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  • FIRST POST
    • Woteva_29
    • By Woteva_29 12th Jul 17, 2:21 PM
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    Woteva_29
    Leasehold Flat Section 20 Issue
    • #1
    • 12th Jul 17, 2:21 PM
    Leasehold Flat Section 20 Issue 12th Jul 17 at 2:21 PM
    Hi All,

    Hope someone might be able to help me a with a little bit of advice please.

    I own a leasehold flat and I have just been given a section 20 for some work which will be undertook. Part of the work is repairs to a external fire escape at the rear of the building. There are 4 flats, including mine, two at the front of the building and two at the back.

    I have queried with the management company about whether I need to pay towards the fire escape work as I have no access, only the two back flats. They have replied by saying because it is part of the building I do need to pay towards it.

    So my questions are -
    1. Do I need to pay towards something I cannot access and isn't communal and
    2. the lease states that I have, ' The right to use the fire escape at the rear of the Block in case of emergency'. Is this binding? Because I cannot use them without going through someone else's flat and obviously the door is locked at all times.

    I am selling my flat and I am trying to work out the amount I will be liable for. Any ideas or thoughts on the matter would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank You
Page 1
    • BBH123
    • By BBH123 12th Jul 17, 2:32 PM
    • 477 Posts
    • 718 Thanks
    BBH123
    • #2
    • 12th Jul 17, 2:32 PM
    • #2
    • 12th Jul 17, 2:32 PM
    Without seeing the Lease it would be hard to give a difinitive answer but normally a building is divided into flats and each flat bears the cost of buildings maintenance and it doesnt matter which part needs repairs / improvements etc.

    For example you may own a top floor flat but you would still pay towards basement repairs and likewise a basement flat would pay towards roof repairs.

    Secondly I would question the fire safety route as this should not be locked and in the event of fire how would you get out ?
    • Woteva_29
    • By Woteva_29 12th Jul 17, 2:40 PM
    • 7 Posts
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    Woteva_29
    • #3
    • 12th Jul 17, 2:40 PM
    • #3
    • 12th Jul 17, 2:40 PM
    Thank you for your reply.

    I have read the lease and it is very vague! I understand that the roof/walls etc. should be for everyone to contribute to but seeing as I am supposed to have access to the external fire escape stairs and I cannot, I don't see that I should pay towards it.

    To be honest I have lived at the flat for two years and never knew there were fire escape stairs!

    The main front door of the flat has a protected stairway and we have egress windows, so I thought that was enough to satisfy fire regulations. And if this is the case and the flats do not require the fire escape stairs, then whats the point of repairing them?

    The reason it is locked is because it is someone else's flat I would have to go through.
    • eddddy
    • By eddddy 12th Jul 17, 3:04 PM
    • 5,408 Posts
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    eddddy
    • #4
    • 12th Jul 17, 3:04 PM
    • #4
    • 12th Jul 17, 3:04 PM
    Typically, the way leases are structured is...

    The freeholder has a number of responsibilities, which are explained in the lease.

    Any costs the freeholder incurs undertaking those responsibilities are recharged to leaseholders - normally on a straightforward percentage split.

    So the situation probably is...

    If the lease says the freeholder is responsible for maintaining the fire escape, the freeholder can probably charge you a percentage of that cost.

    But you need to read your lease to make sure.
    • Woteva_29
    • By Woteva_29 12th Jul 17, 3:07 PM
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    Woteva_29
    • #5
    • 12th Jul 17, 3:07 PM
    • #5
    • 12th Jul 17, 3:07 PM
    Thank you.

    I will give it another read tonight. From memory I don't think it specifically mentioned the fire escape.

    I am just a bit confused as to why it says in the lease we have right of access and we do not. Any ideas?
    • DumbMuscle
    • By DumbMuscle 12th Jul 17, 3:11 PM
    • 196 Posts
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    DumbMuscle
    • #6
    • 12th Jul 17, 3:11 PM
    • #6
    • 12th Jul 17, 3:11 PM
    Thank you.

    I will give it another read tonight. From memory I don't think it specifically mentioned the fire escape.

    I am just a bit confused as to why it says in the lease we have right of access and we do not. Any ideas?
    Originally posted by Woteva_29
    Because someone didn't think it through when using the same lease for all flats?

    You could challenge the lack of access. The best result you could hope for would probably be getting the fire escape extended to somewhere you can access, at even more cost!

    Do you at least have a suitable fire escape route from your flat?
    • Woteva_29
    • By Woteva_29 12th Jul 17, 3:17 PM
    • 7 Posts
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    Woteva_29
    • #7
    • 12th Jul 17, 3:17 PM
    • #7
    • 12th Jul 17, 3:17 PM
    Thank you DumbMuscle.

    I thought it was either an oversight or the stairs should be accessible. If it is the latter than this is not physically possible as we are at the front of the building over a commercial property which is connected to more properties.

    I'm hoping they come back and say we do not need to pay and that's the end of it.

    The escape route would be through our front door onto the communal landing, down some stairs and out through the front door.

    The joys of having a leasehold flat eh?!
    • Soundgirlrocks
    • By Soundgirlrocks 12th Jul 17, 4:31 PM
    • 446 Posts
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    Soundgirlrocks
    • #8
    • 12th Jul 17, 4:31 PM
    • #8
    • 12th Jul 17, 4:31 PM
    Thank you.

    I will give it another read tonight. From memory I don't think it specifically mentioned the fire escape.
    Originally posted by Woteva_29
    It doesn't have to, if it forms part of the fabric of the building then you are all liable for a share in its maintenance.
    Last edited by Soundgirlrocks; 12-07-2017 at 4:33 PM.
    • Woteva_29
    • By Woteva_29 12th Jul 17, 5:02 PM
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    Woteva_29
    • #9
    • 12th Jul 17, 5:02 PM
    • #9
    • 12th Jul 17, 5:02 PM
    I would class fabric of the building as the shell of the building and includes floors, walls, roofs, windows and doors. I suppose its all down to interpretation when it comes to leases. As I say the lease is rather vague and as you can see from above about right to access it, it would seem as if they have copy and pasted from another lease.

    I supposed my whole point is why refurbish external stairs if only one flat can use them and they are not required anyway? They only lead to an alley - no garden. Or if they are required, why can I not access them.

    I have emailed the managing agent and asked how I access them. I know full well that I cannot access them, unless they give me a key to the flat next door. I suspect my neighbours will not be happy with this.
    • Soundgirlrocks
    • By Soundgirlrocks 12th Jul 17, 5:58 PM
    • 446 Posts
    • 641 Thanks
    Soundgirlrocks
    I would class fabric of the building as the shell of the building and includes floors, walls, roofs, windows and doors. I suppose its all down to interpretation when it comes to leases. As I say the lease is rather vague and as you can see from above about right to access it, it would seem as if they have copy and pasted from another lease.
    Originally posted by Woteva_29
    If its attached to the building its part of the fabric of the building

    I supposed my whole point is why refurbish external stairs if only one flat can use them and they are not required anyway? They only lead to an alley - no garden. Or if they are required, why can I not access them.
    Originally posted by Woteva_29
    The fire risk assessment will tell you if they are deemed necessary. The fact you don't have access isn't relevant to its maintenance, you have a joint responsibility to maintain it. The basement flat in our building doesn't use the communal hall as they have their own entrance but they still pay towards the cleaning as all flats have equal liability.
    • always_sunny
    • By always_sunny 12th Jul 17, 7:25 PM
    • 3,456 Posts
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    always_sunny
    you need to read the lease. In my lease it states I need to contribute to portion of whatever on the building that I may not be able to access but form core part of the building.

    Remember you don't own the flat, you own the right to use it from the FH for x number of years.
    They own the lot and for the lot to exist a fire escape needs to be in place.
    Expat with an EU passport
    • G_M
    • By G_M 12th Jul 17, 10:18 PM
    • 41,886 Posts
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    G_M
    As explained above, the lease probably refers to maintenance of the fabric of the building (or similar wording) and may also refer o communal areas etc.

    The fact you personally don't have access to the fire escape is irrelevant. The ground floor flat has little benefit from the roof, but probably has to contribute to the maintenance cost. Similarly if there were a lift, the cost would probably be shared out even though the ground floor leaseholder has litte benefit.
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