Question: We have very recently bought a leasehold flat that is on the fourth and top floors. There are what seem to be cracks on the external walls. Are we responsible for the soundness of the external walls, or is it the freeholder’s responsibility?
Answer: It depends on the terms of your lease. You say that you bought the flat recently and so I suggest that you look at a copy of your lease and read any correspondence and contract/lease reports provided by your legal advisers (who I assume you used) when you bought the flat.
Your legal advisers should have explained the terms of the lease to you and your obligations under it.
Further, your legal advisers should have received a form from the seller’s solicitors called a leasehold information form TA7 providing details about the flat.
In addition, they should have raised a list of management enquiries with the seller’s solicitors. The freeholder or any managing agents employed by the freeholder would have replied to the management enquiries, which should cover matters such as works needed to the building and estimated costs etc. Consider the replies you were given.
Finally, when buying a property, it is always advisable to have a survey carried out. When buying a flat your surveyor can look at the common parts as well, if you request that. They can advise you about works that may be needed, and for which you may have to contribute according to the terms of your lease. Look at the results of your survey if you had one carried out.
If the situation is not apparent from your documents, ask your legal advisers for clarification.
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Fiona is a partner in the residential real estate team at Thring LLP www.thrings.com.