Leaseholders service charge dispute. (Flat roof repairs).

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    Leaseholders service charge dispute. (Flat roof repairs).

    I own a flat which has a flat roof above the kitchen. There is one other flat in the property. My flat is on the lower ground floor and the other flat is on the raised ground floor and first floor. The other flat owner and I are leaseholders and there is a freeholder who also owns the property next door.
    In my lease there is a plan and the kitchen area which has a flat roof is denoted as part of the "Common Parts". In the lease, maintenance and repairs of the main roof, external pipes, guttering, external walls and "Common Parts" are shared between the flat owners . My contribution is deemed as one third and the larger flat is deemed as two thirds. So the cost of the roof repairs is part of the service charge and should be shared between the flats.

    In January of 2017 my tenant contacted me to say there was a leak in the flat roof. I immediately contacted the freeholder who said he agreed the roof is part of the "Common parts" the Freeholder was happy to be involved but equally happy if I wanted to get on and liaise directly with the other flat owner and deal with it directly ourselves. The freeholder suggested the name of the roofer who had performed work on the main roof in 2014 and he stated that the roofer was competent and sensible, and I might want to go back to him.
    I contacted the flat owner of the other property and explained the situation, but did not get any response for over two weeks. The other flat owner did not respond to my follow up emails until 6th March 2017. In their email they stated they did not regard the flat roof as part of the common parts and therefore were not obliged to make a contribution. When I emailed them back I clarified the information given to me by the freeholder and showed them the lease plans. In the meantime (early February) I obtained a quote from the roofer recommended to me by the freeholder. As I did not want to risk further damage to the property or harm to my tenants, I asked the roofer to perform the work. The final invoice was for £930 which I paid in full. The two third share of the other flat would therefore be £620.

    I am seeking to recover two thirds of the bill for repairing the flat roof. If necessary I can provide other quotes .
    The freeholder has offered to mediate but the other leaseholder is not willing to engage they still maintain the flat roof is not their responsibility in any way.
    I purchased the flat in 1988 and the flat roof was in existence when I bought the flat - it is part of an extension of the lower ground floor but it is clearly marked in the plans contained within the lease.

    Should I be pursuing the two thirds of the service charge from the freeholder or the other flat owner ?
    Is there any hope of getting any contribution in view of the fact I only provided one estimate (because the freeholder recommended the same roofer)? Can I still get any contribution even though the cost exceeded £250 and the work was done without consultation under "section 20" ? (If I have to settle for £250 I would do so if there was no other solution). Whose responsibility is it normally to perform the section 20 consultation ?
    If I had not repaired the roof, there was a risk of damaging the ceiling underneath (it may have caved in) and there was also a risk of harm to my tenants. So in hindsight I did act hastily but the motivation was to reduce further damage and prevent risk of harm. The trouble is that although the freeholder agreed with my request initially ie that the flat roof was a "Common part" he is now saying that the dispute has nothing to do with him and as the other flat owner does not want to engage in mediation - he suggested I should try the FTT. Also I only have an email address of the other flat owner and they are very slow to respond - I do not have any address to send correspondence . If I ask the other flat owner to provide an address they may just ignore my request - can one put their address down as the flat they own in the same building as me ?

    Do I need A Dispensation of the Consultation Requirements to a Landlord Because Emergency Works were required immediately or it would have put residents in danger, or cause damage to a building, if they delayed work whilst consulting with Leaseholders ? Bearing in mind I am one of the leaseholders or can anyone apply for this ? Do I need to get this dispensation from the FTT before pursuing the other flat owner (or would it be the freeholder ?) for the two thirds share ? I can probably understand that if the work could have been done cheaper the service charge would have been less.

    If I do go to the FTT do I have to pay two fees ? One for the dispensation and one for service charge dispute ? Can I send both forms together ? Will I be able to claim any costs if the FTT rules in my favour ? At the end of the day I feel I am being "bullied" here by the other flat owners - bearing in mind when I was asked to contribute to the main roof I did so without fuss. I really want to get the ruling on the flat roof so that if it ever happens again I can pursue the proper course of action (Consultation etc). Even if I have to pay £200 in fees for the both the dispensation and the service charge dispute but only get £250 in service charges it is still worth it to show the other flat they were wrong to deny responsibility in the first place.
    Last edited by M0untgrove; 27-06-2017, 21:23 PM. Reason: spelling

    Obviously, its up to you. When reading I thought about the £250 which you have identified as a problem relating to S20. As a leaseholder you would be doing work as self help and there is an established procedure which you have not followed.
    My understanding is that it is the Freeholder's responsibility to make sure repairs he/she is liable for are done and the leaseholders pay this through the service charge. The regular statement ' you must look at your lease and what it says'

    As a personal view I think you are risking a lot of hassle with no certain outcome. I would let it go.


      For the future, you have made fundamental mistakes.

      The freeholder has responsibilities to carry out his duties specified in the lease.

      You have an obligation to pay the proportion of service charges specified in that lease as does your neighbour.

      You should not have involved yourself in arranging the repairs yourself.

      For now I would tell the freeholder to pay you immediately, and to then levy service charges according to the lease. If they fail to do so you are basically stuffed. Even if they do follow that route your neighbour may not want to pay more than £250, and the FTT probably won't force them to do so. The freeholder themselves will then be left personally out of pocket, so if I were them I would walk away from the mess you have jointly created.

      No one knows what they are doing here.
      The freeholder is not there to mediate the dispute - they are there do do what they are obliged to do by law, to do the consultations and whatever is required (but since you carried repairs yourself you have set yourself in limbo land). Your neighbour does not owe you money directly, and the interactions are all wrong. You have no business carrying out consultations - nor can you so so. That is not your role here. The FTT will have no interest at this level.

      All the above presumes you don't have a highly unusual lease.


        You can take the freeholder to court for not observing the lease to maintain the building, for failing to do the work and submitting an S20ZA dispensation, but first get a determination from the F.T.T.
        See S20ZA.PDF at

        It is up to the freeholder to pay your bill, as he asked you to fix the roof. and don't take no for an answer.

        Note of caution.
        If your flat was leasehold when you bought it.. ( you were not the first leaseholder of the flat ) it is normal if a leaseholder gets permission to build an extension, that the maintenance of that extension and roof are the responsibility of the leaseholder, and not the freeholder. ( Documentation should support this )


          I agree with some of the above, you have gone about this all wrong.

          As its a common area, its upto the FH to repair and then recoup the money from all the LHs as per the lease, it sounds as if he should also have followed the consultation process (or seek dispensation).

          IF he didnt do this then you would of maybe had the right to sue for damages or as a last resort do the works yourself and recoup the cost from the FH (who may then be able to recoup from the LHs).

          From what you have said its not the case that the FH refused to do the work, he mentioned that you could, now this may of worked IF you came to an agreememnt with the othjer LH FIRST about how to pay for it but There is no legal mechanism for you to recoup the cost from the other LH(s), there is no contract between you and him.

          Im not sure of the legal validity of a FH asking the LH to do the work and then recouping him IF you can prove that the FH did actually say this.
          Advice given is based on my experience representing myself as a leaseholder both in the County Court and at Leasehold Valuation Tribunals.

          I do not accept any liability to you in relation to the advice given.

          It is always recommended you seek further advice from a solicitor or legal expert.

          Always read your lease first, it is the legally binding contract between leaseholder and freeholder.


            Going through the hassle of legal action for £250 seems daft. Just get the roof repaied and be done with it


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