The Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 (the Act) gave the right to long leaseholders to force their landlord to hand over the responsibilities of management of their block of flats to the leaseholders themselves.

This is done by all or some of the leaseholders setting up a Right to Manage Company, inviting other leaseholders to become members of the company, if they have not been involved and been made members from the outset, and then serving notice on the landlord that with effect from a particular date the company will take over responsibility for maintenance and repair of the building and its communal parts and services.

As long as the leaseholders meet the criteria set out in the Act, and enough of them are willing to take this step, and as long as the building meets certain conditions, the landlord can do nothing to prevent the leaseholders dealing with the management themselves – or engaging a professional management company to do so on their behalf.  The leaseholders do not have to prove that the landlord’s service has been poor.

There is much background work to be done however.  The leaseholders need to know what services are being provided and what, if any, contracts for maintenance are already in place.  Sometimes it will be necessary to make a formal request for information of the landlord before the Right to Manage claim is made.  There also needs to be a core group of leaseholders who are willing to take the responsibilities involved in being an officer of a Right to Manage Company and being landlord of a residential property.

The disappearance of the landlord will not prevent the leaseholders from exercising their right to manage if they choose to so.  As long as proper steps have been taken to try and find the landlord, the First Tier Property Tribunal will, on application, make an order entitling the newly-formed Right to Manage Company to take over the responsibilities of management of the property.