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Appointment of a manager to leasehold blocks

Over the past couple of years we have acted and advised on a number of occasions with regards to appointment of a manager.

For owners of leasehold properties, particularly Buy to Let investors, one of the biggest bugbears can be poor or none existent management. Some freeholders or their supposed managers seem to take little or no interest in the building which can have a significant effect on leaseholders.  In some situations little can be gained by looking to enfranchise for various reasons and in our experience Right to Manage under the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 does not work for all.  This can be particularly true when you have an investor with perhaps one or two flats in a development who does not want to become involved in the complexities of an RTM application and involving themselves with the other residents.  For them they wish to see value for money repairs and maintenance.

In the above the appointment of a manager under Section 24 of the Landlord and tenant Act 1987 can be the route to adopt.

This is a fault based ground. This means you have to be able to show the Landlord and or their agent are breaching the terms of the lease and the RICS service charge code. In practice when there is dissatisfaction this is often not that high a hurdle.

The first step is to serve notice under Section 22. This is where the leaseholder sets out their complaints.  The landlord is then given a reasonable period of time to respond and explain how they are going to remedy these breaches.

If no response is received, or an unsatisfactory one then an application can be made to the First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber). The only real requirement is to propose a suitable manager.  Typically they will need to have some form of professional qualification and be prepared to act as a tribunal appointment which is a personal appointment although a managers firm may undertake the day to day tasks.

At any hearing the first step will be to prove that a section 22 notice has been served and the landlord did not provide an adequate response. You must then prove the inadequacies of the landlord and the tribunal will interview the proposed manager.  The tribunal will want him to understand that his appointment is by the tribunal and he reports to them.  Typically the Order, if made, will fix the fees payable and the length of appointment which will often be for three years initially.

The process is one which can be very useful in a mismanaged block which does not want to enfranchise or exercise a right to manage or has done so and this is the cause of the problems! If you are involved in any such blocks we are experienced in dealing with such matters and would be happy to have a preliminary discussion to see if we could assist. For further advice please contact David Whitney on 01420 565310 or email davidw@painsmith.co.uk

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