Section 20 Landlord and Tenant Act – what lessees need to know

If you live in a managed residential block, are you aware of the Landlord and Tenant Act – and importantly, Section 20? It’s not a recent change, yet it is still an area which is sometimes overlooked (or forgotten in some cases) – however, it is a legal requirement set out to protect tenants.

To explain it simply, Section 20 of the Landlord and Tenant Act requires the managing agent / landlord to inform the lessees of any works/costs to your building where:

“the contribution from any one lessee exceeds £250, or a qualifying long-term agreement where the contribution from any one lessee exceeds £100 in one financial year”

In each case, the lessees are entitled to be made aware of decisions before action is taken. A three-stage consultation period is defined within the Act and includes invitations for tender of works.

If Section 20 is ignored, the lessee can refuse to pay any additional amount to their service charge and the agent/landlord is left with the cost.

In today’s world, spending £250 to maintain or improve a property may not seem like much, but for lessee’s it can add a significant amount to their annual service charge and could feel an unwanted expense. Managing residential properties however can involve a number of parties – so the temptation to just go ahead and not get approval for ‘small’ jobs could be appealing to some.

The Act is there for a purpose and is legally binding. It is important for managing agents to operate within the law, and to help the lessees to ensure that decisions for works carried out can be made efficiently.

If you feel that your service fees are not being managed properly, or you’ve paid for works without being informed of the tender process, talk to us now and let’s see how we can help.

We are happy to provide advice on your current situation and see if your property is being correctly managed.

For detailed information on Section 20 of the Landlord and Tenant Act – click here. 

For recent case law about this particular area – you might like to read these articles:

Phillips –v- Francis [2012] EWHC 3650 (Ch D)
Daejan Investments