Issue No. 87 Winter 2008
Federation of Private Residents’ Associations Newsletter
within the lease and I would agree with your first point. With your second point, this is a fair assumption; however I would suggest referring to your lease and the remit of your management company. Each leaseholder will be responsible as you describe, however the government scheme is for the ‘occupiers’ and not property owners. The loft insulation is a vital improvement to avoid residents falling in to fuel poverty and I agree the confusion facing leaseholders is most unhelpful and greater clarity from the Government is needed on the scheme as I feel long leaseholders are disadvantaged from the Government ‘handout’ this winter.
Cavity wall insulation again is another benefit to residents but this is not without complications as issues of responsibility are key as well as the condition of the property. We have been advised against cavity wall insulation in my own block due to the current condition of the brickwork and been advised not to proceed until the external walls have been re-pointed. I would also suggest taking advice from your local authority before communicating with residents.
It would also be helpful if you could raise the wider issue of the Government grant scheme with your local MP so we can together lobby Government ministers as to the failings in the current proposals that are clearly disadvantaging those that live in private leasehold flats?
Each of our blocks of flats has a communal television aerial which was installed at the time of building. Over the years we have tried to install satellite dishes, one per block, but the landlord says we must go with their nominated contractor. If we do this we have to pay the contractor an extra £10 to them for having this facility. We now wish to upgrade the original system which is installed in the loft area of each block. To do this we now have to install the upgraded system onto the building outside, due to digital signals. Can you tell us how we stand with this problem? The nominated contractor is saying we have to pay them to buy the contract off them. Philippa Turner FPRA executive committee member replies: In your lease I can find no mention of any obligation on the part of the landlord to provide a communal aerial. However, the Schedule gives control over such “TV services that may be granted prior to completion over the property for the supply of such services” to the supplier of those services. I don’t know enough about the circumstances of your TV set up whether this has any bearing on your problem. In addition, the Schedule allows the lessee free use of (interalia) any cables pipes or wires which are or any time within 80 years (of the date of the lease) in or passing through the flat; it allows the lessee to enter the landlord’s adjoining land (to the flat) to renew and replace such cables etc solely serving the flat.
None of the above expressly relates to an aerial. Therefore, if such an aerial has been provided and maintained by the landlord, it must, in order for the cost to be recoverable through the service charge, fall under the general agreement by the landlord to maintain the building. It is questionable, in light of the above, that it can do so. However, if the leaseholders wish the landlord, or the management company, to perform this function, it has to be allowed discretion as to how it carries it out and it must be entitled to employ contractors and, subject to the charges being reasonable, recover the cost through the service charge. Whether the extra £10 (for each lessee?) is reasonable or not, I cannot advise. Nor can I say whether the contract can be terminated or altered since you have not given any information as to its terms or with whom it was formed.
! Legal Note
Members need to be aware that Leases generally do not provide for ‘improvements’ to be collected through the Service Charge, as most Leases restrict Service Charges to maintenance, repairs and renewal.
Our Registered Office is one of the flats in our complex and is also the home of our treasurer. At our recent AGM one of our flat owners told us that we are now obliged to have a plate on the door of this flat indicating that it is the Registered Office. Can you tell me if this is correct? It is hard enough to get people to stand for voluntary positions and to carry out the arduous duties of Treasurer and/or Chairman without forcing them to fix plates on the doors of their private residences. Can you advise please. Rowena Wilson, FPRA executive committee member, replies: The Companies Act 2006 requires that a company discloses certain trading information. A sign with the company’s registered name must be displayed at the company’s registered office, any place where its records are kept for inspection and any other place where the company carries on business (unless the place is primary used for living accommodation). These provisions come into force on 1 October 2008 under The Companies (Trading Disclosures) Regulations 2008 (SI 2008/495).
A very good website is the Department for Business Enterprise & Regulatory Reform website dealing with the Companies Act 2006 and company matters generally. The link is: http://www.berr.gov.uk/bbf/co-act-2006/index
You do not have to put a plate on the door itself and can decide where the company’s registered name would be most appropriately displayed on the registered office for example on the main entrance door of the block if that is the way that your flats are arranged. The purpose of the requirement is for people to be able to locate the registered office for the purpose of inspection of company documentation and the service of notices and other official documentation.
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