Obstacles in communal corridors in flats

Date Published 04 December 2016

Q: There are bikes on the landing outside our front door, is there anything that I can do about this as I live in a block of flats.

A: It is not uncommon to find items left / stored in communal parts within blocks of flats and it is important that steps are taken to prevent this from happening. Firstly, you need to establish who is responsible for dealing with the communal parts. This can either be the Freeholder (owner of the land on which the flats are located) or a Block Management Company (independent organisation instructed to deal with the day to day management of the block including at times collecting service charges or individual taking on the role of managing the block) or one of the Leaseholders (where flats are administered internally where the freehold is owned by the leaseholders). There is sometimes a notice within the communal parts with contact details stating which party is managing the block. This is the person whom you need to contact to report the obstructions. They should take action by removing the said items and informing the owners or attempting to identify the owners. Bicycles in corridors create healthy and safety issues as they block access in case of emergency. You should also find that if the items are owned by tenants then any well written tenancy agreement will also ban items being left within communal parts. I would also expect that the Head Lease (lease issued by the Freeholder to the Leaseholders) to draw reference to the need to keep communal parts clear. The block will be insured and the building insurance policy will also have a clause that states communal parts must be kept clear at all times.
It is not uncommon to find people carrying bicycles through communal parts including lifts to gain access to a flat. One could not unreasonable restrict such action unless the size of the item was clearly impractical or damage was caused as a result. Though please be aware that the problem you have encountered does not just relate to bicycles. I have seen footwear, clothes, tools, children's toys, broken white goods, old TV's, furniture and even sofas which at times may appear abandoned, all left either intentionally or for convenience. These all create safety issues and action should be taken on the part of the management against the culprit.
However, should you find that having reported the incident your concerns fall on death ears, you are also able to report the problem to the Environmental Department of the Local Authority who will take action should they feel that intervention is necessary.