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Leasehold dispute: High Court overturns First-tier Tribunal decision relating to service charges

A court case involving a dispute over payment of service charges on a long-lease of a property has resulted in a previous decision being overturned.

The case involved CHG Residents Company Limited (the appellant) and Iris Hyslop (the respondent), where a decision had been given by the First-tier Tribunal (FTT) in 2018, stating that sums were payable by the respondent if they had been validly demanded of her.

A further hearing ruled that the service charge demands for two years of service charges (for the years ending March 2015 and March 2016) had not been received by the respondent.

The appellant appealed and the High Court ruled the service charges had been validly demanded of Ms Hyslop, and they are payable by her.

The lease term, in this case, is 99 years, beginning in September 2017, with terms specifying that the lessee (the respondent) shall pay service charges in advance.

Accordingly, it is common practice to send out service charge demands in March and September every year via postal delivery. The appellant stated the demands for the two years in question were made in March and September 2014 and 2015.

The Law of Property Act 1925 states that “Any notice required or authorised by this Act to be served shall be sufficiently served if it is left at the last-known place of abode or business in the United Kingdom of the lessee, lessor, mortgagee, mortgagor, or other person to be served…”

In essence, the High Court found that the FTT had answered the wrong question namely whether the demands were received, and not whether they had been delivered. The previous ruling had also required certainty, rather than a finding on the balance of probabilities.

For help and advice on matters relating to property and leasehold disputes, contact our expert team at Mander Hadley today.

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Adrian Austin-Crowe

Adrian Austin-Crowe

Head of Dispute Resolution / Personal Injury
After obtaining my degree in 1977 and being admitted as a solicitor in 1980, I worked in the Midlands and Thames Valley before joining Mander Hadley in 2005 to lead the Dispute Resolution Department.

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