Quick Question & Answer
Q. I have been told I must purchase a pet license for my dog and the agent wants a fee. I don’t see why this is necessary when I’m not required to have a pet license by law. And why should they get a fee for doing nothing?
A. The reason you have been informedyou must apply for a license is certainly part of the terms of your lease. Your lease will contain a no pets clause, except with the express approval of the landlord and it is the lease that requires you to purchase a license. This license will be granted on the basis that your pet does not cause nuisance to other residents and, should it do so, can be revoked, at which point you can be asked to remove your pet from the premises. It is in your interests to ensure that the pet you have doesn’t soil the common parts or bark constantly as this would constitute a nuisance.
Q. Can I knock out a wall between my lounge and kitchen in order to open out my flat? They do it on television all the time. I started scheduling the work with the builder and the agent sent me a very unpleasant letter saying that this was not allowed. I have told him I am a freeholder and have the right to do as I like.
A. Fortunately you can’t do what you want as you are not a freeholder. You are a leaseholder even if you own a share in the freehold. Being a shareholder does not provide any extra rights over and above those in the lease. By removing a wall you may affect the integrity of the building structure and contravene building control regulations concerning fire safety within the building. The benefit of the leasehold structure ensures such controls for the right reasons not for the purpose of being awkward. You must apply for permission first and submit plans if you hope to continue.
Q. The lift at our block of flats has been out of service for six months. No amount of complaining to the management committee has resulted in a repair. I live on the third floor and my mother cannot visit me while the lift is broken. All we are told is that parts are on order. I’m thinking of selling up. I’m not going to pay the service charges this year and several of my neighbours are doing the same. How can I force the issue with the committee, can I organize the repair myself.
A. The landlord is restricted by the supply of goods and as no lifts are manufactured in this country any more, supplies of large component parts can take a long time to be received. They are rarely off-the-shelf items, they may need to be specially made. The service charge fund may not have been sufficient to cover the cost of the part, further adding to the delay. By refusing to pay the service charge you are only exacerbating the situation. The lease does not allow you to deduct or refuse to pay service charges, although, it could be argued that your apportionment of the budgeted lift cost for the year is held back from an on account payment by you until repaired. You should clearly stipulate this to the managing agent when making the payment. You will still be responsible for your portion of the major works on demand.