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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 69266
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Is a person using a right of access, in return for an annual

Customer Question

Is a person using a right of access, in return for an annual charge, entitled to information regarding resurfacing of the access road before being sent a bill after the work has been carried out?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.

Thank you for your question. My name is Jo and I will try to help with this.

-Could you explain your situation a little more?

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I live in a freehold property but in order to have a permanent off road parking space for my car in my own back garden, I have to use a small section of passageway owned by an estate. For the use of this access I pay an annual charge.
The alleyway that I have to use also provides access to five lock up garages owned by the estate and rented to other local residents.
Written into the access agreement is also a clause stipulating that I share costs for maintenance of the area with the garage renters.
The condition of the surface of the communal alleyway was deteriorating and potholed and the estate recently had the whole area resurfaced and I have been sent a large bill for my share of the costs.
My query is that I was given no notice of works nor was I given any information about what estimates were tendered or how the contractors were chosen. Having lived in leasehold properties in the past I have always given this basic information about all works on communal areas. How can I find out whether the estate in question this time should have provided me with information prior to the works for which I am being charged?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
There are a few issues here.

There is a doctrine of mutual benefit and burden where anyone who uses a right of way and has the benefit of it also has the burden of maintaining it.

Please note it is the burden of "maintaining" it not "improving" it.

You are not liable for the cost of improvements.

It is however not unreasonable for whoever is doing the work to give adequate notice that this work is being undertaken, when it is being undertaken and what the cost is going to be.

This was a leasehold property there is a requirement under section 20 of the landlord and tenant act 1995 to serve prior notice for any spend of this nature over £250 however that does not apply to any such charges for freehold properties.

They are not under a duty to provide you with details of estimates received although they also do not have carte blanche to charge what they like. The cost must therefore be reasonable. They are also not entitled demand in immediate payment no suggestion would be to ignore any protestations they make and send them a reasonable amount, say £100 per month over the next few months in payment. If you do that, it will not be worth going to court because they do, they are only likely to get awarded by the court what you are already paying.

Please note that I would not make them an offer, I would actually make the payment because what ever offer you make other than the full amount, they are likely to refuse it.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you.

Fully understand and accept my position regarding annual charge and maintenance but curious as to who decides what are "reasonable" costs for resurfacing. How can this decision be made without any reference to the people paying for it?

A bill for £2,000-£3,000 as a sixth share, without warning and after the work has been carried out is irritating.


Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
I appreciate the charge may be irritating but it depends whether the work that has been done is worth £12,000/ £18,000 because that is a lot of resurfacing.
You are fully entitled to ask for copies of the estimates and a copy of the final invoice.
If you want to dispute the charge you are also entitled to do that although the more people the dispute it, the better because that will spread the cost of any potential litigation between you all.
You are also entitled if you want to pursue this to get another contractor to give you a quote for the work that has been done and to use that as evidence in your dispute.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you again.


Just one thing to clarify that I do not understand.


Although my property, as in house and garden, are entirely mine and freehold, I only rent the use of the alleyway running alongside my boundary so fail to see why it is not covered by the regulations governing leasehold property.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
The regulations covering leasehold property are quite specific, they cover leasehold property not freehold property.

If the amount of your use is disproportionate to everyone else's use, you may be able to argue a case for a lower charge although if you lose, the cost of arguing this could could be quite considerable
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I am not being charged for anything on the freehold property, only on the rented alleyway?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
I see.

By all means try this and tell them that under section 20 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1995 they are required to give you notice of any works required over £250.

Tell them that under that legislative provision they are therefore unable to enforce any payment in excess of that sum and enclose your cheque for £250 telling them that it is sent in full and final settlement of their claim and that if they cash it they are accepting it in full and final settlement. I would probably go further and tell them that if they do not accept it they should return it to you.

You would have to see whether they decided to issue legal proceedings against you before you decided what your next course of action would be.

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