Window Maintenance – Whose Responsibility Is It Any Way?

One of the quirks, and frustrations, of managing leasehold property is the lack of consistency, when it comes to divvying up the responsibilities for particular areas of the property, between landlord and leaseholder.  Arguably, responsibility for the maintenance of windows is one of the best illustrations of this.

The glass in the windows is usually the responsibility of the leaseholder but there is not a consistent approach to responsibility for the frames.  In some leases, window frames are included along with the structure of the building as forming the common parts.  In others, they are demised and form part of the flat. Even when frames are defined as being part of the flat (and therefore the responsibility of the leaseholder), the landlord, or management company, may have an obligation for external decoration.  The reason for this is that you need to paint all the windows at same time to ensure a consistent look for the building. There are also economies of scale, and other advantages, such as the sharing of access via scaffolding and getting all the disruption over in one go.

This can present different problems, where the cost of painting the windows is paid for via the service charge but repairs have to be paid for, and possibly even arranged, by the leaseholder, who may not be aware that they are required, until the contractors are on-site preparing the wood for decoration.

Replacing wooden windows with UPVC, doesn’t necessarily solve the problem.  Whilst it may cut down the cost of decoration in future years, it is important that the correct consent for making this alteration is applied for by the leaseholder and that the installation is carried out to a suitable standard. Otherwise they may be in breach of their lease. Some leaseholders, may be surprised to know that replacing their windows with UPVC doesn’t alter the fact that they are likely to be asked to contribute to the overall cost of any external decoration at the development, where there is the obligation to do so in their lease.

Key to us getting this right, is a thorough knowledge and understanding of the lease at each development and clear communication with leaseholders when planning or managing external decorations.

Posted in Leaseholders.