Tag Archive for: legal service

Leaseholders: Right to Manage your Block

By Megan Bedwell, a Paralegal in our Commercial Litigation Team.

Many leaseholders are finding that their service charge demands are increasing but the level of service is not improved because of those additional charges.

Most leaseholders are aware they have a statutory right to collectively purchase their freehold but there is another and much cheaper route to consider if they wish to take control of the management of their block, without having to find the funds to buy the freehold.

Right to manage is available to leaseholders in a building which enables them to take over management responsibilities of the freeholder.

There are several qualifying factors which allows the leaseholders to exercise their right:

  1. The building must be made up of flats (houses don’t qualify).
  2. At least two-thirds of the flats in the building must be leasehold – with leases that were for more than 21 years when they were granted.
  3. At least 75% of the building must be residential – for example, if there’s a shop in the building, it can’t take up more than 25% of the total floor area.
  4. They must live somewhere else if there are less than 4 flats in the block – unless the block was purpose-built as flats, rather than converted from another type of building.
  5. There is no requirement (unlike collective enfranchisement) to hold no more than two leasehold properties so one person owning all the flats can still exercise their right to manage their block.
  6. Any number of owners can set up an RTM company – but at least half of the flats in the building must be members of the company before it can take over management.

The tenant who wishes to be part of the right to manage must be a long leaseholder (has a lease of 21 years or more) and the lease must not be a business tenancy. The leaseholder does not have to reside in the property, and they can hold more than two flats and still be involved, unlike the enfranchisement route.

There are many benefits to pursuing the right to manage route as opposed to enfranchisement.

Right to manage is a procedure which leaseholders can pursue without permission or authority from the Landlord or Management Company. If the requirements above are satisfied, then the right to manage can proceed.

If leaseholders are frustrated by their landlord’s actions of poor management or upkeep of the building, there is no requirement for the leaseholders to prove that this is the case and therefore no requirement to justify their application of a right to manage. This provides a substantial benefit for leaseholders in that they can proceed down the right to manage route without needing to gather evidence to support their decision. It provides ease for all leaseholders pursuing this route.

The right to manage is a cheap and cost-effective route in comparison to looking to acquire the freehold.

Legal costs will still be involved, but this will not involve the leaseholders covering the costs to purchase the freehold. The right to manage process is also quick, especially if it is not disputed with a counter-notice.

The leases do not need to be varied when the transfer of management takes place. The management responsibilities are acquired once the acquisition date is provided.

Another advantage has been shown in the recent case of Eastpoint Block A RTM Company Ltd v Otubaga [2023]. The Court of Appeal held that a right to manage has a right to enforce untransferred covenants ‘in the same manner’ as the landlord and they can commence an action for damages for breach of covenant or for an injunction restraining breach (in the county court) or a claim for section 168(4) determination (in the First Tier Tribunal). This allows the right to manage company the opportunity to recover losses where they have experienced a breach of a covenant, which provides members of the company with more confidence and reassurance in pursuing the process.

The overall process of right to manage is straightforward and can save you money in the long run. It provides you with control over the building, enabling decisions to be made mutually between parties who hold the same interests. It can help maintain a positive relationship with your neighbours and allows discussions to take place that are in each other’s best interests in establishing the best way forward on crucial management matters for the building.

If you would like to arrange a free initial consultation with a member of our litigation team, please contact us on 01244 356 789 or email info@cullimoredutton.co.uk

 

Ajith Prasad

It’s time to mediate

It’s time to mediate

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has recently confirmed that mediation will soon be compulsory for civil claims valued up to £10,000 (small claims track), with changes coming into effect during 2024. This will see mediation become more common in most small claims proceedings.

Compulsory mediation
Compulsory mediation will apply only to specified money claims, but it will eventually expand to all small claims i.e. claims up to £10,000.

In terms of how this will look in practice, a Claimant will bring proceedings in the usual way, however when a defence is filed and the case allocated to the small claims track, the parties will be advised by the court that they must now mediate.

The parties will complete a directions questionnaire (a document used by the Court to determine how to allocate the case) and the claim will move to the Small Claims Mediation Service where mediation appointments will be offered within 28 days.

Crucially, the mediation will be free, and the parties will have a separate 1-hour long telephone conversation with a mediator. If a settlement is agreed, a legally binding formal agreement will be recorded with the court. If agreement is not reached, the dispute will be heard by a judge in the usual way. The judge will be able to impose sanctions on parties that did not comply with mediation. The sanctions could include automatically ruling in one party’s favour or ordering that one party pay part or all the other sides legal costs.

Pros and Cons
There are a number of advantages of mediation including claims being settled more quickly and at less cost to the parties when compared to litigation. Also, compulsory mediation may remove the stigma of being the first party to propose it, which might encourage more parties to engage in mediation.

In terms of downsides, forcing parties to mediate where it is clear the parties will not reach an agreement may lead to time and resources being wasted.

While compulsory mediation will only apply to cases up to £10,000 for now, it is likely that the MoJ will increase the scope to higher value claims up to £25,000 (fast-track) and possibly those over £25,000 (multi-track).

While compulsory mediation may not be to everyone’s liking, it is ultimately a positive step by the MoJ and should help parties resolve disputes more effectively and alleviate pressure in the court system.

If you are considering filing or defending a civil claim and would like a free initial consultation with a member of the Litigation team simply click on the “Speak to Our Experts” button on this page, call us on 01244 356 789 or email info@cullimoredutton.co.uk

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

Sarah Gill

From dental nurse to Senior Paralegal

Senior Paralegal Sarah Gill joined our busy Wills & Probate Team in 2017. Here she talks about her former career as a dental nurse and what inspired her to retrain in the law.

 

How did you get into the law?

I grew up on the Wirral and when l left school I did a secretarial course at my local college, then started my first job as a receptionist for a firm of solicitors.

After being promoted to secretary, an opportunity came up to work in the NHS and train as a dental nurse – my original ambition. I worked for the Community Dental Service on the Wirral for four years and absolutely loved it.

My husband’s job took us both to Yorkshire for a number of years. I couldn’t find a job as a community dental nurse so went back to work for a firm of solicitors.

When we returned to the North West in my early thirties, I was offered a job as a paralegal and spent two years studying remotely for a Specialist Paralegal Qualification in Wills, Probate and Administration through the University of Strathclyde.

It’s a very rare qualification to have in England and there are not many of us. But it’s excellent because it provides you with the knowledge and understanding of the procedures involved in the preparation of wills and the administration of estates.

It also provides formal learning and a recognised qualification to bolster my many years of experience in wills and probate.

What do you love about your work?

It’s just brilliant. As a Senior Paralegal I’ve got my own case load of about seventy files at any one time. These can range from straightforward wills and grant applications to making a lasting power of attorney. I am also able to assist charities on occasion, such as Cancer Research UK via their free will service.

Like many of us on the team, I’ve had Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Friends training which teaches you about the signs and symptoms of dementia and the small ways you can help people through a better understanding of the condition.

The training is really helpful when you’re giving advice on wills and considering a person’s capacity to sign.

It may sound cheesy but I want everyone to have what they have the right to. I also like helping people. I get calls from people every day who have lost a parent or sibling and it’s good knowing I can help them at a time when they are most distressed and grieving.

Most people see probate as a bit of a minefield, but I carefully guide them through it step by step. You are the one on their side and who is thinking straight for them at a time of need. It makes it all worthwhile when someone drops you a little note afterwards to thank you for making a difference.

 

Would you recommend a career in the law?

Yes, definitely. My career journey shows that you don’t have to get into the law via a traditional path such as taking a law degree. I’d love to see more people coming in to the legal profession as paralegals.

Many will want to work their way up to become a solicitor but there are exciting career opportunities to grow and stay as a paralegal.

I was 41 when I qualified, and I believe my life experience brings a lot to the role. It’s also good fun to now be mentoring some of my younger colleagues who have joined Cullimore Dutton in their first jobs.

Life outside work?

The supermarkets recently announced a shortage of fruit and vegetables in the UK so I’m pleased I’ve been growing my own for years. In my small garden I grow all sorts from potatoes, onions and garlic to herbs, rhubarb, tomatoes and lettuce.

I’ve got strawberry plants and golden raspberries ready to go this summer too.

There’s nothing quite like growing your own produce, picking it and eating it minutes later. Any surplus I don’t need I exchange with my local fruit and veg swap shop.

Baking is an absolute passion and I’m known at work for my gooey centred cupcakes which I often make for work fundraising events. I love watching Bake Off but I’d never want to go on it – far too stressful!

Like quite a few of my colleagues, I’m into running too. I’m a run director for Parkrun, helping over 100 runners walk, jog or run 5km every Saturday morning, and involved with the Whitchurch Whippets, a friendly road running club for adults of all abilities.

I was initially terrified of joining a running club – I thought everyone was going to be Paula Radcliffe standard – but a pal persuaded me to give it a go. We have everything from an injury group for runners who want to walk while they recover to people new to running who can only do a minute and want to build up to 5km.

Staying fit, being social and having fun are just three great benefits from doing it.

 

Expansion of our in-house IFA team

We’re delighted to introduce a new member of our IFA team.

David Gaweda joined us this month as an independent financial advisor. David, who lives in Ellesmere, Shropshire, has a wealth of experience and is the fourth IFA in our growing team.

Headed up by Dom Richmond, our in-house Cullimore Dutton financial services team offers support, guidance and expert financial advice.

Dom said: “We’re delighted to welcome David to our growing team of independent financial advisors. The combination of our legal and financial services enables us to provide a more comprehensive offering to our clients.”

David said: “It’s great to join the Cullimore Dutton team at such an exciting time with the new city centre office and the continuing expansion of the services the firm is able to offer clients.”