Buyer Beware – what should you be looking out for?

It’s important before buying an apartment to look into how well the complex is run and how much of a contingency fund is in place to pay for repairs to the roof or other areas requiring maintenance.

It is doubly important these days to make these enquiries, or more usually for your solicitor to make them on your behalf,  as many apartment complexes have in recent years been plagued by shortcomings in fire safety provisions which cost a substantial amount to put right.

Your solicitor will advise you to engage an architect or surveyor to inspect the apartment and complex but as all work is covered over at this stage, it is usually impossible to find any fire safety problems.

So any purchaser of an older apartment these days should be aware of these fire issues and will be advised by his solicitor:

  1. To ask an adjoining owner if there are any current fire safety or remedial issues
  2. To engage an architect or surveyor to inspect the apartment and, if necessary, to liaise with the local authority or fire officer as to any concerns
  3. Whether or not the management company has adequate bank reserves to deal with any such fire or other emergencies
  4. Most importantly, when replies to the pre-contract queries are received, to advise whether the vendor/ management company are aware of any concerns or issues regarding fire safety / defective workmanship which could lead to a demand for payment from the management reserve funds.

An inadequate reserve fund or a non-committal response to pre-contract queries is a red flag and any purchaser should be prepared to walk away in such a case and will be so advised by his solicitor.