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Unfair Pressure By Other Share Freeholders To Pay More Than Share Of Lease

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freshfruit | 13:56 Sat 23rd Mar 2013 | Law
15 Answers
Hi All,

Hoping someone can help me understand my rights as a Leaseholder and share Freeholder of my flat, as a result of some unfair pressure I am coming under from other share Freeholders.

The background is that I own one of the 8 flats converted from a large house in the 1980's. Each flat is subject to Leasehold and had a share of Freehold based I think on square footage. I have one of the two smallest flats each owning 8% share, with the biggest flat having a 20% share.

We have two accounts we all pay into based on a share (so I pay £8 out of every £100) for bills and longer term repairs.

I've been there just over three years and there has been persistent pressure from especially the 20% owner that everyday bills and longer term repairs should be split equally, using various arguments and tactics, but it is clear to me and the other smaller shareholders that this is simply a ploy to make the bills for her property cheaper and more valuable with the direct result of making our bills more expensive and our flats less valuable.

I play a straight bat in life and I read and agreed to the terms of the lease when I bought the property, and noone else there had a gun held to there head when they signed up to the lease, so I think it's unfair that I have to put up with all this unnecessay pressure, however, the lady above is quite manipulative and some people do agree with her. Based on that would be most grateful if anybody could answer any of the following questions.

1. If the 20% Shareholder gets her way and people vote a majority to look at changing the lease - Is there anything I can actually do and if so what, can I just veto, would I have to get my solicitor involved, what implications does it all have?

2. So far, the smaller shareholders have defended themselves, but this is becoming a monthly thing, in many different guises. I'm not saying its bullying because I can stand up for myself, but at the same time I spoke to a friend about it recently and they pointed out I was quite stressed by it all, and to be honest I just want to enjoy my flat in peace. Is there anything I can do in respect of this. My lease talks about 'peaceably and quietly hold and enjoy the flat' but I don't really know what it means. In essence is there anyway I can say 'I've told you I'm not willing deviate from the lease now kindly bugger off and leave me in peace' but in a formal, don't bring it up again way?

Any help gratefully received, even if it's just pointing me in the write direction :)

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In the absence of any provision for the changing of apportionment, being a provision which every leaseholder agreed to at the creation of these arrangements, stop worrying. There is no way that anything could be done without the agreement of every leaseholder. Since any change penalises some, that is unlikely to happen at any time and certainly won't while...
02:44 Mon 25th Mar 2013
not a legal bod but...simple stuff first.
Does the shareholder group have any kind of written constitution that lays down how charge apportioning or other agreements can be changed?
Realistically how close is she to getting unanimous agreement apart from yourself?
So far as value of your flat goes, i would try to avoid outright disagreement as if you did want to sell, IIRC part of the search documentation asks if there has ever been any disagreement with neighbours.
I have never owned a property leasehold and do not know the law in relation to your situation, but I would make the following observation.

I doubt that by a majority agreement/vote the other leaseholders can make such a variance to the shared leasehold agreement; otherwise the others could by a majority agreement/vote decide that you are responsible for 100% of all leasehold charges.

You may need to seek professional legal advice should the others persist with this plan – I would also take on board woofgang’s comment re starting a war with the other leaseholders.
is there a management company? is it the residents?
Question Author
Thanks for the comments so far.

Yes, there is a management company which is essentially a director and secretary from the flats, we do it ourselves.

There's nothing formal or written constitution as far as I know. I doubt she would get a unanimous vote as there is another smaller flat that are against as well, however there are 3 flats that have a share that is essentially the same as an eight way split, and I fear they are just starting to say yes to her rather than have the hassle because it would not materially affect them anyway. Therefore without constant defending on my part I'm sure she could get a majority. - I don't know if this is enough in itself? I am fed up with having to defend a position I just want to be left in peace to be honest.

I have looked online but I haven't found anything really relevant - there must be something that can protect me?
I would write a letter along the lines of....
I am becoming increasingly frustrated by the constant attempts to alter the terms of my lease. I would like it to be formally acknowledged that I will not, under any circumstances, be in agreement with any change in the terms. Should the attempts continue, I will be seeking legal advice.

You could try to make this a petitioning letter signed by the others who are also being targeted and change the I to 'we'.
Zacsmaster, I can't see where the OP has said that the way that the expenses are divided are actually written into the lease or the freehold agreement.
They are still terms. If if only verbal.
You may be thinking of peaceful enjoyment of your property, have a look at article 1 of the much maligned Human Rights Act.
Have you asked the Citizens Advice Bureau for help ?
It's absolutely essential that you get a written agreement between all of you as to the shares you put in. What documentation did you have when you bought the flat, as to this? - you could use that as your basis.

I was leaseholder of some flats a few years back (I lived in one but owned the lease) - our fair shares arrangement was all very clearly documented and signed off by all the occupants.
'I've told you I'm not willing to deviate from the lease now kindly bugger off and leave me in peace'

That sounds fair enough to me - just get a solicitor to write it to the chairman of your management committee, don't send it yourself.
Zacsmaster, its not so much the terms as the mechanism for changing them.
i would add that 'no further correspondence on this matter will be entered into' and then just ignore all future messages.

they knew the deal when they moved in.
In the absence of any provision for the changing of apportionment, being a provision which every leaseholder agreed to at the creation of these arrangements, stop worrying. There is no way that anything could be done without the agreement of every leaseholder. Since any change penalises some, that is unlikely to happen at any time and certainly won't while you hold a lease.

This party will have to demonstrate how this difficulty for her is to be overcome. Ignore her. I wouldn't bother to write anything. Saying "Don't bring it up again" will never stop her and there's no legal remedy to stop her either. If you must, ask her for chapter and verse, in law and supported by evidence, for what she proposes That won't stop her ether, I suspect. I have some experience of this type; for years a Parish Councillor has been claiming that a path over my land is, or ought to be declared, a public right of way. That I have shown and explained to her that it is not and won't be, the other Parish Councillors agree with me, the County Council agree with me, lawyers have advised her, but still she persists. Such people are blinded by what they want.
Question Author
Thanks all, you've all been a great help! I have discovered from here and a bit of my own digging that I have nothing to worry about.

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