Are you a leaseholder that is really not happy with the way your block of flats is being managed? You won’t be surprised to hear that you are definitely not alone!
We all know that there is a shortage of housing in the UK presently and this is only going to get worse over the next 20 years. As a result, there are hundreds of people that have become so called ‘property developers’. They find a bit of land, build a block of flats and then sell them with 125-year leases, to people that are only too pleased to have a brand new home.
However, what people rarely ask when purchasing a flat is: ‘How well is the building run?’
Conveyancing solicitors will ask all sorts of questions such as: How much is the service charge? Are there any major works planned? Etc, etc.
They might even ask a question about management, but if someone said ‘it could be managed better’, would you really then pull out of the purchase? Probably not. You are just so excited about being in your new home that the communal areas and how often the outside of the building is painted are really not your concern!
So quite often, you will move into your wonderful new apartment, only to find that things are not managed as well as they should be. Your service charge may be quite high, but please don’t assume that this means that you will get the best service because this is just not the case!
So, if you move in and things are not right, what you can you do about it?
Well, you have a number of options (and moving out again should not be one of them!):
- Find out what other leaseholders think: Speak to other owners: you may have to do a bit of digging as some people who live in the block may be sub-tenants and not leaseholders. You will probably find that you are not the only person who feels that way about the building and you might find that there is a residents association already established. (To set up your own residents association, www.fpra.org.uk can help)
- Find out who is responsible : Establish who is responsible for instructing the management of the block (this could be a property developer turned freeholder, a group of owners that have bought the freehold, a residential management company that has been set up by the freeholder, or a property company that owns a multitude of buildings.
Then our advice is always, talk first: once you have contacted as many other leaseholders as you can, try to organise a meeting with those responsible in order to share your concerns and try to work out a way of working more efficiently together. It might be that the freehold company is equally as frustrated as you are at how things are being run, however, they might be tied into a lengthy contract with a badly performing property management company.
So, seek first to understand, then communicate and, hopefully, this will help to improve the situation.
However, if this is not the case, you do have options:
- Right to Manage (this is where you don’t have to prove how badly the building is managed, but you can take over responsibility for the management by getting 50% of leaseholders to become members of a company)
- Appointment of Manager (this is where you do have to prove that things are not right and go to the First Tier Tribunal who will then appoint a professional residential property management company for up to two years to manage the building effectively)
Both of these involve lengthy processes, with strict criteria, that has to be followed exactly to the letter. They can be a minefield if you’ve never experienced anything like it before, but if you would like to talk more about it and understand your options, then please give one of our team a call as we’d be happy to help.