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Thomas
Thomas, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 7602
Experience:  UK solicitor holding an England and Wales practising Certificate.
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I have a property with share of freehold. My property has it's

Resolved Question:

I have a property with share of freehold. My property has it's own access and I have no access to the communal areas of the building apart from the garden. I have recently been billed for work to be done in the communal hallway. Where do I stand in terms of payment
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Thomas replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Thanks for your patience.
Your lease will govern whether or not you must pay these service charge fees.
Your lease will contain service charge provisions and an obligation to pay the service charge. It will state what costs are included in the service charge for your particular property.
Therefore, you should check your lease. It will probably include a definition of the common areas. If the service charge clause includes the costs of maintenance of the common areas in the service charge in your lease then you will have to pay the costs as part of your service charge.
If they are included then you should check that you are being charged the correct proportion of teh service charge. Obviously, the entire service charge is split with other flats in the building and your lease will likely define your precise proprtion (eg 1/8, 1/16 etc). Once you have established your proportion then you can work out if the amount requested accords with the proportion in your lease. If it does then you must pay it.
If the maintenance of the common arears is not included in the service charge definition/clause in your lease then you would not have to pay it.
My goal is to provide you with a good service. If you feel you have received anything less, please reply back as I am happy to address follow-up issues specifically relating to your question.
Kind regards,
Tom
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Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi, thank you for that, I do pay the service charge on a monthly basis, but this is work outside of that. How easy would it be for the lease to be amended to specify which are common areas I should have to pay for. Decorating the communal hallway is of no benefit to my property, and being asked to pay £1500 is unreasonable
Expert:  Thomas replied 2 years ago.
Hi
The works either fall within the specific written definition of the service charge in your lease or they don't, this determines whether they are payable or not.
If they works fall within the written definition then you would have to pay, this is the case even if you don't actually use the communal areas. Of course, you may consider this unfair and perhaps an oversight in the original drafting of the lease but it does not really help you because when you bought the property you choose - by implication - to accept the lease and it's conditions (of which this would be one).
The only way to carve out such charges would be for you and the other freeholders to execute a Deed of Variation excluding the charges from your lease. The freeholders are under no obligation to agree to this however and it's difficult to see why they would agree since their charges would effectively increase as a result.
I'm really sorry but if the charges are caught by the service charge provisions of your lease then you would have to pay.
Kind regards,
Tom
Expert:  Thomas replied 2 years ago.
Is there any further information you require?
I just want to ensure that you are satisfied, so please let me know if you have any further queries on the information I have provided.
Kind regards,
Tom