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View Full Version : Tenant not paying rent while waiting for insurance/block management repairs



tom1
14-03-2010, 20:58 PM
Although I manage my property directly, I got email on 30/11/09 from the agent who let the property, that water had started 'pouring in' from above the bedroom bay window and required urgent attention, and the hall storage heater wasn't working. As the flat is in a leasehold block, no plumbing nearby, I thought correctly the cause was a failure in exterior maintenance, for which I pay a large annual fee to the block management company. As they are slow to respond, same day I got the agents email, I asked a contractor to do any temporary repair to prevent further damage, send me a report on cause of the problem that if down to poor exterior maintenance, I would send to the block management company to fix, and make good any damage to the interior.

The report said heater was ok; T hadn't pressed the right buttons, had made a small hole in alcove ceiling so any water would collect in 1 spot into a bucket.. Rest of report was confusing as T listed to contractor more problems, previously unreported, nothing to do with management company and was a quote to fix everything himself. As quote said fitting 'missing cylinderstat' to control the overheating hotwater, and I knew system DID have a thermostat, I asked another contractor for 2nd opinion. I heard my T would not agree a time when he could visit. I asked a 3rd contractor to report back on issues listed by T to 1st contractor. Got email saying he had called the T twice with no response, and the agent (who has key access) who just said 'she usually gets back eventually'. T difficult to make contact with from the beginning. I normally meet new T's soon after they move in, but Agent said not possible due to T's work. I emailed Agent about T not reponding to my emails, and tradesmen complaining no response to messages left on T's mobile. Agent said T said pc broken so can't use email. After chaseup calls, I managed to get T to return contractors call to agree a visit. He emailed me a report with supporting photos, clearly showing the bay exterior badly maintained, reason for the draughty windows was the wooden frames warped for same reason. He said had sealed the obvious exterior holes, and reason the water was overheating is 'someone' had turned up both the E7 and Daytime thermostats, which he reset to normal temperature. I emailed management company with report+photos, asking they put right the damage urgently - this was now 21/12/09 - 3 weeks after agents email. Management Company said they instructed their contractor same day, and contractor visited flat before xmas to assess situation, do further temporary repair while waiting for buildings insurers to approve the full repairs - which I understood to be all the badly maintained exterior, cladding, windows, redecorate bay interior. Person I heard will take about a month I ask to be kept informed. I asked the 3rd contractor to fix anything remaining, after the managemnt company had finished their repairs. Heard nothing so chased them and told due to snow etc, contractor will erect scaffolding on 15 Feb to do repairs. I ask contractor to advise T reason for the delay. (was unable to contact T for reasons mentioned above). Contractor said T advised them repair not effective, need to redo. Now waiting approval from management company to new estimate.

Recently I was forwarded a letter T posted to my home address dated 30 Jan (I am often away, hence asking agents to send only T's with email), saying not paying rent due to no response from me for the repair work. I replied 8 days ago by email, cc to Agent, arranged hand-delivered copy to the flat, stating that is not true; she has not helped by making it difficult for me and contractors to contact her; that 4 contractors did contact her about repairs, 2 items she claimed were broken, were down to user not setting correctly, emergency repairs to the exterior were quickly carried out, that she must be patient for the Management Company/insurers to finish the repairs, and to NOW pay the arrears to avoid further action.

Agents reply to my cc. sent to T also, saying "if the property is not maintained she does have right to withhold rent until the problem is resolved.". As that reply made no distinction between mmy, and the management company responsibilities I asked another Agent, who opined unless the flat uninhabitable, the rent is due. The flat redecorated and new carpets before present T moved in. 2 Contractors said it looks well looked after internally. I do not believe the flat uninhabitable.

The email/hardcopy sent to T makes clear I acted promptly to have cause of water leak, reported via the agent fixed, that of the further smaller items she reported via the 1st contractor, told 2 were sorted before xmas, my contractor would return to fix any small things remaining, once the management company had finalised their repairs. I heard block management companies to take 2 or 3 months for permanent repairs once emergency reapirs done. Am I responsible for the speed of the flat management/insurers ?

As I need to take action re. the unpaid rent quickly, can you pls advise my legal postion, a reasonable course of action, and if I am within my rights to demand payment of the rent arrears ?

jeffrey
15-03-2010, 13:13 PM
Are you a long-leaseholder of this flat?

tom1
15-03-2010, 16:42 PM
Are you a long-leaseholder of this flat?
Yes, as the estate is only about 14 year sold, my lease from the freeholders is over 80 years, but what bearing has that ?

jeffrey
15-03-2010, 16:48 PM
1. From post #1, I could not tell who owned what.
2. Had it been in the last ten years, NHBC might have assisted.
3. You as lessee have an ongoing contract (lease) from the freehold reversioner (F). Is that still the original developer?
4. Might the collective lessees consider RTM or RTE?
5. Your enforcement against the sub-tenant (ST) has nothing to do with F's enforcement powers against you or, more significantly, your enforcement powers against F. Do you have evidence of any breaches of covenant by F, for instance, which might have caused the present problems?

tom1
18-03-2010, 11:05 AM
Thanks for your reply & questions my answers being:
1. I bought the leasehold of 1 flat in a 6-flat block, in about 2001 from original Estatebuilder-Freeholder
3. When Estatebuilder-Freeholder sold a portion of the estate, including our block in about 2005, the estate-management company sent me a letter of 1st refusal offer to buy the freehold, which I understood could not be refused provided we had over 50% of our flat block in agreement. We got agreement of at least 5 leaseholders in each of 3 blocks (6 flats in each block) and appointed a lawyer to accept the offer and buy the freehold. After some months, the lawyer wrote to say the estate management company advised him they wouldn't sell the 3 blocks to us, as 'in law it was required to have signatures from over 50% of the WHOLE of the estate for right-to-buy'. With over 1/2 of the estate being btl, it took us much work in 4 weeks just to discover the leaseholder names in 3 blocks (18 leaseholder). It would have been impossible to find the leaseholders of the whole estate (about 240 leaseholders -all over the UK & overseas) for a >50% agreement within the 6 week legal deadline, so our supposed right-to-buy was lost, and freehold sold to another huge company, who still use same management company. As not told about any change in the 'leasehold conditions', I assume the freeholder obligations to maintain are unaltered.
4 I am now frequently travelling so don't think it feasible for me to drum up support for RTM. Only way, is if I could find 1 leaseholder in my block living locally or in the block, willing to take the lead. I have no info on RTE. Has the law been changed to make it easier for individual flat blocks in large estates to choose their own block management ? (If you advise not difficult now, I may take that further, but for now need answer to my urgent prob)
5 Don't fully understand your Q5; My current urgent focus is getting either my ST to pay the arrears, or legal action to evict and recover lost rent. My post#1 listed MY prompt actions to rectify the problems reported (via the agent) and that I advised my T "that she must be patient for the Management Company/insurers to finish the repairs, and to NOW pay the arrears to avoid further action." (todate, no response) Can you confirm (pref in simple language) if that advice is is correct in law, bearing in mind my last 4 paras. ?

tom1
31-03-2010, 11:34 AM
To JEFFREY SHAW, I posted reply to your q on 18 March, your earlier numbered questions/suggestions don't answer my question, I didn't understand your point 5, so grateful if you can answer as the last 2 posts rather bury my original q