Landlord and other property owner conflict

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Landlord and other property owner conflict

Post by WHJOHNSON » Sun Apr 21, 2013 1:56 pm

Please bear with me!

A friend of mine bought a cafe which he operated successfully for a few years before retiring.
The cafe is on the ground floor of a 3 storey building.
The 1st and 2nd floor are flats.
Whilst owning and running the cafe, he bought the two flats above.
Upon retiring, he sold the cafe but retained ownership of the flats, which he still owns.
The gas and electrical services and associated metering for the cafe and the flats are all located in the corner of the cafe.
There is a separate fused switch in the cafe to protect the cabling to the flats.
The flats are separately metered by the electricity supplier by a meter in the cafe.

Basically, the cafe owner has taken to switching off the electricity supply to the flats every time he experiences conflict with the tenants.

I have no idea what the local politics are as regards the conflicts, but the net result is that the tenants have complained to the landlord about it.

From a safety point of view, the un-notified and unauthorized switching of the electricity is not a good idea, but apart from that, the new cafe owner is interfering with property which doesn't belong to him.
The main switch is after the electricity supplier's equipment and is the property of the flat owner.

What can we do to stop the cafe owner acting like this?

I do not want to lock the switch into the 'on' position in case the fire service need to isolate in case of emergency.

I am not privy to any information as to who is arguing with who, nor why the conflicts are taking place.

The newly engaged letting/management agency acting on behalf of the flats owner will not have anything to do with it because the tenants were not placed through them.

Comments welcome.

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Re: Landlord and other property owner conflict

Post by gardenlaw » Tue Apr 23, 2013 8:50 am

It is the landlords resposibility to provide a safe system of heating and lighting a property which he lets. Your friend is in danger of not doing this. He should ask an expert's advice as to the resiting of the supply to make it impossible for the cafe owner to switch it off.

It sounds to me as if your friend owns the whole property and that the cafe has a lease from him. Is that the case? If it is then the cafe man is in breach of his lease,if he has one, by causing a nuisance to the tenants of the flats.

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Re: Landlord and other property owner conflict

Post by WHJOHNSON » Tue Apr 23, 2013 12:29 pm

Thanks for your input.

The cafe was actually sold and no form of lease at all is in force. The seller bought a property in another area of the country with the proceeds of the sale.
The flats owner hopes to eventually sell the the flats to the cafe owner at some future point - the new cafe owner's family also own the shop next door and flats above that already.

Therefore, the owner of the flats is reluctant to prejudice his current good relations with the new cafe owner!

Prior to the tenants moving in, the owner did look into getting two new electrical supplies installed to the flats but the costs (installation, wayleave, conservation area planning costs etc) would have run into tens of thousands of pounds.

Basically, for a single 5 metre long trench, and two 5 metre lengths of cable, the electricity supplier was quoting over £10K!

The only solution I can think of is one of discussion and negotiation, along with dismissal of the existing tenants and the procurement of new ones via the letting agency.

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