6 Federation of Private Residents’ Associations Newsletter ASK THE FPRA Q A
Can someone who is “non-entitled” (not a lease/ shareholder) speak at Annual General Meetings/ Extraordinary General Meetings and/or change passed actions if they have been nominated to speak/act on behalf of an “entitled” lease/shareholder with just a letter from that leaseholder or does he/she need a full “Power of Attorney”? FPRA Chairman Bob Symtherman replies: The position regarding voting and attendance at AGMs and EGMs is usually set out in the Memorandum and Articles of the Association. The ruling would usually be that ONLY members of the Company can attend and vote and would receive the formal notice of the meeting giving the required 21 days notice to attend.
In my own block we include with the notice our own form that is required to be completed and retuned to the Registered Office in advance giving details of any proxy votes which MUST be signed by the Leaseholders themselves. This would not require a Power of Attorney. We do have some leaseholders who have appointed a Power of Attorney who would legally take on the responsibilities of the leaseholder.
As far as any one else attending this would be a matter for the Company Directors and they would not need to receive the formal notice in the same way as Leaseholders. We personally invite tenants and friends, and our Chairman uses discretion as to letting them participate in debates but ONLY those Leaseholders and Proxy that have completed the required forms can vote.
I would urge you to seek legal advice if you are in any doubt when you interpret your own “Mem & Arts”.
Gardeners recently broke a resident’s window when a stone flew out from the strimmer they were using. The gardeners are employed by a contractor who is contracted to maintain our grounds by the management company. Our question is: Who is liable for the damage to the resident’s window? That is, whose insurance company should pay for the repair: the resident’s, the garden maintenance contractor’s, or the management company’s? Robert Levene, FPRA insurance expert replies: The gardener would only be “liable” if there were “negligence”. It would, I think, be quite hard to show that the gardener was negligent in the circumstances you outline, unless there were other factors (for example, the stones had been pointed out to him and he had been asked to rake first but did not, or this had happened before and he had been asked to clear first in future). External Windows are normally part of the building and covered by the blocks buildings insurance, but this depends
Issue No. 87 Winter 2008
Members of the committee respond to problems and queries sent in by members.
on your policy wording and scope of cover purchased. There may also be an excess. I think a practical stance needs to be taken depending on the cost of the replacement, and this treated as a management expense, unless your lease has special provisions (which would be unusual, but always worth reading).
I would like to be clear as to who is responsible for paying for loft insulation. Is there a recognized ‘Best Practice’ or legal requirement for providing loft insulation in blocks of flats? My dilemma is as follows: We are a block of 15 flats on 3 levels. There are five loft areas, one above each of the five top floor flats. The loft areas are not demised to the flats, however. Access to four of five of the loft areas is via the flat below. The loft areas house water tanks, plumbing and digital TV equipment on behalf of the landlord. There is currently about four inches of insulation in each loft which has been there a very long time. Loft insulation is not maintenance. It in no way helps to keep the building in good condition and so in this respect falls outside the management company’s remit. Loft insulation is a direct financial benefit to the flat below. Therefore, if the management company pays for this from communal funds, the other 10 residents have grounds for complaint, as they will be paying for something that saves another resident money. To benefit from any cost savings available from energy suppliers, the resident has to deal directly with their energy supplier, so we could potentially have five different contractors involved, which is just inefficient and involves extra admin for the company. Because the loft area is not demised to the flat, the resident below needs permission from the landlord to insulate the loft area, which is not a problem, but it all adds to the confusion. Other energy saving measures such as cavity wall insulation are not such a dilemma because all residents will benefit so the use of communal funds is acceptable. Our residents are not unreasonable, but I would like to be on firm ground here before I either tell them they have to pay individually or spend their money. FPRA Chairman Bob Smytherman replies: The issue of energy efficiency is very much in the news at the moment with the increases in energy costs and is an issue on which the FPRA will be campaigning. I am in direct communication with DEFRA, the department responsible for the ‘Warmfront’ scheme, about the effect the scheme is having on leaseholders, many of whom currently are eligible for grants yet excluded through issues relating to responsibility in the lease.
I would suggest the issue of responsibility will be included
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