PLEASE would you allow me through your paper to respond to Maurice Webb from Worthing about the current leasehold system of property tenure.
As a leasehold flat owner in Worthing for 20 years I share many of Mr Webb’s views about the leasehold system, however there is no realistic alternative as the Government have made it virtually impossible for existing leaseholders to transfer to Commonhold which is the only option if you live an existing block of flats and in addition made it unattractive for developers of new blocks to build Commonhold units despite good intentions in the 2002 Commonhold & Leasehold Reform Act, therefore we have to make the best of what we have got which is why for the last 40 years our organisation has encouraged leaseholders to get together with their neighbours ie:
The Big Society and set up a recognised tenants’ association (RTA) or Residents Association.
A RTA enables a block to speak with one voice when approaching the landlord. Things like cleaning, routine maintenance and door entry systems can, over time, agitate those living in leasehold properties.
It is often the case that, when leaseholders speak together as a residents association they can nip many of these problems in the bud. An RTA offers a single point of contact for those who own and manage their premises.”
If leaseholders also want to embark on major collective projects like changing management, challenging service charges outright or even buying the freehold, then forming a residents association is the easiest way of ensuring that everyone is involved and committed before the whole process is begun
RTAs can be set up by blocks of any size and have the right to be:
consulted about the appointment of managing agents,
notified of works proposed by the landlords and to receive copies of estimates,
submit the names of contractors that it would like to be included in a tender list,
obtain information about service charge accounts,
appoint a surveyor who will have rights of access to the property and to the documents retained by those who manage the property.
Current legislation does of course give individual leaseholders many rights, but RTAs do have additional rights. Leaseholders can demand information about their own service charges and landlords have to consult and try to obtain estimates from leaseholders’ recommended contactors when works to their building will cost any one leaseholder more than £250.
Our organisation provides a detailed handbook for setting up a residents’ association which available for sale from the Federation of Private Residents’ Associations office and web-site.
We are a non-profit association of associations for private sector blocks of flats. It represents the interests of thousands of leaseholders living in over 500 blocks across England & Wales including my own block in Worthing.
Running your own leasehold building can often be time consuming for a few individuals and the formation of a recognised residents association can share the burden out more fairly.
The Federation of Private Residents’ Associations can be contacted on 0871 200 3324 or visit our web site at www.fpra.org.uk.
The Federation of Private Residents Associations Ltd