Reasonableness of license fees when work required to comply with regulations

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    Reasonableness of license fees when work required to comply with regulations

    I would appreciate the forum's help in relation to the license fee required by the landlord of my flat (which is sub-let), particularly on the reasonableness of the license fees and whether I need a consent in the first place.

    Reasonableness of fees

    I'm required to comply with the new electrical safety regulations, and planning to replace the fusebox in the flat. Looking at the leasehold agreement I wasn't sure whether I needed consent (for reasons mentioned below), so I've contacted the landlord, which is the local authority, and they have confirmed that the work seems reasonable and they can approve it but a fee of c.£400 would be payable. For avoidance of doubt, this was by email and I have not gone through the formal application yet.

    Given the electrical work is purely to comply with the regulations, and the estimates for the actual work is in the rage of £500-700, the fee seems disproportionately high.
    Have anyone manage to reduce the license fees in similar cases on the grounds that it is"not reasonable", and if so, how?

    Consent for alterations when required by law

    My lease agreements includes lesee's covenant to notify the landlord when altering anything to do with circuits, but also there is a covenant saying:
    At the expense of the Lessee to execute and do all such works and things whatever as may now or any time during the said term be directed or required by any national local or other public authority to be executed or done in or in respect of the Demised Premise or by the owner or occupier of the Demised Premises

    I thought my case could fall under the above clause, but the council responded back saying that "it is only a requirement to bring the electrics up to the 2018 standards if you intend to sub-let the property. this is not a lease covenant". I would appreciate your views on this as well.

    #2
    If you have a water leak inside your flat , you don't ask for approval from freeholder to replace the hot water tank. you fixed it. If your fridge breaks down , you don't ask for approval from freeholder to replace it. One of the MCBs in fusebox can operate and become damaged if a fault occurs on any appliances. Your electrician after replacing the fusebox should conduct insulation test and issue a safety certificate .

    I have heard that some Local Councils have started a registration scheme for rental properties and the owners are asked for £500 to register.

    Comment


      #3
      Oh, well what did you expect when you notified them? Keep schtum in future IIWY.
      To save them chiming in, JPKeates, Theartfullodger, Boletus, Mindthegap, Macromia, Holy Cow & Ted.E.Bear think the opposite of me on almost every subject.

      Comment


        #4
        Exactly what does your lease say regarding "...altering anything to do with circuits"?

        You have said that there is a clause requiring you to notify the landlord (the local authority), but a requirement to 'notify' them doesn't necessarily mean that you require permission, or a licence.

        I'd also wonder whether there is anything in the lease requiring you to maintain the electric circuitry/wiring, and potentially even to 'replace or renew' it. If the lease does require you to do this, it should be easier to argue that it is unreasonable to expect you to pay for permission to do this.

        Comment


          #5
          Post 4 is spot on. We need to know exactly what it is that you need to ask permission for. You do not need permission to comply with an obligation. In that respect we need to establish if you are obliged to do what you propose. May we have more detail. please?

          Comment


            #6
            Thank you very much for your responses so far.

            Macromia, Lawcruncher,
            The clause re circuits says as follows (sorry, it's long...) and the council quoted Sch11 Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 for the basis of charging fees for the license, which seems to be how the council provides the landlord's consent for alterations.

            Not at any times without the licence in writing of the Lessor first obtained nor except (if such licence shall be granted) in accordance with plans and specifications previously approved by the Lessor an to the Lessor's reasonable satisfaction to make any alterations or apture in the plan external construction hight walls timbers elevations or architectural appearance thereof nor to cut or remove the main walls or timbers of the Demised Premises nor to do or suffer in or upon the Demised Premises any wilful or voluntary waste or spoil nor to carry out or permit to be carried out any alterations or additions to or disconnections from the general plumbing system and/or any conduits connected thereto nor to remove any of the Lessor's fixtures and

            The above is the only clause where electricity/wiring is mentioned as far as the Lessee's covenant is concerned.

            Comment


              #7
              Replacing a fuse box would not seem to be covered by the clause.

              Please also quote the repair clause and any clause which requires you to comply with lawful requirements.

              What regulation requires you to replace the fuse box?

              Comment


                #8
                Thank you, Lawcruncher.

                In the Lessee's covenant, there is only one clause in respect of repairs as follows (and no mention to "repair" specifically)

                To make good all damage caused through the act or default of the Lessee (a) to any part of the Property or to the appointments or the fixtures and fittings thereof and (b) to any other occupier or tenant of the Property and their licences and in each case to keep the Lessor Indemnified from all claims expenses and demands in respect thereof

                Compliance to law/regulations are mentioned as follows:

                To comply with all local bye-laws statutory requirements and other lawful requirements applicable to the Demised Premises and to keep the Lessor indemnified against all costa claims demands and liability arising thereon

                At the expense of the Lessee to execute and do all such works and things whatever as may now or any time during the said term be directed or required by any national local or other public authority to be executed or done in or in respect of the Demised Premise or by the owner or occupier of the Demised Premises

                The replacement of fuse box results from an electrical safety inspection I arranged to comply with s.3 of The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 (https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukdsi/2020/9780111191934)
                Local council's explanation is that as far as the leasehold agreement between them and I is concerned, this regulation doesn't apply (i.e. it's a law that applies because I'm sub-letting the flat) hence doesn't fall under work "required by any national local or other public authority" - would this be the general reading of the Covenant?

                Comment


                  #9
                  It is true that as between you and the council the regulation does not apply as such. However, the fact remains that you are required to carry out the work by a national authority and the covenant you quote requires you to do any work required by a national authority. I cannot see that there is any doubt that the lease requires you to carry out the work and that accordingly no consent is required.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by MKO View Post
                    Compliance to law/regulations are mentioned as follows:

                    To comply with all local bye-laws statutory requirements and other lawful requirements applicable to the Demised Premises and to keep the Lessor indemnified against all costa claims demands and liability arising thereon
                    Assuming that the council knows that your flat is sublet (most leases contain a clause requiring notification of subletting), I don't see how they can say that it isn't a "lawful requirement" that the lease obligates you to comply with.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Thank you both for your advice.
                      ​​​​​​Notice of subletting was provided to the council, so they are aware that the flat is sublet. The more I read the clauses I agree with you.

                      So clearly, I should've read the lease agreement before asking the council! I assume there is no point in agreeing the understanding of the lease agreement with the council as I haven't applied for consent officially yet?

                      Comment


                        #12
                        I would say just get on and do the work.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Thanks, Lawcruncher.

                          Comment

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