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What should I do if my service charge has had a sudden increase?

The law says that your landlord is only allowed to demand a reasonable service charge for works of a reasonable standard. 

Even though it is your legal right not to pay more than is reasonable, it is risky to withhold payment, which is likely to be a breach of your lease terms.  

If you breach your lease, it could put you at risk of facing a court claim from your landlord, legal fees and even the forfeiture of your lease. 

But if you pay your service charge as normal, a Tribunal could take the view that by doing so you have agreed to the charge increase, which would undermine your claim that it is unreasonable. 

One way forward is to make it clear you are paying your charge under protest. This shows the landlord, and a Tribunal if it comes to it, that you are still fulfilling the terms of your lease, but do not agree with the new service charge.  

Contact your landlord first 

If you are unhappy about your service charge, you should try to resolve the issue with your landlord first.  

Set out your concerns to them in writing. Keep a record of all your communications as they may be useful later if you need to apply to a court or tribunal 

You can also use your legal rights to ask for information from the landlord, such as a summary of the service charge accounts, as well as receipts and other relevant documents. 

If you cannot reach a solution, mediation is also an option before legal action. 

Applying to Tribunal

If all of the above fails and you have evidence to challenge the charges, you can make an application to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber), or the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal if the property is in Wales. 

We recommend that you seek advice of a solicitor or a surveyor if you decide to challenge the charges. 

Template letters 

More information you might find useful:

Still not found the answer?

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LEASE is governed by a board, appointed as individuals by the Secretary of State for the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government.