Question: I live in a building split into three flats, all owner-occupied and with a shared freehold. We occupy the largest of the flats, a three-bedroom garden property; the remaining flats are both smaller one-bedroom properties.
© Malcolm Willett (www.willett-ink.co.uk)
The buildings insurance is split equally. The new occupier of one of the smaller flats wants to pay a lower proportion of the cost.
The three-way split was in place before I took over the administration and in my previous property, when I occupied a smaller property, the set-up was identical and I paid the same amount for insurance as the larger flat, without complaint. What is the legal position?
Answer: Leases should always contain adequate insurance provisions relating to the premises themselves - the individual flats and, where relevant, the common parts of the building - and state who is responsible for arranging it.
The insurance provisions in a lease should comply with the requirements of the Council of Mortgage Lenders to ensure it is mortgageable. Under the terms of most leases the landlord is responsible for insurance and the tenants pay a contribution towards the insurance premium.
The tenants’ share of the insurance can be divided by the number of flats, or according to the floor area of the flats, or whether each is over one or two floors.
You must look at the terms of your lease but as you all own a share of the freehold you could agree to vary the terms of the lease and change the existing arrangement. Legal advice should be taken if you decide to follow this route.
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Fiona is a partner in the property team at Thring Townsend Lee & Pembertons Solicitors www.ttuk.com.