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ARMA


ARMA Lessee Advisory Note 04: lessees’ rights to information


The following article sets out the legal rights of lessees to information about the management of blocks of flats. The rights are those given by Parliament in statutes or Acts of Parliament.


ABOUT YOUR LANDLORD


you may not be certain who the landlord of your block is. every demand or invoice for a ground rent or service charge from your managing agent must include the name and address of the landlord and an address in england and wales at which you can contact this landlord. so look at your last invoice. the legal reference for this right is s.47 of the landlord and tenant act 1985. If the landlord of your block changes or you suspect it may have changed you have two useful rights. Firstly, the new landlord has a legal duty to serve a notice on all the lessees of the block telling you of the change of landlord and the name and address of the new landlord. (S.3 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985) Secondly, every lessee has the right to make a written request to the managing agent (or whoever is demanding ground rent and service charges) asking for the name and address of the landlord. When writing state that this is a request under S.1 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. The agent has 21 days to reply. If you find out the landlord is a company you then have the right to make a further written request either to the landlord or the agent asking for the name and address of every director and the company secretary. Refer to S.2 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 when writing for information about the directors. A word of caution. When freeholds of blocks of flats are sold it is


often by the sale of companies. So even though the owners of the company may have changed the same company will still be your landlord. Remember you can also search for the name of your landlord at the Land Registry and for company details at Companies House.


ABOUT YOUR MANAGING AGENT


If your agent is demanding payment of ground rent and service charges you should have a name and address. If your agent claims to be a member of ARMA you can visit ARMA’s website and look at the “search for members” area to find the name of a senior member of staff, address, telephone, fax, email and website information. What if you are not happy about the appointment of an agent by your landlord? Recognised tenants associations (see end for explanation of this term) have rights to be consulted about agents, but not individual lessees unless there is a long-term agreement for services (See below). A recognised tenants association (hereafter referred to as RTA) can serve a written notice by letter on the landlord stating that they wish to be consulted on matters relating to the appointment or employment of the managing agent for their block. Refer to S.30B of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 when writing about this right. Within one month of the RTA’s letter the landlord should write to


the RTA and include the following information:- • The management duties which the landlord has appointed the agent to carry out.


• Give the association a reasonable period (a minimum of 30 days) in which to send the landlord its comments on the agent’s performance.


• The name and address of the person to whom the association should send the comments.


GROUND RENTS AND YOUR RIGHTS


On every occasion that your landlord demands a payment of ground rent it must be accompanied by a prescribed notice that includes information about your rights regarding forfeiture and failure to pay ground rent. The legal reference for this information is S166 of the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 (2002 Act).


SERVICE CHARGES AND ACCOUNTS


You may feel you are being charged for things you do not agree with or the sums look too much. You may wish to see a proper set of accounts before the next charge is due. You and a RTA have rights to obtain information about the expenditure on services. You can write and ask your landlord or agent to supply a


summary of relevant costs making up the service charges. Refer to S.21 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 and use the phrase “relevant costs” in your letter. The summary of costs provided has to be certified by an accountant if your block contains more than 4 flats. If your agent normally supplies a set of service charge accounts every year there would be no need to do this unless you are unhappy that they are not accurate. If you have requested and received the summary of relevant costs


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The landlord “shall have regard” to the association’s comments on the performance of the agent but has no duty to act.


INSURANCE


Your flat is a major investment and you will want to know it is adequately insured. The landlord is usually responsible for arranging the insurance of the block but you have rights to know how this is done. Any lessee or a RTA can write at any time to the landlord or agent for information about the insurance of the block.


You have several options:-


• You can ask for a summary of the insurance policy which should include the name of the insurer, the sum insured and a summary of insured risks.


• You can write to the landlord or agent and ask to inspect the policy and any associated documents (e.g. proof of payment of premiums) at their office. You can also add you will wish to take copies.


• You can write to ask for copies of the policy and other associated documents you specify be sent to you or be made available at the office for you to collect.


For any of these written requests the landlord or agent has 21 days


from receipt of your letter to comply. The agent can charge you for copying but not for inspecting. When making these requests you should refer in your letter to S30A and the Schedule to the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.


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