Window Renewals

The Council as landlord and freeholder of the block (the ‘Lessor’) is responsible for maintaining the structure and other ‘reserved parts’ of the buildings. The structure includes the roofs, walls, window frames, foundations and so on.

The Council’s leases require leaseholders to pay a reasonably estimated amount to cover the costs and expenses “incurred or to be incurred by the Lessor in carrying out such improvements to the Demised Property the Block the Reserved Property and/or the Estate as the Lessor shall in its absolute discretion deem necessary and in carrying out the obligations or functions contained in or referred to in this Clause and Clauses 5 and 7 hereof and in the covenants set out in the Ninth Schedule hereto….”

This means that under the terms of their leases, leaseholders are legally required to pay their share of any costs that the Council or Waltham Forest Housing (as managing agents for the Council), incurs in carrying out the Council’s obligations such as repairing or renewing the roof or windows to the block.

Where we replace windows, leaseholders have to pay their share of the overall costs for their block, whether we replace all the windows in the block, or only some of the windows. Where any residents have replaced windows to their flats themselves, we may not need to renew them (depending on the type, age and condition of the windows and whether the leaseholder obtained landlord's permission for the work).

When we grant ‘landlords permission’ for a resident to replace windows themselves, we have to make sure that the specification is satisfactory and one of the conditions we have to impose is that the new windows must be in keeping with the rest of the block. Essentially this means that the shape and size of the window aperture (the hole in the wall that the window fits into) should not be changed and the style of the windows should not be very different from others in the block, to prevent spoiling the overall appearance of the building (which would also be of benefit to any leaseholders who wish to sell their flat).

Another condition of granting landlord’s permission is that we will not be required to reduce the service charge as a result of granting the permission. This policy is standard practice in leasehold management nationally and is supported by the courts.

If a leaseholder replaces windows to their flat either with or without landlord’s permission, it does not remove their responsibility under the terms of the lease, to pay their share of any costs we incur on the reserved parts of the block, including when we renew or replace windows to other flats in the block.

In deciding whether to renew windows that residents may have previously replaced themselves, we must consider long-term maintenance costs for the block. For example, it would not make sense for us not to replace windows to some flats during a contract if it means that the windows will only need replacing in say, another 5 years time or so - because of the costs of setting up another contract, erecting more scaffolding (if required) and so on, the costs of which would then have to be passed on to the leaseholders.

The glass in the windows

When existing window frames are removed it is inevitable that the glass in the frames would either break or become unusable. Having damaged the glass, we are responsible for replacing it. However, we can include the cost of doing this in leaseholders’ service charges, despite the fact that the lease says that the glass in the windows is the leaseholder’s responsibility.

Under the terms of the ninth schedule of the lease, the Council must ‘keep in good and substantial repair and condition (and whenever necessary rebuild and reinstate and renew and replace all worn or damaged parts), the main structure of the block’ including windows, in the block. The lease also says that the landlord must manage the block for the purposes of keeping the block in a condition similar to its present state and condition and that the landlord may carry out all such other works in respect of the block or the estate that the landlord considers reasonable.

While the Council is under an obligation to keep in repair the frames of the windows, we consider it reasonable and practical to replace the glass at the same time as we replace the frames. Clause 3 (a) of the lease allows the Council to charge a service charge in respect of all the works it is entitled/obliged to carry out under the terms of the lease. So because the lease allows us to replace the glass as part of the improvement/repair works we are also entitled to charge for replacing the glass in leaseholders’ service charges.

The position is the same for leaseholders who have already replaced their own windows and those who have not. The fact that a leaseholder has already replaced his or her windows does not exempt him/her from contributing to the cost of the block replacement in accordance with Clause 3 of the Lease.

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