What does the service charge pay for in my building?

Our property lawyer Fiona McNulty answers your questions
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Question: My boyfriend lives in a flat in Shoreditch and pays a large amount of money every six months to some managing agents for his service charge. He says he never gets any information about what the service charge is spent on. The block is certainly not kept very well considering the amount he pays. Service charges are confusing what should he know about this charge?

Answer: Landlords can levy such a charge in return for services they provide. There are various ways in which your boyfriend can find out details about his particular service charge. His lease should set out the services that his landlord covenants to provide, such as general maintenance and repairs to the building in which your boyfriend's flat is situated, insurance of the building, lighting and cleaning of common areas etc.

The lease should also set out how and when the service charge is to be paid, whether the landlord may appoint and charge for managing agents to manage the building, and it may also provide for the service charge to include a payment towards a reserve or sinking fund.

The lease will provide for the preparation of annual service charge accounts within a certain period after the end of the service charge year. Your boyfriend can also request information about his service charge from his landlord, such as summaries of the service charge account and insurance, and he is entitled to inspect relevant accounts receipts and other documents. Indeed the service charge demand should contain certain key information for example, where to serve notices. If it doesn't, your boyfriend could argue that the service charge is not payable.



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If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, email legalsolutions@standard.co.uk. We regret that questions cannot be answered individually.

These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor.



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