Leasehold Advisory Service Public Meeting

St Martin’s TRA held a public meeting with the Leasehold Advisory Service on Wednesday 21st January 2015. The minutes of the meeting are below. These are minutes of a public meeting, they are not a substitute for legal advice. If you want legal advice please consult the Leasehold Advisory Service or a solicitor

For details of other work we’re doing for leaseholders please see here


Opening Comments

Chris opened the meeting and introduced Nadeem Hussain. Nadeem is a solicitor with the Leasehold advisory. The meeting was as a result of issues being reported to the TRA. This meeting was set up to advise leaseholders of their rights.

Nadeem explained about the leasehold advisory service. It is a Government funded organization that deals with resident leasehold problems. It has a telephone advisory service. It also does outreach work such as this meeting. Nadeem is one of twelve Solicitors who work there.

Nadeem went on to explain about leases and at the end took questions from residents.

What it means being a leaseholder?
A lease is a contract drawn up listing a number of obligations. The housing association has a number of obligations, they have to manage the repairs the structure of the buildings and provide services such as cleaning and gardening. In return for this the leaseholder pays a service charges, management charges and will be issued with section 20 for more major work.

Rules can vary from lease to lease. Nadeem noted that St Martins had ten different types of leases. This is not uncommon, as most associations may have different ones. In later years Housing Associations have become better at drawing up leases, pre 1985 leases have a more comprehensive charge, now Housing Associations are drawing up leases to make sure service charges are covering the running costs.

Section 20
When a section 20 is served it means the works will cost each leaseholder more than £250. This is a legal document sent to advise the leaseholder why the landlord is doing the work and how he is doing it. As a leaseholder you have the right to make comments and the housing association must show regard for them. You may have the right to nominate a contractor. If the landlord fails to consult in this process you can take this to first tier tribunal. The leaseholder advisory service can provide more details.

Service Charges
The lease will tell you what you are liable to pay for in service charges. These are charges for day to day cost like cleaning gardening and repairs in communal areas electricity etc. These charges are an estimated cost and will be a monthly charge. As it is an estimated cost it won’t be an exact figure so at the end of the year it may a be a debit or deficit on your account.

The landlord and tenants act 1985 covers legislation around service charges you have to be able to proof reasonable difference
The cost of the work is too much.
The specification charge is too high by 20%
The work does not need to be done.
You have proof from a third party source that the work is to a poor standard.

The above helps to evidence your argument and can help if you take it to a First Tier Tribunal.

Residents Questions

A resident moved in to his property a year and a half ago, he is now being billed for work that happened prior to buying the property? Is this right
When buying a lease you could be picking up baggage from the previous owner. It is up to your solicitor to look at the conveyancing issues, as your contract is with the seller. It may be that an issue was not disclosed to you. The solicitor working for you should find out any charges outstanding and also any major works to be done.

Has the Housing Association a time limit on recovering charges?
It is within eighteen months, the leasehold advisory service is happy to advice on this.

If you haven’t been served with a a section 20 can you refuse to pay the cost?
You would have to take it to the tribunal and the landlord would have to show proof that it was sent, and a ruling would then be made.

A resident was suffering a leak from a flat above him. He asked who was liable for the damage
If the fault was structural or mains sewer the landlord would have to put it right. However, in this instance the fault was a leak from a newly fitted toilet. Therefore the leaseholders would have to sort it between them. If they were not able to sort it between them it would need to go to a small claims court.

At what stage is it best to renew your lease?
It is best to renew when your lease has eighty years left on the lease. It best to informally approach your landlord to renew the lease. But be mindful it can take time and might cause a problem if you are trying to sell the property.

If residents want any further advice please contact the Leasehold Advisory Service, contact details are in the Contact Us page of our website