Question: I moved into a top-floor flat in a “newly refurbished” apartment block on a shared-ownership basis through a housing association six years ago. From the day I moved in, I had problems with leaks from the roof, which was repaired, but not properly. The entrance hall and front door have been damaged — the door has been replaced three times and there is damage in the lounge.
Now I have been told that cyclical works are due on the building, including major roof repairs costing nearly £70,000. Luckily, there is enough money in the sink fund to cover this. However, I have appealed to the housing association, saying that the cost is excessive as the roof was never in good repair from the day I moved in.
Do we have to pay this exorbitant charge, or can I appeal? The housing association ignores my letters.
Answer: Under the terms of your lease, your landlord is likely to be responsible for the roof and for buildings insurance. If the building is newly refurbished, the works carried out may be faulty and your landlord may have a claim against the building company that did those works.
You may be able to make a claim for damage to your flat under the buildings insurance arranged by your landlord, and on any contents insurance that you may have.
Residential service charges must be reasonably incurred and charged within a certain period of time. The landlord must consult with the tenants if the cost of certain works would result in every tenant having to contribute more than £250. You can request information about the service charge from your landlord.
With regard to the cost of the roof repairs proposed by the landlord, you could apply to the First-tier Tribunal for a declaration that the landlord is incurring costs unreasonably and these should not be paid by the tenants.
The law in this area is complex, so it would be wise to seek legal advice.
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If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, London Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, W8 5EE. We regret that questions cannot be answered individually, but we will try to feature them here. Fiona McNulty is a legal director in the private wealth group of Foot Anstey (www.footanstey.com).