Housing Act 1996
1996 Chapter 52 - continued

 
 
Service charges
Determination of reasonableness of service charges.     83. - (1) In section 19 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (limitation of service charges: reasonableness), after subsection (2) insert-
 
 
    "(2A) A tenant by whom, or a landlord to whom, a service charge is alleged to be payable may apply to a leasehold valuation tribunal for a determination-
 
 
    (a) whether costs incurred for services, repairs, maintenance, insurance or management were reasonably incurred,
 
    (b) whether services or works for which costs were incurred are of a reasonable standard, or
 
    (c) whether an amount payable before costs are incurred is reasonable.
      (2B) An application may also be made to a leasehold valuation tribunal by a tenant by whom, or landlord to whom, a service charge may be payable for a determination-
 
 
    (a) whether if costs were incurred for services, repairs, maintenance, insurance or management of any specified description they would be reasonable,
 
    (b) whether services provided or works carried out to a particular specification would be of a reasonable standard, or
 
    (c) what amount payable before costs are incurred would be reasonable.
      (2C) No application under subsection (2A) or (2B) may be made in respect of a matter which-
 
 
    (a) has been agreed or admitted by the tenant,
 
    (b) under an arbitration agreement to which the tenant is a party is to be referred to arbitration, or
 
    (c) has been the subject of determination by a court or arbitral tribunal.".
      (2) In the Schedule to the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, for paragraph 8 (right to challenge landlord's choice of insurers) substitute-
 
 
"8. - (1) This paragraph applies where a tenancy of a dwelling requires the tenant to insure the dwelling with an insurer nominated by the landlord.
 
      (2) The tenant or landlord may apply to a county court or leasehold valuation tribunal for a determination whether-
 
 
    (a) the insurance which is available from the nominated insurer for insuring the tenant's dwelling is unsatisfactory in any respect, or
 
    (b) the premiums payable in respect of any such insurance are excessive.
      (3) No such application may be made in respect of a matter which-
 
 
    (a) has been agreed or admitted by the tenant,
 
    (b) under an arbitration agreement to which the tenant is a party is to be referred to arbitration, or
 
    (c) has been the subject of determination by a court or arbitral tribunal.
      (4) On an application under this paragraph the court or tribunal may make-
 
 
    (a) an order requiring the landlord to nominate such other insurer as is specified in the order, or
 
    (b) an order requiring him to nominate another insurer who satisfies such requirements in relation to the insurance of the dwelling as are specified in the order.
      (5) Any such order of a leasehold valuation tribunal may, with the leave of the court, be enforced in the same way as an order of a county court to the same effect.
 
      (6) An agreement by the tenant of a dwelling (other than an arbitration agreement) is void in so far as it purports to provide for a determination in a particular manner, or on particular evidence, of any question which may be the subject of an application under this paragraph.".
 
      (3) In the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 before section 32 under the heading "Supplementary provisions" insert-
 
 
"Jurisdiction of leasehold valuation tribunal.     31A. - (1) The jurisdiction conferred by this Act on a leasehold valuation tribunal is exercisable by a rent assessment committee constituted in accordance with Schedule 10 to the Rent Act 1977 which when so constituted for the purposes of exercising any such jurisdiction shall be known as a leasehold valuation tribunal.
 
    (2) The power to make regulations under section 74(1)(b) of the Rent Act 1977 (procedure of rent assessment committees) extends to prescribing the procedure to be followed in connection with any proceedings before a leasehold valuation tribunal under this Act.
 
      (3) Such regulations may, in particular, make provision-
 
 
    (a) for securing consistency where numerous applications under this Act are or may be brought in respect of the same or substantially the same matters; and
 
    (b) empowering a leasehold valuation tribunal to dismiss an application, in whole or in part, on the ground that it is frivolous or vexatious or otherwise an abuse of the process of the tribunal."
      (4) No costs incurred by a party in connection with proceedings under this Act before a leasehold valuation tribunal shall be recoverable by order of any court.
 
      (5) Paragraphs 2, 3 and 7 of Schedule 22 to the Housing Act 1980 (supplementary provisions relating to leasehold valuation tribunals: appeals and provision of information) apply to a leasehold valuation tribunal constituted for the purposes of this section.
 
      (6) No appeal shall lie to the Lands Tribunal from a decision of a leasehold valuation tribunal under this Act without the leave of the leasehold valuation tribunal concerned or the Lands Tribunal.
 
      (7) On any such appeal-
 
 
    (a) the Lands Tribunal may exercise any power available to the leasehold valuation tribunal in relation to the original matter, and
 
    (b) an order of the Lands Tribunal may be enforced in the same way as an order of the leasehold valuation tribunal.
Leasehold valuation tribunal: applications and fees.     31B. - (1) The Secretary of State may make provision by order as to the form of, or the particulars to be contained in, an application made to a leasehold valuation tribunal under this Act.
 
      (2) The Secretary of State may make provision by order-
 
 
    (a) requiring the payment of fees in respect of any such application, or in respect of any proceedings before, a leasehold valuation tribunal under this Act; and
 
    (b) empowering a leasehold valuation tribunal to require a party to proceedings before it to reimburse any other party the whole or part of any fees paid by him.
      (3) The fees payable shall be such as may be specified in or determined in accordance with the order subject to this limit, that the fees payable in respect of any one application or reference by the court together with any proceedings before the tribunal arising out of that application or reference shall not exceed £500 or such other amount as may be specified by order of the Secretary of State.
 
      (4) An order under this section may make different provision for different cases or classes of case or for different areas.
 
      (5) An order may in particular-
 
 
    (a) make different provision in relation to proceedings transferred to the tribunal from that applicable where an application was made to the tribunal, and
 
    (b) provide for the reduction or waiver of fees by reference to the financial resources of the party by whom they are to be paid or met.
      (6) In the latter case the order may apply, subject to such modifications as may be specified in the order, any other statutory means-testing regime as it has effect from time to time.
 
      (7) An order under this section shall be made by statutory instrument.
 
      (8) No order altering the limit under subsection (3) shall be made unless a draft of the order has been laid before and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.
 
      (9) Any other order under this section, unless it contains only such provision as is mentioned in subsection (1), shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.
 
Transfer of cases from county court.     31C. - (1) Where in any proceedings before a court there falls for determination a question falling within the jurisdiction of a leasehold valuation tribunal under this Act, the court-
 
 
    (a) may by order transfer to such a tribunal so much of the proceedings as relate to the determination of that question, and
 
    (b) may then dispose of all or any remaining proceedings, or adjourn the disposal of all or any of such proceedings, pending the determination of that question by the tribunal, as it thinks fit.
      (2) When the tribunal has determined the question, the court may give effect to the determination in an order of the court.
 
      (3) Any such order shall be treated as a determination by the court for the purposes of section 81 of the Housing Act 1996 (restriction on termination of tenancy for failure to pay service charge).
 
      (4) Rules of court may prescribe the procedure to be followed in the court in connection with or in consequence of a transfer under this section.
 
      (4) For section 20C of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (limitation of service charges: costs of court proceedings) substitute-
 
 
"Limitation of service charges: costs of proceedings.     20C. - (1) A tenant may make an application for an order that all or any of the costs incurred, or to be incurred, by the landlord in connection with proceedings before a court or leasehold valuation tribunal, or the Lands Tribunal, or in connection with arbitration proceedings, are not to be regarded as relevant costs to be taken into account in determining the amount of any service charge payable by the tenant or any other person or persons specified in the application.
 
    (2) The application shall be made-
 
 
    (a) in the case of court proceedings, to the court before which the proceedings are taking place or, if the application is made after the proceedings are concluded, to a county court;
 
    (b) in the case of proceedings before a leasehold valuation tribunal, to the tribunal before which the proceedings are taking place or, if the application is made after the proceedings are concluded, to any leasehold valuation tribunal;
 
    (c) in the case of proceedings before the Lands Tribunal, to the tribunal;
 
    (d) in the case of arbitration proceedings, to the arbitral tribunal or, if the application is made after the proceedings are concluded, to a county court.
      (3) The court or tribunal to which the application is made may make such order on the application as it considers just and equitable in the circumstances.".
 
      (5) In section 38 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (minor definitions), at the appropriate place insert-
 
 
    ""arbitration agreement", "arbitration proceedings" and "arbitral tribunal" have the same meaning as in Part I of the Arbitration Act 1996;".
      (6) In section 39 of that Act (index of defined expressions), at the appropriate place insert-
 
 
      "arbitration agreement,
      arbitration proceedings
      and arbitral tribunal
           section 38"
Right to appoint surveyor to advise on matters relating to service charges.     84. - (1) A recognised tenants' association may appoint a surveyor for the purposes of this section to advise on any matters relating to, or which may give rise to, service charges payable to a landlord by one or more members of the association.
 
      The provisions of Schedule 4 have effect for conferring on a surveyor so appointed rights of access to documents and premises.
 
      (2) A person shall not be so appointed unless he is a qualified surveyor.
 
      For this purpose "qualified surveyor" has the same meaning as in section 78(4)(a) of the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 (persons qualified for appointment to carry out management audit).
 
      (3) The appointment shall take effect for the purposes of this section upon notice in writing being given to the landlord by the association stating the name and address of the surveyor, the duration of his appointment and the matters in respect of which he is appointed.
 
      (4) An appointment shall cease to have effect for the purposes of this section if the association gives notice in writing to the landlord to that effect or if the association ceases to exist.
 
      (5) A notice is duly given under this section to a landlord of any tenants if it is given to a person who receives on behalf of the landlord the rent payable by those tenants; and a person to whom such a notice is so given shall forward it as soon as may be to the landlord.
 
      (6) In this section-
 
 
    "recognised tenants' association" has the same meaning as in the provisions of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 relating to service charges (see section 29 of that Act); and
 
    "service charge" means a service charge within the meaning of section 18(1) of that Act, other than one excluded from that section by section 27 of that Act (rent of dwelling registered and not entered as variable).
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Prepared 22 December 1996