17 April 2018
Are you fully informed about your service charges?
Service charges for a residential property that you’re renting should never be a mystery. Elliott Brookes, a property dispute resolution solicitor from B P Collins, highlights how a landlord must always be reasonable and fully transparent with their costs by law.
The relationship between a landlord and tenant can be fractious. Sometimes, this is down to a tenant not being fully aware of what their service charges cover – which is a payment in addition to their rent - or the costs for work carried out on the property are presented to a tenant without any advance notice. However, if each party knows their rights and responsibilities, the relationship Should be a lot smoother.
While the landlord is entitled to recover service charges that it has properly incurred, most tenants are protected from excessive fees under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. In fact, the Act says that the landlord has to be reasonable with their service charges and specify how far in advance that they require payment.
The landlord must also consult with tenants before entering into a long-term service charge agreement for more than 12 months or if they wish to carry out works above a cost threshold of £250. The works also have to be to a reasonable standard, whether that’s day-to-day repairs, planned maintenance or major improvement works.
When to refuse
There are instances where the tenant may be able to refuse to pay service charges if the landlord has not been transparent about the costs or has missed the deadline to request payment. For example, tenants do not have to pay service charges unless the landlord includes key information in their demands. Also, tenants do not have to pay the cost for work done to the property, if they were incurred more than 18 months before the landlord requests payment.
Even though you’re a leaseholder, you still have the right to know what is going on and what works are being done in the property that you’re living in, particularly if they will be at your expense. The law is there to protect tenants from excessive payments and dishonest demands from landlords. It is always worth asking a solicitor to review your tenancy agreement before signing to avoid any nasty surprises or hidden costs in the long run.
Please contact Elliott for further advice on 01753 889995 or email firstname.lastname@example.org