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


        #4
        Originally posted by Macromia View Post

        Do you still have details/specifications of the prior work that was proposed and carried out?
        I have written to the landlord requesting for this information.


        Originally posted by TruthLedger View Post

        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?
        1. Yes, they all received it. Mine was probably just lost in the post.
        2. Not until later
        3. The company who did the work have now gone out of business.

        We are questioning more about the fact that the work was signed off when it shouldn't have been and also the total works back then cost just over 35k....Even if you take into account inflation etc, how on earth did they come up with the figure of what I calculate to be around 275-300k for the same works for the block? The mind boggles.

        Before the asphalt was laid, the original concrete surface never had any water pooling but straight after the asphalt was laid, it was so uneven that water collected on the balcony in the uneven dips. This was pointed out to the landlord at the time, but complaints had fallen on deaf ears. We have letters of such complaints dating back to 2014 and at this time the contractor was still in business.
        There also many discrepancies. For example, when we received summary of the works, the balcony refurbishment cost was put down as 18k. However, a leaseholder who purchased one of the flats about 6 years ago received summary stating the works cost 35k.
        I attach a copy of letter from Landlord stating that balcony works had failed.

        I understand if the remedial work needs to be done but the landlord has failed in ensuring the works was done correctly first time round and have not confidence in them selecting a reputable company and the cost in my view is in no way reasonable.

        Are they allowed to start charging us for the works even though no works have yet been carried out alone let alone a contractor selected?

        Comment


          #5
          Is this a council run block?

          Comment


            #6
            no, it was taken over by an Housing Association and surprise surprise, the service charged jump to £1300 the following year from £600

            Are you able to see my reply from eariler today? as it says "Unapproved".

            Comment


              #7
              You should make application to the FTT to review the reasonableness of the service charge or to ombudsman for housing estates..

              Comment


                #8
                Go knocking on some neighbor's doors and ask them if they have been consulted or not? Have they been sent any information you have not maybe? Call a meeting and ask to see all paperwork. Ask management company or whoever is sending out service charge demands to explain their reasoning, contact he contractor who did the work. Ask them if they encountered any problems and how much were they paid? Is there a warranty on the work? This al could be classed as improvement possibly not repairs? Band together take to FTT

                Comment


                  #9
                  i've attached letter again (the one above is really small for some reason) from the landlord who themselves state that the work was not fit for purpose.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by bassmonster View Post
                    i've attached letter again (the one above is really small for some reason) from the landlord who themselves state that the work was not fit for purpose.
                    What an utter scam! The contractor is no longer in business? I wouldn't take his word so, it's best that you check for yourself that they’ve gone out of business. Here are the steps:

                    1. Search for their name on:

                    * the Companies House website if they’re a limited company (with the letters ‘Ltd’ or ‘Plc’ after their name) https://www.gov.uk/government/organi...ompanies-house

                    * the Insolvency Register if they’re an individual (a sole trader) or a partnership - https://www.gov.uk/search-bankruptcy...vency-register

                    2. Search both the name of the person and their trading name. It can take a few weeks for information to appear on these websites.

                    3. Once you get confirmation the company has gone out of business, get the details of the person who is dealing with settling the contractor's debts so, you can make a claim as a creditor. https://www.gov.uk/register-creditor-bankruptcy

                    Comment


                      #11
                      I'm pretty certain that the contractor has indeed gone out of business. Regardless, I have already asked for the business name.

                      At what point would we be looking to approach FTT?

                      We sent a letter to the CEO which was delivered on the 25th of June to which we are yet to recieve a reply. It wasn't a formal complaint but more so the concerns raised about the cost, works failure etc and why not action was taken when we complained about the works before the contractor went out of business.

                      Would there be any benefit contacting the housing ombudsman first?


                      Comment


                        #12
                        Did you put those complains to the contractor in writing? That will strengthen your case. Also, have you followed up with the CEO for a response to your letter? It's a good idea following up with the CEO a few times, before approaching the FTT, to show you tried.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          No, we didn't write to the contractor we only complained through our housing association. I've not followed up with CEO just yet. going to wait 10 working days so I'll be following up early next week by sending in a formal complaint letter.

                          Comment

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