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Published On: August 24, 2018 | Blog | 0 comments

What To Do If Your Freeholder Breaches Their Lease Obligations – Right to Manage (RTM Claims)

Under a Lease there are several obligations set out that both the leaseholders and freeholder must follow.  If these are not adhered to then either party could be in breach of the Lease and severe consequences may subsequently follow.

The types of breaches that a freeholder can be liable for are:

  • Not maintaining the building properly including the roof and foundations
  • Not keeping the building properly insured from loss or damage by fire
  • Not painting or redecorating the building when needed
  • Not keeping passageways and stairwells well lit
  • Failing to keep a record of annual certificates, accounts and audits
  • Failing to fix or repair any television or radio aerials

If you believe your freeholder may be in breach of their Lease agreements an option for you could be to set up your own management company with other leaseholders within your block and maintain the building yourselves.  This would mean taking over conduct of all management functions that your freeholder would usually deal with such as those listed above.  The only rights that do not pass to the RTM company and remain with the freeholder are collection of ground rent and the right of forfeiture and possession of a Lease.

RTM is a good way of leaseholders being able to take control of the management of the building and make sure it is properly maintained and repaired to your own standards, especially if you cannot afford to buy the freehold altogether.  You are able to collect the service charges yourselves and spend them on the work you feel is necessary as well as insuring the building proper

If you feel your freeholder is not doing a good job of maintaining the building to a satisfactory standard or not fulfilling their obligations under your Lease you may wish to consider taking on the management functions yourself.

If RTM is an option for you please give Anthony Gold a call where one of our specialist lawyers in the Leasehold Services Department will be happy to give you further advice around the Right to Manage route and assist you with setting up your own RTM company and taking over the management functions from your current freeholder.

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18 thoughts on “What To Do If Your Freeholder Breaches Their Lease Obligations – Right to Manage (RTM Claims)

  1. I own a leasehold property in London with the Freeholder being the Council (use to be Paddington Churches but not sure if it still is) and their managing agent is Genesis/Notting Hill. The property is a period building which according to my lease states it as a “High Class Residential Building”. I bought the flat in 1997 and in all the years I have owned it, the building has not been maintained at all. There are 4 flats in the building – 2 owned by the council (1st floor and basement) and the other 2 (top floor and ground) privately owned. In order to get things done I have either had to do it myself (install railings and front gate and enclose the bin store with doors, plants in the front) or having to hound them and get Health & Safety to force them to fix things (eg. blocked drains). I have hundreds of email correspondence complaining to them about the issues with the building (the comedy of errors is quite laughable). I have not been able to increase my rent due to the poor state of the communal parts, including their nuisance tenants (eg. constant leaks from their bathroom to me; leaks from their balcony which still has not been 100% resolved, and their basement tenant destroying the front small garden (which was paid for by me). To add to this they had to do some emergency roof repairs in Dec 2018, and their builders did not secure the roof before they left over the weekend and of course we had torrential rain, which caused huge damage to the flats in the building as the roof could not be secured until Monday! There have been a number of occasions when the fire alarm they installed went off and they firstly didnt have access to the building to turn it off and then didnt know how to! The alarm continued for over a full day! Due to the issues with the building and the fact that they were in breach of the terms of my lease (no works for the 22years I have owned my flat) I stopped paying my service charges about 4 years ago. We keep getting apologies and promises that the works will take place in the next round… but the next round never comes! What can I and the other leaseholder do about this – as we want to building and common parts fixed as soon as possible? Fixing the building, common parts and front area is going to be costly and I feel they should pay for majority of the costs if not all! The issue/stress we have had to deal with for years has been terrible. To add they admitted to me last week in an email that they didnt have a key to the building , and requested me to cut them a few copies!!!

  2. Hi, I wonder if you guys might be able to provide some general advice to me? I’m confused and lost as to what my next step should be.

    I’m the sole Leaseholder in the building that comprises only the flat I own (a loft conversion) and the Freeholder’s commercial office premises and storeroom below. It was from the Freeholder that I purchased the flat last year.

    An existing rat infestation became evident from the moment I moved in, and I have essentially spent the last 6 months being fobbed off with promises to remedy the situation, but no actual action (beyond an initial, totally inept and ineffectual 10 minutes with a can of expanding foam).

    The issue being pre-existing, the Lease clearly stating the FH’s responsibility for maintenance of ‘retained parts’ (including all external walls, foundations, ‘service media’ etc. – basically every part of the building a rat could possibly enter through), plus the rats have clearly only reached my property through his (where he has admitted to me they are present).

    I’m right in thinking/hoping this is unequivocally his responsibility, aren’t I? I’d actually be happy to contribute to the cost of remedy through a service charge, but would expect my ‘share’ to reflect the above.

    My main problem is with simply getting the FH to act (striking out without co-operation is literally not an option – any solution will require work to his premises). What’s my best first avenue of recourse for his failings under the Lease terms? This article poses the sort of question I have, but the solution doesn’t strike me as a viable one in my case as a sole Leaseholder.

    Many thanks!

  3. Hi this is a very similar situation to me, My freeholder is Southwark council. I would love to know what you have ended up doing!

  4. I am a leaseholder and the council are the freeholder. my door was damaged last April 2020 and they are responsible for the doors, they made the door safe to their standards with a temporary lock but it was flimsy and the builder who installed it told me one push and the front door would be opened so i had to move out for safety until they rectified this. After much complaining they installed a temp door after 8 weeks and then refused to pay me the costings for the rent i paid elsewhere for those 8 weeks as i had paid in cash. Now 10 months later i still do not have a permanent door replaced after months and months of emailing them, their excuse now is that they are looking at new suppliers for their doors and have been for over 4 months and will not give a time frame for when they will choose a new supplier let alone a time frame for when the door will be replaced. In the process i have been trying to sell my flat as i cannot deal with the stress this council have caused me over 9 years living here as their council tenants and leaked damage into my property 8 times! The temp door was putting off potential buyers so i took it off the market in the hope that the council would have the door fixed by March 2021 but it now looks like they will not and i desperately need to sell my flat, are they breaching the lease agreement and what can i do about this?

  5. hello.
    I am a landlord /lease holder 999 years, the free holder is not responding to requests for insurance policy ,what can I do legal to get him to forward insurance.


    1. Hi Jeffrey, thanks for your comment. A member of the team will get in touch with you shortly to see if we are able to help. Kind Regards

  6. Hi, I have a dispute with my freeholders managing agent over negligence of roof repairs for many years causing water damage to my property and the property above and beneath my flat. As a result I have not my service charge for 2 years. Firstly due to agents lack of ability to fix the problem and secondly they have miscalculated my due proportion. To complicate matters I am in the process of extending my lease by 90 years with a new penalty clause of 6% above base rate for late payment. How should I proceed?
    Thank you.

    1. Dear Diana, thanks for your comment. A member of the team will get in touch with you shortly to see if we are able to help. Kind Regards

  7. Hello,

    The freeholder of my building does not maintain the building regularly yet still sends service charge demands without a clear breakdown of costs. I have requested the certificate of expenses as stipulated that leaseholders should receive after year end and it has been a year and not received this. Certain maintenance such as oiling the roof is not being done.

    The Freeholder owns about 40% of the flats in the building so Leasehold Advisory Service have advised that RTM may not be an option.

    We feel robbed with no real recourse it seems as there is no managing agent. What can we do?

  8. Dear Davina, thank you for your comment. A member of the team will get in touch with you shortly to see if we are able to help.

    1. Please contact me, we are a group of 10 leaseholders, the freeholder is preventing the managing agents to spend on cleaning and security in our development to artificially keep the service charge at £3.45 per sqft, they want to keep a low service charge to ensure they (the freeholder developer) can sell nearby properties on the same estate to investors claiming the artificially low service charges. This has meant the management company and managing agents are not able to provide sufficient cleaning in the buildings, security is appalling, flies infesting on, lack of cleaning, dilapidations and no repairs. We have been complaining for the past 2 years to no avail.
      Do we have any recourse of action?

  9. I live in a flat above an A1 classification shop. The shop play their music 7 days a week during the working day. It is not loud, but it is audible. It would prevent you from using a room directly above for any activity requiring quiet concentration, such as working online or reading. This has been going on for over six years (barring Covid). I have compalined several times, but the shop say it is part of their brand image to play music. I have asked our joint freeholder to see a copy of the shop’s lease to find any clause relating to anti-social behaviour which might disturb an adjacent neighbour. (My own lease actually forbids music) The freeholder ignored the original request in February 2023 and when pressed recently refused to provide a copy of the shop lease or confirm that any nuisance clause might exist in that lease. I think our freeholder is just ignoring his duty to me, to keep his commercial tenant happy. I have now added soundproofing in to the void that separates the shop below from my floor and this has made some difference, but it has been at my cost and the msuic is still audible.

    1. Good morning Edward,

      Thank you for your comment – please give us a call on 020 7940 4060 if there’s anything we can do to assist.

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