Q: The first occupants here arrived in May 1918 and to date 60 per cent of the apartments have been sold. The situation which currently concerns us all is the problem of the lift malfunctioning such as:
23 May 2019: one person trapped from 1330 to 1430
30 September 2019: one person trapped from 1125 to 1230
31 January 2020: doors not functioning – frozen in open position for 52 hours
24 February 2020: two people trapped from 1420 to 1645
We the residents find this situation completely unacceptable. A number of the residents have health issues which makes using the stairs very difficult, but they are in fear of using the lift.
We are told by the management: yes, you can have a seat fitted providing you pay for it. Currently they have provided a standard office chair loose in the lift, while we seek quotations for a fitted seat. BUT, this is not the solution to why the lift keep malfunctioning, this when the two levels it supports are less than 50 per cent occupied. Not all of those use it for fear of being confined in the lift for a number of hours.
FPRA Chairman Bob Smytherman replies:
The Equality Act requires “reasonable” adjustments to be made to common areas of blocks of flats to support people with a disability. I am not a lawyer or an expert on the Act but my understanding is that is the sort of thing that would qualify as a “reasonable “ adjustment. If so, then it would be for the person/s making the request to pay for such an adjustment.
I would suggest formally writing to the landlord making the request under the Equality Act and see how they respond. Then take legal advice about the next steps depending on their response.
My own view is would be unreasonable to charge ALL the service charge payers for such an adjustment that would benefit a limited number of flat owners.
I think there is wider issue about having a lift that frequently breaks down and therefore disproportionate costs associated with repeat repairs. It would seem to me something very wrong if the managing agent is not addressing a permanent repair. Maybe a new lift is required?
[Submitted February 2020]