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Overview of Case Law for Leaseholders

The SCDG Case Law Library is split into sections :

Search below for the area you are interested in and click on the links in red text.


Consultation (Section 20 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985)

In this section of our Case Law library we look at Court and Tribunal cases related to various issues in respect of a Landlord’s requirement to consult before undertaking Qualifying Works or entering into Qualifying Long Term Agreements:

  • Definition of ‘Qualifying Works’
  • Definition of  a ‘Long Term Qualifying Agreement’ (QLTA)
  • Consultation for Qualifying Long Term Agreements
  • Provision of Information as part of the Section 20 consultation process
  • Service of Section 20 notices
  • Observations made during the Section 20 process
  • Right to Inspect Estimates
  • Dispensation of the Consultation Requirements

Reasonableness of Service Charges (Section 19 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985)

In this section of our Case Law library we look at Court and Tribunal cases related to various issues in respect of whether a Service Charge is ‘Reasonable’:

  • Meaning of the Term ‘reasonably incurred’
  • Value for Money
  • Standard of Work or Services
  • Burden of Proof
  • Affordability
  • The relationship between the Requirements of a Lease and reasonableness
  • Reasonableness of Estimated Charges
  • Reasonableness of a Management Fee
  • Reasonableness of insurance Premiums
  • Situations where Guarantees and Insurance might have funded costs incurred by a Landlord
  • Reasonableness of using Companies Connected to the Landlord to undertake work or provide services

Interpreting a Lease

In this section of our Case Law library we look at Court and Tribunal cases related to various issues in respect of interpreting a lease:

  • Interpreting Service Charge provisions
  • ‘Sweeper’ Clauses
  • Definition of the Common Parts (the areas to which the Service Charge relates)
  • Management Fees
  • Implied Covenants
  • Compromise Agreements
  • Substitution of wording by Courts and Tribunals interpreting Leases
  • Service Charge obligations under short leases (Tenant Service Charges)

The 18 Month Rule (Section 20B of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985)

In this section of our Case Law library we look at Court and Tribunal cases related a Landlord’s obligation to either invoice, or notify a Leaseholder of, costs with 18 months of their being incurred.

  • The point in time when a cost is ‘incurred’
  • What counts as a Section 20B Notice
  • Estimated Invoices and the 18 Month Rule

Service Charges for Major Works to Roofs and Windows 

In this section of our Case Law library we look at Court and Tribunal cases related to the question of whether a landlord has the right to recharge a Leaseholder for the cost of Major Works to windows and roofs, and the amount which it might be reasonable to recharge.

  • Are the works Improvements or Repairs?
  • Grant Funding for Works
  • Liability of a Right to Buy tenant

Apportionment of a Service Charge

In this section of our Case Law library we look at Court and Tribunal cases related to various issues in respect of issues related to how service chargeable costs are shared (‘apportioned’) between the demised premises within a building or estate.

  • Right to Challenge the Apportionment Method
  • What counts as a ‘Fair’ or ‘Reasonable’ Apportionment method
  • Apportionment of Estate Costs

Service Charge Billing

In this section of our Case Law library we look at Court and Tribunal cases related to various issues in respect of the form and content of Service Charge demands, and when they must be paid:

  • The Contractual Validity of a Service Charge demand
  • Preparation of an Estimated Service Charge demand
  • Billing For Major Works
  • Five Year Limitation Period under the Housing Act 1985 (Right to Buy)
  • Requirement to certify Service Charge demands
  • Information to accompany a Service Charge demand
  • Payment of a Service Charge demand
  • Limitation Act 1980

Applications to Vary the Terms of a Lease

In this section of our Case Law library we look at Court and Tribunal cases related to various issues in respect of whether a Tribunal or Court should use its powers to change the wording of a Lease, and what effect this will have on Service Charges which have already been incurred.

  • Applications to Rectify an Alleged Error in a Lease
  • Variation of a Lease to allow a Landlord to Recover Costs
  • Variation of a Lease in respect of Repair Obligations
  • Variation of a Lease in respect of the Apportionment Method
  • Applications under Section 37 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987
  • Restrictions on making an Order to Vary a Lease
  • Back Dating the Effect of Varying a Lease
  • Compensation under Section 38 of the LTA 1987

Administration Charges

In this section of our Case Law library we look at Court and Tribunal cases related to administration charges under a lease for a variety of things including consent to sub-let and late payment fees.

  • Right to challenge a proposed Administration Charge
  • Reasonableness of the amount of an Administration Fee
  • Some 2015 First Tier Tribunal Decisions on the reasonableness of the amount charged for an Administration Fee
  • Reasonableness of fees for Sub-letting

Legal Costs for Leaseholders

In this section of our Case Law library we look at Court and Tribunal cases related to the liability of Leaseholders to pay Legal Costs incurred by their Landlord.

  • Entitlement to Charge under the terms of a Lease
  • Amount Charged
  • Recovery of Legal Costs Through the County Court

Definition of a Variable Service Charge

In this section of our Case Law library we look at Court and Tribunal cases related to what counts as a Variable Service, and the impact this has on Service Charge liabilities.

  • Is the Service Charge variable?
  • Definition of a Service Charge in relation to Park Homes
  • Can a Landlord’s cost of renting premises be considered a variable Service Charge?
  • Can the Costs of a Management Company be recharged as a Service Charge?

Historic Neglect

In this section of our Case Law library we look at Court and Tribunal cases related to the question of whether a landlord has increased Service Charge costs by failing to meet their obligations under the Lease, and whether this entitles a Leaseholder to a reduction in their Service Charge.

  • Definition of Historic Neglect

Reserve (or ‘Sinking’) Funds

In this section of our Case Law library we look at Court and Tribunal cases related to various issues in respect of the collecting of contributions to, and administration of, funds for the purpose of meeting future costs.

  • Entitlement to Collect Contributions
  • Administration and Use of funds

Rights to Information

In this section of our Case Law library we look at Court and Tribunal cases related to various issues in respect of the rights Leaseholders have to view Service Charge related documentation and the enforcement of those rights if access is denied.

  • Enforcement of Penalties under Section 25 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985

Service Charges for the cost of Utilities

In this section of our Case Law library we look at Court and Tribunal cases related to the recharging of electric, gas and water bills as a Service Charge.

  • Reasonableness of the amount charged
  • VAT on Electricity and the Climate Change Levy

Why Case Law is Important

Lawyers often refer to there being two types of Law: Statute Law and Case Law (or Common Law as it is also referred to).

Statute Law means Acts of Parliament and what is known as ‘secondary legislation’, which the Government is authorised to make by Parliament. Statutory Instruments are a type of secondary legislation.

Statue Law is sometimes written in such a way that it is vague, difficult to understand, or open to different Interpretations depending on the circumstances. It is the task of Courts and Tribunals to interpret Statute Law, and the decisions Courts and Tribunals make about the interpretation and application of Statute Law is known as Case Law.

Good barristers will always refer to relevant Case Law whenever there is any question about the meaning of Statute Law or how to apply Statute Law to a dispute. Very often in Civil Law cases the Court or Tribunal will decide the outcome of a dispute on the basis of the Case Law which is presented to them at the hearing. This is also true for the First Tier Tribunal in relation to disputes over Service Charges, Administration Charges and other Leasehold related matters. Although the First Tier Tribunal attempts to be accessible to those who are not legal professionals it is a legal body in the same way as a Court and bound, or ‘persuaded’, by relevant decisions of a higher Court or Tribunal.

A very effective way for a Leaseholder to present a case in the First Tier Tribunal is state the facts of their case, state the relevant Statute Law, refer to Case Law to confirm the way that Statute Law should be interpreted and applied in the circumstances, and then describe how the Landlord has failed to comply with Statute Law.


How to Use this Section of Our Legal Guide

The purpose of this section of Service Charge Dispute Guide is provide Leaseholders with some relevant Case Law to which they can refer to both in correspondence with their Landlord and, if they are representing themselves, in a First Tier Tribunal.

All the cases listed can be cited as setting a Binding Precedent for cases heard in a First Tier Tribunal. This means that these cases can be referred to as ‘authorities’ in the way Statute Law should be interpreted and applied to relevant disputes.

The legal system in England and Wales has a hierarchy of Tribunals and Courts. The First Tier Tribunal sits at the bottom of that hierarchy and is obliged to follow the decisions of the Upper Tribunal, High Court, Court of Appeal and UK Supreme Court in so far as those decisions are deemed to have dealt with the same legal issue.

We have listed the cases using headings which refer to the type of issue about which the decision was made. Some of the cases deal with more than one of these issues at the same time.


A Word of Warning!

Please Note:

1. The list of cases contained within our Case Law Library is not exhaustive: there are others which are important.

2. Case Law, which means interpretations of the Law by a Court or Tribunal, is constantly evolving as higher Courts and Tribunals review the decisions made by lower Courts and Tribunals. We have tried our best to make sure that we quote the most up to date decisions made by the highest Courts and Tribunals in the legal hierarchy but we cannot guarantee it. Even the best lawyers in the land sometimes get it wrong, so please forgive us if we do make mistakes or we do not update our information quickly enough

3. It can be difficult to decide what Case Law is relevant to a particular dispute. Sometimes, decisions in one case which has previously been heard in a higher Court or Tribunal are based on a very different set of facts or circumstances from those in another case, and for this reason a First Tier Tribunal may decide that the older case does not set a Binding Precedent in relation to the case that is being heard.

For these reasons, and others, Leaseholders are advised that they would have a greater likelihood of winning their dispute in a First Tier Tribunal if they seek the help of a qualified, experienced and competent solicitor or barrister.

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