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Issue No. 110 Autumn 2014 CONFUSION CONTINUES


safeguards relating to design within a conservation area are met and I think it would be difficult for planners to defend such a decision at appeal should they be refused as a matter of principle.


If the building is listed this may be much more difficult as English Heritage would need to involved but we have a number of conservation areas in my area and we receive lots of applications like this and I don’t recall any being refused JUST on the grounds of a trickle vent.


Q A


Delicate issue It is an extremely difficult question that I need to ask. We have eight flats in our block and all tenants are on very long leases. One of the elderly tenants has a worsening case of Dementia and her mood swings are quite alarming. It is now becoming an almost daily occurrence of her standing by her balcony door and shouting for help as follows.. “help me” or “help me I’m on fire” or “help me I’m ninety years old”. A few of the tenants are becoming increasingly agitated by these events and I am getting daily calls from them or their family members asking me “to try and do something about this”. I have spoken to family members of the lady in question and they are aware of the situation. She has now employed the help of two carers but this has not improved the situation at all. Is there any advice you can offer? FPRA Chairman Bob Smytherman replies: Thank you for your email about this very delicate and difficult situation.


Given this is a daily occurrence and the impact on other residents, this is almost certainly a breach of the ladies lease although I have not read yours but most include quiet enjoyment etc.


Before going down a formal route I suggest writing to your local adult social services dept of your Council and raise a ‘safeguarding alert’ as there is clearly a risk to herself and potentially others.


Hopefully they will assist her and her family find a more appropriate accommodation to meet her needs. You may also want to contact her GP if you know it or the Alzheimer’s Society and raise your concerns with them. If you need more advice about more formal action for breaching the terms of the lease let us know and we can refer to a legal adviser.


The letters above are edited.


The FPRA only advises member associations – we cannot and do not act for them. Opinions and statements offered orally and in writing are given free of charge and in good faith, and as such are offered without legal responsibility on the part of either the maker or of FPRA Ltd.


STAY SAFE


Fire Door Safety Week and Gas Safety Week take place in the same week this year (September 15-21). You may receive this newsletter after that date, but there will still be plenty of useful information on their websites: www.gassaferegister.co.uk and


www.firedoorsafetyweek.co.uk and on our website.


A court case which has far-reaching consequences for leaseholders who pay variable service charges has been delayed, further extending the confusion this is causing in the sector.


The appeal in Philips v Francis was due to be heard by the Court of Appeal in May. Unfortunately the hearing was vacated very late and has been adjourned to October 13-15.


FPRA Hon Consultant Yashmin Mistry comments: “We understand the adjournment was due to a last minute witness statement. It’s a great shame that we will all now have to wait further months before the Court of Appeal clarifies the position.”


The issue at stake (as reported in previous Newsletters 104 and 105) is when the Section 20 consultation process needs to take place for “major” works at blocks. The trigger amount is £250 per leaseholder and the issue in law is whether this is a for a single item of major works, or cumulative works over a financial year. S 20 was aimed to protect leaseholders, but if the freeholder/RMC/managing agents have to consult on every tiny item of works, if the total for the year goes over £250 per flat, then the costs to leaseholders are likely to be more.


We will keep our members informed of the decision on appeal.


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