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Section 19 (1) (b) (Services or works must be of a ‘Reasonable Standard’)

Summary

1. This section states that a landlord can only charge for services or works that are carried out to a ‘reasonable standard’.

2. This means that a leaseholder should only be charged for costs to the extent that the relevant works or services were carried out to a reasonable standard.

Definition of a ‘Reasonable Standard’

1. The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 provides no guidance as to what constitutes a reasonable standard.

2. Courts and tribunals have discretion to decide the extent to which works and services were carried out to a reasonable standard, and guidance on this issue can be found by looking at the decisions on the upper courts and tribunals.

What is a Court or Tribunal likely to consider when deciding whether a Service has been provided to a ‘Reasonably Standard’?

1. In practice, what courts and tribunals tend to do in deciding whether works or services have been provided to a ‘reasonable standard’ is that they assess whether the service actually provided was worth the money which the landlord paid for it.

2. In respect of services, courts and tribunals will often the level of service a person or company was contracted to provide, and decide the question of whether the service was provided to a ‘reasonable standard’ on the basis of whether the person or company has met their contractual obligations. This commonly occurs with grounds maintenance and cleaning contracts, which specify that operatives attend with a specific frequently (ie. daily, weekly, monthly etc) and that they do specific tasks on each occasion (ie. cut the grass or mop the floors etc).

3. A sensible strategy for a leaseholder wishing to challenge the cost of services under Section 19 (1) (b) would be to establish the terms of the contract under which a person or company is engaged to provide service, and then present evidence that they had not done the things which the contract said they should.

What is a Court or Tribunal likely to consider when deciding whether Building Works have been carried out to a ‘Reasonably Standard’?

1. No building work is ever carried out perfectly, and unless something fails immediately, such as a wall which collapses, it unlikely that a court or tribunal will entirely disallow a cost on the basis that the works were not carried out to a reasonable standard.

2. Decisions on the reasonableness of the standard of building works are normally based on facts and evidence.

3. Relevant facts and evidence are likely to include:

i. Inspections and surveys of the property following the completion of the relevant works.

ii. Expert evidence from a surveyor or other technically qualified person as the manner in which the relevant works should have been carried out.

Relevant Case Law

See the section of our case law library on the Reasonableness of a Service Charge.

Click on the link to read more about the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985