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Council owned freehold on private flat

I am looking at buy a flat in a converted house. The house consists of two flats (built circa 1907). The woman who owned the flat downstairs took up the right to buy her council flat; the woman upstairs did not and so it remains in council ownership. The council therefore own the freehold on the house. What are the risks of buying a private flat in a council owned freehold? I hear horror stories of the council making massive financial demands for works, unannounced and working to their own schedule without consultation. I imagine there is less control over choosing your own contractors, but sharing a freehold with another private owner can be fraught with difficuty also. Is the council really likely to be any worse? The structure of the house and the roof seem very sound (though survey not done yet). Any thoughts / related experiences on this would be appreciated.

Asked on Apr 12 2015, General in London | Report content

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  • Hey Firefly! If you have a lease all should be well but get a solicitor to check it just in case. Personally I would rather have a flat owned by a council as they are (in most cases!) honest and transparent, unlike many landlords. - Jeff Djevdet

    Answered on Apr 16 2015, Report content
  • I believe there have been changes to the law recently that reduce the risk of the council suddenly deciding to do massive works. Also look up section 20 procedure, that places restrictions and requires consultation for any work that would cost an individual flat owner more than £250. That can prove a big problem in privately owned blocks with a managing agent: imagine a minor repair costing 600 shared between two flats, it requires a section 20 notice and several months of consultation, the managing agent will charge a couple of hundred pounds to deal with all the paperwork so that 600 repair ends up costing far more. To keep costs down you need to self-manage, but that can be hard work keeping on good terms with the neighbours and having to beware of all the red tape. Having lived in a managed a leasehold flat for 30 years I'm about to sell up: its getting too much trouble.

    Answered on Apr 17 2015, Report content
  • We are selling our flat because of work carried out which we knew of though we were shocked with the amount the council wanted which was 20,000 pounds plus 5,000 pounds for a service charge that we were notified of when it reached 5,000 pounds. All these prices the council want to put against our mortgage which we could not afford. Because of this we are selling out flat immediately to buy another buy to let property. The council was very rude to us and kept on finding new bills which we were not notified of. This was a horrible experience therefore I am staying clear of council properties. Though I would love to hear good stories about selling council properties. Mrs Mahoney

    Answered on Apr 26 2015, Report content

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