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Legal issue - money spent without consent / chasing it back

(8 Posts)
something2say Thu 15-Jan-15 09:51:38

Hello. I would like some advice please on the following issue -

I live in a block of 6 flats, top front. We all pay to maintain the building. There is a man without a job who has always done the maintenance. He was a director and a signatory. There is a couple at the other end who are also directors and signatories, but the man in the middle does most of it.

The man below me wanted to sell back in the summer. Upon getting his survey, it showed some works needing doing to the external wall at our end. One day scaffolding was up and the work was being done. Quite often there is work being done and I assume it is paid for out of the communal pot.

Then I meet the man who administrates in the carpark and he tells me that he plans to spend £10k on the carpark surface, which we share with the next door block (separate) and they have said no - and he plans to go ahead and do the work and then wants our block to sue them! Obviously a few of us said no to this.

One day we came home to find some works having been done to the carpark - next door had seen some workmen, asked them to quickly sort it out for us and paid them £40. That was it. Admittedly not as good a job as a £10k job, but the holes were filled.

Our administrator man then emailed us all to say that he was disgusted, he would be resigning his directorship effective immediately and now wanted us all to pay him back £4000 for the work that has been done to our building - which he has paid for out of his own pocket......

So my qs are -
1) Am I culpable for this work which I did not know about or agree to or see quote for. I feel that I am partly culpable. My partner does not.
2) The man who sold is refusing to pay. The administrator man wants us all to pay his share. I think this is unreasonable.

I have taken over being a signatory to the bank account so that monies cannot be spent by this man - last night he said he wanted to buy our end a new front door and pay for it himself! I said that we do not manage money this way - we owe him - we need to sort that out first before we go spending any more money. £40 a month is not a lot for us all to pay and it doesn't go far - we do not need to spend more money.

I feel that he has gone ahead and spent out money without asking us and we don't know whether the costs were reasonable or not - the scaffolding men went away for 2 months in the middle, which none of us understood, and which suggests to me that they were cowboys and likely to have overcharged us. My partner thinks that I should agree to pay some but not all.

What do you guys think?
Many thanks if you have managed to get this far!

something2say Thu 15-Jan-15 09:59:06

The reason that I feel culpable is that a) the works were done on the building that I live in and if I didn't share with other people, I would have to foot the whole bill myself, b) I did not get involved with decisions like these; therefore I accept the decisions that he makes, even though now I am finding them foolish - is that my hard luck for not being more involved? Would a judge argue that if I had cared that much, I should have managed it myself and since I did not, I now accept the decisions that have been made on my behalf?

This man who manages things has a very bad stammer and doesn't not work as a result. He seems unable to negotiate with people and throws his toys out of the pram if people don't agree with him. he has dumped all the admin stuff through my door and knocks with a lovely smile on his face, saying that the problems are now all mine to resolve and can I take over the getting the money back from the downstairs sale now please? I have said no to this, but I am a little concerned about how the building will be administrated from now on, if this is what's been going on to date.

I have suggested that when things need doing, we all meet as a group and decide what to do - he said that that's what used to happen until he took it over, at which point he has just gone ahead and done the works and paid for them himself and now wants to charge us all. I wish he had asked us all first, but I wonder if this means I do or don't have to pay? My boyfriend suggests I do nothing and but I am unclear.....

thewomaninwhite Thu 15-Jan-15 10:43:49

I suggest you get some legal advice op. I truly don't know where you stand on this. He sound very cheeky to me and I would not be happy either. If he is going to be difficult then I would prefer to know where I stand officially if that makes sense. Do you have legal protection kind of stuff on your home insurance? Might be worth a call if so.

something2say Thu 15-Jan-15 11:21:02

Hello - thanks for that idea - I actually have access to legal advice through work....will give them a call later on.

Thanks for the idea. Rotten situation isn't it. If he hadn't told us he planned to sue next door, we would never know that he was just spending his own money willy nilly and then planning to charge it back to us!

wowfudge Thu 15-Jan-15 11:33:47

So the flat owners are the management company? If you look after the bank account, is it a limited company? If so, all directors have duties and obligations to the company.

All these sorts of additional works surely need to be agreed and minuted - what do the articles of the management company state? There should be a procedure which must be followed.

Someone who carries out or arranges work off their own back without agreement from the other owners makes a rod for their back as regards payment. They cannot simply do work to something they only own part of.

greenbanana Thu 15-Jan-15 11:55:04

What wowfudge said. Do you have documents from when you bought - check all documents on the management company and your lease. It is very unlikely that he can just go ahead and do stuff without telling anyone, although there might be something that if directors don't turn up to meetings they forfeit their say (it doesn't sound like there have been meetings though).

Check your docs and with a solicitor but you are unlikely to have to pay if he told absolutely no one. However as the work did need doing I feel you should offer to pay something in the name of good neighborliness. Try and keep the guy onside - he sounds like he has good intentions and having someone to help sort work out is really useful in general. If the flat downstairs has been sold I completely understand why the previous owner doesn't want to pay, I think you might have to live with that.

And obviously going forward make sure proper procedure is followed. It doesn't have to be as formal as it sounds (I live in a self-managed building with 5 flats we run the management company). But regular emails, proper accounting, agreement on all works and a future plan of works is important.

You also might want to consider raising the service charge slightly to give enough in the bank for future work. For example to pay for a new roof when needed.

something2say Thu 15-Jan-15 12:18:34

Thank you for these two latest posts.

I do agree - I feel that he paid for works on the flat that I personally live in, and therefore to some degree I am liable.

I have emailed him to say that I am taking legal advice, but going forwards I do not consent to works being done without all of our involvement, I do not consent to him spending his personal monies on joint responsibilities and I do not consent to paying him back for the money that downstairs has gone off not paying.

Going forwards, two account signatories have to sign and we have already spoken about increasing the money being paid in.

Thank you for the replies.

Desiren Thu 15-Jan-15 13:58:51

There is a specific legal process that is supposed to be followed for works to a building such as this. If not followed then money is not recoverable. The process is to protect all parties. Legal advise is definitely required.

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