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Access Stairs - Update

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  • Access Stairs - Update

    Dear Tom and other members

    Many thanks for all your responses – such a lot of varying understanding on this difficult subject.

    In answer to yours, Tom, both NFH and I own our respective leases – the freehold reverted to crown during last 3 years, so there is no landlord to help me, with this and other issues. The property is at Heathrow.

    My solicitor was appointed by my legal insurance people. I think she is of the opinion we will cross the “Access” problem when it arises, but I want an answer now on this issue, not when the horse has bolted. This is really worrying me, and especially in view of ‘rekless’ comments.

    I have my copy of my lease, but can find no mention of the Access stairs, other than it is marked & shaded on my deeds as “Access for 325” (NFH). So far, I have paid for all maintenance to the property, as I had to threaten NFH with legal action 3 yrs. ago for a £400+ bill which I paid to have a shared drain unblocked and jetted one Bank Hol Sunday – this may make you laugh: NFH declared "We have no problem upstairs", and I had to point out that water does not flow upwards!!?? I had such a mess on my garden, but they just went out for the day!!!! I cannot face contacting them over any maintenance/property issues, so have taken out additional insurances for water problems, which I pay for myself. My own builder has become a good friend - he recently did the roof, guttering, chimney for £100 (I paid insurance£50 excess) – but not one word of thanks when we told NFH it was to be done, and no charge to them. The lease specifically states we should have joint insurance – this has never been in place since I bought 10yrs. ago, indeed, I am so worried they have no insurance cover at all, my solicitor’s letter asks for them to provide me with proof of it.

    The two Councillors I spoke to this morning were of no help really. The only lead I may have is to contact Registry perhaps, as suggested earlier, in trying to ascertain who owns the access stairs.

    Yes, I am adamant if this comes to the crunch, as I fear it will, it will have to go through mediation – my solicitor wants to go for the jugular, but I am far too drained, I know I could never stand up against a lawyer trying to win his case, and mediation is the best and safest option for me. Of course I know it will be a load of cobblers, BUT, what is decided at mediation is legal and binding. And I am well aware that courts take a dim view of anyone bringing a case without firstly attempting mediation. It will be a farce – they are such liars, and I have proof of that over and over, but if they lie in mediation, it will make no difference whatsoever, because what is decided is still the law.

    Sorry to be so long-winded, but trying to get a definitive answer on this and give you info'. Thanks for bearing with me! Best regards, Lisa

    p.s. I will write later re: NFH reaction to the letter yesterday - did you not hear them yelling where you were??????

  • #2
    Hi Lisa

    Was all this not sorted when you bought your property? And when the previous owners sold to the NFH?

    Here in Yorkshire there are a lot of over and under dwellings and with them come all the nightmare problems of flying freeholds and leaseholds. We had a flying leasehold some time back, and had to sign all sorts of legal documentation between us and the occupiers underneath.

    It was very clear in the documents who had responsibility for what (not that they always did what they were supposed to , but that's a different issue).

    I hope that you manage to get it resolved.


    • #3
      Hi Holly

      The flat above me was being rented when I moved in, I could NEVER get in touch with the owner. Back then, the stairs were never an issue.

      I still have the previous owner's phone number, now I think about it - but he seemed to know NFH personally, so am reluctant to approach him, for obvoius reasons. (Oh My - this is getting very messy and my mind is now working overtime, as I smell a rat! But that doesn't help me at all).

      Hope you are well



      • #4
        Heathrow, eh? Just hope no325 doesn't bill you for sound insulation from all those aeroplanes! I suppose you could deduct it from what he owes you.
        "Poor Tom shall lead thee" (King Lear)


        • #5
          Hiya Lisa

          Dont worry too much about my previous comments. Sometimes, it is better to know the worst rather than the best. Then you can work out the best "risk free" action to take and use the law to your strategic advantage.

          If your solicitor advises to go for the jugular, then go for the jugular. I am sure your solicitor knows more of your case than us here. Especially if the NFH is likely to have costs awarded against them You may even get compensation, ask the solicitor about this.

          Sometimes a sign of a good solicitor is that they're always busy since they're in high demand. So it may be a good sign if you can't get hold of them at a whim, unless they're up the golf course all the time of course.

          If it was me, I will be thinking of the following strategy:

          Telephone the council, ask to talk to the Civic Engineer regarding the NFH stairs dangerous condition. Try to avoid saying too much of what is going on between you and the NFH (the authorities will put it down as a problem between neighbours and you'll get nothing done then). Rather concentrate on stair issue and bring up past occurences of damage caused by the stairs and the work you have had to undertake in the past due to the NFH negligence. Do not mention that the owners are considering replacing or repairing them or leasehold deeds.

          By doing the above what you're hoping for, is that the Civic Engineer will pay a visit to the stairs to inspect them, depending on his observations he may well write a letter to the NFH (if you havent mentioned the leasehold, he will naturally assume they're the owner and they'll have a togh time proving otherwise). The letter may well contain a threat of court action (say 28 days) if they don't repair or remove the dangerous structure. It will be to your advantage if parties involved think the stairs belong to the NFH.

          When you note some work taking place, observe and ring up the Civic Engineer again, this time Point out that you are concerned that the NFH are taking action to replace the stairs but for a cheap and unsafe option (maybe a wooden version, which doesn't

          bode well on fire escapes) which deviates from the original planning regulations (do not mention leasehold deeds again) and that it looks as if it has been designed to take up more of your property.

          I am sure a sensible Civic Engineer will insist that the original design should not be changed. If the NFH has any sense they'll repair it "like for like". Take pictures of the stairs and your property, before it is repaired. If they do remove it then they may well be getting a replacement, which may well encroach more onto your property. Do not worry about this instead but wait until they have put the stairs back. If the stairs do indeed encroach further on your property, take further pictures of the same angles as before. If the council has done nothing by now, approach the Civic Engineer again to insist that they do not meet the original planning regulations and it has been extended onto your property. The NFH may well be asked to remove the new stairs and the original design to be replaced. This will certainly be at their expense.

          All is not lost even if the new stairs are in place and they encroach more on your property. Apply to the courts after the stairs have been completed. It would not be unreasonable for you to insist a "like for like" stairs as per the original planning regulations. You have the pictures right? Mediation will not be neccasary for this and the NFH will have to pay the costs.

          If the worst does come to the worst, i.e. if you are responsible for 50% of the cost then simply and absolutley insist on a "like for like" repair rather than full replacement based on current building regulations. This would not be unreasonable. Mediation will not be neccasary for this and the NFH will have to pay the costs.

          As a rule of thumb when going to court try not to worry about everything until it finally happens.

          Dont worry too much about court. Take it from someone, with no legal training who stood alone in the High Court against a team of highly payed devious solicitors and barristers. If I can do it and win, then surely... justice will prevail.


          • #6
            Oh and incidently, if you do have shared responsibilty then the proper procedure would be for each party responsible to obtain three quotes each and after consulation with one another (or in your case through solicitors) agree to what is to be done. It would not be unreasonable for you to insist on a "like for like" repair.


            • #7

              Your response is indeed enlightening!! I am sure I will put some if not all of it to good use in the near future, as this issue will not go away now - thanks so much for detailed response; it all makes sense to me. The stairs are not in need of replacement due to being unsafe - NFH simply want to "extend" them, which will not be as per the property deeds, and will have to somehow go around external pipes, across my bathroom window even more, and will end up on a common part, which I know is not legal.

              So, it's their move next.

              Sadly, the letter is having no effect whatsoever so far! It's very upsetting.

              All the best, Lisa


              • #8
                Finally, after pinning my solicitor down, she has said I need to ask the mortgagees if they are prepared to release the deeds on undertaking" to her. Will keep you posted!! I truly hope I may be getting somewhere!!



                • #9
                  Keep in there Lisa, now the solicitor has sent the letter. Try not to let it worry you if they go ahead with the stairs. You have to wait until they have done something before you can take further action. Otherwise you would end up taking them to court and they will suddenly claim they weren't doing anything to the stairs afterall (embarrasing for you).

                  Glad you tracked down the deeds.