Complaints about freeholders

If you are a flat owner or leaseholder, you can make a complaint about your freeholder, contact the council's environmental health officer or use your legal rights to take action.

Who to complain to

If you own a flat, another person or company probably owns the freehold of the whole building and is responsible for structural repairs and collecting service charges. Their details should be on your lease. If you don't have this information, ask the solicitor who did the legal work when you bought your home.

Your freeholder could be a council or other public authority. Read more about making a complaint about a council.

If your freeholder is a housing association, find out about complaints about housing associations 

If your complaint is about the freeholder's managing agent, remember that the freeholder is responsible for the managing agent, so you may need to complain about both the freeholder and the managing agent.

Complain to your freeholder

Use your freeholder's complaints procedure, if there is one. Ask at your freeholder's office, or get information from their website.

Complain by letter if your freeholder does not seem to have an official complaints procedure you can use. The freeholder should investigate your complaint. They may contact you to ask questions, ask you to send copies of documents, and ask to inspect your home. The freeholder should write to tell you the result of their investigation.

If you are not happy with the result at the end of the complaints procedure, or if the freeholder has failed to reply to your complaint letter. You may be able to use alternative dispute resolution (ADR). You could use this to settle your dispute with your freeholder without having to take legal action.

Find out more from AdviceGuide about ADR and about going to court.

Complain to the council's environmental health department

Every council has an environmental health officer, or EHO. The EHO can help if there is a health and safety hazard in your home, and it is the freeholder's fault. For example, the EHO might investigate if your flat or your building has:

  • dangerous electrical wiring or gas pipes
  • dangerous structural disrepair
  • rising damp or leaky roofs
  • noisy machinery
  • other hazards (eg asbestos)

The EHO inspects your home and makes a decision about what needs to be done to put it right. The EHO may then speak to the freeholder informally to request that work is done, or issue a formal order that makes the freeholder carry out the work.

If the freeholder does carry out repair, you probably have to contribute to the cost of the work through your service charge. If the EHO finds a hazard that you are responsible for, you may be ordered to get the work done to make it safe.

Find out about the EHO at a council office or from the council website. Use the Gov.uk council finder to find details of your local council.

Use Shelter's directory to find advisers in your area.

Legal rights of leaseholders

Knowing about your legal rights may help when you complain or take further action against your freeholder. The legal rights of leaseholders include:

  • to be informed about service charges and buildings insurance
  • to be consulted about repairs and service contracts
  • to be given certain information about the freeholder
  • to extend your lease

Read more about leaseholders' rights.

If you work with other leaseholders, together you may have extra rights, such as the right to:

  • buy the freehold
  • take over management of the building
  • form a recognised resident's association

Contact the Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE) for more information about the legal rights of leaseholders.

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