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Paying for Communal Works

Wednesday, 29th August 2012

Categories: Sales

Author: Peter Barry

If you live in a Leasehold property, at some point you might come across the dreaded demand for money to undertake communal works. Whilst your annual service charge or management payment should cover all the day-day-day repairs and maintenance, bigger issues like windows, roofing or other exterior renovations will sometimes require a lump sum contribution if there is not enough in the reserve or pool fund to cover the cost of the work.

Fair notice

The leaseholder of the building is required to give you notice of any major upcoming works that will necessitate payment over and above the annual service charge and all leaseholders should be consulted before a final decision is made. You should also be offered the opportunity to settle the bill using a choice of payment options. For example, you might be able to pay the bill in monthly instalments, spread over a number of months or a year. If the works are deemed necessary for the on-going maintenance of the building, then it will be difficult to refuse. In effect, you are sharing the building so you have to take some financial responsibility for its upkeep. However, it can be difficult to justify the cost if you live on the ground floor of a ten-storey building, and you have to contribute to a new roof.

Check out before moving in

When your property purchase is going through, Your solicitor will be provided with an information pack from the management company which will inform you if there are any on-going maintenance disputes, or if there are outstanding payments for works due from the property you intend to purchase. There should also be some indication as to whether works are likely to be undertaken in the near future. For example, if the property recently had a new roof and new windows fitted to all apartments, you shouldn’t be affected by the same maintenance works for many years to come.

It’s easy to brush maintenance to one side if you’re buying a leasehold property, and yet, you still own your property and therefore have responsibility for its upkeep, in much the same way as if you bought a freehold house. A lease isn’t necessarily a passport to years of minimal maintenance bills, and your annual service charge shouldn’t lull you into a false sense of security about having to fork out a fortune for big repairs. You might think that your monthly or annual payment to the freeholder covers all eventualities, but that’s simply not the case.

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