Disputes between landlords and tenants relating to service charges are all too common. Service charges are levied by landlords as a means of recovering costs relating to the maintenance, repair, and insurance for the building. If you are a tenant who believes the service charge they are being asked to pay is unreasonable, or you are a landlord whose tenant is refusing to pay, we can assist. As a London-based Solicitors, we are frequently asked to intervene in service charge disputes. We always take an objective view of the situation to determine if the service charge aligns with the true costs incurred by the landlord and whether the terms of the lease agreement are clear.
What if the service charges are unclear in the lease agreement?
It is very common for service charge disputes to arise due to ambiguity within the service charge section of the lease agreement. It is for this reason that we always recommend prospective leaseholders have a property law specialist review their lease before signing on the dotted line. If you have already entered into a lease with unclear service charges, then it is important to seek the advice of a Solicitor. It is often prudent to negotiate a resolution between the landlord and tenant without the involvement of the courts, using Alternative Dispute Resolution methods. This can avoid cost and stress and put the disputing parties in the driving seat.
Can I request a breakdown of any service charges?
Leaseholders are legally entitled to request and receive a full breakdown of service charges (i.e. receipts, invoices, and accounts) and to be consulted regarding any works above a certain amount (typically over £250 per tenant).
What is Alternative Dispute Resolution?
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) refers to the use of mediation, arbitration, or negotiation to find a solution to disputes without involving the courts. Mediation involves an independent third party (a mediator), who will work with both parties to find an agreement. Arbitration uses an ‘arbitrator’ who will listen to the situation from both sides and recommend an outcome which then becomes binding.
Why should I use AQ Archers to assist with a service charge dispute?
Being based in London where most properties are owned on a leasehold basis, we are well versed with service charge disputes. Our team has assisted many tenants and landlords of all types and scales in finding solutions to often very complex service charge disputes. We believe in doing everything possible to find solutions in the fastest way possible that preserve the relationship of the parties. If ADR methods do not prove effective, we will recommend and assist you through the court process.
We can also advise at the outset of a lease arrangement by reviewing the terms of the agreement on behalf of landlords and tenants. Ultimately, by doing so, any potential for disputes can be mitigated.