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Joshua
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 32218
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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I've been issued a notice of intention of works in my

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I've been issued a notice of intention of works in my building, and told I will need to pay £16000 over the next 12 months towards it. I do not have the funds to afford this, what are my legal rights?
JA: Where are you? It matters because laws vary by location.
Customer: London
JA: What steps have you taken so far?
Customer: Nothing, it was received this morning
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: I moved into the property April 2021 and i'm a single leaseholder

Hello and thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practising lawyer in England with over 15 years’ experience. Please be aware that although I will endeavour to reply to you promptly, I am also in full time private practice and so I may not be available to respond immediately and it may also take me a few minutes to prepare a reply. The site will notify you as soon as I respond. I look forward to working with you to answer your question fully.

I am sorry to read of the above. May I clarify, is this a section 20 notice of major works that has been served on you by the freeholder ( landlord or managing agent) please?

Customer: replied 13 days ago.
Hi Joshua, thanks for taking the time to reply. Yes that's correct it's a section 20 notice served by the landlord managing agent

thank you. Do you dispute that one or more elements of the works proposed are required or alternatively, do you intend that any element of the works are the result of any failure to maintain on the part of the landlord?

Customer: replied 13 days ago.
It's hard to say, it doesn't have much detail other than that "the current lateral mains system and lighting need updating to ensure that the building continues to be compliant with regulations". I wouldn't have access to records to argue that it might be down to a failure to maintain them

thank you. There are a couple of approaches you can look at in terms of potentially challenging the notice that has been served upon you.

If you can show that the freeholder has failed to properly attend to its repairing obligations in the past for which you may require a surveyor's report which you may need to obtain either on your own initiative or jointly with one or more other residents in order to share costs, then you can make a claim against the landlord for breach of their lease obligations to keep in good repair the common elements and structure of the property.

Damages in this regard are calculated by reference to a notional market rent for the property. In addition, as a result of the decision in Simmons v Castle EWCA Civ 1288 you can also seek an additional 10% uplift on the above figure.

If you decide to issue proceedings against the landlord on the above basis, you can consider issuing proceedings under part eight of the civil procedure rules which deals with disputes in which there is no substantive dispute as regards fact:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/form-n208-claim-form-cpr-part-8

alternatively, the following form if there is likely to be substantive dispute as regards facts:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/form-n1-claim-form-cpr-part-7

if there is no substantive claim of failure to maintain on the part of the landlord but these are simply repairs that have become necessary due to the passing of time and general wear and tear that has occurred to the property over that period, then the above may not be possible but you may still be able to challenge the reasonableness of the amount that is being proposed in terms of the money being due. If for example the landlord is ignoring a cheaper alternative than the works proposed always using a contractor which is unduly costly as compared to other contractors.

if this is an approach you wish to consider, then in the first instance, you can raise concerns with the landlord and ultimately, you can bring an application to the first tier property tribunal to determine the reasonableness of the amounts proposed using the following form:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/form-leasehold-3-application-for-a-determination-of-liability-to-pay-and-reasonableness-of-service-charges

Customer: replied 13 days ago.
Thanks you for the advice. Would you say it would be a reasonable next step to respond to the letter with my written observations, as I have been invited to do so, and put these questions to the landlord:1. I'd like to get clarity on the level of works that are being done - do they go beyond the statutory minimum requirements to being the distribution switchgear up to standard? Is there a statutory requirement to change power and lighting in the common areas or could this cost be avoided?2. Are you confident that this is the best price you can get? It seems exceptionally high, and given that there has not been a tender process for the works, i'd like to question how you know this is the most reasonable price you can get? Have other maintenance companies been approached for a comparative cost?3. Can you evidence that the landlord has maintained the existing equipment substantially under your obligation to do so, and that the proposed works are not as a result of poor maintenance or neglect?

there is no reason not to proceed as you propose however I would comment not to be lulled into any false sense of security in terms of providing observations to the section 20 notice. The legislation does not require the landlord to do anything in relation to observations as such other than to " have regard" four observations that are made. Unfortunately as such, many managing agents adopt a relatively cynical approach in this respect whereby this to go through the motions of serving the required statutory notices with no intention of actually deviating from their decisions. As such, you may wish to regard the above as not being the sole line of defence or query with the landlord.

I hope the above is of some assistance but if you have any further questions, please revert to me.

Customer: replied 12 days ago.
Thanks Joshua, that has been really helpful! I'll give you a shout if I need anything else!

I'm glad the above answers all your questions for now. If you have any follow up questions please revert to me.

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