By Jan Middleton
With regard to the article ‘Panic at prostitutes results in £912 sub-letting fee demand’ article, Leasehold Knowledge Partnership readers may be interested in my own experiences at my leasehold estate this week.
Concerns were raised with the police by a number of residents/leasehold owners – including me – that there was prostitution going on in the flat next door to mine.
The police response was actually very impressive. Within a day of concerns being filed, they had visited the premises, spoken to residents and issued this response.
“You may be aware that my officers visited the address yesterday.
“Although there was no reply, our findings following discussions with other residents are of concern.
“As such, I anticipate in the near future some positive action by Police and or other concerned agencies.”
By contrast, the response of the freeholder XXX was to ignore my email, and to respond to another leasehold owner thus:
“For matters of “nuisance” (noise, unruly behaviour, etc) you should bring them to the attention of the managing agent XXX. That is a management function we cannot interfere with. If you have reasonable cause to believe a crime is being committed in another flat, you should inform the police first and then the managing agent subsequently and if appropriate.
“We will inform the relevant lessee and XXX managing agents of your concerns, but without notification from the police that the property is being used for immoral purposes or other proof – for example advertising material mentioning the flat – we cannot take any further action at this stage. While it is not an uncommon occurrence in the London area, you must understand it remains a very serious accusation.”
In fact, the lease and deeds are clear that:
Trust deed relating to block; fifth schedule headed “Administrative provisions to be observed by the lessor” , para 3 “use its best endeavours to keep the building at all times fully let to respectable and responsible tenants”
leasehold covenants, e.g fifth schedule of lease: “Regulations to be observed by the lessee” para 1 “not to permit a person of unsound mind or a drunk or a person of immoral life to reside in the flat”; para 2: “not to do or permit to be done….any act to the damage or annoyance of…..occupiers of any part of the Building..or the neighbourhood or any illegal or immoral act”
There are also the standard provisions that the freeholder and management trustee must ensure that covenants are not breached.
My own intervention with the leasehold owner who rented out the flat – a notorious buy-to-let landlord on the estate – has led to the situation seemingly being resolved.
That was at the expense of a neighbour and me being yelled at in an aggressive and threatening manner by two of the women involved as a direct result of the flat owner misrepresenting the situation to them.
Jan Middleton is a London leasehold owner
I believe Freeholder and their Management Company have legal obligation in stopping nuisance, as is mentioned above. According to The lease; the contract between freeholder and leaseholder, the resident safety as well as the building should be protected by freeholder. I think if Management Agency visits the building regularly, on weekly or monthly bases, and talks to few residents each time, will create positive impact, and can help to resolve above issues gradually. A good/trusting relationship between Freeholder and leaseholder is a key to our problems. In our case, Crabtree, sends messages and invoices without real human touch. And occasionally new faces appear in the building to encourage residents to pay for extra keys or fill insurance form for claims! Most people even do not know who they are. Leasehold properties need big reform in this area. Thanks
“Persons of an immoral life”… and I thought it was ” Ladies of negotiable affection” 🙂
One approach is to employ an enquiry agent, to pose as a customer, and then retire ” oh my wallets in the car be right back”, and then provide evidence on that basis.
Direct intervention by residents, or freeholders or agents, though commendable, is foolhardy as there is the distinct potential that the “staff” in the flat might be organised by a group who are unlikely to say ” fair cop” and may be extremely violent.