It has fallen to my daughter to collect building insurance money in the block where she owns an apartment

May 2013

Question

My daughter purchased an apartment in a purpose-built block containing three other apartments. No management company was ever formed so the builder collected the money for the building insurance from each owner. He ceased doing this after two years when it fell to my daughter to do it. This has proved quite unsatisfactory as she has difficulty contacting two of the other owners, so rather than letting the insurance lapse for the whole building she has paid the missing amounts. This is solely to protect her interest. She has written to the two people involved at their last known addresses but with no response.

What is her best course of action as she is not willing to allow this matter continue?

Answer

In my opinion, your daughter’s actions to date have been correct and prudent. It is imperative for the protection of her property and compliance with any mortgage agreement that building insurance is in place and adequate.

In Ireland apartment ownership is normally by way of grant of a long-term lease (typically 999 years) with the developer as the initial landlord and the apartment owner as tenant. From the outset the developer will contract to transfer the landlord’s interest (freehold) and responsibilities to an owners’ management company which has been specifically created for this purpose. The title lease will detail responsibilities towards procuring insurance and other services together with detailing what parts of the structure are individual to the apartment owner and those parts that are shared or management company responsibility. Each owner will agree to contribute to the full costs of the operation of the management company.

Your daughter’s first step should be to review her title and determine what mechanism is in place to procure common services and who contributes to the costs

I take it that two of the apartments are rented given her difficulty in contacting two of the other owners. It is worth noting that not only does the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 oblige landlords to provide tenants with contact details (Section 12(1)), but it also obliges the landlord to insure the premises. This means that the tenants of the apartments should be able to provide your daughter with contact details of their landlord or his authorised agent. The insurance policy in place will also note the interest of the parties and their mortgage providers and it may be possible to try to make contact through writing to the relevant lending institution.

Another means of contacting the other owners could be through their solicitors whose details may be available from the developer’s solicitor. The developer’s solicitor would have also created the title for all four apartments and may be willing to advise on how the title is structured.

I would recommend that your daughter moves to resolve this matter quickly as it may take some time.

Paul Mooney is a member of the property and facilities management group of the MediKids.