Leaseholders can apply to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) to deal with disputes about service charges, repairs, extending leases or buying the freehold.
What disputes the tribunal deals with
If you own a leasehold flat or house and can't resolve a dispute with your freeholder, you may be able to apply to a tribunal for a decision.
The tribunal that deals with leaseholder disputes is called the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber).
This tribunal can help with a range of disputes, such as about:
- insuring the building
- the amount billed for service charges
- the quality of services such as cleaning and maintenance
- extending your lease
- buying the freehold
How to apply to the tribunal
There are five regional tribunals that deal with leasehold disputes. Find the details of your tribunal from HM Courts & Tribunals Service.
Apply to the tribunal using the correct form. This is available from Gov.uk.
Send the form to the regional tribunal 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 and the freeholder send in.
Costs of taking a case to the tribunal
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. In some cases the tribunal can order the freeholder to compensate you.
If you win the case, the tribunal may be able to order the freeholder to refund your application fee.
Some freeholders include their legal costs in your service charge bill. Check your lease to see if this is allowed.
The tribunal's decision
The tribunal's decision is binding on you and the freeholder.
You can apply for a court order to force the freeholder to comply if they don't follow the tribunal's decision.
You might need to take court action to recover any money your freeholder owes you.
What the tribunal can decide
Amongst the decisions the tribunal can make are:.
Disputes about service charges
The tribunal can decide if a service charge is payable, and if so how much you must pay.
Disputes about repairs
The tribunal can change what your lease says about maintenance and repairs if what's said is unclear or doesn't cover the issue in dispute.
Disputes about poor management
The tribunal can appoint a new manager if you can prove your building is being badly managed. The freeholder would still own the property but would lose the right to manage it.
Lease extension disputes
The tribunal can set a price for extending your lease or buying the freehold if you and the freeholder can't agree.
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.
For advice about taking a dispute to a leasehold tribunal, contact LEASE.