Storage (or rather removal) of items from the communal area

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    Storage (or rather removal) of items from the communal area

    My apologies if this has been covered previously - I'm assuming a common situation but cant find a directly relevant previous post.

    The situation is that one of the Leaseholders in a small block of flats has been storing their wooden furniture in the communal area (single stair out of the 3 story building). This, obvious fire risk, has been going on for years and is noted in the building fire risk assessment as an issue.

    We (I am now a member of the Company that manages the building) have asked the leaseholder remove their belongings on several occasions. The leaseholders tactic seems to be to just ignore the requests. The furniture is either completely worthless or antique furniture of great sentimental value depending on your perspective !!

    My understanding is that we cannot simply dispose of their belongings but rather we have to remove them and safety store them. I believe we could then charge the leaseholder for the storage costs.

    I suspect if we did this they would simply allow us to incur storage fees indefinitely with no intention of taking the furniture back or paying anything. As they are also refusing to pay their full service charge I understand court action will be required.

    Is this the case ? Is there the option to store for a period of time then dispose of ? Can anyone advise on the legal position ?

    Any advice much appreciated


    This isn't uncommon, leaseholders think that owning a flat in a block also means that they own the common areas - They don't, they only have a right of access.

    The housing association that I used to work for would put a label on the item informing the owner that the item would be removed in seven days. The label was put on the furniture because very often we didn't know who owned it. It was then removed to a safe place for 28 days then distroyed. If you know who owns it then you can jump straight to stage two.

    This was done on one tenant who tried to take out an injunction to stop us doing it. He lost!
    The person then took out a private case of harassment against me and the local managers. He lost that too and it cost him £1500 in costs and a flea in his ear for wasting the courts time. The judge indicated that injunctions should only be taken out as a last course of action. Having a conversation is always the preferred method.

    In in the present climate, whilst it is a frustration the owner will never win anything in court regarding you trying to action something from a fire risk assessment.


      Totally agree that moving the items for fire safety would not be challenged - but I am trying to avoid being left with a responsibility for safe-keeping of the furniture (potentially indefinitely). The leaseholder is likely to involve the police/a solicitor if the goods are disposed of - one of those people ho likes to drop 'I have spoken to my solicitor' in their letters.


        I'm not sure that the police will be interested. You don't intend to permanently deprive the owner.

        Clearly, you need to to protect yourself. We had to photographed the note for records. You know who this belongs to, you photograph the letter being put through the door, the photograph must show the door number too. The letter needs to set out your proposed course of action. Removed in seven days, it will be stored for a further 28 days, then disposed of. As regards to storage does the block have any storerooms, some of our did.

        You say that they are likely to say 'they have spoken to their solicitor'. They are likely to don't waste your money.


          As a director of a block management company I am happy to offer the following advice.

          In terms of fire safety in the communal areas of the building, the buck will stop with those responsible for the communal area, whether it be the directors or the members. Should there be a fire with a risk or loss of life, the first people who will be looked at will those running the overall fire safety. There are well documented cases of management companies being complacent, and then there is the ongoing Grenfell enquiry.

          If you have risk assessed that it is a fire risk, you must protect yourself and the other occupiers. If this leaseholder has no right to store things in this location, then once notice is given (I would suggest 48 hours) they are stored and costs are bourne by that leaseholder for storage. A leasehold solicitor will assist you with this. Regarding your concern regarding him contacting a) the police or b) a solicitor - a) they won't be interested, there is no intention to permanently deprive. It will be classed as a civil issue at the first point of call and he will be told to go away - b) no solicitor will put their name to challenging a fire risk assessment. He has stored property on land that isn't his to store upon. If someone dumped a sofa on your driveway you'd be able to remove it. The government has released a whole host of advice over the last 2 years regarding storage in communal areas.


            Well the good news is that a fairly formal letter saying we would remove and dispose of the furniture after 28 days, at the leaseholders expense, seems to have done the trick - the major items are gone, and the remainder look like just bits and pieces awaiting disposal.
            If not removed these few loose items can easily be stored safety in the bin room


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