Homes, as we know, require maintenance from time to time. In a flat it is your responsibility to look after your own premises. However, you share parts of your flat with others. An old legal precept is that "One man's floor is another man's ceiling." This is most often literally true.

While this means that you should all be contributing to the cost of maintenance and common repairs and a shared cost should be easier to bear, this is often not true. Unfortunately, too often the cost of those repairs seems so much higher than it would cost if you had just banded together and done it yourselves.

In some cases, this is because of the extra time and effort required by the managing agents to consult where the cost to each leaseholder is likely to exceed £250. This is a requirement and failure to do so can have expensive consequences. However, sometimes the costs just seem to be piled on; whether because it is the leaseholders who are paying so there is not enough effort put into ensuring the cost or quality of the services; or because the management or landlord have a connection to, or benefit from using the services of a particular company. Then it can be in their interest to push up the prices to increase their commission or reward. This often also happens when placing insurance.

It is worth noting that as a leaseholder you are only liable for costs of works and services "of a reasonable standard" and "only to the extent that they are reasonably incurred", otherwise the amount payable shall be limited accordingly.

A major distinction is whether works carried out are "repairs" or go as far as to constitute "improvements". Unless your lease specifically grants that you are liable for improvements, their cost should be borne by the freeholder. A way to consider the distinction is whether the works change the character of the building, or bring about something of a character new and different to what was there before. It does not have to be the entire structure either, but where something is radically different so as to make a marked change or departure from the past. 

The tenant's job is not to “create a new thing in place of what was there” but to“...repair that thing he took; he is not obliged to make a new thing.” Lister v Lane and Nesham (1893) 2 QB 212.

Sometimes some unscrouplous managers do work to a poor standard knowing that they will charge again when it comes to time to redo the same job. By the standards under Part II of the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 regarding standard and duration, work done has to and to remain durable for a reasonable time and be “fit for purpose.”

If you have any queries regarding the standard of your works, a good starting point may be to contact a buildings surveyor for an assessment. Alternatively, contact us to discuss the issue before moving ahead.