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Nov, 2014

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  1. #1

    Default Compensation for inconvenience during building works?

    Hello, our freehold flat is in a large regency property shared with about 5 other flats.

    The building has been badly neglected by the freeholder, and in particular, a portion of damp in our front room has been allowed to spread badly.

    We have been asking the managing agent to fix it for the last two years, and despite having builders round to look at it, having letters to say that its covered by the insurance, the claim is being processed, etc.,its still not been fixed. The whole situation has been unbearably stressful.

    A new managing agent started recently, and seems as if she genuinely wants to fix the problem and we finally have a start date for the work.

    However its going to take a few weeks, will involve removing all the wallpaper, stripping off the old plaster, waiting for it to dry out before replastering and repapering. My husband works freelance, but when he works, he works nights, so if he takes on any work, he won't be able to sleep during the day as the builders will be in (loss of earnings?), and we'll also be living in our bedroom (its a one-bedroom flat) with all our records, books, etc. (huge inconvenience).

    I've written to the managing agent asking for compensation for the inconvenience - my argument is that we've had a stressful two years of broken promises, i have eczema which has been aggravated by the damp and if the problem had been fixed promptly in the first place we wouldn't now be looking at weeks of living in a building site.

    They've refused to countenance loss of earnings for hubby, nor to give any kind of goodwill gesture to compensate us for the inconvenience of living in a cloud of plaster dust for the duration of the work.

    Although I'm glad that the problem is being fixed, i'm really not happy at the thought of living in my bedroom for weeks on end - and don't think i'm being unreasonable. They've offered us a tiny (£170) discount on our most recent service charge, but that doesn't go anywhere near compensating us for the hassle. I'd like an amount that would cover hotel fees for us and kennel fees for our dog. Does that seem unreasonable?

    Does anyone have any advice for me?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Foundation trench for New Shed@ Ham on Rye
    Posts
    15,234

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    You may very well have a claim against the landlord, be it freeholder or whoever, who in turn would take it up with their agent for failing to perform. A new agent is not going to address the shortcomings of the other company or firm, that is as said the landlords responsibility no matter which agent he employs.

    Do you have an insurance policy with legal expenses cover, they might help. Does the building policy have cover for incidental expenses to cover temporary accommodation or kennelling? Speak to the loss adjuster if this is insurance funded works.
    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

  3. #3

    Default

    thank you for the response. When I said new managing agent, its actually a different person working for the same firm (which is associated with the Freeholder - the freeholder is XXX Group Ltd and the managing agent is XXX property management ltd - so the Freeholder has no incentive to make sure that the managing agent does a good job as long as the ££ is collected! The previous two employees of XX property management who were 'managing' our flat, have left and the new person does seem pretty fair, efficient and reasonable. So far.

    Quote Originally Posted by leaseholdanswers View Post
    You may very well have a claim against the landlord, be it freeholder or whoever, who in turn would take it up with their agent for failing to perform. A new agent is not going to address the shortcomings of the other company or firm, that is as said the landlords responsibility no matter which agent he employs.

    Do you have an insurance policy with legal expenses cover, they might help. Does the building policy have cover for incidental expenses to cover temporary accommodation or kennelling? Speak to the loss adjuster if this is insurance funded works.
    I have a copy of the insurance policy from earlier in the dispute (when i wasn't even sure the house was being insured!), I'll check the cover when I get home tonight.

    Many thanks again,

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    2,237

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    The ultimate reposnibilty lays with the FH so it sdoesnt really matter much aboute the management agent (unless in rare circumstances he too is party to the lease).

    i assume that you are responsible for the repair costs, you may be able to cite historic neglect, ie. it costs £5000 to repair but if you had done it x years ago it would of been £1000, therefore only £1000 could be claimed from you.

    It would appear to me you could claim compensation/damages for the Fh breach of covenant, it is becoming increasingly common for LH to make a counterclaim for damages/breach when pursued for service charges, sometimes LVT's deal with this, at other times they refuse juridstiction and refer it to the county court.

    Andy
    Advice given is based on my experience representing myself as a leaseholder both in the County Court and at Leasehold Valuation Tribunals.

    I do not accept any liability to you in relation to the advice given.

    It is always recommended you seek further advice from a solicitor or legal expert.

    Always read your lease first, it is the legally binding contract between leaseholder and freeholder.

  5. #5

    Default

    Hello Andy,

    No, we're not responsible for cost of the repair work - we've been chasing the managing agent AND the freeholder for over two years to get the work done and have been strung along, lied to, ignored, etc., its been really stressful.

    It was only at the end of 2012 when we found out that our previous contacts at the managing agency had left, and that their replacement was willing to speak to us, that things started to move forward.

    We'd previously tried witholding service payments to get them to talk to us, and got to a complete stalemate, so finally we made a substantial payment and have said that we'll pay the remainder (only about £200 which was due at the end of Dec 2012) when the work is done to our satisfaction (I'm worried that it'll be just patched up, and we'll have to redecorate where the paintwork and paper don't match).

    We've managed to get the management co to waive the management portion of the service charge for the last 9 months (only charged us actual costs; communal cleaning, insurance, electricity, etc.) and they have also waived a £200 legal fee for sending us a solicitors letter (my argument was that if they'd answered our letters they wouldn't have needed to involve solicitors!).

    My belief is that had the damp been addressed when we reported it, it would have been a fairly quick and simple repair job, and no huge bother to us, but now it looks like it'll be a few weeks of fairly extensive works - and living and sleeping in one small bedroom with all our books, tv, records, etc.

    Based on the above - do you think I have a decent case and should I speak to the LVA or go straight to our local country court?

    Thanks for the advice,

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    2,237

    Default

    Leasehold Advice Service only deal with service charge issues and this isnt really one, you have already said they you are not expected to pay for these works via a service charge so it would appear to be an issue of damages.

    You have to ask, has the MA/FH done something wrong, either contractually or perhaps criminal or breaching common law and this in turn has caused you expense, this extra expense is the damages or compensation that you seek.

    It does then move out of the realm of service charges and LVt's and into the county court and if the claim is more than £5000 into the risky area of substantial costs.

    My experience is that i have sued my FH twice for damages for breach of covenant, failing to repair driveway..but both times were settled out of court.

    You may need to seek expert legal advice.

    Andy
    Advice given is based on my experience representing myself as a leaseholder both in the County Court and at Leasehold Valuation Tribunals.

    I do not accept any liability to you in relation to the advice given.

    It is always recommended you seek further advice from a solicitor or legal expert.

    Always read your lease first, it is the legally binding contract between leaseholder and freeholder.

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