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Leasehold property: service charge problems

With a leasehold property, your landlord (the freeholder) takes care of the common areas of your building. Make sure you know what you will be liable to pay for in advance and what to do if you don't agree with the charges with our top tips

Leasehold Property Service Charges

More than half (54%) of leaseholders say they have encountered problems with their leasehold property including service charges and maintenance fees according to the 2019 annual Homeowner Survey.  The most common complaints from leaseholders relate to high cost of works and management fees (26%) and a lack of control over which major works are done (23%).

Here are some top tips in dealing with your freeholder or management company:

1. Right to know leasehold property service charges

  • Your landlord/freeholder is obliged to give you a statement of your rights every time they demand a service charge. Don’t just file it away, get to know what to expect.
  • Watch out though, not all contracts are the same: although some aspects of the law are universal, some  only apply to the private sector and some are just for the public sector. And not all public sector leases are the same. For example, if you’re a secure tenant in a local authority home you can’t challenge your service charges but if you’re a housing association tenant you can.

2. Get an idea of how much things are likely to cost

  • ARMA (the Association of Residential Managing Agents) estimates the average service charge bill in London at around £1,800 to £2,000 a year. This will of course vary around the country but anything over £5,000 is expensive and you should definitely be asking questions.
  • Ask for a list of any planned major works (i.e. anything costing more than £250 per leaseholder) and ask your landlord to set out estimated service charges for the next five years as well as details of service charge costs for the last three years.
  • If the freehold is owned by a public sector landlord they are legally obliged to estimate major works for the coming six years.

3. Scrutinise every bill your freeholder sends you

  • Section 20 of the 1985 Landlord and Tenant Act says your freeholder must provide you with at least two estimates and give you 30 days notice before major works.
  • But demand more and make sure value for money is a priority: shop around for the cheapest quote and ask for an explanation as to why certain companies have been contracted.

4. If you do have a complaint

  • Speak to your landlord/freeholder – try and settle things face-to-face
  • Speak to other leaseholders – if they are having the same problem you will have a stronger case if you complain together
  • Consult your building’s tenants’ association if you have one – landlords have to consult them about all works and long-term agreements. If you don’t have one set one up
  • Look for advice from other people in your situation.   

5. If consulting fellow leaseholders and the freeholder doesn’t work – what next?

  • Consider a mediation provider – they will help settle the dispute with your landlord for a fee, but it still might be cheaper than court.
  • Appeal to the first-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber). The 1996 Housing Act says you can take your landlords to tribunal if you don’t think the price of the service charge tallies with the level of service provided. Taking the freeholder to tribunal is less formal than going to court, it will never cost more than £500 and, regardless of the outcome, you won’t be told to pay the leaseholder’s fees.

6. Consider setting up a “Right to Manage” company

  • If your building has a private sector freeholder, and you can get more than 50% of your fellow leaseholders on board, you have the right to manage your own property by setting up a ‘right to manage’ (RTM) company. You can establish an RTM if:

– The building contains two or more flats
– Two-thirds (or more) of the flats have long leases (typically more than 21 years)
– At least 75% of the block is residential

  • You can also ask your landlords to sell you the freehold at any time and you might even be eligible to demand that they sell it to you.

Leave a comment (74)* Required

  1. Camillo De SimoneCamillo De Simone

    I have just received a demand for service
    Charge for the year 2022 which show an
    Increase of 30% over the year 2021.
    Can such a stiff increase be permitted
    By the law?

  2. Isabel DyerIsabel Dyer

    I’m trying to buy a retirement flat in Manchester.
    It’s very difficult to find out the lease details, service charges, and ground rent charge, because although estate agents’ listings give details of everything else, as these charges are often over £3,000 per annum it’s essential that the buyer has these details before even bothering to look at the property. I read there is a bill about to be put through Parliament when they get round to it, to change the law on leases on property.
    Manchester is in a property boom now, but the market dregs are these properties selling between £40 to 80k, with invisible service charges until you get a solicitor to make costs clear. When can we fixed income pensioners expect some improvement on this tiresome matter? I’ll be dead before I get a flat.

  3. amina hiraniamina hirani

    I was trying to establish why I should be charged maintenance and service charge for common areas which I have zero access to? my lease is very unclear

  4. Tom CampbellTom Campbell

    I live in a freehold house on an estate with a management company. I have paid for a Management Pack and was told it would arrive within 10 working days, it hasn’t.

    I have tried calling, no reply.

    I am in danger of losing my sale. What do you suggest I can do to rectify this problem?

  5. Florence MutsambiwaFlorence Mutsambiwa

    Iam being overcharged on ground rent and service charges.
    I need advice as soon as possible

  6. MattMatt

    We bought our leasehold flat in January 2019. I contacted managing agents via email for a service charge demand and schedule as under lease managing agent collects this. I’ve never received a demand or schedule. It was at £150 per month in sales particulars. We’ve been putting the money aside waiting a demand. How long do we wait? What is our legal obligation to pay arrears? Is there a limitation on how far back they can claim?
    The landlord bills us twice a year for ground rent which we pay.

  7. Raymond JordanRaymond Jordan

    I am a lease holder of 10 lingfield close EN1 2JL. Always paid my monthly service charge via setting up Standing order. However ever since Carringtons residential management limited took over to run our estate since year 2019, they trying to charge us £20.00 one off fee .ISIOT LEGAL TO CHARGE US FOR PAYING VIA STANDING ORDER. ONLY OPTION I WAS GIVEN IS TO PAY THEM 3 MONTHLY /QUARTERLY STANDING ORDER TO AVOID £20.00 one off fee.?I would appriciate if you could guide me/ explain if it is legal .

  8. AnnAnn

    I held the Service charge for the garage because there is no Maintainance.. The Landlord took me to county court, which transferred me to the Tribunal property section.
    can I withhold the service charge because the Landlord did not repair it.. do I have to pay Reserve Funds for the Garage as well as the Service charge?

  9. Laura MankaryousLaura Mankaryous

    I live in a building which I bought a flat in last year, we only have 9 flats, and some were empty for the duration of last year (the first leaseholder moved in here during Jan 2020) and the final one in June 2021. We all had to pay 6 months’ service charges upfront before completion in 2020 (we’ve talked amongst ourselves and know that we all did this). The management company who managed us in 2020 stopped in January 2021 and a new one was appointed by the freeholder (who is also the developer) who we’re currently with now. When the new management company took over, they said that the previous one had handed over some accounts for 2020 but nothing that would enable them to account for what monies came in versus what was spent. There should have also been a reserve fund of c.£2,000k which we’re told doesn’t exist. I have contacted the old management company for details on what was spent but they have refused to provide this stating that the account was in deficit and by the transfer date there was no money to do the accounts (c.£500 was in the schedule for this in 2020).
    I believe that any of the unoccupied flats’ charges should have been covered by the freeholder, even the ones which were empty for part of 2021 and not covered by the rest of the leaseholders but this is what we suspect has not happened. There were also services we were charged for – gardening of the communal shared garden, carpet cleaning, window cleaning etc. totalling around £1,000 that was never carried out and the building had people in constantly due to lockdown and people working from home, there being no foreign travel etc. so this fact can be attested to.
    I have tried to get some sort of answer from the old management company but to no avail and we are now in a situation where we have no reserve fund from 2020 to utilise and we have essentially had monies we’ve all paid go into thin air with no accountability.
    Any advice or help would be appreciated if someone has had a similar situation and if you managed to get this resolved or looked into by a third party?
    Many thanks in advance!

  10. HamidHamid

    Good afternoon,

    Would it be possible to have a approximate level of service charges as a % of gross rental income of a student room in a UK PBSA ?

    Looking foward to reading you,



  11. Ioan. MarcuIoan. Marcu

    I lost in court my case with my private freeholder managing company ( housing association ) and they transformed the title of “ major work “ into service charge title, and now they sent me a letter that they will forfeit my lease because of service charge debt. Can be this possible legally or I can contest or appeal this please? I can confirm that I paid my service charge in time, apart of this.

  12. Graham WestoverGraham Westover

    I live in a block of 6 flats and the service charge is £1108 48p a month per flat is this excessive or about right

  13. Jackie GallJackie Gall

    I rent out my property. Last October there was a massive soil stack leek within my property in January the managing company
    The tenant had to move out due to health and safety especially difficult during Covid .
    Submitted a claim in April I only hear from them when I chase. Then it’s the same old reply. We are kissing with our broker, who I called 3 times this week and they didn’t come back to me. Can I take them to the property ombudsman.

  14. Eligorio MarianoEligorio Mariano

    For 45 years we are paying the lease hold annually which was in contract . Now demanding us to pay yearly maintenance or else will forfeit the leasehold and will loss the property.This was not included in the contract when we bought the property.What is the best thing to do please.Thank you.

  15. Joanne SemmenceJoanne Semmence

    Please can get some assistance on where or who get help from.

    Church Commissioners are charging nearly £8000 per year (40%) as I have two floors… I can’t seem to get out of the constant arrears.

    I can’t think why I have to pay both internal and external reserve funds instead of just one.

  16. Rob ReedRob Reed

    Problems with management company who i pay 2k a year too. Service does not tally with the charge and has gone down hill.

  17. Yusuf MehdiYusuf Mehdi

    I bought my new build property in 2017. I had no choice but to sign for Trinity estate only because Taylor Wimpey made a condition during exchange that i have to sign otherwise no exchange. I am paying monthly and top of that their estimate charges are increasing year by year. This year i noticed they deducted 139.00 pounds for extra charges in August. This is on top of monthly charges. I spoke to other resident. One of them charged 400 pounds.!!! I feel we cant do anything as they are exploiting this loop where they are not accountable to us and they can only answer to Taylor Wimpey…Do we have any specialist solicitors who can help in disputing these extortionate amount.

  18. Robert PartonRobert Parton

    I live in a block of 16 privately owned flats where the management company has changed each year. Each flat was slapped with a £511 bill before Christmas due to an apparent shortfall in the budget and 8 months later we have been slapped with another £633 due to ‘increased insurance premiums. This has now almost doubled our yearly service charge!!! We need help as this can’t be right and we can’t afford to pay huge unexpected fees. Can anyone help!

  19. Mrs A BradfordMrs A Bradford

    When bought we were told after 2yrs the council would take over and would end and just pay normal rates to the council by the developer it a freehold house

  20. Bruni SchlingBruni Schling

    I am the secretary of our Residents Association. This years service charge demand was sent to us without the breakdown of estimated costs, which we received for 30 years. The service charges had gone up by up to 42% pa. Upon enquiry our freeholder admitted that they had made a mistake and that we would receive a corrected service charge demand soon with a breakdown of charges. We are in May now and nothing has happened. What can we do? What must our freeholder do to comply with the regulations?

  21. Alison MasonAlison Mason

    Hi my owned house has maintainence company That insists all the houses are painted White l want to change my door colour Can l do this without there permission As they haven’t painted outside of houses Or fences For last 1Oyrs I’ve been here or indeed done anything much apart from cut the bit grass We were also All charged few hundered pounds Each for them to deal with a culvert running beside back of houses We are at a loss Can you tell us what rights we actually have And done advice Regards

  22. Elisa ColombinElisa Colombin

    Hello, I need some advice. I am own an ex council flat I bought it about 6 years ago and I have been leaving in the flat since 2006. From 2018 my service charges has more than doubled and on top of it in 2019 and 2020 I have been charged for an end of year adjustment once for more than 500 GBP and second time for more than 200 GBP. I have tried to query this whit the Housing Association but I have been quickly dismissed and told that I just need to pay or they were going to contact my mortgage lender to retrieve any arrears. Basically I was offered no help and forced to pay.
    Is there any independent body that I can contact to get any help. I feel like I have been bullied into pay this charges without been able to query them. Thank you.

  23. JezJez

    Wondering if you are able to give me some advice please.
    My mother is a leaseholder of a flat in a converted building built around 1910. There are 4 flats in total, the Freeholder owns one which she rents out.
    Last year my mother was told she must pay her share of replacing the buildings entire roof. This equated to three and a half thousand pounds. This was an additional cost to the annual maintenance cost. The roof was done poorly and both external and internal damage was done to both my mums flat and other tenants. This year the Freeholder is demanding more additional costs to the usual annual maintenance charge. This time its regarding re-pointing of the exterior walls, total cost 7,500, which means my mum must pay her share which will be £1:875.
    The Freeholder only provides quotes for the said work with handwritten notes on blank paper. She is very argumentative and doesn’t like being challenged. My mother is elderly and in poor health and is frightened to challenge her. Since the roof was replaced her flat has suffered badly with damp and cold because they replaced thermal tiles with slate tiles. The loft is unusable because the roofers smashed all the old roof into the loft space and didn’t remove it. The guttering has been left damaged and blocked. This has obviously effected the other upper flat as well. My mum is depressed and upset but feels she most pay even though she expects that the builder the Freeholder says must do the work, will again be a cowboy and do a poor job. I have suggested that she passes responsibility of dealing with the Freeholder with me. Any suggestions on how to deal with this would be much appreciated.

  24. Pat CottisPat Cottis

    Hi, We have recently bought a piece of land on the edge of a golf course and built a house. We were told on purchasing the land that a small community change would need to be paid to the golf course for the use of a access road and maintenance of green areas surrounding the housing. Whilst we agree we should pay something towards the maintenance of the road (which belongs to the developers) the green areas belong to the golf club and should surely be their responsibility.
    The developers have also told us we will need to set up a Management group.
    Is this really necessary and can we argue to include in the management fee those elements that effect the residents only?
    Your guidance would be greatly appreciated.

  25. AnneAnne

    Hi there I live in Dudley Court W1H5QA in 36-38 Upper Berkely Street. The block is in a state of ruin and the company charges service charges only to selected owners like me. It’s around 7k a year and no decorations in last 40 even entry phone or security no porter at wknd..mold and rats and unsafe for human habitation. I was forced to pay 65000 pounds since 2014 and sadly no refurbishment. I bought the flat with solicitor and there were few millions ready for refurbishment but the corrupted managing agents split it among themselves. HML group collects money only from selected residents..

  26. Sean LaniganSean Lanigan

    I am a landlord and my freeholder – i have been looking on line and my Freeholder is charging me ever time a tennant renews the tennancy agreement , is this correct and what should the cost be ? Also if there are collapsed drains in the Garden is this the Free holders responsibility ? Thanks

  27. Darren JamesonDarren Jameson

    We moved into our dream home just over a year ago, and it’s been a nightmare ever since. The development of about 40 dwellings all have to contribute towards the upkeep of a small amount of shared ground. Most of which our garden (and 5 other properties) back onto. No one else gets the benefit of the space. 2 of the properties in essence have private shared space as the landscaping hedge has cut access off. I have asked about trees planted too close to our garage and could have an impact on the foundations and when I enquired, I was told the whole estate would need to contribute although the tree should not have been planted that close in the first place. In an ideal world I would want to procure the space behind our house to keep as our own property but I doubt the management company would allow this as it would reduce their revenue

  28. DemonDemon

    Recently we have received a demand from the Freeholder to make payments of the CIL (S106). As they purchased the freehold from the developer that went bust, they had to pay out over £100K (allegedly).

    Our question is, why should we pay a penny? We do not own the freehold, we were not the developers and if the Freeholder purchased the freehold and didn’t carry out due diligence to ascertain if there was any debt on the freeholder, surely its their own liability and not a ‘Service Charge’ to be placed on the Leaseholders?

  29. Amanda WilsonAmanda Wilson

    I have owned my leasehold flat for over 15 years. There are 3 flats in a converted house, and three leaseholders. In 2019 our freehold was sold without our knowledge. We are now buying the freehold, and, due to freeholders refusal to communicate we are awaiting a FTT hearing. The new management company sent us a service charge bill for £3774, just before Xmas. This was completely unexpected, as we have never paid service charges, and they haven’t provided any services! They haven’t even visited the building.
    We pay ground rent and a third each of the communal buildings insurance.
    We have written, asking for evidence that we are liable for service charges, and they have now threatened to charge us £85 + vat each “debt management fee”.
    We are trying to get advice, but it is so difficult due to the lockdown and delays with Royal Mail aren’t helping.
    Any advice would be very much appreciated!!

  30. Janet MartinJanet Martin

    I live on a new estate where the houses were sold leasehold. We pay grounds maintenance charges to a management company. We were told when we purchased the house that after 2 years we could change the company or arrange maintenance ourselves. I need to know how we would go about this. Any advice would be much appreciated.

  31. Amy RodgersAmy Rodgers

    I live in a flat which is leasehold I have had an invoice from 2017-2018 despite being in credit at the beginning of this year, am I obliged to pay this?

  32. noel bradleynoel bradley

    when do i start paying a fee to a maintenance company,? for my new home. when ever the development is complete ?.
    Usually building sites take a while before footpaths landscapes etc ., are the last projects to be completed.
    thank you

  33. Alisdair crowleyAlisdair crowley

    Good morning,

    I brought my flat (leasehold) 2 years ago and I paid a small service fee after 4 months owning the property due to an email from the freeholders solicitor I then purchased the freehold in august 2020 and in September I received an invoice for £1700 for previous years ground rent and other costs, do I have to pay this and why is it so high with no sign of any work being done?

    Kind regards


  34. John HallinanJohn Hallinan

    Can you put me in touch with a solicitor that can advise on such matters as our TP1 states that our estate management company Chamonix has to have their accounts certified by an independent accountant. That any increases in the charges has to be agreed with the Landlord Countryside.
    Appreciate any help you can give with this.

  35. Gill GladmanGill Gladman

    I bought a new build 2 years ago and have just received a statement of account and charge demand which covers non-existent facilities. Can I withhold part of the charge

  36. Tshilidzi MasindiTshilidzi Masindi

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    I would like to ask for some advice? I bought my house in 2017. When I signed my contract, I clearly stated ‘freehold’, but I recently received va demand for payment for the ground rent.

    Could you please advise?


  37. Cal DavisCal Davis

    My husband and I bought a new-build property on a small development of 10 freehold detached houses and 3 leasehold semi-detached houses in 2019. The developer acted as our Management Company until recently but now that the sale of all the properties is complete, the have recently sent us a letter informing us that we must takeover as Directors and setup a Residents’ Management Company. As no one wishes to take on the roles of lead Director and Company Secretary, we would like to enlist a Managing Agent to run things on our behalf. However, I am struggling to find a company that only deals with the external areas, such as grass cutting etc. of common garden areas, gardening, regular sewage disposal for private system, general repairs to infrastructure such as the street lighting and unadopted road, drains, as well as service charge collection, submitting annual accounts and arranging AGM. Please can anyone suggest possible companies that could help us. Thanks

  38. Cal DavisCal Davis

    My husband and I bought a new-build property on a small development of 10 freehold detached houses and 3 leasehold semi-detached houses in 2019. The developer acted as our Management Company until recently but now that the sale of all the properties is complete, the have recently sent us a letter informing us that we must takeover as Directors and setup a Residents’ Management Company. As no one wishes to take on the roles of lead Director and Company Secretary, we would like to enlist a Managing Agent to run things on our behalf. However, I am struggling to find a company that only deals with the external areas, such as grass cutting etc. of common garden areas, gardening, regular sewage disposal for private system, general repairs to infrastucture sch as

  39. Richard PerryRichard Perry

    The freeholder of a converted block of about 20 flats is intending to sell the freehold in December. The service charge up til now has been about £3000 a year for my flat. The management company has now given an estimate of repairs including roof repairs and external redecoration which my portion will be about 10k. The management company is normally pretty good in terms of responding to issues but they have only been in place for about 3 years and have been working through a backlog of remedials left undone by a previous company. If the work needs to be done it needs to be done – but the timing seems “convenient”.

    I’m suspicious that the freeholder is insisting on expensive repairs prior to selling the freehold in order to achieve a better sale price.

    Is this a common technique or am I just being conspiratorial.

    Leases are long (between 100 and 125 years unexpired)

  40. MariaMaria

    I live in a new build mixed Estate of 8 houses and 6 apartments. The apartments were unhappy with their maintenance charge bills, the houses had a minimal charge. The apartment directors unilaterally called an EGM and only invited the apartment owners. The appointed themselves directors and changed maintenance company. Our bills went up 4 fold. Can they hold an AGM and only invite less than 50% of the unit owners

  41. Marta Rogado RodriguezMarta Rogado Rodriguez

    Dear Sirs

    I am a resident flat owner at a large residential development. I am one of the many frustrated neighbours wishing this development. We pay huge amounts of service charge, at present 231 a month ( which seems to be not enough as they are demanding more ). The level of service is poor to the point of being embarrassed. Communicating and financial information is not transparent. I feel stuck. I have emailed the management company on several occasions demanding explanations about my latest payment request which came out of the blue but I am not getting replies.
    All neighbours are talking to each other, making comments but nothing happens.
    I feel their accounts should be audited, how can we do this?

    I am even happy to pay

    I know they are not clean


  42. karinkarin

    i own a 38 year lease of a flat. When the freehold was bought i was not able to participate.
    Now the management has been taken over by a new management company FARADAY. the increase of service charges over the last 24 months has been about 35%.
    1. What can I do to check/inspect the service charges individually? I found out already that a plumbing job which was quoted by a plumber to cost ca. Pounds 3.000,– / Pounds 4.000,–
    but the mangement company charged us Pounds 20.000,– for it approx.
    2. Is it obligary to the management company to invite me to all owner/tennan meetings taking
    taking place ca, 2 x p. a. or can they exclude me?
    3. How can Ii find out which other buildings this company FARADAY manages.
    I would some very negative review about the company but no addresses of the buildings .
    I would appreciate to hear from you .

  43. gninoebgninoeb

    i own a 38 year lease of a flat. When the freehold was bought i was not able to participate.
    Now the management has been taken over by a new management company FARADAY.

  44. Robert CherryRobert Cherry

    Do you have any information about Private property maintenance companies. We are buying a new house in a development of 44 properties. We all have to accept a Deed of Covenant applied to the Land register of our property. I am concerned about the extent to which the deed controls us, the owner but it gives the company free rein to do what it wants, or not. I have researched a bit on-line and have misgivings about the company operating the contract as they have a very significant number of bad reviews. I also learned that this policy is well established but this does not seem to be a fair deal for the owners. They can charge what they like and potentially do as little as possible. I understand it has been debated in parliament but nothing has happened. Do you have a view on this and should I be concerned?

  45. MorrisMorris

    I live in a private block of flats with a leaseholder, made up of 6 flats. There are two other block of flats, 1 is also private and 1 is housing association. The service charges are shared 1/12 amongst the 2 private block of flats. The grounds has 2 bin store, 1 for my block and 1 for the other 2 blocks. The block I live in has its own and has no other access to the other bin store yet have to pay maintenance on it, is this legal? Surely you cannot pay for something that you have no access or control over? The reason I seek advise is that fly tipping is a regular occurrence and that the block I live in gets billed for this, again surely this is not right? Should the lease stipulate any information on what they can and can’t charge for? Also, is it worth seeking further advice?

  46. Peter MeachemPeter Meachem

    I live in 1 of 7 properties. Freeholder owns and lives in 1 and there are 6 of us leaseholders. Service charge just increased by 134%. We get billed without any detail, just gardening and maintenance £XXX which is divided by 7. Firstly there is no advance estimates, no breakdown of costs, no tenants rights, no receipts and no response to requests for any detail from the freeholder. Secondly the freeholder property & garden is 10 times the size of mine but we pay the same 1/7th, My lease states that I should pay “a just and fair proportion according to use by the tenant” but the freeholder refuses to comment or adjust my share. 6 of the 7 properties overlook and share a courtyard , which is where a large proportion of the maintenance is carried out. I live outside the courtyard (the lodge house) my lease says I cannot use or sit in the courtyard but despite not owning it being unable to use it or even see it I still have to pay 1/7th of it.
    finally the only reaction from the son of the freeholder (who has no legal standing) is “read your lease anything you ask me will be passed onto his solicitor and I will have to pay all his costs” He has also said that ” all legitimate costs will in future be added to the service charge and split by 7″ without any reply to what is considered ‘legitimate’ what for, how much, who by and when. Should I contact a tribunal and how do I go about it please?

    • Peter – your situation sounds very difficult and it may be worth speaking to a leasehold specialist lawyer to consider next steps. It’s worth reading your lease to see exactly what it provides for in terms of service charge and access and then you may wish to submit your query to a leasehold specialist law firm – you could use this form on our site to get a free call back from leasehold lawyers (they cover more than just lease extensions). Very best of luck!

  47. Marta UgarteMarta Ugarte

    I need legal advice, please. I own a flat in a leasehold building managed by Regency/Residential Living. I have had numerous problems with them.
    Yesterday night, I could not access the building. Front door vandalised, not opening. No other residents in the building. No emergency contact number for management agents. No access to the building from outside through back door.
    Police on 101 could not help me as I did not own the front door or building. I had to come to spend the night in a hotel.
    I need help to make Regency Living accountable for their failed responsibilities and claim a refund of the expenses incurred and compensation for all the inconvenience.
    I would greatly appreciate your help.

  48. SharonSharon

    Our property management company is including items such as lift repair and window cleaning on our service charges. Our building does not have a lift, although one of the other buildings in the complex does, and in 7 years we’ve never had the windows cleaned, either the flat’s or in the communal areas.

    Given that they’ve just upped our service charges by £20 a month (£240) supposedly due to a recalculation of building insurance, I feel that they have a cheek charging us for services we’ve never received.

    Are they within in their rights to charge for these items?


  49. DenisDenis

    I’m selling my house and the buyers solicitor wants to know whether we had informed the leaseholder we were having an extension which was back in 1976 but we have no record just the council approval documents for the extension can anyone help.

    • HomeOwners AllianceHomeOwners Alliance

      Hello Denis, we’d recommend that you ask your conveyancing solicitor to advise you on this matter.

  50. David HarrisDavid Harris

    I live in a house an estate of 12 houses and 8 flats. The road is adopted and the freeholder has offered to transfer the freehold of the common areas of the estate to the residents association. We have a covenant on our leases regarding a service charge. The House owners want to manage these common areas amongst themselves through the residents association, leaving the flats to be managed by a management company, so no demand would be made to them for a contribution. Any advice on how best to make this work would be gratefully appreciated.

  51. Paul SPaul S

    I am a lease holder of a block of 24 flats, we are all share holders in the management company that administers the block of flats, ie, building insurance, servicing etc, I have been there 20 years and up until 18 month ago, we had annual rises, AGM’s and was paying £50 a month in fees, then some share holder appointed a management company to do the task as the previous person doing it had personal issues, we all thought it would be ok, until they increased the fee to £60 within 3 months, then again to £100 within the next 3 months and 6 months on they are now trying to increase it to £200 a month, the charge to do this task has increase from £1k a year to then now wanting £6k a year, yet we are seeing no more benefits for these extra charges, under the lease agreement they should call a AGM but seem to be bypassing all the safeguards to just ask for my money without giving all the share holders they say, what can we do ????

  52. PaulPaul

    I own the lease hold a flat. the previous freeholder sold it on. despite my attempts trying to contact the new freeholder with no reply’s. he has now sent me his management pack after 5 years!
    As I understand it he can only claim for the last 18 months. his monthly service charge is also around £20 over the going rate for that area. I have told him this, but he’s not having it, and he’s saying it will have to go through solicitors.

    any advice ?



    • HomeOwners AllianceHomeOwners Alliance

      Dear Paul – Thanks for the question. If you would like to consider joining the Homeowners Alliance we should be able to provide some help with this. In terms of the charges, he can only charge based on the agreement within the lease. You can look at a tribunal at a later date if you think he is charging for things not covered within the lease documents

  53. AmaraAmara

    As a leaseholder in zone 4 in a new apartment, I feel like I have absolutely no voice, no rights against this giant bullies private freeholders. I was definitely told that the service charge for a whole year would be £2500 and now it’s £3700. This happened within the space of two years. Just two days ago, I was once again ordered to pay this “insurance costs” at extra £300 pounds. They randomly charge us whenever they want with no advance warnings. We aren’t even consulted, we are not given any options. I am told that legally there’s no way of stopping them charging us extraordinary amounts, there’s no cap? This is shocking, there is literally zero protection for the leaseholders. How is this fair?

    • HomeOwners AllianceHomeOwners Alliance

      Hello Amara, as a first step, have a read through the terms of your lease. The lease will say whether your service charges are fixed or variable. If it says your service charges are variable then it can go up or down and so your freeholder/landlord can increase your service charge provided of course it is reasonable. If you’d like some advice, do consider becoming a member.

  54. JamesJames

    On buying our freehold new build a year ago the developer estimated a service charge of £125 pa for each of the 7 houses. Management of the communal courtyard, electric gates and drainage pump was then passed to a property management co who have just billed us £313 for next year, an increase of 150%. Not only are the company levying a management fee of £350 but also an unjustified accounting charge of £300. The other charges are unjustified and seem to be far too high.On complaining to the developer he has offered us and the other residents the chance to manage the courtyard etc ourselves. To do this we would need to set up a company limited by guarantee, appoint directors, keep accounts and I imagine file tax returns. As we are all pensioners without relevant business or legal experience could you please tell us how to go about it, and what limit to place on the guarantors’ liability.

  55. Jamal KhanJamal Khan

    I am new to this leasehold and Freehold circumstances. But after reading many articles. I think the Leaseholder gets a tough time from the freeholder. It is totally unfair and this Conservative Government stand for the RICH. It’s very stupid that the Freeholder can do anything and the unfortunate leaseholder gets punished. Even the Government mediators are all ex-solicitors who have worked in some capacity for the Freeholders. A Leaseholder is doomed, ever before raising a complaint. The Government should change the Law and make the Freeholder responsible for ALL SOLICITORS CHANGES. Then you will not see the Freeholder miss managing the Leaseholder. But then can you see the Government doing anything? These are the companies that fund the Government. This is a form of bribery from these companies to the Government (who said you can’t buy an MP in England).

    This is very shameful of our Government that they are siding with the evil Freeholders (because they pay the Government Money). I think they should be ashamed of themselves. Who said that Great Britain was a fair Country. They are one of the biggest Crooks sitting in Parliment. It’s like a group of Gangster, stealing money from the Poor and feeding the Rich. STOP FREEHOLDERS ABUSSING LEASEHOLDERS.

    All the Laws regarding Leaseholder and Freeholders should all be reviewed by the Government (but the Government won’t do that). Even some of the new Laws they have added to the statue, have been in favour of the freeholder. They make out that they are creating Laws that will help the Leaseholder, but really they are lying.

  56. john sinclairjohn sinclair

    Do I have to pay the full service charge amount when I become a pensioner and also a freeholder.

    • AKerrAKerr

      Hi John, we’d need more information but being a pensioner is unlikely to affect payment, though most freehold properties don’t have service charges – are you in a new build home?

  57. Heddi GreenwoodHeddi Greenwood

    I am having issues with my management company. They are charging 123.8% in contributions from the property owners – this surely is not legal?

    Any help in pointing me to information that can help will be most appreciated.

    • Sara HindSara Hind

      Your lease sets out the way the service charge is organised and what can be charged. If you pay a service charge, you have the right to:

      – ask for a summary showing how the charge is worked out and what it’s spent on
      – see any paperwork supporting the summary, such as receipts

      Your landlord must give you this information – according to it’s a criminal offence if they don’t.

  58. John HughesJohn Hughes

    I own a flat in a block of 30 on a 99 lease with 70/30% ownership.

    We have a Service Charge of £2300 pa.

    The managing agents are also the Freeholder.

    My question is should the repairs be shared equally 70/30% ?



  59. Louise MintonLouise Minton

    Hi, myself and other fellow leaseholders have recently acquired back the right to manage from the previous management company who mis managed our building. We are trying to find a transparent and reliable new property management company to assist us and partner with us to get our property in good shape and establish good practises and systems. Could you recommend any websites to help us select a good company? many thanks

  60. ChrisChris

    In 1990, all 9 owner-occupier leaseholders of the purpose-built apartments where I live bought equal shares in the freehold. Since then, 6 of the 9 apartments have passed into the buy-to-let market. Determined to extract maximum short-term profit, the absentee landlords have voted themselves onto the Board of the Management Company that owns the freehold and they are neglecting all maintenance by simply failing to take the initiative as regards organising it. As one of the surviving owner-occupiers, here since 1984, I’m outvoted both at leaseholder and freeholder level. The place looks a mess and the value of my apartment is suffering in consequence, I suspect by about x3 more than my share of the cost of the circa £100k works needed. What should I do?

    • Sophie KhanSophie Khan

      Dear Chris,

      It would be interesting to discuss the context to your situation and go over the options available to you, including looking at the lease provisions, valuations and options for buying and selling on. We are also calling for reforms in leasehold systems so perhaps you would consider joining us!

      Best wishes,
      HomeOwners Alliance

  61. Avash shresthaAvash shrestha

    Me and my wife bought a house this November which is freehold however we pay a service charge of almost 50 pounds every month to the notting hill housing as a service charge which we think is outrageous as we pay council tax band D to the council too which is 1452 pounds.
    Is there anyway we can avoid this service charge as I believe they dont do anything which we pay as a service charge to them.

  62. Brenda MatambanadzoBrenda Matambanadzo

    Can you pls signpost me to where I can get legal information on right to manage my property. Most sight say I can do this if I am in a flat.
    I own 50% of my house and rent the other half to my housing association. There is 6 flats and 9 houses to our development at least one of us owns 100% of his house and the rest of us have half. All of us in the houses would like to have right to manage our property but there is no where I can find information on houses having right to manage
    Many Thanks
    Brenda Matambanadzo

  63. E J SullmanE J Sullman


    We bought leasehold apartment November 2015
    Service charges have still not been set up, our Insurance has been paid but
    services are almost nil

    I have cleared leaves, vaccummed the stairs and paid to have my own windows cleaned
    Last December I was told Solicitor is working on it. Is there a set period of time for this

    E Sullman

  64. sheryl keytesheryl keyte

    I’m not sure if you can help, where I live I have to pay a service charge even though I own my house , I don’t think I need to pay this as its going up every year , and only the flats benefit , they wont reduce it or even disgush the problem, can you help in any way . many thanks

  65. CeliaCelia

    We have problems with tenants put in a flat nearby by Southwark Council, but the council do not want to deal with them and instead threaten us with forfeiture should we pursue our complaint about those tenants’ harassment, anti social behaviour and criminal acts. We need urgent advice on the issue and some help if possible.


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