Flat plan: A window of opportunity

Submitted by AK Property adm... on Mon, 04/21/2008 - 22:59.

An Article from 'Property Plus' on March 28th 2008 -

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Friday March 28 2008

I live in an old development. There are problems with some of the windows. Who is responsible?

This will very much depend on the terms as set out in your lease andyou'll need to read it carefully. From my experience, leases tend todeal with windows in one of the following ways:

The apartment owner is responsible for the interior of the windowstructure and the management company is responsible for the exterior.The owner is responsible for the entirety of the window structure, orthe management company is responsible for the entirety of the windowstructure.

I have used the term 'window structure' because it's a common featureof most leases that the apartment owner is responsible for themaintenance and cleaning of the glass in the windows.

I bought a new apartment last year. There's a residents' committeeand a managing agent, but the developer still owns everything. Who isrunning the development and do I have any say at this stage?

At this stage, I'm afraid that the owners have no formal powers orinfluence over the manner in which your development is managed. Underthe terms of your lease, the developer still owns the freehold interestin the development and is legally responsible to all the owners for theproper management of the development.

The developer has obviously appointed a managing agent. It's themanaging agent's legal obligation to take his instruction from thedeveloper in relation to all management matters. In most circumstances,developers tend to leave the running of the development entirely to themanaging agent and have little or no input into it.

However, I see that you also have a residents' committee at thedevelopment. Although this committee has no formal powers (because thedeveloper hasn't transferred them to the owners yet) it can be quiteinfluential in the decision-making process, depending on the attitudeof the managing agent and developer.

In some developments the managing agent takes the decisions of theresidents' committee and brings them to the developer, who will justrubber-stamp them. You should enquire from a member of your committeeas to the extent of their influence.

It's a very good idea to form a residents' committee in a newdevelopment. Sometimes the managing agent is pro-active in this. Ifnot, the owners should form one themselves.

Nevertheless it's important to remember that the developer isultimately responsible in law for the way the development is manageduntil such time as he transfers his interests and responsibilities tothe owners.

When that happens, the new board of directors of the managementcompany, elected by the owners, will replace the residents' committee.

The directors can then decide whether or not to manage the developmentthemselves or to continue to use the services of a managing agent.

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