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Block Management Division… Coming Soon!

Friday January 10, 2014

Heaton Property - BMD
Heaton Property - BMD

This year we launch our Block Management division, the result of months of homework studying the arcane, often feudal laws and regulations concerning ownership of flats in a block. When changing our baby’s nappy came as a blessed relief from study I began to wish I had picked astrophysics as my chosen subject.

The problem for landlords is the fact that they do not ‘own’ the flats they have bought in a block. They lease the space, typically for  99 or 125 years. The freeholder owns the building and is free to charge such fees as they deem appropriate. So when these fees become due, the unwary landlord is in for a shock. Inevitably a proportion of these fees are passed on to the tenant so nobody is happy except the freeholder.

Freeholders tend to be corporations or extremely rich individuals so any dispute becomes a David and Goliath struggle. Our properties in Europe operate on a more sensible basis. The freehold is divided into the number of flats and everybody owns their share of the freehold. But these countries do not have laws with their roots in Magna Carta.

As with any complex area of law, measures and counter measures make for a game of chess so complex only specialists really understand it. Ultimately the leaseholders can come together to buy the freehold and adopt the European model to manage their own affairs, but this requires the agreement of all parties.

If outright purchase is not possible we can still benefit landlords and tenants by understanding the plethora of laws and regulations. Parliament has tried to reform freeholder – leaseholder regulation seventeen times since 1954 so the law is far from clear to the layman. Add to this, other acts of Parliament, building safety regulations, health and safety assessments and local Council regulations; well, astrophysics begins to look an attractive option.

Our Block Management division has come about as a result of landlords asking what could be done about unfair and baffling fees levied by freeholders. Our work will benefit their tenants since reduced fees will be reflected in their rent, so we are satisfying the needs of both our client groups. For myself I will simply be happy to spend evenings with my family rather with my nose stuck in a law book.

Now, before I make a dreadful joke regarding my nose and babies nappies, may I take this opportunity to wish everyone reading this a happy and prosperous New Year?

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