Upkeep of the Common Areas
The common areas of blocks of flats belong to the freeholder and are comprised of the structure, the 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 plant rooms, lift motor rooms, and any other areas not individually owned by leaseholders. The freeholders are not only responsible for the maintenance and repairs of these areas but they are also required to ensure that, where necessary, they carry out risk assessments and act on those findings. If they do not manage these areas directly and instead use the services of a managing agent, it is the agent who will take responsibility for all this on the freeholders behalf.
Owner-occupiers will report problems with the exterior of the building directly to the freeholder or the managing agent.
There are always going to be issues as a building ages. 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’.
So, the following broad guidelines on how to manage the building as per the legal requirements 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.
Asbestos 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.
Note: There is a difference between the obligations of just repair and repair/keep in working order with the latter being a higher obligation requiring those areas to be capable of functioning for the purpose of which they are intended.