Ultimately, it depends on the Lease wording…
There are no hard and fast rules. As the heading says: “It depends on the lease wording.” We can explain what is often the case, but there are lots of variations and different arrangements between Landlords/Lessors and Management Companies, and Tenants/Lessees.
If a Management Company is involved (not to be confused with a Managing Agent), it will take on some or all of the responsibilities that the Lessor/Landlord would otherwise have. We will explain two typical situations below, but please keep in mind that you must not assume the position with any flat you are buying or selling. There really is no substitute for checking the lease to be sure of the position.
When considering buying a flat, it is always worth asking about the management arrangements, because sometimes the seller, his agent or even a neighbour may give you important information about this. Please remember though that as this area is extremely technical and people often get terms like “Management Company” confused. If you contact us to get a quote and explain what you have been told, we can often make more sense of what is going on, or tell you what more you need to find out.
So, having issued a warning, the two main types of flat scheme are briefly explained below:
1. Block of flats with common halls, stairways and other shared areas
In this kind of case, normally the Landlord/Lessor takes responsibility for maintenance of the structure and the exterior of the building, and the Lessee/Tenant is only responsible for maintenance of the interior of their flat. The Landlord will insure the building, and the costs of this and of the maintenance of the building and other shared facilities such as gardens, lifts, shared aerials, etc. are collected in a maintenance or service charge from all the Lessees.
2. Maisonette with separate door to outside
As there is generally little that is shared between Lessees in this situation it is often not thought worthwhile to have service charge arrangements. So the downstairs lessee is given responsibility for maintenance of the whole of the structure as well as the (interior and exterior) of his part of the building including the foundations; and the first floor lessee for the first floor part of the structure etc. and the roof. Sometimes the other lessee has to contribute half the costs of structural work done by a Lessee, sometimes not. Each has to insure his own part of the building.
Generally the Landlord/Lessor’s only involvement is to collect ground rent. In extreme cases he may be requested to take action against another Lessee to make him comply with his lease terms.
If you wish to discuss the above article or feel that you require any further advice on your lease, residential conveyancing or any other property-related matter, you are encouraged to contact Richard Webster & Co. for a free, no-obligation, initial consultation.
Richard Webster is the founder of Richard Webster & Co. which a specialist in residential property and conveyancing and is accredited by The Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS). Please do not hesitate to contact the firm on 023 8000 4321 for any queries that you may have in relation to any residential property matters.
This article does not present a detailed statement of the Law and does not constitute as legal advice. This is a summary only and legal advice should always be sought on an individual case basis.