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LVT


achieved in their service charges will be not cancelled out by the landlord recharging the legal costs of an unsuccessful defence to the service charges. Tenants who are being taken by the landlord/RMC to the LVT can also make an application. The LVT will review the evidence presented before deciding what is appropriate. It is therefore in the interests of RMCs and property managers to try


and avoid the matter being referred to the LVT and they can carry out, as part of their discussions with a lessee, some of the processes that would be required by the LVT procedures.


KNOW YOUR LEASE


A lessee should not commence on what is nothing more than a fishing expedition if they don’t have any factual information to support their claim. They should start by seeking the information they are obliged to be provided with under the lease and the summary of relevant costs relating to the service charges, payable under Section 21 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. The starting point is to assess the case and prepare a summary setting out the elements to establish, the facts to establish and the available evidence in order to focus on what information is available to support the point you are trying to prove. This will soon highlight whether your case is strong and where the evidence in support of it is weak. You can then devise an action plan in order to gather the necessary information.


KEEPING TIME AND COST DOWN


If the matter went to an LVT then a Pre-Trial Review would be held to assess the case and it is likely that it would be directed that a joint meeting be required in order to produce what is known as a Scott Schedule (a table with columns showing a reference number, the matter at issue, the applicants comment, the respondents comment and a blank column for the LVT’s decision). This process will hopefully result in some issues being agreed which should be shown and the matters at issue therefore reduced. This will reduce the time spent and costs incurred in the LVT. A simple investment of time in communication and transparency


between the RMC/Property Managers and the lessees is well spent, when compared with the time and effort needed in taking the matter to the LVT which, by its very nature, can be unpredictable in its determination. A much swifter and cheaper method of resolution, the Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE) Mediation Service, has just been closed (see News page 7). If you find yourself with a service charge issue, then a good starting


point is the very informative LEASE website (www.lease-advice.org) which also has a list of surveyors and solicitors who deal with such matters. Depending on the type of dispute you are involved in, contact the RICS (www.rics.org) or the Association of Residential Managing Agents (www.arma.org).


Michael R Lee BSc(Hons) MRICS Managing Director Tel: 020 8948 1122 Email: Michael.lee@hmlshaw.com


RMCS AND PROPERTY MANAGERS... WILL FACE NON–RECOVERABLE COSTS IN REPRESENTATION AND ATTENDANCE WHICH A SELF REPRESENTING LESSEE WILL NOT FACE


18 www.flat-living.co.uk


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