Saturday, 29 August 2009

Flats Leaseholders Can Pay Too Much for Works and Service Charges

Living in a flat is a costly business. If you brought one like I have and believed it was cheaper than a house, think again.

Firstly service charges can be more than the council tax (mine is). The flats I live in are mixed with leaseholders and housing association tenants. Therefore leaseholds can't really take control of the service costs and manage them for themselves under the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform 2002. Not all of the leaseholders can commit the time to such a thing anyway. I also suspect that when things go smoothly no one will recognise it but if something did go wrong at some point then you could be in trouble with your fellow leaseholders.

Then there is the question of how well does your housing association or agent performs when repairs are needed? What is happening to the sink fund? Are the lease holders paying the right percentage of service charges?

When major works are conducted say to the parking area, windows or lifts then you are expected to pay a big bill of several thousand pounds. The windows cost over £3,500 per person at my flats although the bigger you’re flat the more you will have to pay. Most people who live in flats are there because they can't afford a house. Therefore us flat owners are generally not the richest of people and this kind of expense is just a massive worry. The cost is only an estimate (our estimate varied by at least a grand), the final bill is an unknown until the actual day the final bill arrives; now that’s a scary day!

As you don't really have any control over who is selected and what work is done. You naturally can’t believe how high the bill is or understand why. It can also be very hard to negotiate on the value only on how you pay, how you structure your payments is of course up to the generosity of your housing association or agent.

At a later date one of my neighbours will make a guest blog on the service charges and the costs of works based on their personal experience.

Please let me know if you have had experience of high service charges or works at your flats.

Some helpful links below;

The Residential Property Tribunal Service

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  1. You can also phone the people at for free legal advice. It's funded by the government.

  2. Leases I have had a lot of problems with my flat. I owe almost 5k. -ts a flat not a palace wtf. Managed to delay payment that's all. You know this is a big issue there must be thousands with this problem

  3. so pleased when i moved and pasted on my old outstanding works from my flat. what a con

  4. Thank you Lynne.east for the info, I will include that link on my next article on this subject.

    Thank you everyone else, it does appear to a a big problem area

  5. The best thing you can do is get in touch with the LVT. Just do a search on google and you will find them. They are independant arbitrators and are there for lessees that are having problems with freeholders