Are you living in a flat and are unhappy with the way it is being managed? You might not agree with unreasonable service charges, how maintenance is carried out, or are seeing discrepancies with rent charges. If you are in a quandary in what to do, there are a few things to consider in dealing with this issue.
The first port of call a leaseholder can try is the First-Tier Tribunal, which is a court system that deals with property and estate disputes. If the leaseholder has failed to come to an agreement with your landlord or manager with regard to issues you are not happy with, you can gain some more help by contacting the Leasehold Advisory Service (LAS). The website alone contains numerous downloadable advice guides that could assist you in starting to build a case. Also, according to an article by the Guardian, once your case is accepted, the First Tier Tribunal will make a ‘determination’. The article also states that getting legal aid from the Leasehold Advisory Service would best suit you if your property manager wants to settle things in court.
If a leaseholder prefers to get rid of your manager, however, there is a service that you can apply for called Right To Manage (RTM). With advice from the LAS, all you do is serve notice, the landlord could try to challenge it, but as long as your original notice is valid the RTM tends to be awarded to the leaseholder. However, on the LAS website, a leaseholder cannot apply if the premises contains commercial property which makes up more than 25 per cent of the block. It also will not apply if the current landlord is a local housing authority, and if the premises fall within the Resident Landlord Exemption. And RTM must only be exercised by a RTM company; a leaseholder cannot act on their own.
Another avenue leaseholders can take up is Appointment of Manager. This is made available under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987, according to the LAS website. It goes on to explain that it allows leaseholders of flats to apply to a First-Tier Tribunal for the appointment of a new manager. This means the landlord remains the same but the manager changes. The new manager will be accountable to the Tribunal. But, again, this cannot apply where the landlord is a local authority, a registered provider, a fully mutual housing association or a charitable housing trust.
There are pros and cons to weigh up when deciding what to do if you no longer feel happy with the way your current landlord is managing your block. There is on abundance of advice on how to go about finding new management, but as it is a serious step to take, first seek legal advice on the matter, which is what the Leasehold Advisory Service always recommends to any who want to take matters into their own hands.