What Are Common Areas?
The management of the common areas of blocks of flat is the remit of freeholders as they own them. This makes them responsible for the upkeep 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 they own things such as the plant rooms, lift motor rooms, and meter cupboards and any other areas that are not owned by each leaseholder.
Freeholders are also responsible for the health and safety of these areas and because the Health and Safety Executive and the Courts treat them as workplace areas they are governed by a considerable amount of legislation.
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.