Been asked before, but... removal of items?

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    Been asked before, but... removal of items?

    Managing agent wrote to Leaseholders several months (last year) ago after fire safety inspection "recommended" the removal of items from non-demised communal landing cupboards. These cupboards house a single electric meter for the adjacent flat, along with rising pipes etc for services. In my case, I need to access the cupboard to read my electric meter.

    Anyway.... the letter from the Managing Agents stated that on a certain date (I binned the letter as it wasn't relevant to me in particular) a secondary inspection would take place and anything in these cupboards would be removed. One presumed that this meant on the day of inspection items would be removed as no other date or notice was given.

    Indeed, the agents 'Surveyor' visited the premises on the date in question, and I observed him taking photographs of inside the cupboards.

    No further letters have been received stating the findings of this secondary inspection or giving dates on when contractors would move things out. Since that initial letter, new leaseholders have purchased flats, so are not aware it was ever sent.

    Today, months after the one and only letter, a contractor turned up and started removing other items (not belonging to me). I asked him if he was taking an inventory of what he was removing and from where. He advised me he was not. I called the Managing Agents and asked what would happen to the items. I was advised they will be disposed of.

    I asked under what authority the items were being removed as they were personal belongings, to which the reply was they were acting for their client (the freeholder I presume).

    I think that the Managing Agent may have fallen foul of 'regulations' here somewhere?

    The residents here despise them, and they have a dreadful reputation in the town, but in the absence of knowing how to contact other Leaseholders to force a change of agent, we are a bit stuck with them for now.

    A few of us want to challenge their actions, so I am trying to find out what they should have done, what they didn't do, and what can be done about it. I understand there is a 1977 act which may apply, but my research seems to only bring up mention of pram, bikes, shoes etc in halls and corridors, not items in cupboards that are not causing obstruction, per se.

    Most of the residents are saying they simply forgot to remove items

    There is nothing in the Lease that I can find which says these non-demised cupboards cannot be used for storage. There is a clause which says about not keeping bikes etc in hallways, landings and what have you, but that's it. Bikes are stored in the footwell of the stairs, and have not been removed today. It seems the Managing Agents are being 'selective'.

    I'm up for a good showdown with them, because they are utterly useless along with rude staff, unanswered phone calls, emails etc and will be looking to change our managing agents at the first opportunity.

    Appreciate this is a Landlord forum, and I'm a lowly leaseholder, but can anyone offer some input here?







    #2
    Any items in those cupboards will be trespassing. If the lease does not give explicit permission, those cupboards are off limits to leaseholders.

    If they are meter cupboards, they have an ignition source, so, unless the cupboards have at least 30 minutes fire protection, contents will constitute a fire hazard, unless they are metal or ceramic.

    The new leaseholders don't need telling they can't put things there because they never had permission to do so in the first place.

    I presume the 1977 Act is the Tort Interference with Goods Act. This provides general procedures that can be followed to get rid of trespassing material without being liable to criminal charges. Basically adequate notice has to be given and if the items have any value, the proceeds of their sale, after storage and other costs, has to be returned to their owner. It is the legislation that buy to let landlords use to resolve the problem when their tenant doesn't clear the property of personal items when they leave, or leaves rubbish behind.

    Bicycles are generally low fire risk. The issue with bicycles is people are liable to trip over them (even when not escaping from a fire).

    Normally leases do not permit anything, but some people operate managed policies where the lease is not enforced for some items, as long as they don't get out of control.
    Last edited by leaseholder64; 09-05-2019, 14:20 PM. Reason: Clarify target of preposition "they".

    Comment


      #3
      Also, the original notice wasn't saying you could remove things just before the deadline. It was saying remove them now, so forgetting the deadline is not a good excuse.

      Comment


        #4
        Thanks for the clarity. Shame, the residents here would have like a reason to get rid of these people. However, what are there responsibilities in respect of the items removed? Can they just dispose of them, which the letter said they would, and which they have confirmed they will?

        Comment


          #5
          Their responsibility is get them out of the communal area, or risk prosecution under criminal law.

          In doing so they have to comply with the 1977 Act, which means they must return any net profit from the disposal to the owners of the items and give adequate notice before acting (although, if they found a can of petrol, or a gas canister, their duty would probably be to remove it to a safe place immediately)

          Based on this one incident, they sound to be good managing agents as they are doing something that is likely to be unpopular, and is likely to cost them money overall, because they have a duty to do so.

          Comment


            #6
            Considering a secondary issue, you can normally only influence the choice of managing agent if you are a member of an RMC or an RTM (or you in the process of forming an RTM). If the company already exists, and you are a member, write to them giving the proper information requesting to see the register of members. They can only refuse by getting a court order, and they have limited time in which to comply.

            You should look up the information required, but it is basically the purpose, and whether you will give the information to someone else, and if so who.

            If they refuse, without a court order (an no RMC in its right mind would seek one) I imagine a complaint to Companies House would result in a severe ticking off.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by leaseholder64 View Post
              T

              Based on this one incident, they sound to be good managing agents as they are doing something that is likely to be unpopular, and is likely to cost them money overall, because they have a duty to do so.
              The problem is, they do things like this, because they have to, but they don't do the things they are being paid by the Leaseholders to do, i.e. regular window cleaning, cleaning of communal areas, replacing light bulbs etc. They are also absolutely dreadful to speak with being rude, terse, unhelpful or simply ignoring emails.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by leaseholder64 View Post
                Considering a secondary issue, you can normally only influence the choice of managing agent if you are a member of an RMC or an RTM (or you in the process of forming an RTM). If the company already exists, and you are a member, write to them giving the proper information requesting to see the register of members. They can only refuse by getting a court order, and they have limited time in which to comply.

                You should look up the information required, but it is basically the purpose, and whether you will give the information to someone else, and if so who.

                If they refuse, without a court order (an no RMC in its right mind would seek one) I imagine a complaint to Companies House would result in a severe ticking off.
                All Leaseholders here are members of a Residents Association, of which we have 3 serving Directors. I am not (yet) a Director, but I will be putting myself forward when the next election comes up. It will be my intention, as it is now, to propose that we look to source an alternative Managing Agent moving forward.

                Who do I write to? Directors of the Residents Association, or the Managing Agents? What am I asking for? A list of Leaseholders (most do not reside at the property but are buy-to-let owners)? Can I then write to all Leaseholders with the proposal, urging them to lobby the Directors to consider the proposal?

                Comment


                  #9
                  The company's registered office, which must be included on all commercial correspondence from them, but can also be found from https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/

                  You may find that that is the managing agent, but if so and if they fail to comply when asked by that route they will be committing a criminal offence.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    The agents acting as such may have the right to remove the goods from the cupboards, but they can only deal with them in accordance with the 1997 Act. Appropriating someone's goods and dealing with them as if they are your own is theft. I quote form the Theft Act 1968:

                    Section 1(1): A person is guilty of theft if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it [...]

                    Section 6(1): A person appropriating property belonging to another without meaning the other permanently to lose the thing itself is nevertheless to be regarded as having the intention of permanently depriving the other of it if his intention is to treat the thing as his own to dispose of regardless of the other’s rights [...]

                    Inform the police. If they say it is a civil matter quote the Theft Act and 1977 Act and say you will come back tomorrow when a senior officer or the CPS has considered the position.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      The OP can't press charges for theft as their property wasn't taken.

                      I don't think we know enough to be sure that the property taken, but not covered by the original notice, is not being kept safe.

                      One of the things I believe you will be asked for when you sell a property is copies of any notices received.

                      The intent of the original deadline would have been on or after, not just on.

                      If you make the agent too afraid of removing stuff, fly tips are not going to get cleared.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by leaseholder64 View Post
                        The OP can't press charges for theft as their property wasn't taken.
                        True, but he can still report the crime. Obviously better if someone whose goods have been taken goes along.

                        Originally posted by leaseholder64 View Post
                        I don't think we know enough to be sure that the property taken, but not covered by the original notice, is not being kept safe.
                        True. As the notice said the goods would be disposed of I assumed that was the case. Obvously wise to ask where the goods are before going to the police.

                        Whilst we do not know the precise wording of the notice It has to be doubted if it complies with the 1977 Act - see here: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1977/32/schedule/1 Even if it does, I think it has to be invalid if served before the agent took possession of the goods.

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