The Times has recently published an article advising how leaseholders can fight back on exorbitant service charge invoices.
Leaseholders who are unable to resolve their concerns about service charges by direct dialogue with the landlord or managing agent can also take their case to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal ( LVT ), which adjudicates disputes between leaseholders and landlords.
It has the authority to rule on whether service charges are “reasonable”.
However the set up of the LVT had been brought into question as CARL have implied that this may affect the bias of many of the LVT’s decisions. The summer news letter suggests “ Many decisions taken by the LVTs reflect not just the amateurism of panel members, but also their bias.
No attempt is made in the appointment of Leasehold Valuation Tribunal members to ensure that there is a balance in representation between landlord interests, leaseholder interests and independent representatives.
By contrast, employment tribunals are typically made up of an employer representative, a trade union representative, and an independent chairman. Nine out of ten decisions taken by LVTs on requests by landlords for dispensation from the consultation procedures over major works are decided in favour of the landlord and against the leaseholders. "
CARL goes on the state that leaseholders do not challenge landlord applications
for dispensation, because of their fear of being stung with thousands of pounds in legal costs awarded by the LVT in favour of the landlord.
CARL go on to state that In any event, whether or not the leaseholders challenge such requests for dispensation from the consultation procedures should have no bearing on the rigour of the LVT panel’s consideration of the application.