Bringing charges

Our lawyer Fiona McNulty looks at the legal issues involved when tenants in a block of flats are required to pay large sums of money for proposed major works
Repair bill cartoon
© Malcolm Willett (
Question: My flat is leased by the local authority and I pay an annual service charge to it of £1,000.

I understand that this covers repairs but I have recently been sent a letter by the council telling me that I am expected to pay £10,000 towards some proposed major works. Can you please advise?

Answer: With flats, the responsibility for maintaining the structure of the block and any common parts is usually down to the landlord. The cost of the works is then passed on to the tenants by way of an annual service charge. This will cover basic maintenance required in the day-to- day management of the flats.

Sometimes more substantial works may be required, the cost of which can also be passed on to tenants. There are, however, some controls on landlords, in that the service charge and the work itself must be considered “reasonable”. Also, where your contribution to the costs will be more than £250, the landlord must consult you first.

The requirements are quite involved but in essence you need to be given enough information about the works to understand the proposals and have at least 30 days in which to comment and provide names of contractors to approach for quotes. If the obligations are not complied with, your landlord may be limited to claiming only £250 from you.

In view of the sum involved here, you should consider consulting a solicitor, who will be able to advise whether the council has complied with its obligations and help you consider whether the proposed charges are reasonable.

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If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, email We regret that questions cannot be answered individually.

Fiona is a partner in the property team at Thring Townsend Lee & Pembertons Solicitors

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