Are you up to date with all the latest legislation relating to block property management? The consequences of falling short of your legal duties can be serious. So if you are a landlord or property owner involved in residential block management, it’s vital to do your homework on block property management law and make sure you meet all your legal obligations. This simple overview will help you to understand some of the legal issues involved.
The importance of keeping up with block property legislation
Block property management is governed by a number of different Acts of Parliament, including several newer regulations that have come into place over the past couple of decades. Even the most conscientious and well-meaning landlord could be caught out if not aware of all of their legal obligations, and the penalties can be high. For example, you could find yourself out of pocket if unable to collect rent or service charges due to a legal technicality. And failing to meet safety standards could result in legal charges and even imprisonment.
Health and safety obligations
Responsibility for safeguarding the health and safety of the occupants of a residential block lies with the landlord or freeholder. There are a number of different pieces of legislation in place to protect residents, visitors and even trespassers from harm caused by neglecting to keep the building in a good state of repair. And while responsible building maintenance should go a long way towards compliance with these laws, other health and safety responsibilities may be less obvious. The recent Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013, for example, covers record keeping of incidents that occur in the workplace.
Rights of leaseholders
Understanding the rights of leaseholders and maintaining a good relationship with tenants is an important part of the block manager’s role. Since the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 came into force in 2007, leaseholders have been granted significant extra rights that all freeholders need to be aware of. These include:
- The right for leaseholders of flats to take over block property management duties by setting up a Right to Manage (RTM) company
- The right for all tenants to receive a summary of their rights and obligations alongside any demand for service charge payment. (If this is not issued, the tenant is not legally obliged to pay the charge).
- The right for notice to be given, in the correct format, before a demand for ground rent is made. (As above, the tenant can refuse to pay if this is not adhered to).
Other legal issues and requirements
Residential block management demands many legal duties, of which this article can only scratch the surface. As well as knowing which laws to abide by, it is useful for landlords to have a wider understanding of the general legal issues and potential problems surrounding block management; for example, the importance of clear wording in leases to avoid ambiguous interpretations. Finally, while not legally binding, it’s preferable for landlords to understand and follow codes of practice such as the RICS Service Charge Residential Management Code And Additional Advice To Landlords, Tenants And Agents.
For more in-depth and accessible information on the legal issues relating to block property management, the Leasehold Advisory Service is an impartial source of advice for both leaseholders and freeholders.
Meeting your legal obligations
If abiding by block property management law seems daunting, one option is to appoint a block management company to ensure that your duties are fulfilled. At David Charles we offer a complete block management service which includes property maintenance, paperwork and accounts, and collection of ground rent and service charges. Call us on 020 8866 0001 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.