Consumer rights: Holiday ruined by threatened BA strikes

There can be expensive differences between a refundable and non-refundable airline ticket ... What responsibilities does a leaseholder have to the freeholder?

In December I booked two flights with BA. One was for myself from Manchester via Gatwick to Tampa and back for £1,408.30. The second was for my mother on the same flights and route to Tampa – but one way – for £770.50. When BA announced its strike before Christmas, passengers were told they could reroute their journeys or rebook. As there was no other route that would get us to Tampa, I tried ringing the airline without success and eventually cancelled the tickets online.

My mother's ticket was refunded in full but only £107.48 of mine was refunded. I've written to BA twice and been told that no refund is due on mine. If that's the case why did they refund my mother's? - MS, Cheshire

I have been in contact with BA about this and the explanation has nothing to do with the proposed strike which in the end was cancelled. The reason one ticket was fully refunded and the other wasn't is that they were different types of tickets. They were issued on the same day and bought with different cards but the terms and conditions that applied to them were also different. You should have had that explained to you. Your mother's ticket was fully refundable regardless of the circumstances under which it was cancelled. Your ticket was part refundable and part non-refundable. When you cancelled both tickets online the ticket for £770.50 was automatically fully refunded as per the terms and conditions of the ticket. The other was read by the computer as being non-refundable – even though parts of it were refundable – and so only the £107.80 for the taxes was refunded to the card. Had you wanted to buy a fully refundable ticket, that would have been possible but likely that it would have been more expensive.

However, the member of BA staff I spoke to has checked and while you did get a reply to your first letter saying no further refund was due, your second letter did get things moving – unknown to you. BA has a record of a further £964.00 being refunded to your card on 4 February for the other refundable elements of that ticket. In total, BA has refunded £1071.80. The remaining £336.50 is the non refundable elements of the ticket.

I know that you have since checked your card accounts and found that the refund was made to the wrong card. So all's well. When you book flight tickets make it clear to the person making the booking that you want a fully refundable ticket so that in the event you have to cancel you'll get the whole amount refunded, but expect to pay a bit more.

•••

I live in the top flat of a maisonette. I am the freeholder of the whole property and the leaseholder lives downstairs. He plans to replace some rotten windows and have a window converted into a patio door. He has not asked my permission for either. I have no problems with him replacing rotten windows but I am concerned that the patio door could weaken the structure. - BJ, West London

It depends on what the lease says. Usually, there's a clause that says that the leasee (your leaseholder) may not make alterations without asking for the landlord's (your) permission. In the case of replacing the rotten windows, the lease may say that the responsibility for the window frames lies with the leasee. As for the patio doors, David Hewett from the Association of Residential Managing Agents says that if the lease says the leasee has to ask your permission, you can take professional advice to make sure that the structure of the building won't be damaged by the change and you can pass on any reasonable fees to the leasee.

If there is such a clause and the leasee goes ahead without your permission, he would be in breach of the lease and could be "subject to forfeiture". Unless he put things right, you would be entitled to take back possession of the flat. David Hewett adds: "Even if there isn't a clause in the lease covering permission there should be a clause that gives the landlord the right to protect the interests of the building."

www.moneyagonyaunt.com



Do you have a consumer complaint?

Write to Julian Knight at:

The Independent on Sunday,

2 Derry Street,

London

W8 5HF

j.knight@independent.co.uk

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