Thursday, 12 May 2016

Party-Party




It's not that nothing has been happening (though there has been a lot of that over the years), it's just that I've been engaged in legal stuff and negotiations, including what my solicitor calls "party-party correspondence", which sounds a lot more fun than it is.

It's all agreed now, AFAIK, with Wandsworth's solicitors. More to the point, the repairs have actually, finally been done, and signed off and approved by Mr Crawley. It has taken four years to arrive at this heavenly circumstance, of not having my sitting room ceiling leak every time it rains heavily.

It would've been longer than four years if I hadn't instructed solicitors.

I know this Al Bowlly song from Dennis Potter TV plays. I love Dennis Potter.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Just for the record

Contractors did not attend to carry out remedial works on Thursday 24th March.

Contractors did attend on Tuesday 29th March. (The first ever day they have done so). They worked on the roof, not the wall.

Contractors did not attend on Wednesday 30th March.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

The Balcony Mini-Saga Trundles On

Following on from my post on 28th February, I received Mr Crawley's reply on 14th March 2016.

Avid blog followers will recall that I presented Mr Crawley with three options in respect of the momentous balcony inspection and the temporary removal of a few small planks of wood to facilitate this inspection. I proposed that:

 "...either 1) your on site contractors do it, or 2) you wait for my builders, and you accept the restriction that you work within the timescale of my builders being on site. 

If you reject options 1) and 2) then the only option remaining to you is 3) instruct solicitors, - who will, I expect, advise you that the matter is 'de minimis' and to opt for 1) or 2)."



Mr Crawley's reply:

"My view is that it is appropriate for the decking to be removed and reinstated by the party that installed it and this seems the simplest approach. Nevertheless I appreciate that you disagree with this view so it is my intention to seek advice from our solicitors before reverting to you in relation to your proposed options."

I haven't bothered to reply.

I also know, from past experience, that effecting the balcony inspection is a minimum three years to completion project in Crawley Land. Followed by a further three years to actually repair the balcony should it prove necessary. I can only presume that's why my proposal to inspect AND repair the balcony within a two week timescale of access is unacceptably speedy.

Monday, 21 March 2016

In Which Mr Crawley Continues To Spectacularly Piss Around



The works which Mr Crawley anticipated would commence on Monday 14th March 2016 did not commence and have not commenced. Precisely fuck all has happened.

Mr Crawley has failed to keep to the originally anticipated schedule of works, which were to be completed by tomorrow. Mr Crawley has further failed to apologize or provide any explanation for this latest delay, and failed to provide a new timetable.

This is habitual Crawley practice, i.e., doing fuck all over an extended period.

My letter of claim was sent six weeks ago and Wandsworth still hasn't got its fucking act together.

Wandsworth's solicitors Sharpe Pritchard today requested a further two-day extension of their already extended deadline of tomorrow, Tuesday. I said yes, but that if they don't deliver by Thursday I'll be issuing proceedings. I've had it up to here with Crawley fucking pissing about.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Anticipation

The reply to yesterday's letter came from Mr Crawley. There is to be an on site meeting between the contractors and Wandsworth on Friday 11th March, including having yet another look at the disrepair inside my flat, and it is "anticipated" (there is generally much anticipation) that repairs will commence on Monday 14th March.

Mr Crawley also informed us that he "anticipated" the scaffold for the roof works would be erected next week. Obviously and bizarrely unaware that it had already gone up last Sunday 6th March.

He then went on to address my concerns about scaffold security. However, being unaware of the fact that there's scaffold at the front, he assumed I meant the scaffold at the rear, and said there was no easy access to it - which of course is true, but of course missing the point.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Scaffolding 2: Repairs 0

The contractors attended as arranged on 29th February. Their supervisor inspected inside and out; the first time this has happened. The supervisor concluded that he disagreed with the spec for the wall repair, said he would discuss it with Mr Crawley, and then they all left. I've heard nothing since. There was also meant to be an on site meeting between Wandsworth and the contractors last week, to finalize plans for the roof repair. That didn't happen either.

Meanwhile, another lot of scaffold - for roof access - went up at the front on Sunday 6th March, without any warning. I am not happy with it as the lowest platform is far too low and any reasonably agile burglar could access it via the sturdy garden railings (sans spikes) and there are ladders conveniently left in place between the floors. My second floor windows obviously have no locks.

Yesterday, exactly a month after my letter of claim, my solicitors finally heard from Wandsworth's solicitors, Sharpe Pritchard. They're asking for another two weeks to respond in full. We have granted them another two weeks. We've also asked them to address the scaffold security issue and tell us when the work will actually start.

My initial optimism about the repairs getting done quickly has worn off. Still, at least it'll be a lot quicker than if I hadn't instructed solicitors. 

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Wall Repair Update

Following on from my post about the weird idea of access onto the scaffold via my bedroom window, it has now been agreed that the contractors can't, sensibly, access it via my bedroom window. Exactly as I thought. The contractors are now accessing via the downstairs flat, and apparently finally turning up to start work tomorrow morning, 29th Feb.

Note, the scaffold went up on 8th Feb, three weeks ago.

Meanwhile, back at the Circumlocution Office

I think I have mentioned Mr Crawley's wish to inspect the surface of my balcony. This is because my downstairs neighbour, Mrs M, has damp in the wall below. This was inspected by Mr Brophy in July last year I know, the same day he came to inspect my flat. I presume the problem was reported much earlier.

The access to inspect is impeded by the fact that my balcony surface is decked and there is also a large (but not excessively large) flower pot.  Mr Crawley takes the view that these comprise a breach of the covenant in my lease requiring me "not to alter the external appearance of the flat in any way". I disagree with his interpretation, however, I am, as ever, endeavouring to be reasonable, and, at the start of negotiations, I told him that I was unable to physically move the items myself but that he was very welcome to remove/move whatever he wished to in order to inspect.

This was not good enough, of course. Mr Crawley required me to move the things myself.

Having arrive at this impasse, I think sometime in October last year, nothing happened for a very long time.

It was in fact me who revived the subject. It occurred to me, what with Wandsworth contractors due to come and fix the wall and roof, that they could remove the decking. It'd only take 15 minutes or so. A simple and reasonable suggestion, which I proposed to Mr Crawley.

He wrote on 25th Feb rejecting the idea. He said it might be possible but only if I were to pay for the work on a 'charge-back' basis.

This is my reply:

"Dear Mr Crawley,

I write further to your email of 25th February 2016 regarding the balcony inspection of [my flat].

In my email of 23rd February I made a simple and reasonable suggestion to facilitate your wish to inspect, i.e. I proposed that your on site contractors remove the decking, a very small job and, in the context of major works, involving no extra cost to anyone.

Somewhat predictably, you do not agree; you prefer to treat it as a huge big deal, one requiring the contractors to quote separately for 15 minutes' work, then for you to 're-charge' me. The associated paperwork would involve many more man-hours than the job itself.

There is also the question of liability. Forgive me if I do not accept your interpretation of the lease, but it is merely your personal and amateur opinion. You do not cite relevant case law nor any authority at all to indicate that a plant pot and a few planks of wood laid on top of a balcony surface comprise an alteration of the external appearance, any more than a person standing on the balcony comprises such an alteration in appearance.

Please note that I will not engage in any further, futile argument with you on this subject. If you wish to argue, then please instruct qualified solicitors to write to me and I will be happy to discuss it with them.

Alternatively, I've another suggestion. You can wait until I have my own builders on site, who will be here to carry out the work to remedy the interior disrepair.

However, I can't book builders until after you have completed the external repairs, which you say you "anticipate" (in your letter to my solicitors dated 23rd February) will be done by 22nd March. You would also have to coordinate the inspection together with any necessary balcony repair according to when my builders are on site, - which will be no more than 10 working days,  - because I want my builders to lay new decking and I am not prepared to wait months, or years, for you to carry out any necessary balcony repair first.

I'm sure Mrs M. [in the flat] below is equally keen for you to carry out the repairs as soon as possible, and not have to chase you over a period of six years as happened with the disrepair to her roof terrace.

In conclusion, please do not attempt to put forward any further opinions as to my alleged liability;  merely advise whether you wish to proceed with one of the two options I propose; either 1) your on site contractors do it, or 2) you wait for my builders, and you accept the restriction that you work within the timescale of my builders being on site. 

If you reject options 1) and 2) then the only option remaining to you is 3) instruct solicitors, - who will, I expect, advise you that the matter is 'de minimis' and to opt for 1) or 2).

Yours etc
."

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

The Weight of a Solicitor's Letter

My solicitor received a reply from Mr Crawley yesterday. Mr Crawley says the roof will be repaired within 28 days. No mention whatsoever of having to get signed consents to the cost of the repair from all the lessees.

Amazing. After arguing with Mr Crawley till blue in the face, one letter from a solicitor (which essentially repeated my arguments, but in a weightier style) and suddenly he's Mr Cooperative. I fully expected it, as there is no question that Wandsworth is obliged to repair the roof, and to do so immediately, but it is still wondrous to experience the reality of Mr Crawley *not* insisting, with an air of patient condescension, that it is necessary to obtain the signed consents before proceeding with the repair.

Wandsworth's solicitors will be responding separately to my claim for damages. I doubt they will be quite as cooperative; still, again, there is no question of Wandsworth's liability, it is just a matter of agreeing the quantum.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Access

A woman from the building contractors, T. Brown, called me this morning. I discovered that the access they want is to actually get on to the scaffolding. Via my flat. The only way onto the scaffolding from my flat is through my bedroom window. This will be very awkward as the scaffold platform is not on a level with the bottom of the window, but halfway up the lower sash, allowing a gap of less than 45cm to squeeze through. The scaffold platform is also 120cm above the bedroom floor. I doubt any of this complies with Health & Safety requirements.

The woman at T. Brown didn't know anything, had just been given my number to call to arrange access. Obviously, Mr Crawley gave my number to T. Brown.

I tried to explain to T. Brown woman that it wasn't the best way to access the scaffold but she didn't understand so I just said fine, come round on Monday morning.

To clarify, this is just about repairing the crack in the external wall, nothing to do with the roof. Nothing's happening with the roof.