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United you stand!
Recognised Tenants’ Associations help leaseholders to help themselves and improve the management of their properties
Setting up a recognised tenants’ association (RTA) is often the first step residential leaseholders should take when there no issues with management and service charges. So says The Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE), the government-funded free legal advice service. A RTA enables the block to speak with one voice: approaching the landlord individually cannot be as cohesive.
“Things like cleaning, routine maintenance and door entry systems that can, over time, agitate those living in leasehold properties,” says LEASE chief executive Tony Essien. “It is often the case that, when they speak together as an RTA, leaseholders can nip many of these problems in the bud. An RTA offers a single point of contact with those who own and manage their premises.”
If leaseholders also want to embark on major collective projects like changing management, challenging service charges outright or even buying the freehold, then forming a residents association is the easiest way of ensuring that everyone is involved and committed before the whole process is begun
It is important to seek formal recognition as an RTA, because the law then gives the association the powers and rights under leasehold law that it needs to be really effective. Often landlords simply grant recognition without any argument: after all why deal with 20 individuals when you can deal with one? However, if they refuse to do so, then private leaseholders can apply to a Rent Assessment Panel (RAP) for recognition. RAPs are part of the Residential Property Tribunal Service, which also has responsibility for the Leasehold Valuation Tribunals that can adjudicate on a range of leasehold disputes.
RTAs can be set up by blocks of any size and have the right to be:
- consulted about the appointment of managing agents,
- notified of works proposed by the landlords and to receive copies of estimates,
- submit the names of contractors that it would like to be included in a tender list,
- obtain information about service charge accounts,
- appoint a surveyor who will have rights of access to the property and to the documents retained by those who manage the property.
Current legislation does of course give individual leaseholders many rights, but RTAs do have additional rights, says LEASE. Leaseholders can demand information about their own service charges and landlords have to consult and try to obtain estimates from leaseholders’ recommended contactors when works to their building will cost any one leaseholder more than £250.
Perhaps the most detailed handbook for setting up a residents’ association is available for sale from the Federation of Private Residents’ Associations, a non-profit association of associations for private sector blocks of flats. It represents the interests of thousands of leaseholders living in around 500 blocks and FPRA Chairman Bob Smytherman, is actively promoting the importance of forming a Residents' Association as the first step in dealing with management problems in leasehold properties to his members.
FPRA Chairman Bob Smytherman commented: "Running your own leasehold building can often be time consuming for a few individuals and the formation of a recognised residents association can share the burden out more fairly.”
Further free advice is available from LEASE’s team of 16 qualified lawyers on 020 774 580 and at www.lease-advice.org. LEASE also publishes a range of detailed guides, all freely available to download at www.lease-advice.org. Hard copies are available from LEASE on 020 7374 5380.
The Federation of Private residents Associations can be contacted on 0871 200 3324 or visit their web site atwww.fpra.org.uk.
Notes to Editors
The Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE) is an Executive Non Departmental Public Body (ENDPB) funded by Government to provide free legal advice to leaseholders, landlords, professional advisers, managers and others on the law affecting residential leasehold and commonhold. It also provides a mediation service.
LEASE is funded by
- Communities and Local Government
- Ministry of Justice
- Welsh Assembly Government
LEASE provides advice by telephone, by letter or email, or in person at the office; and it can arrange seminars and group meetings where large numbers of leaseholders want to discuss a joint issue. LEASE publishes a wide range of free advice notes that are available on request or to download.
Leasehold advisers are available for telephone advice from 9.30am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday on 020 7374 5380.
Phone: 01273 731184
Mobile: 07850 965442
Fax: 020 7691 7082