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Oct, 2014

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  1. #1

    Question Cat - privately owned leasehold maisonette.

    Hello,

    If anyone can help me I'll be SO grateful as I'm pretty distraught at the moment.

    I bought a ground floor maisonette with access via patio doors from my lounge onto a private patio within communal grounds. When I viewed the property there were lots of cats wandering about, alot of doors with cat flaps inserted and a dog barking from one of the other maisonettes.

    There are 28 maisonettes in total on our development (built in 1991) made up in 2 blocks.*

    I mentioned to my seller I'd like a cat and she replied; 'someone has a dog in one.'

    Anyway, during the conveyancing process I noticed the wording on the lease stated; "no animal, bird or reptile shall be kept without prior, written consent of the landlord". I pointed this out to the solicitor and asked he write to request permission for a cat and possibly a small dog in the future. He said this was an issue for the management company rather than the freeholder and I asked him twice to write for permission. I presume he did but no reply was ever received. Solicitor eventually said (verbally) "just get a dog and if anyone mentions it, just plead ignorance that that was on the lease."*

    Anyway, no response as far as I was concerned, coupled with a very pet-friendly feel when I viewed made me just think it was just a formality wording on the lease and wasn't used in day to day enforcement. *

    I moved in and realised that on the development there was a rather difficult lady who had 'issues' on a lot of topics (parking, rubbish, pets, property cleanliness) and would regularly like to go round 'bullying' people that they had broke these rules and that she would have them thrown out as 'chair of the management company'. On purchase of each maisonette, each leaseholder is granted 2 shares to the management company, and directors appointed (this lady being one of 3). We were at that stage run by a managing agent. People just tended to use the 'ignore' tactic with this lady and get on with their lives. The managing agent manager was also sick of her and used the same tactic.*

    Anyway, she then severely kicked off about pets (no one else saw them as a nuisance and they were well bahaved) and got us all the fill in a 'pet declaration form' via the managing agent to state what pets we had (or legal action threatened). At that stage a new (residents) management company director had been appointed, voted in by the other directors. I think he was ramping things up a gear.*

    After this declaration I got a rescue kitten as I have a long term health condition and am largely housebound and my health had worsened after some particularly bad personal stress. I wanted the comfort and companionship of her.*

    She was indoors with me, toiletted indoors and no one saw her. Then there was a 'pet vote' these 2 directors also kicked off. I voted 'for' but apparently they ended up with a majority of 10 out of the 28 maisonettes as 14 declined to vote. That left 4 votes 'for' pets, even though there was more than 10 households at the time with pets.*

    I didn't declare my kitten when I got her as I knew what would ensue, but I told the manager of our managing agents I had. He was fine about it (off the record) and said nothing would be done.

    Then, these 2 directors decided to oust the managing agents so the estate would be 'self managed'. Oh dear. I couldn't go to the AGM to vote on this plan as I wasn't well enough, only a handful turned up who all voted 'for'. If you didn't turn up they said your vote would count as 'for' with no option to vote otherwise.*

    Anyway, now self managed, my cat has been seen in my bedroom window (by said lady) and the other director has sent me a threatening letter telling me to 'remove the animal in 14 days'. She goes out very occasionally (doesn't particularly like it!), wears 3 bells so doesn't catch birds, toilets all the time in a litter tray inside and is fully vaccinated and neutered. She does no harm to anyone.*

    I now have this deadline which is up this Friday and I believe they have the technical law on their side (if not a moral one). I've sent a pleading letter saying the comfort and companionionship she brings me as I can't go out etc. has made zero difference.*

    Everyone agrees around here I am a good, kind neighbour, but this lady is gunning for me blood (or rather my cats).*

    Anything I can do? Is it very enforceable. How do I deal with this deadline. This deadline hasn't come from a solicitor, just this other director (from the safety of his nice home in France with a cat!)

    All I can see to do is sell which I can ill afford both physically and financially.*

    Many thanks in advance.

  2. #2
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    Well..Firstly. I bet you havnt got anything in writing from the solicitor saying 'just ignore it and plead ignorance', a breach can be a serious issue and in extreme circumstances can involve you losing your home so your solicitors comments were not very professional and it may be possible to chase this up with legal action.

    It is worth noting though that permission can be given by the freeholder, does it then go on to add 'not to be unreasonably witheld' ?

    You really should write to the freeholder and ask permission. If not given it is possible that the breach is deemed to have been accepted if ground rent is paid and accepted, etc.. It is also worth noting that variopus parties have known of and accepted the pet issue although maybe not in an official capacity.

    I think you may need to explain the management situation a bit more so people can help you, unfortunatley matters such as morality and the comfort a pet gives you have no legal standing.

    Andy

  3. #3

    Default

    Hi Andy,

    Thank you for that.

    The management company is purely made up of the 28 leaseholders who acquire 2 shares automatically when you purchase your maisonette. 4 of these shareholders are appointed directors (not quite sure how as I've never been party to a vote).
    The leaseholder who sends out the emails from his home in France is actually in breach of the lease himself as he is letting his property to his daughter and hasn't assigned his shares of the management company to her. In the lease it says this must be done in order to let your property.

    I do get on well with the freeholder (I have spoken to him with regards a lease extension I've been organising for the majority on the estate). I haven't contacted him lately however as he is 74 and has Parkinson's disease and I wouldn't like to stress him on matters that would make his condition worse. In the past he has never replies to letters - I've just managed to chat to him on the phone.

    I will write though, even of that just bides me time until I sell.

    Thank you very much once again,
    Julia

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    If you get written permission from the freeholder the management company won't have a leg to stand on. The management company will almost certainly need the co-operation of the freeholder in order to enforce the covenant anyway.If the management company is not the freeholder it cannot forfeit your lease, and so its options are very limited. Have someone check your lease and advise you properly, but there is a good chance that you may be in a position to tell them to do one, and there'll be nothing they can do about it unless the freeholder supports them.

  5. #5
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    Well..normally its not upto management agent to enforce breaches of the lease, it would be for them or for individual leaseholders to inform the freeholder, as you prob could do with regards to the breach you mentioned.

    I presume though that the management agent is party to the lease in some way.

    Enforcing covennats can be quite costsly and time consuming, i wonder whether the directors and/or leaseholders have thought of that.

    Hang around, Im sure others more knowledgable will be able to add more.

    Andy

  6. #6
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    So we are asking 'the cats Whiskers' "who under your lease has to be asked for consent". The quote says the "lessor" who will be identified early in the lease.

    Otherwise I think that there arguments that can be made, legal and political " do we owners want to pay £1000s to get rid of an entirely house trained cat or give consent conditional on it behaving?" and depending if you can afford that or find a new home for moggie.

    ( (insert diety of choice) save us from retirees trying to justify their continued existence )
    Based on the information posted, I offer my thoughts.Any action you then take is your liability. While commending individual effort, there is no substitute for a thorough review of documents and facts by paid for professional advisers. More ramblings atleaseholdpropertymanager.blogspot.com

  7. #7

    Default So grateful

    Hello,

    I'm really grateful for your replies, I'm so sorry I've not replied sooner. I've been in a whirlwind of my flat going on the market and with my health condition am struggling with it all.

    I had another letter yesterday from one of the directors of our management company saying if I don't get rid of my cat by 23rd April they will be starting legal proceedings against me which I will be forced to pay for (both parties). I replied I am in the process of selling and please will they grant me the good grace to leave me alone whilst I do that. No reply as yet. I've told 7 of my neighbours what is going on and they are aghast - but none of us are on the management company so can't change it. My upstairs neighbour and his partner say they would do anything so I can stay and are appalled by the situation and their autocratic running of our 28 maisonettes.

    They management company (owned solely by us, the owners hold and underlease, of which we all hold our separate leases from that. Our management company have a head lease owned by a freeholder who also lives in the town. He was the original electrician on our build and is elderly and now suffers withParkinsons Disease. I have spoken to him quite a bit trying to organise a lease extension and we gained a nice relationship. Yesterday, I wrote to him telling him of the situation I face and asking if he can do anything as he holds the head lease. It's a longshot. I really didn't want to bother him due to his health, but desperation has set in.

    I just want to be granted the time to sell and be allowed to keep my cat in the meantime - the thought of losing her I find so distressing I can't bear it.

    But anyway, thank you for your advice - any other ideas forthcoming I'd be most grateful for.

    Kind regards,
    Julia

  8. #8
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    Nov 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheCatsWhiskers View Post
    Hello,

    I'm really grateful for your replies, I'm so sorry I've not replied sooner. I've been in a whirlwind of my flat going on the market and with my health condition am struggling with it all.

    I had another letter yesterday from one of the directors of our management company saying if I don't get rid of my cat by 23rd April they will be starting legal proceedings against me which I will be forced to pay for (both parties). I replied I am in the process of selling and please will they grant me the good grace to leave me alone whilst I do that. No reply as yet. I've told 7 of my neighbours what is going on and they are aghast - but none of us are on the management company so can't change it. My upstairs neighbour and his partner say they would do anything so I can stay and are appalled by the situation and their autocratic running of our 28 maisonettes.

    They management company (owned solely by us, the owners hold and underlease, of which we all hold our separate leases from that. Our management company have a head lease owned by a freeholder who also lives in the town. He was the original electrician on our build and is elderly and now suffers withParkinsons Disease. I have spoken to him quite a bit trying to organise a lease extension and we gained a nice relationship. Yesterday, I wrote to him telling him of the situation I face and asking if he can do anything as he holds the head lease. It's a longshot. I really didn't want to bother him due to his health, but desperation has set in.

    I just want to be granted the time to sell and be allowed to keep my cat in the meantime - the thought of losing her I find so distressing I can't bear it.

    But anyway, thank you for your advice - any other ideas forthcoming I'd be most grateful for.

    Kind regards,
    Julia
    Bear in mind that any legal proceedings would take while to reach Court/LVT.

    It would appear that you really need a legal solution and not just relying on 'goodwill' which may not be forthcoming, maybe the shares/membership of the management company issue is the legal solution ?

  9. #9

    Default

    Thanks Andy. I pointed out yesterday to him for the 1st time that he, as a director of the management company is in breach of the lease himself by living in France and letting his flat to his daughter (who, coincidently is making a nightmare for the downstairs neighbour by way of noise. As soon as this neighbour complains, the noise increases and a note is put through her door complaining about noise from her windchime.)He has his daughter, her partner and newborn baby living in this 1 bed upstairs flat. The daughter 1st turned up with a dog.


    Anyway, hopefully time will be on my side ..... I just can't afford to pay lots of legal costs.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    Earlier you quoted the clause in the lease which said:

    "no animal, bird or reptile shall be kept without prior, written consent of the landlord"

    Who is the landlord as defined by your lease, the management company or the electrician?

    How near to selling are you?

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