Below are answers to frequently asked questions for leaseholders and freeholders.
The below is applicable even if a, all, or a group of Leaseholders have purchased the Freehold of the building. In such circumstances, there will usually be a Limited Company owned by some or all of the Leaseholders which in turn owns the Freehold.
For the purpose of this FAQs, we have assumed you are the Leaseholder of a residential apartment.
A freeholder is a person(s) or organisation that legally owns a building or land that the property is on.
A leaseholder is a person or organisation that owns a long lease on a unit (normally a residential apartment) in a freehold building.
A lease is a legally binding document outlining the responsibilities and obligations of you as leaseholder and the freeholder. Typically, in a lease the freeholder is referred to as “the Landlord” and the leaseholder is referred to as “the Tenant”.
A service charge is a fund used to pay for communal services such as maintenance, building insurance, etc. The lease will allow the freeholder to recover the costs of providing services. Individual leaseholders pay a share of the total cost. You usually have to pay a share of everything even if you don’t use some of the services. For example, you probably have to pay for lift maintenance even if you never use the lift.
Your estate agent and solicitor should inform you of this prior to you purchasing the apartment. If you are unsure, please Contact Us
The lease on your apartment reverts to the freeholder.
Under the terms of your lease, you are generally responsible for the repair and maintenance of everything inside your apartment. Leases can vary on who is responsible for items such as the windows or the front door, etc.
As soon as possible upon the end of your block’s financial year (as outlined in your lease), we will circulate the service charge accounts prepared in conjunction with the freeholder’s accountant as per TECH 03/11 (“Guidance on Accounting and Reporting in Relation to Service Charge Accounts for Residential Properties on which Variable Service Charges are paid in accordance with a Lease or Tenancy Agreement”) issued by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. These accounts will categorise all income and expenses relevant to your service charge (electricity bills, repairs and maintenance, buildings insurance, etc).
If you would like more information, under Sections 21 and 22 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (LTA 1985) you have the right to inspect receipts relating to the last accounting year, or where accounts are not kept by accounting years, the past 12 months preceding the request. You need to write to us or your freeholder to request a summary under Section 21 LTA 1985. The summary should be provided within one month of your request (or within six months of the end of the accounting period whichever is later) and should be certified by a qualified accountant if there are more than four dwellings.
You may have additional rights to information under the terms of your lease.
A service charge is not payable unless it is reasonable, but we would strongly advise against withholding payment as this will almost certainly be a breach of your lease. Your service charge will be based on the service charge budget and any prior over or underpayments. Please Contact us if you have any queries regarding your service charge.
It depends on the nature of the issue. Under the terms of your lease, you are generally responsible for the repair and maintenance of everything inside your apartment. Leases can vary on who is responsible for items such as the windows or the front door, etc. If in doubt, please do not hesitate to Contact us.
Contact us immediately and, if your block has one, the residential porter. The damage may be covered on the buildings insurance. We will need to identify the cause of the leak and who is responsible for repairing it under the terms of the lease. Usually, the source of the leak is the apartment above you. In such circumstances, it is almost always the responsibility of the leaseholder of that apartment to repair the leak. We will arrange for the damage to your apartment to be attended to if it is covered on the buildings insurance.
If the leaseholder or occupier of the flat above has been negligent or failed to take appropriate action following the leak you may be able to pursue a claim against them for your uninsured losses. Specialist advice should be sought prior to embarking on any legal action.
Section 20 is a consultation process between the freeholder and the leaseholders. It is a legal requirement when the Freeholder intends to enter into a Long Term Qualifying Agreement which will cost any one Leaseholder more than £100 per annum or when the Freeholder enters into a major works contract which will cost any one Leaseholder more than £250. Completing it can take between 3-5 months. For more information on this process, please do not hesitate to Contact us.
We are sorry to hear that you are not satisfied with the service we provide. Please keep in mind that we take instruction from the freeholder. Also keep in mind that we act in the best interest in the collective, not for any one individual. See our complaints page.
Standard block insurance policies will not include terrorism insurance. Most leases will require your landlord (the freeholder) to insure the building against certain events. If those events include “explosions” or “airplanes” or other such events of this nature then your landlord must obtain a terrorism insurance policy as per the terms of your lease. Even if the lease does not explicitly require terrorism insurance, most home insurance policies will be invalid without one and most mortgage lenders require it. As such, we would always strongly advise the freeholder obtain terrorism insurance.
Most leases will require consent from the Freeholder or some other party before subletting. Such consent should not be unreasonably withheld. Some leases do not allow you to sublet at all, in which case you will need to ask the Freeholder if they are willing to waive this restriction.
Regrettably, most Central London apartment blocks more than 20 years old lack or have inadequate soundproofing between floors. This means you will likely be able to hear other residents going about their daily lives. Most leases contain a clause regarding causing nuisance or annoyance to other occupiers of the building. Unfortunately, such clauses are virtually impossible for the Freeholder to enforce.
If another resident is making unreasonable amounts of noise you should first attempt to speak to that resident. It may be they are not aware of the noise they are making. If this does not improve the situation, we advise you report them to your local Council who will have a noise control department. Generally, the Freeholder and ourselves have no power regarding noise enforcement and cannot take sides in an inter flat dispute i.e. if apartment X complains about noise from apartment Y and apartment Y disputes this complaint as unjustified, we must remain impartial. If we are informed of a noise complaint we will, if appropriate, inform the relevant parties, but we do not have the authority to take any further action.
Most leases will require consent from the freeholder or some other party before carrying out any alterations. Consent will not be unreasonably withheld if the alteration is an improvement. If your lease does not allow you to carry out alterations you will need to ask the freeholder if they are willing to waive this restriction.
Our primary concern is the structural stability of the building. If we have any concerns that your proposed alterations will damage the block then we have must advise the freeholder to refuse permission. Your request will also be refused if it involves altering the communal services (such as the plumbing or television services) in any way. Older buildings in Central London are often protected by the local Council, they may stop you from replacing your windows.
If your neighbours are using your car parking space they are likely in breach the lease. The lease should set out how the covenants can be enforced. Usually, the leaseholder must instruct the Freeholder to enforce the covenants against another leaseholder and indemnify the Freeholder against the costs involved.
In some leases certain covenants may be mutually enforceable. This means that a leaseholder could take legal action directly against another leaseholder for breach of covenant.
Your lease should establish who is responsible for the part of the building concerned. Typically, the exterior of the building is the responsibility of the Freeholder, but they may not be obliged to carry out “improvements” such as installation of a damp proof course if none was installed when the building was built. In fact, most leases will forbid the Freeholder from carrying out significant improvements such as installing damp proofing.
Most of the below is applicable for Leaseholders who have purchased their Freehold through a Limited Company or a Right To Manage Company.
We cover London and the South East of England.
We specialise in residential and can also manage commercial, mixed use and mixed tenure. We do not manage retirement homes.
Yes, however it will be your responsibility to ensure the contractors are adequately qualified.
Yes, and we ensure they are adequately qualified and experienced for whatever job is required.
The lease will outline what expenses are recoverable from leaseholders via the service charge. Some Leases are quite restrictive about what expenses can be recovered. You should ensure you have taken sufficient legal advise on what can and cannot be recovered from the leases of a freehold block before purchasing it to avoid any unpleasant surprises.
Yes! We are experienced in taking on new block management clients where the block in question is in poor condition and prior management and administration has been substandard. With a lot of hard work, co-operation and patience, we have always been able to turn the building into a success story.