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.
This tribunal can often help with disputes over leasehold problems, such as:
- 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
The tribunal that deals with leaseholder disputes is called the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber). There are five regional tribunals.
Find details of your local 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.
Costs of taking a case to the tribunal
You may have to pay a fee to apply to the tribunal.
You can apply for an exemption or a reduced fee if you receive certain benefits or have a low income.
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 limited 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 can 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 might need to take court action to recover any money your freeholder owes you.
Get advice about the risks of taking your freeholder to court. Use the Law Society directory to find legal help in your area.
What the tribunal can decide
Disputes about service charges
The tribunal can consider 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 haven't been able to 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 because you don't like the tribunal's decision.
Find out more from LEASE about applying to the tribunal.
Last updated 01 Nov 2016 | © Shelter
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