Problems with a Dodgy Landlord? Kick Him out; Property Mail Leaseholders in the UK Can Now Oust the Landlord and Take over a Block's Management, Reports Nigel Lewis

Article excerpt

Byline: NIGEL LEWIS;HELEN GREGORY

AROUND three million people live in leasehold-owned properties in the UK and, should you ask them what they least like about their home, their response will almost certainly be: 'Having a landlord.' For 400 years the leasehold system has caused misery for many property owners. Although the majority of landlords (usually referred to as the freeholder) are fair and efficient, many are not.

The most common complaints are poor maintenance, money siphoned off from repair funds, absentee landlords appointing unaccountable management companies, and unjustifiably high annual ground rent.

One of the more enlightened property reforms pushed through by the Government has been a complete and revolutionary shakeup of the relationship between a leaseholder and freeholder - in the leaseholder's favour.

The Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 has been activated bit by bit over the past 12 months - the latest, and final part, last Tuesday.

The new laws fall broadly into two categories: buying out your landlord forcibly, and taking over a building's management without the landlord's say-so. Therefore, if you own a flat, it's worth getting to know more about the new law, particularly if you have a difficult landlord. It could help make your life less stressful and your flat easier to sell.

No one wants to buy an apartment in a block where the residents are at war with the landlord.

But like all legal matters involving property, it's best to get professional advice about your situation before getting involved in a tussle with your landlord.

If a landlord is really getting annoying and you want them out of your life for good, the law now allows you to achieve this more easily.

The Government has cleared out much of the red tape from the original 1993 legislation, which put too many obstacles in the way of leaseholders-Now, only a majority of flat owners need set up a company and take over the freehold; before, it had to be two-thirds. Also, you no longer have to prove you live in the block - useful if you are renting out the flat.

Although flat dwellers own the leasehold, control of the management, maintenance and insurance of the block normally remains in the hands of the landlord. …