Essential Maintenance

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    Essential Maintenance


    I own a property in a development of 109 freehold properties in 6 flats. Each block has a lift. We do have a Management Agent.

    One flat required a replacement door operator. It took quite a while for the agent to contact and get approval from 50+% of the owners per deed of conditions. Agent was in no hurry as he considered lift as a "convenience". He advised that had 50+% approval not been achieved the lift would not have been repaired. Please be advised; the resident is disabled and unable to climb 12 flights of stairs and as a result was a virtual prisoner in the property. The agent has not carried out a risk assessment.

    Agent does not share my opinion that lift repair is "essential maintenance" and it is not defined in the deeds.
    This is important because essential maintenance does not require pre approval by owners.

    To avoid a similar delay in the future, I have suggested a compromise where agent could request pre-approval for lift repairs. Agent has declined. I would appreciate your advice.

    The 50% approval bit is nonsense. What does the lease say about the lift - either directly or by inference?


      The issue is between property owners and our Managing Agent, not between Landlord and Tennant. In any event the lift is not specifically mentioned in the lease.
      I would suggest any reasonable person would agree a lift is "essential" in a 6 story apartment block. I am hoping someone will have experience of a similar issue and can advise me on how best to proceed.

      I have spooken with a solicitor who wants £500 retainer to confirm his opinion. I am hoping to avoid this expense.

      This managing Agent appears to forget he is employed by the owners.


        The lease is everything!

        a) The lift will almost certainly be dealt with indirectly - it is not necessary for every item to be mentioned in the lease. Does it describe the "building" for example.

        b) Do not assume that reasonableness has anything to do with it

        c) The managing agent acts for the landlord (freeholder) so there will not be a private issue between lessees and agent. The agent's obligation is to obey the instructions they receive from the freeholder (or to refuse to obey those instructions if they are not in accordance with the lease, the law, RICS codes or their professional obligations).

        Do not waste money on solicitors at least for this purpose. Read the lease carefully, write formally to the freeholder (and his agent) and then bring the matter to FTT, probably under the umbrella of appointing a manager (hopefully it will get resolved before that).

        I'd probably also contact your local MP, Council environmental health etc.

        What exactly is this "deed of conditions"?


          In this case the owner, freeholder and landlord is me. We don't have a "lease" as all owners jointly own the freehold. Owners have a "contract" with the agent. The contract does not define essential maintenance.
          Deed of Conditions
          is a legally binding document between all homeowners and their joint responsibilities for the maintenance and upkeep of the communal areas within a development. The deed does not define essential maintenance.


            Sounds like you need a 'lift kitty' doesn't it?

            Your agent is worried about paying out for lift repairs, and not getting reimbursed.


              Are you in Scotland (I want to be my own country) by any vague chance. I think most of us on here are going to be not that clued in about what Scots get up to.... should probably post of the Scottish forum if that's the case.


                Originally posted by JK0 View Post
                Sounds like you need a 'lift kitty' doesn't it?

                Your agent is worried about paying out for lift repairs, and not getting reimbursed.
                Yes, he has confirmed that is his concern. However I would suggest that is the risk any business runs. I run a company do work then invoice, there is always a risk that my client does not pay.

                Agent does have a £300 deposit from all owners and a system for recovering bad debt. Owners authorisation to carry out work is no guarantee that they will actually pay up promptly when they receive the bill.

                I hoped to agree a workable compromise to negate the Agents concerns. A pre-authorisation for essential work to communal property would enable lift repairs to proceed without delay. Perhaps we would need to agree a realistic maximum of say £500 per owner.


                  You probably need to ask in the leasehold section.

                  You must have a lease for the flat even though you own a share of the freehold.
                  Freehold is ownership in perpetuity and covers all of the land and buildings thereon.
                  A lease is the right to occupy (part or all of the freehold interest) for a limited time

                  There are laws and regulations around how much can be pent without first getting the express consent of the flat owners (or a significant proportion of them) and if they are not met, then the cost may not be legally recoverable.

                  My thoughts are:
                  1. Find out how much can be spent without the express consent of the lease-holders (flat owners)
                  2. Find out if there are ways around it (like a vote at an EGM).
                  3. Look at setting up a specific fund for lift maintenance so that money is obtained regularly and leaseholders are not hit with an unexpected large bill.


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