PLEASE READ BEFORE POSTING

Hello Forumites! In order to help keep the Forum a useful, safe and friendly place for our users, discussions around non-MoneySaving matters are not permitted per the Forum rules. While we understand that mentioning house prices may sometimes be relevant to a user's specific MoneySaving situation, we ask that you please avoid veering into broad, general debates about the market, the economy and politics, as these can unfortunately lead to abusive or hateful behaviour. Threads that are found to have derailed into wider discussions may be removed. Users who repeatedly disregard this may have their Forum account banned. Please also avoid posting personally identifiable information, including links to your own online property listing which may reveal your address. Thank you for your understanding.

Freeholder ignoring me - not making repairs

Hi,

I bought a leasehold flat in London 5 years ago, and i've had nothing but problems with it, mainly leaks and non responsive freeholders.

I've contacted the freeholder 4 times now to complain about guttering which needs fixed as when it rains very heavily water leaks into my bedroom. They havent responded to a single email. I gave them until 30 November to at least get back to me with a solution.

I havent received a service charge request in 4 years, so when i complain about the general state of disrepair of the building they will normally just say, nobody has paid the service charge, so they arent going to do any repairs. 

Is there anything i can really do? Im thinking about just getting the work done myself, repair my flat and sell up. Im worried that if i pursue them through the tribunal etc, they will just make selling my flat impossible.

Comments

  • Emmia
    Emmia Posts: 2,930
    First Anniversary First Post Photogenic Name Dropper
    Forumite
    Do you have a management company?
  • hazyjo
    hazyjo Posts: 15,462
    First Anniversary Name Dropper First Post Photogenic
    Forumite
    Are you sure they haven't died?! Do you have a postal address to write to? Can you google them to see if there's anything online?

    Do you agree no service charges are paid? So they replied about that, but not about repairs?

    What about ground rent?

    Are you sure the gutters aren't just blocked? How many storeys up?

    How many flats? Can you all buy the freeholder out?
    2023 wins: *must start comping again!*
  • The management company and the freeholders are the same people.

    They haven't died, its a whole family that own the freehold, they also own the shop below the flats.

    No, there should be an annual service charge, but they never request one, that way they think they can get out of making any repairs to the building. The only time they have asked me for one was during lockdown, and it was all wrong. Ive asked them countless times to repair the common area, paint it etc... but they wont as nobody has paid the service charge. My solicitor at that time said the freeholders don't have a clue what they are doing.

    I got a new lease with no ground rent.

    The gutter probably is just blocked, but i cant get to it.

    6 flats, only 2 of us that own the flats live there, the rest are rented out, I have no idea who owns the other flats. 
  • RAS
    RAS Posts: 32,438
    Name Dropper First Anniversary First Post
    Forumite
    Ok, start by going to the Land Registry. Leasehold is a bit more complex but even so you can get basic ownership details for £3 a throw. Might be worth it? 

    Just hope the leaseholds aren't owned by family members.
    The person who has not made a mistake, has made nothing
  • eddddy
    eddddy Posts: 16,109
    First Anniversary First Post Name Dropper
    Forumite

    I havent received a service charge request in 4 years, so when i complain about the general state of disrepair of the building they will normally just say, nobody has paid the service charge, so they arent going to do any repairs. 


    If there is no service charge paid - is the building insured? (If it is, who's paying for it?)

    The legal options for dealing with a freeholder who is breaching the lease (by not doing repairs) are:

    • 1) you could probably get a court order that instructs the freeholder to do the repairs - but that's likely to be super-expensive in legal fees.
    • 2) You can probably 'gang-up' with the other leaseholders and take over the "Right to Manage" the building. So then you could arrange all the repairs. (But you'll need over 50% of the leaseholders to participate)
    • 3) you can serve notice on the freeholder saying that you will ask a Tribunal to appoint a manager for the building - unless the freeholder repairs the guttering, etc
    • 4) There's also a common law right known as ‘self-help’ - but I don't know how easy / difficult that is to use in practice.

    Self-help arises where a landlord is in default of its repair obligation, allowing the leaseholder to take matters into their own hands.
    ...
    When the right to self-help arises, it provides leaseholders with an ‘implied licence’ to carry out the work.

    Link: https://www.lease-advice.org/article/self-help-a-useful-option-for-the-unhappy-leaseholder/ 



    Info on "Right to Manage":  https://www.lease-advice.org/advice-guide/right-manage/

    Info on "Appointing  a Manager":  https://www.lease-advice.org/advice-guide/what-does-appointing-a-manager-mean/




  • Repairing this issue yourself could also be cheaper than the start of service charge fees.

    But only you can decide this. 
    "I can lead you to the money saving well but cannot make you drink from it"

    As mum always said "don't respond to imbeciles just ignore them" wise words mum 
  • eddddy
    eddddy Posts: 16,109
    First Anniversary First Post Name Dropper
    Forumite
    edited 28 November 2023 at 9:48AM
    Repairing this issue yourself could also be cheaper than the start of service charge fees.

    But only you can decide this. 

    A lot of freeholders simply charge leaseholders on an "as-required" basis - either informally, or as formal service charges.

    e.g. The freeholder writes informally to the 6 leaseholders saying something like:

    "I've got a quote of £450 for repairing the gutter from ABC Ltd. If you agree to me going ahead with this repair, transfer the £75 each to me, and I'll book ABC Ltd once I've received the full £450 from you all."


    And/or if some leaseholders refuse to pay,  go a step further and send out formal Service Charge demands to each leaseholder:

    "Service Charge Demand
    Repairs to gutter £75"

    ...but there are a few more legal hoops to jump through with that approach.


Meet your Ambassadors

Categories

  • All Categories
  • 341.6K Banking & Borrowing
  • 249.7K Reduce Debt & Boost Income
  • 449K Spending & Discounts
  • 233.6K Work, Benefits & Business
  • 605.9K Mortgages, Homes & Bills
  • 172.4K Life & Family
  • 246.7K Travel & Transport
  • 1.5M Hobbies & Leisure
  • 15.8K Discuss & Feedback
  • 15.1K Coronavirus Support Boards