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“A stitch in time saves nine ” for landlords

Liam O’Shea, Solicitor and Director in Astle Paterson’s Litigation and Dispute Resolution department discusses the need for Landlords to act promptly not only when demanding service charge costs from tenants but also in carrying out the works that give rise to the demand.

Liam said “The case of Daejan Properties Ltd v Sean Gerald Griffin, Alphonsa Matthew [2014] UKUT 0206 (LC) which went before the Upper Land Valuation Tribunal confirmed that if a tenant can prove that the eventual service charge costs would be reduced or avoided should the landlord have carried out works promptly, then the tenant could argue a successful defence against a claim for the demanded service charge.

In the case, the tenants claimed that the landlord had neglected the property and that had the landlord carried out work on the property in the 1960’s, as opposed to waiting until 2008 to do so, the costs of those 2008 works would have been significantly less.  Therefore the tenants argued – successfully in the first instance – that the landlord could not properly demand payment of the difference.

Ultimately, after the landlord appealed and the matter went before the Upper Land Valuation Tribunal, the Tribunal decided, based upon expert surveyor evidence, that substantially the same work would have been required and so no real savings would have been made.”

Liam concluded “Whilst the Upper Tribunal ruled in favour of the tenant, had the surveyor supported the tenant then the landlord would have not recovered all of the service charge as it would have failed to have carried out the repairs promptly.  In short, the case shows that the old proverb, ‘a stitch in time saves nine’ does apply to landlords!”

Should you be a landlord or a tenant and you are either in the process of demanding a service charge or have received a demand you believe to be unreasonable, please contact Liam O’Shea, Solicitor and Director in Astle Paterson’s Litigation and Dispute Resolution department on either 01283 531366 or by email at loshea@astlepaterson.co.uk to discuss matters further.   

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