Case Law Update: Exploring the limits of Service Charges

In this case of relevance to Landlords, the Tribunal discussed which works can be passed on to Tenants by way of Service Charges. 

The Landlord in this case, it has to be said, in an effort to reduce overall costs of running the collection of properties, replaced wooden window frames with metal ones. He then charged Tenants a proportion of the costs for those works. But there were tenants who had not have the double-glazing works done and, perhaps understandably, complained about paying for them via Service Charges. 

The Tribunal held that, although some frames had been in need of repair, the main purpose of the works was to improve the building; an economic rationale, rather than a repair. 

The lessons? Landlords need to think twice about timing and real reason for works being carried out. The Tribunal may dissect the work out and adjust and deduct Service Charges which paid in part for improvements. 

The case? Tedworth North Management Limited v Miller [2016] UKUT 522

Landlords should be aware that the cost of works that merely improve, rather than repair, a property cannot be added to the service charges they pass on to their tenants, even if the improvements will reduce the future running costs of the properties