Anti-social behaviour

I am sure we can all get frustrated and display bad behaviour at times. Something in our lives can cause upset or frustration and that can spill over to unrelated conversations, communications and situations. Of course there is never any excuse for rudeness. Any form of customer service can find the staff members on the receiving end of abusive behaviour. That can be understandable, doesn’t excuse it, but understandable. If you have got frustrated because you are not getting an answer you want then it can cause bad reaction.

We are seeing a number of service providers taking zero tolerance on anti-social behaviour. Transport for London are very overt in their condemnation as is the National Health Service. Quite rightly. I am sure none of us feel that people doing their job should bear the brunt of abuse and frustration. However for some reason property management doesn’t seem to create the same sympathies.

Whatever is felt about the lease or the property, property managers are generally doing their best and providing a service for the building and to the leaseholders. However there can be some outrageous accusations levelled at the managers who are just doing their job.

To look from the other side of the fence, the pressures of property management can cause delays in correspondence. A lack of communication can cause suspicion and an apparent lack of transparency can cause unrest. Is it right that a leaseholder has to wait for an answer? Of course not. The service charge is the leaseholder’s money being spent, of course the leaseholders should know where it is being spent. The levels of information supplied will vary agent from agent. This is one of the biggest challenges because generally management is an art not a science. In spite of the legislative framework it is the soft side of management that can cause problems.

We should all be on the same side of the table working together to improve standards and service. To have courtesy and respect to achieve the best service and ensure the buildings are managed effectively and efficiently. But everyone is different and therein lies the challenges and the issues in effect. We all handle matters differently but generally respect and courtesy will get further than abuse.

Of course it is impossible to have any form of discussion or debate on this subject without having accusations of being partisan. However the sole issue here is abuse and anti-social behaviour. Surely no one can think it right to be continually abusive without rationality or reason. Some folks just seem to go through life that way and it is a wonder how they can. Surely common courtesy and decency would dictate a modicum of good behaviour.

Roger Southam

Non Exec Chair Leasehold Advisory Service

25 April 2017

How can the lease start before you buy your lease?

A question that comes up regularly relates to the start date of the lease and your obligations when buying a leasehold property. I guess your first thought might be why is his important?

If I start with the development process it will give a context on the matter. A development finishes with what is called practical completion. This is when the contractor has finished his work and the developer can complete sales and collect in the purchase prices. This triggers the start time for snagging, warranties, NHBC certificates, completing leases. Obviously anyone who has made a reservation on a property prior to practical completion will complete their purchases at this point and then move in accordingly.

If there are any homes not sold they will sit empty until they are sold, obviously. However, the date of practical completion will trigger the start date for the lease, the start date for warranty periods, for snagging periods, for NHBC or similar. It is therefore important when looking for your home to be aware of this and what impact or effect it could have.

You may find yourself with a tight timeline to get any snagging items dealt with that occur. If there are any sort of review periods based on the start date of the lease then these will mean the impact of that review will be closer when you buy than the full review period if you had bought at the start of the lease.

So as an example a block of 50 flats is built and practical completion is on 3rd April 2015. The term of the lease typically runs on dates that are called quarter days which are either 25th March, 24th June, 29th September, 25th December or 1st January, 1st April, 1st July, 1st October. So with our example the start of the term would be set as 25th March 2015. The start of the term cannot be after the date the lease is completed on with their being an Agreement to Lease, a technical point but it is the reason.

If 30 of the 50 flats are pre sold before the practical completion them 30 home owners will get their leases and the terms start 25th March 2015. For the other 20 flats as and when they sell their term will also start on 25th March 2015; even if the flats take a long time to sell and someone were to buy in April 2017.

So it is possible you can find yourself buying a home where the first two years of the lease have already passed by. The challenge of this can be in relation to any snagging items which need dealing with or protection from NHBC. It is essential that all new home owners know what they are taking on and understand their rights and responsibilities. A key part to that is making sure your lawyer gives a clear report on title that explains all matters.

It should especially make clear when the lease starts and what the impact and effect of that is. One thing to remember in all your dealings with property when buying and selling. The estate agent is there for the seller and it is your solicitor. So if you want something explained, then ask your lawyer. If anything is not clear then get your lawyer to clarify and explain.

Looking for ways that you can find out about a leasehold home can be invaluable to understanding your commitments and making sure you are comfortable with them. Of course the Leasehold Advisory Service has a wealth of guides and information on the website is there to help you and our advisers are always on the end of the phone to answer your specific query.

Buying your home is the most exciting thing and ensuring that you do all you can to be well informed is the most sensible thing to do. Of course seeing past the excitement to the practicalities can be challenging. As dull as it sounds it is one of those essentials.

Therefore when searching for your home, make sure that you know the right questions to ask, obtain the basic details and make sure you are comfortable with the rights and responsibilities you are taking on. Good luck in your searches and if you are prepared then unforeseen challenges should be avoided. Finding out all you can in advance will pay dividends in the long run.

Roger Southam

Non Exec Chair Leasehold Advisory Service

18 April 2016