The question as to whether increases in service charges are justified is a common area of concern for leasehold owners. Our leasehold conveyancing team often find that leaseholders want to dispute their service charge especially when there are yearly increases with no apparent additional services. Often service charge increases are presented to the leaseholder as a fait accompli. As a leasehold owner are not powerless, but unless you get together and say "enough is enough", the increase in fees will just go ahead.
First things first you should speak to a lawyer and preferably your conveyancing lawyer to look into this for you. The problem is that you are likely to want to spend several hundred pounds to save some service charges but a low cost service charge health check form Fridaysmove could be less than £200 plus VAT and this will tell you whether your landlord or managing agents are justified in their increases and what your potential remedies are.
Even before you embark on a Fridaysmove Service Charge Health contact the managing agent asking why the service charges have gone up. Ask for a list, in writing, of all the people such as insurance companies, cleaners, etc. who take a share of the fees and how much each gets. This information will assist in any service charge health check. You could also shop around for cheaper insurance policies.
If there are other leasehold owners in the building who feel the same was as you why not conduct a service charge health check. The more tenant that instruct a service charge health check the cheaper the health check with be for each leaseholder. The main purpose of the Fridaysmove service charge health check is to analyse landlords’ service charge demands and to compare them against the contractual obligations as set down in the lease to ensure that the service charges are legally recoverable under the terms of the lease and that the apportionment of the service charges have been correctly calculated. Our service charge health check even health checks service charge errors which could result in refunds.