Question: I am the owner of the top flat in a two-storey building. The roof is in a very bad state and is in need of attention. Is it my sole responsibility or does the person below have to pay towards it? After all, the roof shelters them too.
© Merrily Harpur
Answer: You must look at the terms of your lease very carefully. Generally, the freeholder is responsible for arranging repairs to the structure of the building and to the shared areas.
The structural areas include, for example, the roofs and guttering, external doors, chimneys, downpipes and windows (but not the glass) and external paintwork.
The shared areas include communal entrance halls, stairs and lifts. Your lease is likely to say that you are responsible for looking after your part of the building, usually the internal plasterwork, decoration, plumbing, wiring and floors.
Establish who owns the freehold and write to them to explain that the roof needs attention. You may have to pay towards the cost even if the freeholder is arranging the repairs, and again, this will depend on the terms of your lease. There may be a sinking fund to cover major repairs, or the freeholder may be able to recover the costs through the service charge. Ensure that the freeholder follows the correct procedures.
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Fiona is a partner in the residential real estate team at Thring LLP (www.thrings.com).
These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor.