Q: Two leaseholders consistently refuse to replace their windows.
The last remaining flats to replace their window frames is proving a challenge. We have just carried out external painting and repairs to the wooden frames which has shown they are now beyond a proper repair and potentially dangerous due to the condition of the wooden frame..
What is the best action to ensure both the leaseholder and management company comply with the lease?
FPRA Hon Consultant Mark Chick replies:
Thank you for your enquiry dated 9 May 2018 concerning the replacement of the windows at your block. We understand that there are two flats who are yet to replace window frames which the management company have now identified as being beyond proper repair due to the dangerous conditions of the wooden frames. We assume in providing this answer that there is no argument on the part of these flat owners that the windows form part of the landlord’s repair and responsibility under the terms of the lease that these are not demised to the flat owners in question.
The demise clause of the lease indicates that the only parts reserved to the landlord are in fact the glass within the windows of the flats. This would indicate at first viewing that the window frames are in fact the responsibility of the tenant. The provisions of clause 2 (3) of the Lease require the tenant to keep the interior and the doors, windows and window frames in good and substantial repair.
It could be argued that this clause does not require an obligation to replace but where the item has become beyond economic repair then replacement will be the only option.
Clause 2 (6) allows the Landlord to enter to inspect and to prepare a schedule of condition. The landlord can serve a notice on the tenant indicating any wants of repair and recquire the tenant to carry these out immediately.
If the tenant does not proceed to carry out the work, then the landlord can, after three months, proceed to carry out the repair itself and seek to recover the cost from the tenant.
Ultimately, if the leaseholders will not repair the windows and they are out of condition, this is the path that should be followed.
Before embarking on a particular action of this sort an appropriate report evidencing the lack of repair should be obtained.
There may be some debate as to whether the tenant can opt to repair the item if this is possible. However, provided it can be shown that the item is beyond economic repair and that replacement is the only option (on the basis of expert option) then you should be able to proceed in this way.
Question submitted May 2018