Can I reclaim flat management fees?

Our lawyer, Katharine Marshall, gives advice on how to determine if fees charged for poor flat management can be reclaimed
Legal cartoon
© Merrily Harpur
Question: I live in a flat and have to pay £1,500 a year in service charges to the building’s management company, but, frankly, I can’t see any appreciable expenditure.

They don’t seem to do a thing: we have no concierge, despite having a desk for one; the walls and doors need painting and the communal areas generally are almost never cleaned.

Can I claim any of this money back, or is the management company entitled to keep the lot despite not lifting a finger to improve our block?

Answer: You need to check the terms of your lease to see what work the management company is obliged to carry out and whether it is also obliged to decorate the common areas (and if so, how often).

Most leases provide for a management company to produce formal accounts each year to show what has been done and at what cost.

If the total costs incurred for the relevant year are less than £1,500 then you should be entitled to have your account credited with the excess (this will go towards next year’s payment). I am sorry to say that very few leases actually provide for the excess to be repaid to you.

What's your problem?

If you have a question for Katharine Marshall please email, or write to: Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5EE.

We regret that questions cannot be answered individually but we will try to feature them here.

Katharine is a solicitor and director at Pitmans Solicitors (

Follow us on Twitter @HomesProperty and Facebook