residents have a key is not in fact a 'communal cupboard' the term being self-explanatory.

    Is anyone able to shed light on the legal weight of the 'covenant' and what the definitions of communal are and what my rights are about having my belongings returned to me.

    Any assistance gratefully received.

    #2
    Are the cupboards original to the block build or maybe conversion to flats? Are they mentioned in the lease as an amenity area or otherwise?

    If either yes and they were lockable and locked, then theft comes to mind by person or persons unknown. ( Can't see a competent agent taking folks' stuff without a letter through all the doors firsdt to warn and then to confirm they took the stuff and who to contact to get it back). Problem with fire safety is if stuff stored in hallways is flamable and in danger of a casual ignition source, then landlords have a dilemma not operating zero-tolerance. Your neighbours might store gas cannisters in their cupboard. If they do it in their flat the landlord is blameless.

    If not mentioned in the lease, then the question is who put the cupboards there (maybe a keen helpful lessee with a jigsaw?) because the landlord can remove anything left outside the demised flats (not car or child mind but don't bank on it) though there is law (forget it right now) that says they must hold things safe and attempt reasonably to identify owners (hardly tough if you have the key etc) and give notice of a deadline by which items will be disposed if not reclaimed (they charge for storage mind).

    Go for Right To Manage and remove over-zealous management types.
    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


      #3
      The cupboards are original to the build and are on the plans although they are called meter cupboards on the plans but have never been used as such, there is just one meter cupboard on the ground floor where it has always been. They are not mentioned to the best of my knowledge but I have a key to the one outside by apt.

      There was all sorts of stuff in there, some good some junk. The cupboard has been cleaned to within an inch of it's life and any thief that would take some of the stuff in there would be mad. It was a lot of stuff and would have taken several trips up and down the stairs to carry, there was an armchair in there! One of the things left in there was a massive box of something I'd just had delivered, i'd not had chance to open it so it has my full name and address on there so if they can't identify that there's a problem.

      The doors to the cupboards are full height doors the same as to the apts and are fire doors.

      I'd be amazed if it was theft, as there has never been a single theft of anything from anyone in the 5 years I've lived here. It's a small block with 8 apts, in a nice little village. 3 apts are occupied by retired couples and 2 others by young professionals like me.

      Comment


        #4
        Unlikely there are any communal areas.
        More likely freeholder retained areas with rights granted in leases.
        If no rights to use cupboards the strictly the agents are correct to disallow useage.
        But goods removed should be stowed for collection.

        Helluva sized cupboards by the way if they can fit armchairs. However sounds like a big fire risk.

        Comment


          #5
          Just for the record, is there nothing in the lease giving a right to use the cupboard?

          Comment


            #6
            First, the management company must protect your belongings but only for a limited time and should have notified you.

            Second, if the cupboards were meter cupboards on the plans and each flat has one unique to it, then check the lease carefully. You'll need a colour version of the plans and cross reference this to the schedule that describes your demised flat because it must say something like all the bits edged in yellow or whatever. If the cupboard outside your flat isn't edged in yellow etc then it isn't yours. We deal as an RTM with two types of meter/bin cupboard: one type is private to a particular flat and the other type is shared with more than one flat and therefore not demised to anyone and remains landlord maintained parts.

            Ah, took so long to type was beaten by Lawcruncher!
            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


              #7
              These aren't 'meter bins' though. They can fit armchairs. Where the OP says cupboards, this could probably be replaced with the term small rooms. The OP states they have fire doors. If the alarm system doesn't extend into these small rooms then possibly there is a need to keep them sterile of goods.

              Comment


                #8
                Today, the managing agent referred to these 'small rooms' as 'riser cupboards' and something to do with fire.

                These are not marked anywhere as riser cupboards, there are no signs on the doors and no one has ever used this term before in relation to these areas. I know what it means but this is a new development.

                Comment

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