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Roofworks on a shared freehold


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Hi all,

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to handle this problem which has landed on me?

Four flats in a block and each has a different owner who in turn owns 25% of the freehold. We have our own management company. All the flats are tenanted. Serious roofworks need doing and 3 out of the 4 owners are happy to go ahead after estimates were sought.

The 4th flat (ground floor) is owned by a commercial landlord whose elderly tenant pays a very small rent having lived there since the 1960's and has no AST. Commercial landlord never attends the annual management meeting.

This 4th landlord keeps trying to stop the work going ahead by asking for more estimates then taking months to reply. By this time the estimates are out of date or most recently the cheapest preferred roofer has moved on and Commercial Landlord asks for more estimates again rather than use the remaining estimates. The roof is leaking, the building is suffering and the tenants are not best pleased in the top flats.

Commercial Landlord has threatened me with having to get a 'Section 90' when I remonstrated with her- not sure what that is and should I be scared? Also is there anything I can do to insist on the works going ahead with or without her consent?

Only since this particular manager for the commercial landlord has taken over have we had soooo much trouble.


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The key question is, what does the lease say about repairing obligations?

For example:

Does it make it clear that the freeholder is responsible for this repair?

What does it say about consultation?

What does it say about betterment and is the repair you are proposing simply that, a repair, rather than an improvement? (This is a particular risk with roof repairs; for example, a flat to pitched roof conversion would be an improvement).

What does it say about when you can charge the leaseholders; in advance or in arrears?

Subject to the above, provided this repair is the freeholder's responsibility, it needs doing and you have carried out the necessary statutory consultation with all the leaseholders (over and above any required in the lease), then you can go ahead with the repair and recharge the leaseholders.

If you need the specific statutory references I can post those later in the weekend if you could give a bit more info on the lease.


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  • 4 weeks later...

Hi Preston and a Happy New Year to you all,

Sorry to bring this one up again but we are getting nowhere with the largest private landlord in the UK. I'm sure it is not rocket science to work out the name.

It's representative in my area is expert at delaying tactics. They sent their own tradesman to assess the situation before Christmas but he has not come back with a price. The roof is leaking and daylight visible in several places. We want to re-roof to save constant patching.

Their own tenant although in a groundfloor flat must be suffering as the downpipes are blocked and water spilling against his side wall and has been for some time.

I have just dug out and read my lease circa 1976 which says very little about any repairs and the roof gets one brief mention. The freehold was purchased by the 4 leasholders in 1990 and no new leases were issued. I do know that after a disagreement with another leaseholder over the use of laminate flooring in upstairs flats we realised that all the leases are slightly different.

It refers to the 'lessor' which I suppose is the original owner from 1906 and the 'lessee' who I expect is the current owner of each lease or do we divide the 'lessor' into 4 and have the same rights?

Under 'providing services' he lease calls for painting every 7 years and that entrance halls, staircases, fire escape and passages in the building commonly used in good repair. The lessor shall also carry out other repairs and works to maintain inurance policies shall manage the building as a block of good class residential flats ' This could be key as the insurance will not cover a delapidated building.

Under 'disputes' it refers to the matter being referred to an independent surveyor (sitting as an arbitrator and not as an expert) under the provision for the Arbitration Act 1950

Roof wording as follows:-

'costs and expenses payable by the Lessor to which the Lessee to to contriute und

'the costs or amount of the

repair maintenace and repairing of the common parts the structure, interior and exterior walls, the roof and main drains not the responsitlily of any of the tenants in accordance with the Lessor's obligations contained in Clause 3 (that was the bit above).

Well if you are not snoring by now I would appreciate any help from anyone!


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Yes, the lessor in this case is the freeholder, which is the four of you together. The leases are you each as individual leaseholders.

Does the lease explain how the freeholder should exercise his/her rights? For example, is it through a management company?

One of the things that worries me slightly is that you say the lease wasn’t altered when you all (or your predecessors) collectively acquired the freehold; this means the original leases are still in effect, but they were unlikely, being the age they are and given that there was previously a single freeholder, to establish a proper management company. You will be able to comment on this from your knowledge of the lease.

So, the main alternative is that the four of you, at the time of the acquisition, set up a company which owns the freehold, you each have shares in that company and the rules of the company dictate how you should conduct its affairs, including such matters as meetings, decision taking, accounts etc.

Anyway, the point I am making is that, to start with, whatever form the freeholder exists in, you must comply with your own company rules.

You must also, of course, comply with the lease. It does seem that the lease makes the freeholder responsible for the roof. I will also assume, for the purposes of this note, that the roof repair will be fairly straightforward replacement, with no “betterment” e.g. converting a flat roof to a pitched roof.

The lease will also cover crucial issues, like whether the freeholder has the power to charge in advance for the work, or only once it is completed (many older leases are of the latter type).

You must also observe any consultation requirements contained in the lease.

Next, you must comply with the statutory consultation rules. The statutory consultation procedure is described on the “lease-advice” website in some detail. In summary, for repairs costing more than £250 per freeholder, it is as follows:

1) Notice of intention to carry out qualifying works is given to each leaseholder and any recognised tenants' association (RTA) by the freeholder. The notice must describe in general terms the proposed works, or specify a place and hours where the description may be inspected.

The notice must state the reasons for the works, and invite written observations, specifying where they should be sent, over what period (30 days from the notice), and the end date. Further, the notice must contain an invitation for nominations of persons from whom the freeholder should obtain estimates. The landlord must have regard to written observations received during the consultation period.

2) The freeholder must then seek estimates:

  • from a single nominee of an RTA (whether or not any are received from individual leaseholders);
  • from a single nominee of only one leaseholder (whether or not one is made by an RTA);
  • if single nominations are made by more than one leaseholder (whether or not any are made by an RTA), the landlord must seek an estimate from the person with most nominations, or, if there is no clear leader but there are two or more who tie for first place, from one of those. If the result is not even that clear (for example, there could be five nominees with one vote each), an estimate must be obtained from one of them. If multiple nominations are received from any leaseholder and more than one from the RTA, the landlord must request an estimate from at least one person nominated by a leaseholder and at least one nominated by the RTA.

3) The freeholder then issues a statement (free of charge) setting out the estimated cost from at least two of the estimates and a summary of the observations received and his/her responses to them. The statement is issued with a notice (see next paragraph). At least one of the estimates shown in the statement must be from a person wholly unconnected with the landlord. If any estimates were received from leaseholders' nominees, they must be included in the statement.

The statement must be sent out with a notice detailing where and when all of the estimates may be inspected and inviting each leaseholder and any RTA to make written observations on any of the estimates, specifying an address where they should be sent, the consultation period (30 days from the notice) and the end date.

The landlord must have regard to written observations received this second 30-day consultation period.

4) Unless the chosen contractor is a leaseholder's or RTA nominee or submitted the lowest estimate, the landlord must give notice within 21 days of entering into the contract to each leaseholder and any RTA, stating his reasons for the selection, or specifying a place and hours for inspection of such a statement.

The landlord must also summarise any observations made and his responses. There is no requirement for inspection of the summary and responses in this case.

5) the landlord charges for the work and carries out the work (or the other way around, depending upon the lease.

The lease advice website really is very good. It contains all the standard notices and pro-formas for the other documents you will need. It is vital you follow this procedure however; if you do not, the leaseholder will not be entitled to recover the cost from the leaseholders.

Good luck.


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Hi Preston,

Wow! What a comprhensive and thorough reply! You are such an asset to this site. Thank you.

I have noted all that and made a checklist so I can proceed more professionally with the 4th freeholder in future and I will ensure this is on the agenda at our next AGM of the management company later in the year. Often as flats are sold on the estate agent's blurb says 'with a share of the freehold' and buyers don't always go into or know what that entails especially when it comes to serious structural repairs and dealing with other feeholders who don't want to spend money if they are not affected and they are to receive no advantage.

Our repairs are not betterment just replace of existing.

Will also check out that web site - I never would have guessed one like that existed.

Yesterday the person acting for this commercial landlord emailed me to say their own roofers had quoted more than my quotes and so she was asking senior auditors to release funds. We need to put in £1000 each. Having looked at this particular company's shares yesterday they must be in big trouble.

Thanks again Preston,


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I can't begin to top Preston's response on this.

It might, for what it's worth, be helpful to know that the management company (consisting of all the owners including one who is company secretary and is a professional agent) that I belong to looks after all the roof repairs and external painting etc.

The annual management charge and any extra 'corporate' jobs are discussed and agreed at AGM (e.g. replacing communal TV aerials, gardening, amenity lighting, wheely bins, flood precautions, etc. etc.) by vote of attendee owners.

Any extra costs are added in and spread across the monthly management charge, over more than one year if necessary. Once accepted by AGM all owners are expected to abide by the AGM and pay accordingly. As I recall, owners purchase deeds include a compliance clause with this management system, as updated by AGM, making decisions legally binding on all owners.

If owners don't attend AGM it's their problem! They are clearly told!!

I'm sure that this arrangement is typical of many.

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