I spent 12 years in my wonderful little flat. It was my first home and I love the vast majority of the time there. Unfortunately however, being leasehold, there was a lot I didn’t love.
The freeholders were frankly thieves. They were connected to the property management agents who for years robbed us blind. When any of the owners would tell other people what we were paying – they were shocked. It was a ridiculous amount of money, even if the works were being done which they never were.
Eventually enough years and owners down the line, something snapped and we got together and started the legal process of “Right to Manage” which would enable us to appoint an agent of our own choosing. This was in itself tricky. We appointed someone to manage the process for us, but the freeholders kept lying and saying they hadn’t received things when they had and being deliberately evasive and unhelpful. The RTM process requires a majority of the leaseholders. As a block of 6 flats, we needed 4 to be onboard. Imaging how tricky that would be if you lived in a big block with numerous flats. I know of at least one person in that situation. He doesn’t even know most of the people in the block, let alone all work together towards a common goal
At one point the deadline for them to object had been and gone, we thought everything had gone through, and then they said they hadn’t received anything and the whole process was invalid. It would have cost more to fight it, so we started the process again, but this cost us many more months.
I had to extend my lease as part of the sale, and again, the freeholders were money grabbing pigs at this stage too. I had to pay for a surveyor to contest it – and luckily I started this process long before I was ready to move as it would definitely have held things up otherwise. We managed to save some money, but again, they at one point claimed they hadn’t received a communication. It was banging everyone’s heads against brick walls so in the end I took the offer.
Throughout my time there, the work was hardly ever done (cleaning of communal areas and gardening etc) and if it was done it was done poorly. If you reported a job it would take a long time to get done (if at all) but then random letters would turn up saying they need to do x y or z and we would have to pay extra to cover it.
At one point I wanted my flat connected to an aerial on the roof as I had really poor TV signal and couldn’t afford cable any more. This went on for months and months. I even asked if I could put my own external aerial up which they refused. Eventually their solution was to put in a communal satellite dish for the block. Bearing in mind I wanted a connection to an aerial for financial reasons, this didn’t really cut it.
I know I was exceptionally unlucky with my freeholders but I have moved on in good conscience as the lease was extended and good terms agreed before I left, and of course, a new, far better managing agent was appointed. I’m sure a lot of people live in leasehold properties for many many years with no such issues, but I am never putting myself through that again. It’s sad – as I did love that flat, but I truly believe I had outgrown it and could move on and hand it over to someone new. I hope the new lease and managing agents mean they have a much less stressful time there than I did.