Leaseholders can apply to the First-tier Tribunal Property Chamber to deal with disputes about service charges, repairs, extending leases or buying the freehold.
Disputes the tribunal deals with
Leaseholders can apply to the First-tier Tribunal Property Chamber about most disputes they have with their freeholders.
This includes disputes about:
- insuring the building
- how much you pay in service charges
- the quality of services provided such as cleaning and maintenance
- how much the freeholder is charging to extend your lease
- the amount the freeholder charges for you to buy the freehold
Applying to the tribunal
There are five regional tribunals for dealing with leasehold disputes. Find their details from HM Courts & Tribunals Service.
Apply to the tribunal using the correct form. This is available from Gov.uk.
The form explains if you must pay a fee to apply to the tribunal. You might be able to get help paying the fee if you have a low income or you're claiming certain benefits.
Send the form to the regional office that covers your area. The address is on the form.
The tribunal contacts you to tell you if it can consider your case. You may be asked to provide more information.
You can ask for a hearing or the case can be decided on the evidence you send.
Costs of the tribunal
You may have to pay a fee to apply to the tribunal.
You can apply for help to pay the fee if you receive certain benefits or have a low income.
If you win, the tribunal may be able to order the freeholder to refund your application fee.
If the problem affects more than one leaseholder, you can apply together and share the costs.
You may have to pay a surveyor, property manager or a solicitor. You can't usually claim this back.
Some freeholders try to include their legal costs in future service charges. Check your lease to see what it says. You may be able to ask the tribunal to prevent the freeholder from doing this.
What the tribunal can decide
The tribunal can make a decision at a hearing or based on the evidence you send.
For disputes about service charges
The tribunal considers if the service charge is reasonable. It can then decide to set a fair charge. This might be less than the freeholder asked for.
For disputes about repairs
The tribunal can change what your lease says about maintenance and repairs if the conditions are unclear or unfair.
Poor management disputes
If you can prove your building is being badly managed, the tribunal can appoint a new manager. The freeholder would still own the property but would lose the right to manage it. They could also lose the right to collect ground rent.
Lease extension disputes
The tribunal can set a price for extending your lease or buying the freehold if you and the freeholder have not been able to agree one. It can also say if the conditions of the sale are reasonable.
The tribunal's decision
The tribunal's decision is binding on the freeholder. The tribunal can't force the freeholder to follow its decision but you can apply for a court order to force the freeholder to comply if they don't.
The tribunal can't make the freeholder refund money you have already paid or order them to pay your legal costs.
You might need to take court action to recover money your freeholder owes you.
Get advice about taking your freeholder to court. Use the Law Society directory to find legal help in your area.
Appeals against the tribunal's decision
You may be able to appeal against the tribunal's decision.
You can usually only do this if the tribunal has acted unfairly or didn't follow the correct procedures. You can't appeal just because you don't like the tribunal's decision.
Get advice about leasehold disputes
Get advice about taking a dispute to a leasehold tribunal.
Contact the Leasehold Advisory Service for more information.