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Stuart J
Stuart J, Solicitor
Category: UK Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 19625
Experience:  PGD Law. 20 years legal profession, 6 as partner in High Street practice
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Hello, this is another leaking roof question! My partner and

Resolved Question:

Hello, this is another leaking roof question! My partner and recently moved in and we have a healthy 125 year lease beginning last year. The two other flats below have let their leases run down to 69 years each. When the share of the freehold was recently offered to us I did a lot of groundwork finding things out. One of the flats backed out as they simply have no way of raising the funds. The other flat would not, whatever I tried, cooperate or respond - without being hostile, they were simply, I think, very flakey.
We took over our flat when the old lady here died. She also owned the title lease, and that has now been placed in the care of a company of solicitors. Since letting the freehold offer slide, I cannot get a single word out of them. It is currently raining inside our flat and all the work we had done internally is being eroded. I don't know what is happening with the freehold, but we can no longer afford it and also I don't trust my neighbours to cooperate with enfranchisement anymore. The skint neighbours will not be able to pay up for roof repair and it doesn't seem fair that there is no way to enforce it. I have had a quote done for the work and in Jan this year the company of solicitors said they would also get one, but since then nothing. So, the problem is, if we try to get the work done without whoever it is that holds the title lease, I would not be able to get any of the other flats to pay for the work. Our lease, and the other flats' leases (which I have read) say that maintenance work is up to the freeholder and will be collected in service charge. No service charge has been collected in over 30 years.
How can I get my roof fixed and without fronting all the money?
Thanks,
Anna
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: UK Property Law
Expert:  Stuart J replied 9 months ago.
In the lease, whose responsibility is the roof?
Is there a liability to pay service charge?
What about ground rent?
Is there any other background please?
Customer: replied 9 months ago.

The roof is the responsibility of the freeholder.


All three leases say service charges will be collected by the freeholder. For the past three decades the old lady that lived in this flat collected around £50 a year from the other two flats in service charge, in cash, which she then just kept and there has been no maintenance work at all in that time.


Our ground rent is £250 per annum, the other two flats pay £50 a year each.


Currently I don't know who really officially owns the freehold, only that a firm of solicitors were looking after a trust/the old lady's estate and that they offered us the freehold earlier this year, as mentioned above. One of my neighbours is questioning whether the solicitors has the right to sell the freehold at all. I'm a little in the dark.

Expert:  Stuart J replied 9 months ago.


You can find out who owns the freehold by getting
the Official Copies of Title here, they cost just 3 pounds. https://eservices.landregistry.gov.uk/www/wps/portal/!ut/p/b1/04_SjzS0tDQwMTIxMjLXj9CPykssy0xPLMnMz0vMAfGjzOKNjSxMDA1NjDwsjM3MDTxN3dyNDUNMjQ1MjPWDU_P0c6McFQH3SLFU/

please
bear in mind that if the freehold has been sold relatively recently, the land
registry may not yet have been updated.



This is
obviously the landlord's responsibility although it is highly likely that if
there are three leaseholders, then there is a provision in the lease for the
cost to be recovered from the leaseholders. You need to check the lease.



If the
work is over £250 per leaseholder, the freeholder must serve a section 20 notice
advising the cost of the repairs.



The
freeholder is responsible for any damage caused by the leaks caused by the lack
of repair.



When the
freehold is being sold, the freeholder has to offer it to the leaseholders
under the Right of First Refusal and if that did not happen, then the sale of
the freehold can be set aside. At least 50% of the owners must want to
participate in the purchase.

There is plenty of reading on the right of first refusal here http://www.lease-advice.org/publications/documents/document.asp?item=16

 



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Customer: replied 9 months ago.

Hello,


This information is useful thank you, XXXXX XXXXX still need to get to the nub of how I can get my exterior roof fixed as soon as possible and get my neighbours to contribute their share! Is there a section something-or-other I can quote to the freeholder? In any case, the freeholder will not bear the cost as it says in my lease that all costs will be passed down to the leaseholders. In which case will I get into trouble if I organise the work myself given that I cannot elicit a reply from the freeholder? Can I submit a bill for the damage to our interior to the freeholder?


I checked as advised with land registry and the freehold is owned by the firm of solicitors, (possibly in a trust - I'm not sure I understand the language). Does this mean we were denied first refusal when the old lady who previously owned it died?


Thank you.


 

Expert:  Stuart J replied 9 months ago.


If this is a flat conversion, and not purpose-built, and the
landlord lived on the premises, there is no right of first refusal to buy the
freehold.

This link explains http://www.lease-advice.org/publications/documents/document.asp?item=11



if it is the responsibility of the freeholder to repair the roof,
it is just that.



It is for the freeholder to recover the costs from the
leaseholders.



You are entitled to sue the freeholder for damage to the flat
which has been caused by want of repair.



You can get an injunction against the freeholder to compel them
to carry out the repairs. They are solicitors so they should know what the
score is and I suggest a letter from a solicitor threatening a court
application and costs might focus their mind. They cannot shirk the
responsibility for repairing the roof.



Would be worthwhile checking your house insurance to see if you
have legal expenses cover that would pay for the legal costs of this.

Stuart J, Solicitor
Category: UK Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 19625
Experience: PGD Law. 20 years legal profession, 6 as partner in High Street practice
Stuart J and 3 other UK Property Law Specialists are ready to help you

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