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Asking for a friend. Flat sale complications

Asking for a friend. Flat sale complications

Old Apr 27th 2018, 8:31 pm
  #1  
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Default Asking for a friend. Flat sale complications

A friend back home lives in a ground floor flat and the person in the flat upstairs is selling. It's a Victorian terrace house. Seems that a potential buyer is sending my friend letters listing repairs, maintenance that need doing to the house and asking about her contribution.

So far she hasn't replied and is feeling harassed. She'll have to spend money on solicitors now to get advice, possibly for her own surveyors inspection too, then find money she doesn't have for work she had no idea was needed. My friend is stressed out, doesn't have spare money, has just been made redundant, and can't see a way forward.

What would you do?
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Old Apr 27th 2018, 8:45 pm
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Default Re: Asking for a friend. Flat sale complications

Does she own the flat she lives in? Is she receiving these letters because she owns the whole property and is the freeholder?

If she only rents she is under no obligation to pay for any repairs, that is the landlord's/freeholders responsibility.

If she is owner/freeholder then that would be a different situation.
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Old Apr 27th 2018, 10:20 pm
  #3  
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Default Re: Asking for a friend. Flat sale complications

She owns the flat but isn't the freeholder. He's absent, just takes a ground rent but no service charges, dies nothing. It depends on her lease whether she's on the hook for roof repairs but now she feels she has to get that checked.

She feels harassed by letters from this potential buyer. I've told her to either ignore or just to reply and say she will deal with it when she is well enough. I feel very sorry for her.
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Old Apr 27th 2018, 11:04 pm
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Default Re: Asking for a friend. Flat sale complications

Originally Posted by bats View Post
She owns the flat but isn't the freeholder. He's absent, just takes a ground rent but no service charges, dies nothing. It depends on her lease whether she's on the hook for roof repairs but now she feels she has to get that checked.

She feels harassed by letters from this potential buyer. I've told her to either ignore or just to reply and say she will deal with it when she is well enough. I feel very sorry for her.
As you say, her lease will detail what liabilities she has. As it's the roof it will probably be that all the owners in the property are liable for its repairs.

It does not sound as though there was any communal saving scheme in order to have reserves for repairs of the building.

I don't think the buyer can force her into doing anything, if its general repairs. What is the seller doing to remedy the buyers requests? Why does the buyer think that your friend is responsible for the repairs.
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Old Apr 27th 2018, 11:19 pm
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Default Re: Asking for a friend. Flat sale complications

I would tell the buyer that it's the seller's responsibility to negotiate with the friend about any repairs and then, if they persist, ignore them. Until the buyer has completed/closed the sale, they have no rights at all.
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Old Apr 28th 2018, 12:45 am
  #6  
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Default Re: Asking for a friend. Flat sale complications

Originally Posted by SanDiegogirl View Post
As you say, her lease will detail what liabilities she has. As it's the roof it will probably be that all the owners in the property are liable for its repairs.

It does not sound as though there was any communal saving scheme in order to have reserves for repairs of the building.

I don't think the buyer can force her into doing anything, if its general repairs. What is the seller doing to remedy the buyers requests? Why does the buyer think that your friend is responsible for the repairs.
Originally Posted by Giantaxe View Post
I would tell the buyer that it's the seller's responsibility to negotiate with the friend about any repairs and then, if they persist, ignore them. Until the buyer has completed/closed the sale, they have no rights at all.
The seller doesn't seem to be doing anything useful just passing the buck onto the buyer. You're right that the seller should be negotiating all this and seeing what the lease says. That's if the two flats have the same lease.

Money will have to be spent. Sometimes it isn't worthwhile owning property
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Old Apr 28th 2018, 1:32 am
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Default Re: Asking for a friend. Flat sale complications

Originally Posted by bats View Post
The seller doesn't seem to be doing anything useful just passing the buck onto the buyer. You're right that the seller should be negotiating all this and seeing what the lease says. That's if the two flats have the same lease.
If the seller wants to sell, they will stop passing the buck once your friend declines to deal with the buyer.

Originally Posted by bats View Post

Money will have to be spent. Sometimes it isn't worthwhile owning property
Properties need maintenance whether they are being sold or not.

Last edited by Giantaxe; Apr 28th 2018 at 1:34 am.
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Old Apr 28th 2018, 2:33 am
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Default Re: Asking for a friend. Flat sale complications

Usually in these type of leases, unless the freeholder states in the lease that they are responsible for maintaining the common areas - roof, entrance hall,sewage and water pipes on the freehold land , then the leaseholders are jointly and severally responsible for the upkeep of these. Often the freeholder will put repairs etc in train then charge the leaseholders their proportion - ie. 2 flats, 50% each, 4 flats 25% each.
Definitely legal advice is needed to check the lease to see who is responsible. Get the Citizens Advice Bureau to have a first look at the lease for free. They will advise if a solicitor is necessary. Leases of freehold property can be a minefield and when your friend bought the flat they should have been told by their solicitor of their responsibilities under the lease. The buyer is doing the right thing as presumably their survey has highlighted what needs doing and correctly are asking your friend for their contribution towards repairing the common areas. If I was the buyer, I would be asking the same questions.
Now, if your friend refuses to contribute and the lease she signed says the "tenants" are jointly responsible then she has a problem! Even if the two flats owned the freehold I believe they again are jointly and severally responsible for the common areas.
Definitely legal advice is needed even if this sale does not proceed , so that your friend is aware for the future.
I have some knowledge of this type of situation as many years ago , I leased a small industrial unit - there were 6 units in the block. The lease agreement stated that we were responsible for all repairs and maintenance to our unit, BUT the freeholder (our landlord) was responsible for the common areas. The guttering on one of the units broke and dumped water all over, but the landlord covered the cost of repairs. Our toilet sprang a leak but WE had to pay to get it fixed.
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Old Apr 28th 2018, 1:21 pm
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Default Re: Asking for a friend. Flat sale complications

Originally Posted by quiltman View Post
Usually in these type of leases, unless the freeholder states in the lease that they are responsible for maintaining the common areas - roof, entrance hall,sewage and water pipes on the freehold land , then the leaseholders are jointly and severally responsible for the upkeep of these. Often the freeholder will put repairs etc in train then charge the leaseholders their proportion - ie. 2 flats, 50% each, 4 flats 25% each.
Definitely legal advice is needed to check the lease to see who is responsible. Get the Citizens Advice Bureau to have a first look at the lease for free. They will advise if a solicitor is necessary. Leases of freehold property can be a minefield and when your friend bought the flat they should have been told by their solicitor of their responsibilities under the lease. The buyer is doing the right thing as presumably their survey has highlighted what needs doing and correctly are asking your friend for their contribution towards repairing the common areas. If I was the buyer, I would be asking the same questions.
Now, if your friend refuses to contribute and the lease she signed says the "tenants" are jointly responsible then she has a problem! Even if the two flats owned the freehold I believe they again are jointly and severally responsible for the common areas.
Definitely legal advice is needed even if this sale does not proceed , so that your friend is aware for the future.
I have some knowledge of this type of situation as many years ago , I leased a small industrial unit - there were 6 units in the block. The lease agreement stated that we were responsible for all repairs and maintenance to our unit, BUT the freeholder (our landlord) was responsible for the common areas. The guttering on one of the units broke and dumped water all over, but the landlord covered the cost of repairs. Our toilet sprang a leak but WE had to pay to get it fixed.
She's not refusing to pay but these things have gone out if the blue so it's a shock and will find it hard to get the money together. I know she should have been saving but life gets in the way of that sometimes. Her main problem is that this has come from a potential buyer for the other flat and not from the seller. She's feeling hounded.
I had a similar flat some years ago and it turned out that the roof was the responsibility of the top flat. It would be good if there was a requirement that the whole cost doesn't have to be paid in one go.
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Old Apr 28th 2018, 4:54 pm
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Default Re: Asking for a friend. Flat sale complications

Originally Posted by quiltman View Post
Usually in these type of leases, unless the freeholder states in the lease that they are responsible for maintaining the common areas - roof, entrance hall,sewage and water pipes on the freehold land , then the leaseholders are jointly and severally responsible for the upkeep of these. Often the freeholder will put repairs etc in train then charge the leaseholders their proportion - ie. 2 flats, 50% each, 4 flats 25% each.
Definitely legal advice is needed to check the lease to see who is responsible. Get the Citizens Advice Bureau to have a first look at the lease for free. They will advise if a solicitor is necessary. Leases of freehold property can be a minefield and when your friend bought the flat they should have been told by their solicitor of their responsibilities under the lease. The buyer is doing the right thing as presumably their survey has highlighted what needs doing and correctly are asking your friend for their contribution towards repairing the common areas. If I was the buyer, I would be asking the same questions.
Now, if your friend refuses to contribute and the lease she signed says the "tenants" are jointly responsible then she has a problem! Even if the two flats owned the freehold I believe they again are jointly and severally responsible for the common areas.
Definitely legal advice is needed even if this sale does not proceed , so that your friend is aware for the future.
I have some knowledge of this type of situation as many years ago , I leased a small industrial unit - there were 6 units in the block. The lease agreement stated that we were responsible for all repairs and maintenance to our unit, BUT the freeholder (our landlord) was responsible for the common areas. The guttering on one of the units broke and dumped water all over, but the landlord covered the cost of repairs. Our toilet sprang a leak but WE had to pay to get it fixed.
I agree with everything you write bar that bolded text:- buyer should be asking seller to fix the problems with it being the seller's responsibility to deal with the other leaseholder to get things addressed.

Another reason for the friend not to deal directly with the buyer: with the nutty system of buying property in England where there's no legal commitment to buy until near the end of the process, the friend could end up dealing with a buyer who doesn't end up buying.
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Old Jun 16th 2018, 4:56 pm
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Default Re: Asking for a friend. Flat sale complications

Originally Posted by Giantaxe View Post
I agree with everything you write bar that bolded text:- buyer should be asking seller to fix the problems with it being the seller's responsibility to deal with the other leaseholder to get things addressed.

Another reason for the friend not to deal directly with the buyer: with the nutty system of buying property in England where there's no legal commitment to buy until near the end of the process, the friend could end up dealing with a buyer who doesn't end up buying.
I agree with that. Bats' friend could end up paying for repairs which may or may not be necessary, with no commitment from the other lease-holder.
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