Issue No. 107 Winter 2013
Federation of Private Residents’ Associations Newsletter
You have the right to question this amount of expenditure and or quotation, and if so wished, could take a legal action to remedy the matter at the First Tier Tribunal (FTT), formally the LVT (Leasehold Valuation Tribunal). Legal representation may be required to take this action.
In addition to this high quote for works, the managing agent would be best advised to arrange a Section 20 notice (S20) Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 and offer the residents’ association the confidence to correct any doubts the residents may have.
Disabled Parking We have 241 flats on this estate and they are all held on long leases by their occupants – no subletting is allowed by virtue of a clause in the lease. In the grounds there are a certain number of parking spaces that we license to leaseholders who want them but there is a shortage and a waiting list. We do not provide any disabled or visitor parking. There is parking on the highway by virtue of pay and display as well as local authority residents’ permits and, obviously, disabled permits are available to qualifying applicants. Are we under any legal obligation to provide disabled parking on the estate for either residents or their visitors? FPRA replies:
As with so many things, it depends on the circumstances and perhaps why you are asking the question. As far as we are aware there is no requirement to automatically provide disabled parking spaces. However, if a disabled person specifically asks for something, then that is a different question and would need a separate answer depending upon the circumstances. We have seen disabled spaces being a requirement under planning and of course in some blocks there are specific adaptions and flats for disabled people.
If there is a specific request to you, then if you let us know the details one of our advisers can have a look to see how best we can help.
Quiet Recreation Threat We live in a mansion block with a number of leasehold houses alongside. We all appear to have similar leases. The freeholder has offices in a part of the old mansion and they are seeking planning permission to convert into residential. We are negotiating about maintaining the estate alongside the new residents when the conversions happen and this has thrown up a number of issues. They plan to build a block of garages for the new residents on area marked as ‘residents’ garden’ on the plan. As it stands, we don’t have much garden area and we want to know if we can stop them or seek a settlement ie access to other garden areas they own or a financial one? The freeholder also owns another large garden area and
they have given us informal access to it for over 30 years at weekends and in the evenings. Does this give us any rights at all going forwards? FPRA replies: The original lease (which has now been replaced by the lease extension) clearly grants you a right of ‘quiet recreation’ over the part of the grounds coloured green on the plan. This right is granted in exactly the same way as the other rights and I have little doubt that a court would, if necessary, grant you an injunction to restrain your landlord from building on any land which is clearly expressed to be gardens. You cannot enjoy a right of ‘quiet recreation’ over land which has garages built upon it. I do not think I would go as far as to say that this would mean that nothing could ever be erected there. If, say, the circumstances arose whereby it was necessary to build an outside WC for the use of gardeners on some part of the gardens, or to widen a drive for safety reasons, and there was no practicable alternative, then I can imagine a judge saying that this did not substantially interfere with your rights to enjoy the residents’ garden. But what the ground landlords are proposing seems to be in a different league. If you have been enjoying the use of other land for a long period, then I am afraid that is not relevant, as it is simply not possible for a leaseholder to acquire rights by long usage against his ground landlord. If there is nothing in the lease, then that is the end of the matter. I would say, therefore, that you have legitimate grounds for objecting if your landlord is proposing to build in the residents’ garden, but he could withdraw your permission to use the adjacent land. You might of course be able to reach an agreement by negotiation whereby your landlord ‘bought out’ all your rights to use the residents’ garden, or part of it, or whereby the leases were varied so that you were all given the right to use the adjacent land, or part of it, instead of the land required for the erection of the garages. If you entered into such an arrangement then it would not be unreasonable to expect the ground landlord to pay your legal costs (of drawing up and registering the deeds of variation) as well as his own.
Roof Space Q A
Our association holds the freehold on our block of purpose-built flats. The top floor flats in the block have access to the roof space above their respective units (access is internal to each unit and the loft space is divided by the appropriate walls). We believe that the individual leases do not explicitly include the roof space in the description of the units. What would be the considerations the association (as freeholder) might have to take into account if a leaseholder were to request to extend their property into the roof space? Does the leaseholder have any right to carry out any work in the roof space without the express permission of the association? FPRA Hon Consultant Martin Redman replies:
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