You own a flat and pay your service charges. Your landlord, however, refuses to comply with your request for copies of the building’s insurance certificate. You are now unclear whether the building is insured at all, which leaves you in a precarious position as one of your most valuable assets could be at risk. Furthermore, the absence of an insurance certificate is causing you trouble selling your flat as buyers want to see it. What do you do?
If there is any doubt as to your property being insured, speak to your insurer or broker about obtaining additional insurance cover as a matter of priority.
Look at your lease. A landlord is usually required to insure the building and provide you, on your request, with a copy of the insurance certificate and receipt for the premium. It would be worth reminding your landlord of these obligations.
If the landlord still fails to comply, speak to your solicitor about sending a Letter of Claim. This letter could formally:
- cite the landlord’s contractual obligations under the lease to insure the building and provide you with copies of the insurance documentation;
- make a formal demand for a written summary of the insurance pursuant to paragraph 2(1) of the Schedule to the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, for which the landlord must comply within 21 days; and
- state that failure to comply will result in an application to the County Court for the remedy of specific performance, damages and costs. Specific performance is where you can obtain a Court Order for the landlord to provide you with the insurance documentation, or if they have not insured the property, to do so.
If the landlord fails to engage, it may be necessary to commence a Court claim for specific performance and damages.
If you are having to deal with a difficult landlord generally (beyond insuring the building), the leaseholders may wish to group together to consider other options. This could involve, assuming qualifying criteria can be met, Right to Manage, Collective Enfranchisement or applying to the First-tier Tribunal for the appointment of a manager.
The Right to Manage is a possible right which allows leaseholders to require a transfer of the landlord’s management functions to a Right To Manage Company (or a “RTM” Company).
Collective enfranchisement allows leaseholders to acquire the freehold of their building thus enabling them to have ownership, and much greater control, of the building.
Another option for consideration could possibly be applying to the First-tier Tribunal for the appointment of a manager, provided fault-based circumstances are met. Such circumstances may include breach of obligation owed under the tenancy, or if the landlord has demanded unreasonable service charges.
Streathers Solicitors LLP
4 May 2021
To discuss how we can help, please call our office on 020 7034 4200 and ask to speak to a member of the Dispute Resolution team.
*The Briefing Note reflects the position as at the date of publication. The information in this Briefing Note is not intended to amount to legal advice to any person on a specific matter or case. You are advised to obtain specific, personal advice from us about your case or matter and not rely on this Briefing Note.