Issue No. 109 Summer 2014
Federation of Private Residents’ Associations Newsletter
buildings, eg a shop with flat over etc, or where the use has been changed over the years. There has always been a problem with your type of structure. Is a chalet, where there is a limited occupancy planning condition, a house? Certainly a mobile home or caravan is not a house. My first reaction is that it is not because you cannot live there permanently and I think this would fly in the face of the building being a “house”. The structure must be “designed or adapted for living in”. Whilst there is no reason to query the fact that you can live in the chalets, you cannot live there permanently and I feel this takes them out of the provisions.
Hope this helps for the moment although it is probably not what you want to hear!
Seaside Non-Payers We are a brick built apartment block of 27 units right on the sea front. The block was constructed in 1979 by a “spec developer” who did not use first class materials in every situation and as a result we suffer greatly from deteriorating brickwork and pointing. In the past, the residents’ management company has spent considerable sums in patch repair work, chopping out and replacing spalled bricks and repointing areas worst affected. As a result we have a patchwork and the realisation that we will be doing this work ad infinitum. Two years ago the directors put forward a plan to render the elevations worst affected with a silicone-based render. Although the cost is high (£125,000, which includes some other work as well as the rendering) this was put forward as a long term solution to the continual repair work carried out previously. After some further investigations requested by shareholders at the 2012 AGM, a vote was carried at the 2013 AGM to proceed with the work.
Part of the cost of the work is to be funded by raising a levy of £1,500 per shareholder/owner. This was part of the motion carried at the 2013 AGM. A Section 20 notice was served on all owners/shareholders last year and the request for payment of the levy sent out later in the year with payment required by December 31 last year. After some reminders early this year 24 of the 27 shareholders have paid their levy and three have failed to pay. Directors believe it is clear in the lease that shareholders are required to fund 1/27 of the cost of this work. We believe it is also clear that the demise of the leaseholders only extends to the internal surfaces of their apartments and that, therefore, the freeholder cannot be prevented from carrying out such work since the structural brickwork is within its demise. Would you please give us your view on: The refusal by three shareholders to pay their levy; The view held by one shareholder that he does not want “his” brickwork rendered; What remedies there may be to persuade the three non- payers to pay their levies.
FPRA Hon Consultant Martin Pridell replies: When the lessees between them acquire the freehold of their block, it is important to remember that the legal relationships remain the same. There is still a party which is lessor, which is a company, the shareholders of which are the lessees. Decisions of the lessor company are made by its directors. To avoid problems, some decisions can be ratified by the shareholders. Some time ago, I prepared a chart which set out these relationships and this was published in the FPRA newsletter. I am sure that the office would send you a copy if asked.
In respect of your three questions; 1. Your lease puts a clear liability on each lessee to pay 1/27th of the lessor’s costs. 2. The area of the demise of each flat is limited to the area “coloured pink”. Plaster on interior walls is included, so I have very little doubt that the outer walls are excluded. The glass is included, but that can be differentiated. 3. Enforcing the lessees’ duty to pay is not always easy. The ultimate sanction is the forfeiture of the lease, but the courts will always be reluctant to take such a step. You can threaten an action in the court. The lessee might be reluctant to have this on his credit rating. Alternatively, the lessee might take legal advice and, if you don’t go ahead, you might have to pay his costs. It is worth consulting CAB locally about the possibilities.
Which Number? If there are 46 dwellings on the park, of which 42 are privately owned and four are owned by the site owner, does the overall expense for the park have to be divided by 46 or (as our landlord does) by 42? FPRA Hon Consultant Andrew Pridell replies: It should DEFINITELY be divided by 46!
Valuable Wine in Common Parts
I am the Chairman of my association and live in a building of five apartments on three floors. On each floor there is a services cupboard (about 2 square metres) containing water pipes and telephone and video entry cables leading between floors. These cupboards have been unused for 15 years since the building was constructed. Each cupboard door is secured by a simple bolt lock at the top and bottom. A recently arrived new resident has asked me if he can use the cupboard on his floor for the storage of cases of valuable red wine probably amounting to a value of several thousand pounds. He maintains that the temperature in the unheated cupboard is more suitable to long term wine storage than his centrally heated flat, which I suppose is true. He also wants to fit a five-lever secure lock to the cupboard door. I consider it inappropriate that a resident should use a cupboard situated in the common parts of the building to store his valuable private assets. For one thing, our
building insurance contents does not cover such items. Continued on page eight
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