Landlord and Tenant Act 1985: Section 20 Consultation Advice

Wed 19th Jun 2024

Section 20 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 sees certain requirements placed on landlords. As part of these requirements, before landlords carry out qualifying works or enter into a long-term agreement for services, they must consult with liable leaseholders. Liable leaseholders are those that will be liable to pay a variable service charge to contribute to costs such as maintenance, repair and management of a building/property. This is most often in relation to those owning flats, which are more likely to have leases with the requirement to pay a service charge but could include properties such as holiday chalets let on long leases.

If consultation is not carried out by the landlord, the sum a leaseholder will be required to pay for works will be limited. Payment will be limited to £250 in respect of qualifying works and £100 in respect of long-term agreements for services, even if the works have cost the landlord more than this.

Kayleigh Whitman, Associate at Coodes, shares more details about the consultation requirements and what this means for you.

When is consultation required?

A landlord must consult with tenants before:

  • Undertaking qualifying works (work on a building or any other premises) which result in the contribution to the cost of the works by any tenant to be more than £250.
  • Entering into a long-term agreement (for a term of more than 12 months) if it results in costs for which the contribution of any tenant is more than £100 in any 12-month accounting period.

Is my tenancy bound by the consultation requirements?

The Section 20 consultation requirements apply to all dwellings and residential leases (typically flats) where tenants are obliged to pay service charges. In addition to rent, service charges cover services, repairs, maintenance, insurance, and landlord’s management costs.

What is the Section 20 consultation requirements?

The landlord must serve notice to all tenants, subtenants, and any recognised tenant association.

The Section 20 consultation procedure for both qualifying works and qualifying long-term agreements has 3 stages:

  1. Notice of Intention – confirming what works are proposed and why they are required. Comments are invited within 30 days and proposals for other contractors from whom the landlord should try to obtain estimates.
  2. Notice of Estimates – leaseholders should be provided with at least 2 estimates (one from a person unconnected to the landlord) within 21 days of the landlord receiving the estimates, along with details on how to inspect the estimates. Comments are invited from leaseholders within 30 days.
  3. Notice of reasons – a landlord must explain their reasons for awarding the contract and provide a summary of the leaseholder comments with their response, within 21 days of entering the contract – unless the contract is awarded to the cheapest contractor, or a contractor proposed by a leaseholder.

A landlord may apply to the First Tier Tribunal (‘FTT’) for an order dispensing with any or all consultation requirements. The FTT has the discretion to grant dispensation if it considers it reasonable to do so. For example, where works are urgent or where a mistake was made in the Section 20 consulting process.

What happens if a landlord fails to follow the Section 20 consultation procedure?

If a landlord fails to follow the consultation process or obtain dispensation from doing so, they will be unable to recover more than the following from each leaseholder:

  • £250 in respect of qualifying works, and
  • £100 in respect of a long-term agreement

The above limits do not apply to monies requested on account of the works. For example, where a lease provides for payment on account of an annual service charge.

At Coodes Solicitors, we act for both landlords and tenants in property disputes. If you are a tenant requiring any advice or assistance in relation to challenging costs for a failure to consult or a landlord requiring advice on the Section 20 consultation process, we can provide expert support. We are also happy to help with making applications to the FTT for dispensation.

Please contact Coodes’ Commercial Disputes team, email Kayleigh Whitman or find our online contact form and other contact information here.

Wed 19th Jun 2024

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