Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Current Roof Disrepair Situation

Following on from my September post, when I eventually opened my accumulated holiday post I found a letter from Ms Parris about the roof, dated 27th August. I wouldn't really describe it as a 'consultation', certainly not within the requirements of Section 20. She wanted me to sign a form agreeing to contribute to the cost of the repair. In my case that's £331.71.

I didn't reply, having already advised Mr Crawley that I will not enter into any correspondence with Ms Parris, given past experience. Completely ignored by both of them. Plus ├ža change.

Meanwhile, the roof remains unrepaired; I have repeatedly pressed Mr Crawley to provide a date that the roof will be repaired.

Readers will recall that Mr Brophy initially told me "council policy" prevented Wandsworth from proceeding with the emergency repair he'd proposed in July. When I challenged Mr Crawley on this point, he told me:

"The Council policy that Mr Brophy referred to is the requirement for the Council to formally consult with leaseholders when we wish to undertake certain repairs to a block. In this case we are obliged to consult with all the leaseholders in your block prior to undertaking the proposed works. The statutory basis for the procedure relating to your property is set out in Section 20 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (as amended by the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002)".

I again challenged Mr Crawley on this point, given that, firstly, Section 20 is a statutory requirement, not a "council policy", and, secondly, we were long past any Section 20 consultation deadline (although none had been given in Ms Parris' letter and the letter failed to comply with Section 20 notice requirements).

He completely ignored my comments regarding Section 20. He didn't mention it at all. Nor Ms Parris' failure to comply with Section 20 procedure (Ms Parris being a model of untouchable perfection). Instead, he told me that it was all due to the fact that some of the other leases in the block are different to mine and require Wandsworth to obtain the written agreement of all lessees regarding repair costs, and that they were still chasing responses from several lessees.

In effect, Mr Crawley is refusing to comply with the Landlord's repairing obligations, given that he will not proceed unless every lessee signs a form agreeing to pay £X. A situation which could, theoretically, continue for an indefinite period.

Mr Crawley also helpfully threatened, in his email of 13th November, to pursue me for the 50% of the cost of the roof repair instead. This is due to an anomaly in my lease, saying I'm responsible for 50% of block repairs, with the block defined as three terraced houses (in which there are eight flats). [Apparently, the block is defined differently in other leases in the uncertain block].

But, many years ago, - and no doubt Mr Crawley is unaware of it - Wandsworth Finance Department wrote to me formalizing the agreement to charge me 10.976% of block repairs in line with percentages charged in other leases, - i.e. so that the total for eight flats added up to 100% not more than 100%. Mr Crawley's threat would involve Wandsworth serving Section 20 notices claiming well over 100% of the repair costs from the lessees, and I would suggest he obtains legal advice as to the viability of his proposed "alternative" course of action.

Anyway, yesterday I decided I've simply had enough. I called my solicitors and I'm seeing them next week to discuss legal action.

On a side note, the downstairs flat has a[nother] leak apparently emanating from my balcony. Mr Crawley wants me to remove the decking and plant pot on my balcony in order to inspect. I've told him I am not physically able to do so, and his contractors are welcome to remove whatever they need to in order to inspect. Mr Crawley implicitly declined this obvious option, and is now claiming that I am in breach of the lease, for having the decking and plant pot on my balcony. Needless to say, he has not provided any case law to support his interpretation of my lease, perhaps due to the fact that he is not a qualified legal practitioner. He is more than welcome to pursue a claim for the alleged breach in the First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber).

Wandsworth Tries But Fails To Repair Windows

Following the major external cock-up works of 2012, three [out of four] of my sash windows developed problems, either failing to stay shut or failing to open. (My downstairs neighbour had, and AFAIK still has, the same problem).

Three years and numerous visits to inspect later, only one window has been repaired. Lately, there has been another 'push' towards achieving this epic repair.

On 29th July 2015, Mr Brophy [apparently no longer working at the council*] successfully identified that "two sash windows were not working correctly". Previous inspections over the years had, unsurprisingly, yielded the same conclusion.

On 9th October, Mr Adedoyin from Wandsworth was due to come in the afternoon (no precise time was specified) with the window repair contractor from T. Brown Group, to repair the windows. Nobody came. Mr Crawley said afterwards that the appointment had been for 9-10am that morning. This is incorrect; I know I agreed the afternoon when Mr Adedoyin called me to arrange the appointment. He did not send an email to confirm, so I cannot prove it.

So, another appointment was made, this time via Mr Crawley, for 30th October. Mr Adedoyin came, but without the contractor from T. Brown to repair the windows. Mr Adedoyin just had another look. Sure enough, he concluded that the windows weren't functioning correctly. 

On 10th November, although no appointment had been made, a contractor from T. Brown randomly showed up while I was out and left a card saying he'd tried to gain access.

Another appointment was made, for the morning of today, 18th November.  Nobody came. I emailed Mr Crawley at 12.12pm to advise him of this. He said they were running late, and they'd be there "before 1pm". Nobody had bothered to let me know. I had to go out at 12:30pm, having arranged my day in order to be at home the whole morning. Got back later to find card from T. Brown saying they'd tried to gain access at 1.23pm (not the morning, and not "before 1pm"). Email received from Mr Crawley proposing another repair attempt on 23rd November. Maybe fifth time lucky.

* That's three disappeared so far: Ms Whiteside who supervised and organized (haha) the major works; Mr Phelps-Gardiner who was completely unable to identify the cause of the roof leak over the course of repeated inspections; and Mr Brophy (the only competent person so far encountered at Wandsworth) who was immediately able to identify the cause of the roof leak on his first inspection.