Past Service Charges – Tribunal conclusion?

by Readers Question

9:08 AM, 29th August 2018
About 4 months ago

Past Service Charges – Tribunal conclusion?

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Past Service Charges – Tribunal conclusion?

Hope I can get some advice, which is always appreciated from the 118 community

Briefly, our freeholder took us to First Tier Tribunal in July over numerous issues and lost on all counts.

The main issue was service charges. He charged us in advance, does NOT issue any service demands which do not comply with s21b(1) landlord and tenant act 1985, don’t contain statements of our rights etc.

“under this demand, the landlord is unable to recover due service charges until he complies with the act and process. This he has now done, however, the tribunal also stated “the tribunal was only asked to consider the service charges for 2017/18, but the principles will be relevant to the subsequent years. THE PARTIES MAY NEED TO CONSIDER WHETHER THOSE PRINCIPLES HAVE APPLICATION TO CHARGES DEMANDED IN PREVIOUS YEARS”

So, my question is simple, I guess the tribunal is saying that maybe we are also not liable for the previous3 years of service charges, does anyone else come to this conclusion or whats implied and does anyone have an opinion?

He took us to court on 5 issues and lost all 5 issues, ranging from him supplying fake quotes for works submitted and charging is 000’s, to demanding a service charge each year and wanting a kitty which is not allowed in our lease for this provision, to charging us for work he cant prove he paid, to charging service charges and splitting the % as he deems fit, not as a set % based on xyz formula (the tribunal also said this was not fair and was not legal)

Rambled on a bit but tempted to inform him that he did not comply with the process of how demands should be met and we are due to a refund and if he’s unhappy we can always go back once again to tribunal. Its many 000’s of £, so it’s not a few hundred quid!

Paul



Comments

Neil Patterson

9:18 AM, 29th August 2018
About 4 months ago

Hi Paul,

I am guessing there will be paperwork and procedural indiscretions in previous years, but I can't see any clear indication of what the outcome would be for you in tribunal.

Can I ask if you had a lawyer involved?

Paul McCarthy

9:51 AM, 29th August 2018
About 4 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Neil Patterson at 29/08/2018 - 09:18
NO solicitor Neil, I dealt with it myself, considering I won on all 5 counts I guess I did ok.

Ian Narbeth

11:23 AM, 29th August 2018
About 4 months ago

Hi Paul
You and the other tenants may be able to apply to the Tribunal for the appointment of a manager under s24 Landlord and Tenant Act 1987. The manager will take over the administration of the service charge.

Paul McCarthy

11:27 AM, 29th August 2018
About 4 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Ian Narbeth at 29/08/2018 - 11:23
Thank you Ian for your reply.

There are only 3 apartments and we own them all. He owns the freehold which has a commercial estate agency which is his business, will your comment still apply??

Ian Narbeth

11:45 AM, 29th August 2018
About 4 months ago

Yes under s21(2) of the Act you can apply where there are two or more flats. This is provided the landlord is not an "exempt landlord" under s58 https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1987/31/section/58 (broadly public bodies)

Paul McCarthy

11:51 AM, 29th August 2018
About 4 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Ian Narbeth at 29/08/2018 - 11:45
Thank you Ian

Back to my original question, what do you think?

“under this demand, the landlord is unable to recover due service charges until he complies with the act and process. This he has now done, however, the tribunal also stated “the tribunal was only asked to consider the service charges for 2017/18, but the principles will be relevant to the subsequent years. THE PARTIES MAY NEED TO CONSIDER WHETHER THOSE PRINCIPLES HAVE APPLICATION TO CHARGES DEMANDED IN PREVIOUS YEARS”

So, my question is simple, I guess the tribunal is saying that maybe we are also not liable for the previous3 years of service charges, does anyone else come to this conclusion or whats implied and does anyone have an opinion?

Ian Narbeth

12:39 PM, 29th August 2018
About 4 months ago

Hi Paul
The Tribunal can only decide the case in front of it. The Tribunal members do not give the parties legal advice but it does appear that they are giving you a steer that you can challenge the service charge for previous years. I doubt anyone say more without seeing the papers.

Paul McCarthy

12:41 PM, 29th August 2018
About 4 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Ian Narbeth at 29/08/2018 - 12:39
Do you think to challenge them to get refunds or to get him to redo the service charge demands for previous years??

Ian Narbeth

12:46 PM, 29th August 2018
About 4 months ago

Paul, you might be able to get refunds but I cannot say without seeing the papers. How much is at stake? Unless there is a reasonable sum, it may be disproportionately costly to get professional advice.

Paul McCarthy

12:51 PM, 29th August 2018
About 4 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Ian Narbeth at 29/08/2018 - 12:46
About £3000 and a 9k roof repair

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