RIGHT TO MANAGE – OUR STORY

Many leaseholders may be put off pursuing the right to manage their development, simply because of the name and the fact that they are unsure what that could involve.

However, having the Right to Manage (RTM) your development does not mean that you have to manage it yourself and we are sure that you would not want to do that. It simply gives you the right to choose who does manage it. 

The right to manage your development is a right granted by law, within the Landlord and Tenant Act 2002 and after our experience of pursuing it we would encourage every development to at least consider it as it could work for them too. The ownership of many apartments in England is granted under a lease for a specific number of years and this is not normally a problem as the lease is usually held for a term of, for example, 99 or even 999 years. However, the main points of concern during the term of the lease are not around the length, but often questions around the practicalities of the following: 

Q. Who choses who manages the apartment block on behalf of the landlord and leaseholders?

A. Usually it is the landlord and NOT the leaseholders. 

Q. What control do leaseholders have over how the development is managed by a managing agent on both a short and long-term basis?

A. They often have no control whatsoever or at best, very little. 

Q. What control do leaseholders have over what costs are passed on to them in terms of management and service charges by the landlord?

A. Again, they often have no control or at best, very little.

At London Court we are lucky that the development is managed on a day-to-day basis by an excellent resident development manager who has been with us for around 18 years. However, we did have concerns over the managing agent who had been put in place by the landlord (first point above). We also had significant concerns about the lack of our involvement in the decisions around how the development was manged (second point above) and how our service charge budget and our reserve funds were spent (third point above).

It appeared to us that the only way to gain control of our development and its finances was to begin by spending some time researching the pros and cons of the RTM process. A small group of residents got together to research this around June of 2020 and in July, a meeting of residents was organised so that their findings could be passed on. This meeting had to be held outside in our communal gardens with social distancing in place because of the COVID regulations.

At the end of the meeting, it was decided to go further and invite an RTM expert to a second meeting (also held outside in August) to go through the actual process and legalities, followed by a Q and A session.

Having received the agreement of the leaseholders of almost 80% of our apartments, (by law you must have more than 50%), to proceed, we engaged the services of our chosen RTM expert in October 2020. Not surprisingly, once our current managing agent heard about the RTM claim, they attempted to convince leaseholders that it was not in their best interests and could be detrimental to them and the development.

The claim to RTM London Court was served on our landlord in December 2020 and agreed by them on 23 January 2021, with the take-over date of 26 April 2021. We will be in charge from that date and will keep you posted on how we get on via updates on this website.

We have learned much about the RTM process since we began. It has often been described as ‘simple but complex’ and we can vouch for this. However, if you feel that making an RTM claim is in the best interests of the leaseholders and the development itself you should dip your toes into the water. The ‘Top 5’ tips we can pass on from the things we have learnt so far are: 

1) Make sure you know why you want to make the claim – you do not have to be dissatisfied with your managing agent to make the claim.

2) Do some initial research on the RTM process and make sure the leaseholders and the development itself are entitled to make the claim. 

3) Make sure that you have the support of more than 50% of the qualifying leaseholders AND that they will continue to stay onboard with the claim to the conclusion, which could take 7 to 9 months to complete.

4) Once you have decided to go ahead, contract the services of an RTM expert. Do not be persuaded that you can do it yourselves - and go for the best.

5) Keep your fellow leaseholders updated on progress with regular updates.

All of the above perhaps falls under the ‘simple’ part, but if you get that right you are well on your way to a successful RTM claim.

For the ‘complex’ part we would be happy to encourage and help you and to pass on our experience in claiming a successful RTM. Drop an email to: brianh@londoncourtoxford.com