The freeholder owns what are collectively known as the common areas of a block of flats, and through the payments of the service charges from the leaseholders is required to keep them repaired and safe. These are areas not owned by each leaseholder and so the term means the structure, roof, the land the building stands on, foundations, load bearing walls, gardens, landings, paths, gates, fences, drives, stairways, and any other outbuildings. Inside it covers the plant rooms, lift motor rooms, and meter cupboards, all of which are collectively known as the common areas.
There are always going to be issues with the common areas of a building throughout its lifetime. Defective/degraded brickwork, flashings, downpipes, gutters and damp proof courses can all cause problems if not repaired, maintained or replaced. Such issues are not just confined to older buildings but also those which are classed as ‘new build’. Additional problems such as penetrating damp (which can be found at any level) and rising damp (often found on the ground floor blocks of flats but rarely seen in flats above the ground) can all be contributing factors to problems with flat interiors.
So in order to keep on top of the requirements of the building as it ages, the following broad guidelines have been sourced from the Federation of Private Residents’ Associations (FPRA). Not all will apply, (depending on the type of the building) and it is the terms of the lease that should be the definitive guide.
AnnuallyAsbestos Review Report
Buildings Insurance (a condition of purchasing a flat)
Water Risk Assessment
Every 6 Months
Jet Wash Paths
Every 3 Years
Health & Safety – Major Review
Buildings Insurance – Alternative Quotations
Every 5 Years
Communal Electrics – Full Inspection
Every 7 Years
Plant and Equipment
Thorough examination of passenger lifts (and perhaps boilers) are regulatory requirements but (depending on the property) may extend to include equipment such as all lifts – passenger, goods and disabled – steam boilers, pressure vessels, refuse hoists, gantry access equipment and window cleaning equipment.
All this is undoubtedly pretty daunting, especially for small RMC’s but if all the parties do their utmost to meet their obligations, the results should be a safe and healthy environment, not just for those live on the premises but for those who visit, whether socially or to carry out required works.