I am seeking advice as to who is responsible for ensuring that the two entrances to our building conform to the standards for disabled access.
The building consists of some 30 flats and occupation is limited to those over 55 years of age. There are a number of communal areas including entrances, corridors, the lounge and the laundry. We have a part-time manager/warden. The building was originally built in the 1980s.
There are two entrances to the building but it is impossible for a wheelchair user to enter or leave the building unaided. One door is 70 cm wide and the other 73 cm wide neither of which I believe conform to the minimum width recommended for wheelchair use. One door has a curb high step immediately in front of it with no ramp thus making it impossible for an unaided wheelchair user. The second door, although reasonably flat, does have a lip which causes considerable unevenness for a wheelchair. Both doors are operated by a fob system but the activation panels to which the fob has to be placed are totally out of reach if you are sitting in a wheelchair. Finally, even if a wheelchair user were able to unlock the door there is no way the door can be held open whilst the wheelchair comes in or out.
The flats are all owned by their occupiers and are all leasehold. The building is owned and managed by the Guinness Partnership. I would be most grateful if you could offer advice or guidance as to who would be responsible for paying for alterations to the entrances that would make them conform to the existing standards for disabled access.
A lot depends on the lease and how it apportions responsibility and ownership.
Normally, it is the Service Charge that finances the upkeep and maintenance of the communal areas. As the service charge is paid by the leaseholders it would be yourselves who would pay for any additional works.
If the building was built in the 80’s it probably does not conform to the DDA act. However, reasonable effort must be made to address difficulties for access. This does not mean that the doors have to be changed or made wider. But again, any cost for this would be funded by the service charge.
Ultimately, the responsibility for maintaining the building and making sure it is compliant is the landlord, via the managing agent, if they have appointed one. The cost of any works will be the responsibility of the leaseholders via the service charge.
You could ask the Guinness Partnership to make alterations, but if they agree, it will be the leaseholders who fund it.
I hope this helps. To progress further I would recommend you have the lease checked to confirm responsibility. I would also recommend you talk to Guinness Partnership, If you haven’t tried, it would be worth a try.
There are many agents you can talk to who can help if you need them.
George Tambaros, Operations Director at Hunter Grey