Tenants Associations help leaseholders help themselves

If leaseholders also want to embark on major collective projects like  changing management, challenging service charges outright or even buying the freehold, then forming a residents association is the easiest  way of ensuring that everyone is involved and committed before the whole process is begun

It is important to seek formal recognition as an RTA, because the law then gives the association the powers and rights under leasehold law that it needs to be really effective.  Often landlords simply grant recognition without any argument: after all why deal with 20 individuals when you can deal with one? However, if they refuse to do so, then private leaseholders can apply to a Rent Assessment Panel (RAP) for recognition. RAPs are part of the Residential Property Tribunal Service, which also  has responsibility for the Leasehold Valuation Tribunals that can adjudicate on a range of leasehold disputes.

RTAs can be set up by blocks of any size and have the right to be:

-consulted about the appointment of managing agents,
– notified of works proposed by the landlords and to receive copies of estimates,
– submit the names of contractors that it would like to be included in a tender list,
– obtain information about service charge accounts,
– appoint a surveyor who will have rights of access to the property and to the documents retained by those who manage the property.

Current legislation does of course give individual leaseholders many rights, but RTAs do have additional rights, says LEASE.  Leaseholders can demand information about their own service charges and landlords have to consult and try to obtain estimates from leaseholders’ recommended contactors when works to their building will cost any one leaseholder more than £250.

Perhaps the most  detailed handbook for setting  up a residents’ association is available for sale from the Federation of Private Residents’ Associations, a non-profit association of associations for private sector blocks of flats. It represents the interests of thousands of leaseholders living in around 500 blocks and FPRA Chairman Bob Smytherman, is actively promoting the importance of forming a Residents’ Association as the first step in dealing with management problems in leasehold properties to his members.

FPRA Chairman Bob Smytherman commented: "Running your own leasehold building can often be time consuming for a few individuals and the formation of a recognised residents association can share the burden out more fairly.”

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