The information below is intended as a general guide only and is not a substitute for legal advice. It has been produced jointly by the Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA), the Association of Retirement Housing Managers (ARHM), the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), and the Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE) who have kindly allowed Fridaysmove to use this information.
As a leaseholder you will probably have more rights than you think. There is a wide range of rights set out in the legislation and advice is readily available; however, where a dispute arises, the first step should be to ask the landlord or managing agent for full details and/or an explanation. These rights include:
- Information: the landlord must provide his name and a contact address within England or Wales which must be stated on every demand for ground rent and service charges. Leaseholders can demand summaries of the service charges, details of the insurance cover and have the right to inspect accounts and other documents.
- Consultation on major (qualifying) works: the landlord cannot carry out major works to the building where it costs any leaseholder more than £250 without first consulting the leaseholders in the proper fashion; if he fails to do this, he may not be able to recover all the costs.
- Consultation on long-term agreements: the landlord cannot enter into certain agreements or contracts for any service over 12 months where the cost to any leaseholder is more than £100 per year without first consulting the leaseholders.
Challenging service charges: leaseholders can apply to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal (LVT) to seek a determination of the liability to pay and reasonableness of the charges, whether already paid or not.
- Challenging administration charges: leaseholders can apply to the LVT to seek a determination of the liability to pay and reasonableness of other charges arising from the lease in addition to the service charge. For example, consents for alterations and subletting, or fees for providing information.
- Right to manage: if leaseholders want to change the management of their property, whether it is deficient or not, they can do so by using the right to manage. This is a 'no fault, no compensation' process that will allow leaseholders as a group to decide the management arrangements for the property. This right does not apply where the landlord is a local authority.
Appointing a manager: if the landlord's management is deficient, then leaseholders can apply to the LVT for the appointment of a manager (except where the landlord is a housing association or local authority).
- Extending a lease: an individual leaseholder who satisfies certain conditions can demand a new lease from the landlord, adding 90 years to the existing lease, with the price to be agreed between the parties, or, if this is not possible, set by the LVT.
- Buying the freehold: groups of leaseholders who satisfy certain conditions can get together and enforce the purchase of the freehold, again with the price being agreed between the parties or, if this is not possible, set by the LVT.
Right of first refusal: in most cases, where the landlord proposes to sell his interest in the building, he must offer it to the leaseholders first or he can be prosecuted. There are some exceptions to this, including housing associations and local authority landlords.
- Right to vary a lease: a lease can be varied at any time where it does not make proper provision for such things as the repair or maintenance of the building, insurance etc. . A lease can be varied with the agreement of all interested parties or by application to an LVT.