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  • FIRST POST
    • DEFERREDPENS
    • By DEFERREDPENS 15th May 17, 6:40 PM
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    DEFERREDPENS
    communal road repairs
    • #1
    • 15th May 17, 6:40 PM
    communal road repairs 15th May 17 at 6:40 PM
    we live in a cul-de-sac of 7 houses which has a private road and according to restrictive covenants in the deeds, each house is responsible for a share of the road repair costs. One of the houses is let out via a letting agent and owned by a person who is non resident. If all the other houses agree to the repairs but we cannot get the absent owner's agreement, can we legally force the letting agent to pay his share out of the letting income?
    Thank you for any advice
Page 1
    • G_M
    • By G_M 15th May 17, 7:29 PM
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    G_M
    • #2
    • 15th May 17, 7:29 PM
    • #2
    • 15th May 17, 7:29 PM
    You would have to

    a) take the owner to court
    b) obtain judgement for the amount claimed
    c) if owner did not pay you could return to court and request an 'attachment of earnings' against the rental income, which the agent should then pay
    • DEFERREDPENS
    • By DEFERREDPENS 17th May 17, 11:35 AM
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    DEFERREDPENS
    • #3
    • 17th May 17, 11:35 AM
    • #3
    • 17th May 17, 11:35 AM
    Thank you G_M for your reply.
    Just another thought on this - if we all could not agree how to share the repair costs (e.g. because some owners use parts of the road more than others) is there an arbitration process which we could use or would it be via the small claims court?
    Thanks again
    • Alter ego
    • By Alter ego 17th May 17, 11:44 AM
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    Alter ego
    • #4
    • 17th May 17, 11:44 AM
    • #4
    • 17th May 17, 11:44 AM
    Thank you G_M for your reply.
    Just another thought on this - if we all could not agree how to share the repair costs (e.g. because some owners use parts of the road more than others) is there an arbitration process which we could use or would it be via the small claims court?
    Thanks again
    Originally posted by DEFERREDPENS
    Surely that's laid down in the covenants?
    Ignore me if you like, it's not the real me anyway.
    • DEFERREDPENS
    • By DEFERREDPENS 20th May 17, 6:01 PM
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    DEFERREDPENS
    • #5
    • 20th May 17, 6:01 PM
    • #5
    • 20th May 17, 6:01 PM
    yes it is but there is but there is a section of our road which is labelled 'to be shared equally by all', and a section which the covenant says is to be shared 'according to use' - and in case of dispute that the local council should arbitrate, however the local council no longer performs this service and they have advised us to take legal advice. Obviously we would like to find a low cost arbitration process if such a thing exists. Thanks again for any thoughts
    • parking_question_chap
    • By parking_question_chap 20th May 17, 6:13 PM
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    parking_question_chap
    • #6
    • 20th May 17, 6:13 PM
    • #6
    • 20th May 17, 6:13 PM
    Could you not just ask the agent to contact the owner on your behalf? It might turn out they are perfectly happy to pay their share. Save spending money on legal fees.
    • EachPenny
    • By EachPenny 20th May 17, 6:34 PM
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    EachPenny
    • #7
    • 20th May 17, 6:34 PM
    • #7
    • 20th May 17, 6:34 PM
    yes it is but there is but there is a section of our road which is labelled 'to be shared equally by all', and a section which the covenant says is to be shared 'according to use'
    Originally posted by DEFERREDPENS
    Is this labelling on a plan of the street?

    I cannot give legal advice, and without seeing the whole of the deeds it is impossible to be absolutely sure, but in some examples I saw at work the two terms you use were intended to mean that part of the street was used to access all the properties, and part was only used to access certain properties.

    In other words, 'according to use' means whether or not it provides access to a particular property, not how many times a particular property's owner actually drives over it.

    For example on a straight road the person at the end of the cul-de-sac would have sole responsibilty for the cost of repairs from the end to the point where the second property's driveway joins. Each property is added to the shared responsibility as they 'join' the street. From the point the final property is added, all properties are equally responsible up to the junction with the public highway. Hence a section where the costs are 'shared equally by all'. This may not be applicable in your case, so you would need a qualified legal opinion.

    A further complicating factor is whether the repairs require the entire street to be resurfaced, or if only a small portion (or portions) needs to be repaired. Working out who pays what for each part of the repair becomes complicated, and it might be for this reason the local authority is identified as a means of arbitration.

    I will need to dig out my highway law books as there is something in the back of my mind about highway authorities having a legal obligation to settle disputes over shared private roads. I cannot remember the detail, but it has something to do with an obscure part of highways legislation. Possibly linked to their powers to adopt roads if the condition they are in poses a hazard to the public. Most councils today are cut to the bone and often say they cannot provide services they are obliged to, sometimes unfortunately due to a lack of awareness and knowledge of the staff making such decisions

    Edit: As it might take a while to find my books, I have a feeling the relevant legislation is in Part XI (Making up of Private Streets) of the Highways Act 1980 - but a quick look through that doesn't give an obvious route for residents on a private street to require the authority to mediate. The only thing I can think of is if residents could persuade the authority that serving a notice under Section 230(1) was necessary because the state of the road was so bad it was a danger, and without the reluctant property owner contributing the other property owners cannot afford to proceed. The 'hassle' factor of this might make an authority inclined to write to the reluctant owner and ask them to co-operate with the other residents to avoid the need for official involvement and all the fun that comes with that! But the condition of the street would have to pose a genuine danger, not just looking a bit untidy.
    Last edited by EachPenny; 20-05-2017 at 7:09 PM. Reason: Highways Act additional info
    "In the future, everyone will be rich for 15 minutes"
    • DEFERREDPENS
    • By DEFERREDPENS 20th May 17, 7:16 PM
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    DEFERREDPENS
    • #8
    • 20th May 17, 7:16 PM
    • #8
    • 20th May 17, 7:16 PM
    Thanks again for the quick replies. My concern is if we cannot agree on a fair share of the repairs in the road section which we are supposed to share 'according/proportionate to use'. For example, one corner in the cul-de-sac is particularly badly damaged because the heavier vehicles (such as refuse trucks and delivery vehicles) turn around there, and such vehicles are servicing everyone even though some house owners live further down the cul-de-sac so don't drive their own cars over this corner - but my view is that we all should make a contribution to the repair costs of this corner based on own use plus also a small contribution because of the general service/delivery vehicles. If we needed a third party to help adjudicate what would the best procedure be in view of the fact that the local council no longer perform this role?
    • DEFERREDPENS
    • By DEFERREDPENS 20th May 17, 7:33 PM
    • 12 Posts
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    DEFERREDPENS
    • #9
    • 20th May 17, 7:33 PM
    • #9
    • 20th May 17, 7:33 PM
    Thanks again for the quick replies. My concern is if we cannot agree on a fair share of the repairs in the road section which we are supposed to share 'according/proportionate to use'. For example, one corner in the cul-de-sac is particularly badly damaged because the heavier vehicles (such as refuse trucks and delivery vehicles) turn around there, and such vehicles are servicing everyone even though some house owners live further down the cul-de-sac so don't drive their own cars over this corner - but my view is that we all should make a contribution to the repair costs of this corner based on own use plus also a small contribution because of the general service/delivery vehicles. If we needed a third party to help adjudicate what would the best procedure be in view of the fact that the local council no longer perform this role?
    • EachPenny
    • By EachPenny 20th May 17, 8:07 PM
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    EachPenny
    ...but my view is that we all should make a contribution to the repair costs of this corner based on own use plus also a small contribution because of the general service/delivery vehicles. If we needed a third party to help adjudicate what would the best procedure be in view of the fact that the local council no longer perform this role?
    Originally posted by DEFERREDPENS
    But this is the point I was making above - you need a professional legal opinion on what the covenants require. If you decide to depart from the legal position because some residents feel an alternative split is fairer then you open up a can of worms. The residents who stand to pay less through an alternative arrangement will of course support it, but any of the ones expected to pay more than they are obliged to may object and hold the whole process up. Once your 'fairer' approach has been suggested then the gainers will feel hard done by if others object and you could end up in an endless (and expensive) dispute about costs.

    If the legal position is that the person nearest the public highway is not obliged to pay for maintenance of other parts of the street then it doesn't matter that a delivery vehicle going to their address may drive on the bits of the street they don't pay for. They would not be legally required to pay, but may feel it fair to pay a bit extra. But as soon as you depart from the legal position you start to create problems for yourselves - what happens next time if the repairs are more expensive and the 'volunters' decide not to contribute again? The legal position won't necessarily have changed, but the expectations of the other residents will have, and all this may do is to lead to bitterness and resentment between neighbours.

    If you are one of the residents near the damaged corner and in asking the question are hoping to be able to reduce your contribution towards the cost of the repair then bear in mind that having good relationships with your neighbours is invaluable. The questions you are now asking are very different to what you were saying in your original post.
    "In the future, everyone will be rich for 15 minutes"
    • martindow
    • By martindow 21st May 17, 11:45 AM
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    martindow
    Another complication is that some of the people may not think maintenance or repair is necessary. Some could agree on the apportioning of costs but consider it to be a hypothetical expense far in the future.

    Is it a tarmac road or a gravel track? If the latter, a few tonnes of chippings spread along it to fill in the worst holes is fairly cheap and you may think it worth doing whether everyone contributes or not. If it's tarmac and you are proposing thousands of Pounds-worth of work I would expect a lot of resistance to paying.
    • G_M
    • By G_M 21st May 17, 1:35 PM
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    G_M
    Rather than speculating, you need to get everyone together and find out what their views actually are.

    Tea and cake. (better still in this case: beer wine and cheese)

    Avoid legal advice, legal action, arbitration etc at all costs if you possibly can.

    I'd suggest

    * some effort in getting everyone together on an agreed evening to discuss road maintenance. Not easy I know, and with groups like this there's a tenandancy for one person to have to take on the responsibility (often at some considerable expense of time, stress and increasing resentment)!

    * a few days before said meeting, circulate to each house:
    - an agenda
    - 2 or 3 quotes for the total cost of work
    - copies of the Deeds & Plans
    -2 or 3 alternative approaches for dividing the costs, for discussion

    At the meeting, I'd also suggest you have to hand some idea of what the legal approach would cost, to encourage people o try seriously to reach agreement.

    Keep proper notes of whatever is agreed.
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