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Joshua
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 26215
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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We own the only 3 flats in a building, our landlord owns the

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Hi
We own the only 3 flats in a building, our landlord owns the freehold and estate agency below
All was fine, until last month he presented us a with a bill for thousand of pounds for damp proof work he had done. He never notified us in advance or spoke to us. We knew nothing until he invoiced us
We researched and stated under section 20 of the landlord act etc... we were only obliged to pay him £250 per property, so we remitted a total of £750. We informed him that he had failed to comply with the consultation requirements under that section
Now we received a letter stating that we must, in fact, pay the whole invoice. The solicitors cited "DAEJAN INVESTMENTS LIMITED V BENSON AND OTHERS"
They stated that we must notify them of what prejudice we have suffered as the court can dispense with the consultation requirements and should do so if the lessee has not been prejudiced
So, what can our reply be? what prejudice can we cite? and what info can you supply

Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practising lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.

  1. May I ask if you have been able to ascertain or conclude whether the works were a) carried out as stated, b) necessary c) the cost is reasonable for what was done.
  2. Notwithstanding the agents right or not to demand payment, do you accept that the demand has been apportioned correctly between the flats and commecial premises under the terms of the lease?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
1. yes works were carried out as stated
2.Thats another issue, nowhere does it state our proportion, he says we own 60% of the floor space so we must pay 60% of all bills etc..

Many thanks. Are you able to kindly confirm on B and c of my first question as well? For ease of reference again below:

May I ask if you have been able to ascertain or conclude whether the works were a) carried out as stated, b) necessary c) the cost is reasonable for what was done.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I have NO idea, I didnt see what was needed prior as no one told us about a problem and I cannot ascertain C as no idea what was needed to be honest

Thats great thank you. The Daejan decision has curbed the application of the s20 protection for tenants which was previously to some extent an absolute right of defence against a landlord who has failed to conform to procedure. However the decision has not given rise to a discretion for the landlord to ignore his s20 obligations. Rather the Supreme Court sought to apply some relief for a landlord who has mistakingly not complied with the requirements to consult but has otherwise acted in good faith carrying out repairs which were reasonably required and proportionate and at a cost which was fair and that the leasholders would otherwise reasonably have had to have carried out themselves were they responsible for maintenance in the interests of good uilding maintenance.

It is worth noting that in the case the court awarded the landlord less than 20% of the amount he was seeking and ordered him to pay costs so by one measure, this can hardly be classed as a success for the landlord. So clearly dispensing with consultation is far from a get out of jail free card for the landlord.

In terms of steps forward whilst it is no longer an option simply to refuse to pay more than the statutory obligation amount because landlord did not comply with consultation, you need not necessarily pay what is demanded. You can

a) Question why the works were necessary for complying with the landlord maintenance obligations under the lease. Ask the landlord to provide evidence of why the works were necessary and why the existing damp proofing was not satisfactory. If it was not satisfactory, could it have been patched or repaired rather than replaced if thats what happened.

b) Notwithstanding the above, was a cheaper more cost effective method available? If not did the landlord obtain other quotes? Did he use the cheapest quote? If not why? Does the landlord have any connection to the contractor used?

c) Though not directly an issue out of the above case, nonetheless relevant and important, notwithstanding the above, how has the landlord apportioned the amount demanded and relying on what terms in the lease. He can only apportion bills as the lease provides for. He cannot invent his own way of calculating apportionments if it is not authorised in the Lease without your agreement.

The landlord must produce evidence to reasonably satisfy you on all the above points if he is going to successfully seek payment of the amount demanded. If you can reasonably show that the landlord has not satisified any of the above, then you can seek to reduce or even avoid (if the work cannot be shown to have been reasonably necessary) payment. If you cannot reach agreement with the landlord, either you or the landlord can make an aplication to a tribunal for a determination as to the liability to pay the charge demanded.

http://hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk/HMCTS/GetForm.do?court_forms_id=3082

Does the above answer all your questions? If it does, I should be very grateful if you would kindly take a moment to click a rating for my service to you today. Your feedback is important to me. If there is anything else I can help with please reply back to me though

Joshua and other Property Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
FANTASTIC REPLY. THANK YOU

I'm glad it was helpful. Thank you for your feedback. Good luck with reaching a resolution.