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Stuart J
Stuart J, Solicitor
Category: UK Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 22624
Experience:  PGD Law. 20 years legal profession, 6 as partner in High Street practice
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Hi, Some new tenants moved into the downstairs flat and a

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Some new tenants moved into the downstairs flat and a few months ago asked if they could put a mail catcher on the front door. I agreed as long as it didn't affect my post, so they put it on. Day one of it being there the postman rang the door bell complaining that he couldn't deliver a package as the mail catcher was in the way.
After about a week of arguing the new leaseholder removed it because 'it didn't go with the door.'
Then about a month ago a new one appeared on the door. I immediately protested that he had no right to make changes without consulting me. My argument is based on the fact that the contract explicitly states that the hallway is a 'common area'
He argued that as the owner of the hallway ( he is, the plans of his flat say he owns the hallway. ) he can do what he wants. He claims that the common area clauses of the contract do not apply to him as the owner and that my only say in anything that he chooses to do is to tell him when I will pay half the costs.
As far as I understand it his actions and arguments are explicitly at odds with the definition of a 'common area', a definition that he agreed to abide by when he signed the contract.
Am I correct in this or is he free to impose whatever he wishes?
Hello, I am Law Denning and I am a practising solicitor. I have been an expert on this website in UK law since 2008. During that time, as you appreciate, I have answered thousands of questions from satisfied users on a variety of subjects.
Because we are all in practice with clients and court and other users, I might not always respond in minutes, particularly evenings and weekends. Please bear with me in that case. I will be online and off-line all day today.

It is my pleasure to try and assist you with this today. Please bear with me while I gather some further information from you in order for me to be able to advise you fully.

What type of contract do you have?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

sorry leasehold, the freeholder specified the contract and that certain areas were classed as 'common areas'

I need to get this right please.

A common area cannot belong to someone. Either 1: the common area is owned by the freeholder and used by everyone, or 2: it is not common area but is owned by (for example) the ground floor leaseholder and everyone else has access over it.
That is fundamental to every lease and fundamental in particular to whether they are allowed to do what they are doing.
You need to study the lease in detail.
If it is 1 and it is a common area owned by the freeholder then they have as much right to put a mail catcher as you do to not have it there. Indeed, this is the freeholder who decides whether it has to be there or not. However having it there must not substantially obstruct your use of the area which the initial one appears to have done.
If it is 2 and it is not a common area owned by the freeholder but an area owned by the leaseholder over which you have access, it comes down to the leaseholder what they do but once again, they must not interfere substantially with your right of use of the area.
At the moment, you tell me that you had a problem with the initial catcher, but it appears that you have not yet had a problem with this one but you are anticipating it.
Before you can bring any action, you have to have a problem. So I would wait until the next time something happens and then I would threaten the appropriate party with an application to court for an injunction to remove it. You would have to prove that it caused a substantial interference to your right to use the area.
Depending on whether it was 1 or 2 above depends on whether you bring an action against the freeholder, the leaseholder, or both.
Before rushing off to court with this, which could cost you £5000 or even more if you lose, a solicitors letter threatening a court application for an injunction, and costs, might focus the mind.

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