Do also note:
Most tenants of residential premises benefit from protection against excessive service charges under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. For the purposes of this legislation, "service charge" is an amount which:
Is payable by a tenant of a dwelling as part of, or in addition to the rent.
Is payable directly or indirectly for services, repairs, maintenance, improvements, insurance or the landlord's management costs.
Varies, or may vary, according to the relevant costs. Fixed service charges are therefore outside the scope of the provisions of the LTA 1985.
Costs must be reasonably incurred.
Before making any demands for service charge the landlord must ensure that it has supplied to its tenants an address in England and Wales for service of notices. Until this notice is served, no rent, service charge or administration charge is due from the tenant.
In addition, any demand for service charge must:
Tenants are entitled to withhold payment of a service charge, if the relevant demand does not include the summary of rights and obligations which is required under section 21B (section 21B(3), LTA 1985).
When service charge demands are issued after completion of the works or provision of the service, the landlord must issue the demand within 18 months of the landlord 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 (section 20B, LTA 1985).
Tenants have statutory rights:
To seek a summary of the service charge account from the landlord (section 21, LTA 1985).
To inspect accounts, receipts and other documents relating to the servicecharge summary and to take copies of these (section 22, LTA 1985).
To request a summary of insurance cover and to inspect insurance policy documents (section 30A and Schedule 1, LTA 1985)
as you can see you have rights which you can challenge the landlord's claim. Particularly in a variable, ad hoc provision such as the one in your lease. You can request copy accounts, receipts etc. If the landlord can not evidence expenditure and particularly in circumstances when more than 18 months ago then the landlord's position is weakened and you can challenge. You have a statutory right.
It is a criminal offence for a landlord to fail to comply with the duties imposed by s.21,22 and 23 of the LTA as mentioned above.
I hope this information helps. Let me know if you have any further questions or queries. Happy you help.
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