Charlotte Hunter - EDP Property column. Service charges

I own a flat and pay service charges. Can I find out what the money is being used for?

As a leaseholder you have the right to request a summary of the service charge account and to inspect receipts, accounts etc in relation to the last accounting year - or where accounts are not kept by accounting years, the past 12 months preceding the request. These rights are set out under Sections 21 and 22 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. I suggest you write to your landlord or managing agent and request a summary. The summary should be provided within one month of your request (or within six months of the end of the accounting period whichever is the later). If there are more than four flats it should be certified by a qualified accountant.

I asked for a summary before but it didn’t contain much information.

Once you have received the summary you have the right to inspect documents, as a follow-up, to provide more detail. You should make your request in writing within six months of receipt of the summary. The landlord or managing agent is obliged to provide you with facilities to allow you to inspect and copy any documents.

How do I obtain information about the buildings insurance?

An individual leaseholder or the secretary of a recognised tenants’ association is entitled to ask the landlord for a written summary of the insurance policy or an opportunity to inspect and take copies of the policy. Again you should make the request in writing and the landlord must comply within 21 days. Your landlord only has to provide the summary once in each insurance period (usually a year). The information provided should contain the sum for which the property is insured, the name of the insurer and the risks covered in the policy.

I’ve checked the documents and it seems that the landlord is making a profit from repairs carried out to the building. Is he allowed to do this?

It depends on what your lease says but usually a lease will only provide for the landlord to recover expenditure on maintenance, repair and upkeep of the building, including management costs. The landlord is entitled to be reimbursed for his expenditure. If the landlord wants to claim financial reward for his expertise or agency the lease must make provision for this.

To find out more, call us on: 01603 625231