1. This Act is particularly important to Service Charge Payers in three respects:
i. It gives leaseholders of Social Landlords the right to complain to the Housing Ombudsman.
ii. It places restrictions on the right of Landlords to seek Forfeiture of a lease for non-payment of a Service Charge, or other breaches of lease.
iii. The Act also gives recognised residents’ association a right to appoint a surveyor to investigate the Service Charge.
2. They are other provisions in this Act, such as Section 83, which make important Service Charge related amendments to the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. However, these have already been taken into account in our guide to the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 and for this reason we make no reference to them in our guide to the House Act 1996.
Relevant Parts of the Housing Act 1996 for Service Charge Payers
All these sections remain in force today:
Section 51 (Complaints against Social Landlords)
This section gives leaseholders of Registered Social Landlords the right to have their complaints about Service Charges investigated by the Housing Ombudsman. The Housing Ombudsman has wide powers to assess whether the Landlord has acted fairly, decide whether to punish the Landlord or order that the Landlord compensates the leaseholder, and penalise Landlords who do not comply with the decision of the Ombudsman.
Section 81 (Restrictions on Forfeiture)
Forfeiture is the ultimate sanction a Landlord can impose on a Leaseholder: take away the lease without financial compensation. This section states that a landlord can only apply to a court for forfeiture of a lease if the leaseholder has already admitted that they are in breach of their lease, or if a court or tribunal has previously decided that they are in breach of their lease.
Section 82 (Content of a Section 146 Notice for Forfeiture)
This section sets out what must be included in the notice which Landlords are required to send to Leaseholders before they apply to a court for forfeiture of a lease.
Section 84 (Right to Appoint a Surveyor)
This section gives recognised residents’ associations the right to appoint a surveyor to investigate the way the Landlord calculates the service charge and manages the building.
Schedule 4 (Rights of a Surveyor Appointed by a Residents’ Association)
This schedule to the Act sets out the legal rights given to a surveyor appointed under Section 84 to inspect the building and relevant documentation.
Click on the link to read more about The Housing Act 1996