Question: The landlord of our long-leasehold flat is not tackling any of the maintenance issues and cannot even be contacted.
© Malcolm Willett (www.willett-ink.co.uk)
What can we do to force him to carry out the work that needs doing?
Answer: Situations like yours, where landlords don’t fulfil their duties, or even become insolvent, are bound to become more common in the current financial climate.
The Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 may help you.
If the main problem is simply that the landlord is not correctly managing the property under the terms of the lease, then the Right to Manage rules may allow the lessees to collectively take over the management of the building by forming a Right to Manage company.
The landlord needs to be served with a notice, and if you do not know where to find the landlord, then it is possible to apply to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal for an order allowing your Right to Manage company to take on the running of the building.
In some circumstances it is also possible for the lessees to club together to buy the freehold, though this option is likely to be more expensive. This is known as “collective enfranchisement”, and again, where the landlord can’t be found, an application can be made to a court to pass the freehold to a consortium of the lessees.
The LVT would have to decide the terms and price of any transfer, and money would have to be paid in to court to cover these costs. But do contact a lawyer who specialises in this sort of work as it can be a complicated area of law.
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If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, email firstname.lastname@example.org. We regret that questions cannot be answered individually.
Fiona is a partner in the property team at Thring Townsend Lee & Pembertons Solicitors www.ttuk.com.