Q. I own a property within a secured leasehold development and due to the increase of leaks over the last year the management company are now insisting that an annual plumbing check is carried out by their appointed contractor at all the apartments within the development. I feel this is a little invasive and surely we should have the right to look after our own properties as we see fit and attend to any issues ourselves. As an owner occupier I am obviously looking after my investment and feel quite insulted that this is being imposed upon us by our management company. What are your views?
A. I have seen this procedure rolled out on fair number of Leasehold developments of late and ultimately although it seems invasive I do believe it to be of value in the long run. Many managing agents have seen soaring insurance premiums which have ultimately been the result of water leaks from apartments. This of course has had a rippling effect of rocketing excess payments on insurance claims on you as a leaseholder and of course higher service charges. In an effort to bring insurance premiums and excess payments to a more acceptable level the introduction of annual ‘plumbing checks ‘seems to be a great way of leak prevention which of course ultimately should drive both premiums and excess payments down. The plumbing checks are usually carried out free of charge, checking things like sealant around sinks, baths, showers and WC’s and also boilers and water tanks. If an issue is detected the leaseholder will receive recommendations as to what needs to be done in order to pass the check. Of course these companies are riding on the fact that most leaseholders will use them to carry out the work but of course you have the option to bring in your own contractor to carry out the works. Once completed the original company appointed by the managing agent will need to come back in to check the works have been carried out before issuing the property with a pass. Do remember that there are always a large number of buy to let properties on such developments and whilst you as an owner occupier may be taking good care of your property tenants are not always so vigilant or reactive to problems hence the need for a third party to be brought in.