Insulating the Loft
Q: Is the RMC legally responsible for loft insulation in common areas, eg loft of a two-storey block? If the answer is in the affirmative, can the cost be recovered in the Service Charge? Can a Tenant obtain a Government grant for insulating the common-area loft above his premises?
Tatsiana Rudzko answered for Bishop and Sewell:
Having reviewed the lease annexed to the tribunal decision dated 8 April 2010, it appears that the common parts definition does not include the loft. The definition of the retained parts includes all parts of the building lying below the floor surfaces or above the ceilings. As the flat does not include any of the retained parts, it means that the loft can potentially form the retained part and belong to the landlord. The lease however is silent on who is responsible for the maintenance of the retained parts. Under a schedule the landlord is responsible for providing, operating, maintaining and renewing any appliances or systems which the landlord considers necessary for the safety and security of the occupiers of the building. If loft insulation can be considered necessary for the safety and security of the occupiers, then potentially the landlord can recover costs for loft insulation from the tenants under the terms of the lease as part of the service charge.
The Government-led Energy Company Obligation Scheme (ECO) helps families who are on low incomes and in receipt of government benefits to reduce their energy bills. If those families meet the criteria, they could get a free grant towards insulation in their home. It does not appear that grant applies to the loft insulation of the building as a whole and in particular if the loft forms part of the landlord’s demise. You may wish however to obtain further information from the freeinsulationgrants website.
[Submitted September 2019]