Hello my name is Alex and I will help you with this. Please note that I am a working Solicitor and may be on and offline as I have to attend Court and meet with clients, even at weekends. As such you may not get an instant response when you reply as this is not an ‘on demand’ live service, but rest assured I will be giving your question my immediate attention upon return.
What type of tenancy do you have please?
I am in a shared ownership development. I own 25% and rent the remained so it is assured. Is that enough detail?
Yes. Is there an obligation in your tenancy to notify you of any changes to charges please?
I need to confirm this with my solicitor and will also ask the housing group. Can you tell me what the situation would be if a) the answer was no and b) if the answer was yes
It is important to understand that the landlord's power to levy a service charge and a leaseholder's obligation to pay it are governed by the provisions of the lease. The lease is a contract between the leaseholder and the landlord and there is no obligation to pay anything other than what is provided for in the lease.
All demands for service charges must be in writing and must contain the landlord's name and address. The service charge is not payable until this information is given.
Normally the lease will provide for the service charge to be demanded in advance, but occasions will arise when the demands are issued after completion of the works or provision of the service. In these cases a statutory time limit applies: the landlord must issue the demand within 18 months of his incurring the cost. If the demand is provided later than this, the landlord cannot recover the costs at all, unless a notice is served during the 18 months stating that costs have been incurred and that the tenant will be required to contribute to them by payment of a service charge.
Therefore it appears that they should have notified you in accordance with the above, if they did not then no, it is not legal and would be contravening the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985
Can I clarify anything for you about this at all please?
OK. So as a result of the service charge not being paid arrears built up on my account.
The direct debits for previous years should have been updated automatically and as a result of them not - arrears accumulated on my account. The housing group them increased my monthly direct debit without my permission to quite a high amount in June of this year. They have acknowledged that they should have not have done this and should have discussed with myself how the arrears need to be dealt with. Can you tell if this specifically is breaking any laws and if so which laws and what action I take.
You need to check the wording of your lease. Is this legal - it would come under contract law.
That means they can only do what is in the agreement. if the agreement allows them to change without notice, then they can do it. If it does not say they can or is silent, then they can not.