Surprise 11k bill - Section 20

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    Surprise 11k bill - Section 20

    Hi All,
    I’d appreciate any advice or help.

    I own a leasehold flat in my block of 25 flats on the second floor 4 storeys high. There are other 7 leaseholders.
    12 years ago we had Major works done as part of a regeneration program and I was landed with a 22k bill for the privilege which I am still paying for.

    However, about 3 weeks ago I notice a bill on my online account for just over 11k with reference “Major Works Estimate 2020/21”. It was big of shock to say the least as I knew thing about it. So, I emailed the freeholder to find out what it was about. There was apparently a Section 20 consultation letter sent out July 2019. I never received this letter.

    Here are the contents of the consultation letter:
    ================================================== =======================
    Section 20 Landlord and Tenant Act 1985
    Section 151 Commonhold & Leasehold Reform Act 2002
    Service Charge (Consultation Requirements) (England) Regulations 2003

    Property address: My yard

    Notice of Intention
    So and so is proposing to enter into an agreement with a contractor, to be selected following tender of the contract, to carry out work to your block:

    My Estate, London God knows – Remedial works to communal walkways – my House1 (4 balconies) and my House2 (4 balconies).

    We have to consult with all leaseholders who may have to pay towards the cost of this work. This consultation is under Schedule 4 part 2 of the above Regulations and ends on 19 August 2019.

    Why is this necessary?
    The existing asphalt covering to the top floor balconies of both blocks has failed and although these areas have been treated previously with anti-slip fool paint coatings there is now water penetration into the structure of the walkway and into the residential properties below which have in cases rendered them unlettable. The water getting into the structure is affecting the structural metal I beams supporting the walkways. The existing asphalt coverings need to be completely removed, repairs undertaken to the structure of the walkways and then new asphalt or similar approved material laid to form a waterproof membrane.

    If you would like to see a full specification of the work we can arrange for you to see this at our office.

    Observations
    We invite you to put any observations you wish to make about the proposed work in writing to us. Observations must be sent to the following address by 19 August 2019:

    Winter wonderland

    Email: info@boing

    Nomination of a contractor
    As this notice is served under schedule 4 part 2 of the Regulations we also invite you to nominate a contractor who you would like us to try and obtain an estimate from to carry out these works. We must receive the name and address of any such person within the consultation period and no later than 19 August 2019.
    ================================================== ======================

    The balconies were part of the Major works back in 2012. There were concerns raised that the works was not done to a high standard by another leaseholder as there used to puddles of water after it rained which we never had before. There is also missing membrane on the balcony which was not put in place when major works was carried out back in 2012 but yet work was signed off. From my understanding, the contractor that did the works has gone into insolvency. There is also an admin charge of over 1k.

    I have a few questions if you can have help please:

    1. Should the total cost be divided by 25 flats? Will this mean the freeholder would have to pay for 18 flats as there are 7 leaseholders in the whole block? If this is the case, it does seem 275k is rather extortionate (I’ve multiplied the 11k by the 25 flats)

    2. Are we liable to pay again for what appears to be bad workmanship?

    3. Can the amount of the bill itself be challenged?

    4. Are there any specialists who take on such cases?

    5. What would one do next as a first step towards challenging this?



    Another thing to mention is that back in October of 2019, I received a credit of just under £900 with reference “Credit: Balcony works refund”. When I queried it, I didn’t receive a reply and thought nothing of it at the time.
    I feel that if the work was carried out correctly first time round, then we would not be asked to to pay for it again.


    Any advice no matter how small would be greatly received.

    Thanks.

    PS, the work has not started yet.

    #2
    It's possibly that you might be able to claim that the cost of the work that is now proposed is unreasonable on the grounds that either it shouldn't need doing so soon after prior major works on the balconies, or that it only needs doing because of poor workmanship previously, but this would require you to have sufficiently evidence to present a convincing case.

    You would need to be able to demonstrate that the work wasn't to a decent standard and should have been expected to last longer than 12 years, or to successfully argue that the specifications for the work that was done 12 years ago were insufficient (perhaps the asphalt covering should have been replaced at that time but was not, and the cost would have been significantly cheaper if it was included in the earlier work).
    This may be difficult without surveyors reports from the time of the previous work, and will almost certainly require reports from some sort of relevant professional.

    Do you still have details/specifications of the prior work that was proposed and carried out?


    As for how the total cost should be divided, that depends on what it says in the leases.
    It may be the case that the work should be split between all 25 flats, but it is also possible that the leases might allow work on the balconies to be charged only to the flats that own the balconies where work is required.

    Comment


      #3
      Yes, it is certainly extortionate and, inline with the ongoing cladding scam that too many freeholders/developers are jumping on. I have some questions:


      1. Did all leaseholders receive the Section 20 consultation letter that you say was sent out in July 2019? If not, you have a stronger case to challenge

      2. Were you aware of water penetration into those residential properties that rendered them unlettable?

      3. The letter mentions "there were concerns raised that the works was not done to a high standard by another leaseholder". Well, if that is the case, that leaseholder is certainly responsible for remedial work. Workmanship usually carries a guarantee/warranty of some kind. Has your block approached the leaseholder in question about this?

      Comment

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