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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

Another leasehold related query.  I live in a house on the ladder that has been converted to three flats.  Our Freeholder appointed a Management Company back in the mists of time, but they are not great - the three flats pay them a lot, to do very little, they are generally pretty unresponsive, cleaning and maintenance of communal areas is done by us, so they're pretty much just renewing the buildings insurance and paying the electricity bill for the hall.

Every other year they'll suddenly announce that some kind of major works are needed (this is always done without them visiting the flats or talking to us) - their favourite is repainting the upstairs windowsills every three years, necessitating scaffolding, and a big bill for us and a nice 10% management fee for them. This is particularly galling given that they always suggest an outrageously expensive contractor so that I then have to do the legwork getting alternative quotes in.

Anyway all in all, they are expensive, annoying and rubbish so we would like to explore Right to Manage to either manage the flats ourselves or to appoint our own management company so we had some say over the timing of major works etc.   Has anyone done RTM or does anyone have a particularity good Management company they can recommend?

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Hi

In my experience (I’m a lawyer who specialises in this area) RTM is a halfway house that often leads to dissatisfaction. Freeholders fight it and then once you finally have the RTM the freeholder is permitted to become a shareholder of the RTM company, and to have oversight of your management of the building. They will sometimes apply to the tribunal to have you stripped of your RTM for minor breaches of the rules. 
You should use this momentum you have now to look at the much better option - collectively enfranchising and buying the freehold. If all the leases are long (80 years plus) the cost shouldn’t be too outrageous. 
My experience is that leaseholders who go for RTM often come back to me a couple of years later wanting to buy the freehold and wishing they had done it first time round. Once the momentum to do *something* has passed, it’s hard to get it back for some time, so use it for the better option now. 
Happy to give more info if needed. 
Rob 

Thanks Rob,  that's really useful

Hi Rob, do you work locally? We’re having similar issues with the freeholder of our building who also still owns the top flat leasehold (buts rent out on shorthold tenancies) and we’re investigating options. CE would be my preference but not clear how that gives us more ability to get things resolved as he would still own 1/3. Thanks

Hi. 

there is a way round this and you can exclude the freeholder.

i don’t work locally (I’m in the city) but I’m always happy to have a quick chat to discuss even if you decide to go elsewhere. There is no point in pretending otherwise that my firm is not cheap. Please use a specialist though  this is a complicated area of law! 

Rob

The Lease should state how often the building needs re-painting.  If they are only painting windowsills scaffolding should not be necessary.

Before any major work costing over £200 is carried out the management company are obliged to consult with Leaseholders.

Not quite right it’s £250 per Flat. Some freeholders make sure that (for a block of 3 flats) the works all magically come to less than £750. And painting the windows is one set of works. Then painting the doors is a seperate set of works etc. 

And if the costs are not equally divided, it relates to £250 for any one of the units....

Perhaps you could contest on the basis of unreasonable charges?

Hi, if you can get 2/3 of the leaseholders to agree to purchasing the freehold, do not hesitate!  You have the legal right. I should state that I am/was a teacher with no background in law.  Several years ago, as a leaseholder of one of the four flats in a Victorian conversion, I negotiated the purchase of the freehold on behalf of all the leaseholders. Since then, having granted ourselves 999 year leases, we've been operating as directors, running a freehold limited company,  managing the servicing and maintenance ourselves. The lease term is a formality; it's up to whoever has bought into the freehold at the end of that term, to renew the lease - it certainly won't be an issue for me.  Running the freehold company does involve trust and co-operation, and someone  willing to steer things a bit (that's me) in everyone's interest; but why hold onto a 99- year diminishing lease and have your freeholder dictate terms, or have a managing company deciding on contractors and your outgoings?  Why even put time and effort into RTM when you could be joint owners, make savings, and be self directing?  Long term gains any way you look at it. I would jump at Rob's offer to discuss further.  

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