"But what’s happened in practice is that tenants are using the right to avoid carrying out legally-required safety checks and repairs."
The right to manage was made possible by the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 in a bid to try and relieve the perceived injustice that landlords were exploiting tenants and carrying out unnecessary works at unnecessary expense.
"But now many tenants are abusing this right and deciding not to undertake regular checks on, for example, asbestos and fire precautions," said Wolfarth. "This might save them money in the short-term, but in the longer-term they could be exposed to huge risk if, for example, someone died in a fire and the insurance company refused to cover them because precautions hadn’t been taken.”
According to Adams & Remers, another problem is that the "right to manage" can be effected by a majority of tenants. "This means that, as in a case I am handling at the moment, 11 out of 20 tenants elect to manage their property and effectively ignore the wishes of the other nine," Wolfarth said.
In addition, tenants tend to overlook how time-consuming managing a property can be.
"Often one or two very active tenants with time on hands initiate the right to management, but then move elsewhere. Because of this, we are seeing a growing number of tenant managers choosing to hand the management back to a management company," Wolfarth said.
"There can be a lot of pros in choosing the ‘right to manage’ a property, but tenants need to be made aware that there are a number of cons too. Too many tenants are using the right to evade their obligations to keep their property safe and secure, thereby exposing themselves and many others to possible huge expense and real danger."
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