S20 Initial Notice Time Limit?

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  • S20 Initial Notice Time Limit?

    How long is the First S20 Notice valid?

    Was sent an S20 Notice in 2010 for works (3 large jobs) and for various reasons around insurance nothing was done about Works. In 2012 the Landlord demanded £3,000 for up front payment for the Works but hasn't been able to specify what the Works are due to some of the Works may be covered by insurance. Fast forward to today and the Insurance isn't paying out and LL wants upfront payment quoting previous S20 Notice.

    One of the jobs is straight forward and the bill will be about £500 from each Apartment!

    However the major works (£100K+) will take planning and the materials will take at least six months from order to supply (I work in that field). The LL hasn't made any contact with Contractors as they expected the Insurance to do everything. The Works require various Local Authority involvement and the LL hasn't contacted them yet.

    I asked for information about the works and got an email saying Legal Proceedings have started as I am in arrears. All I can see is LL wants cash flow and has previously raided the Reserve Fund to cover Tenants Arrears (I have an email from LL admitting this).

    Do I just have to suck it up and pay? Or when the LL Solicitor contacts me I can quote something to get them to issue a new S20 Initial Notice?

  • #2
    Your freeholder seems to have gone into not responding mode, which suggests that they intend to go through the motions of forfeiting your lease. If they respond, they acknowledge the tenancy exists and lose that option.

    If you are not paying because you can't pay, there is not a lot that can help you. If you are not paying because you think the charge is unreasonable, I would suggest you should pre-empt the legal action by starting an FTT case. It will cost you £100, although if other people think the same, the fee could end up split amongst them. (if they do take you to court and your defence is that the service charge was unreasonable, they will redirect to the FTT, anyway.)

    If you are in the industry and know the lead times, you presumably have some idea of the costs, so you should know what is reasonable. Even if the freeholder messes up section 20, the current case law is that they may well be able to recover the cost of doing the work using the cheapest competent contractor that you can find.

    I'm interested in the cross subsidy between payers and non-payers. Although it hasn't been tested, the way I read my lease, there is a reserve fund for each leaseholder, not a single pool, even if there is a single bank account. If that interpretation applies to you and is correct, they need to get the worst payer to cover all their share of the costs, rather than cross-subsidising.

    I'm not aware of any time limit, although I would expect a restart if there was a significant change in the requirement.

    As you refer to Contractors, you are not talking about an existing long term agreement, so they will need to do the second stage consultation, anyway.

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    • #3
      You can contact The Lease Advisory Service https://www.lease-advice.org/ or check their site. if I remember correctly there are time limits to the response to notices etc, however I don't think there is an expiry or time limit on the S20 itself.

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