Case Study 5: Leaseholder charge for planned works

A leaseholder (Ms L) complained about the way in which the local authority had consulted with her before carrying out a planned window replacement and the amount which she had been asked to contribute. Following conclusion of the local authority’s complaints procedure, the Ombudsman carried out a formal investigation.  

The local authority calculated that Ms L’s estimated contribution for the work was more than £250.  It was therefore required, under Section 20 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (as amended by Section 151 of the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002), to follow the statutory consultation procedure with Ms L.   While the local authority sent Ms L a correct notice informing her of the proposed work, it did not consider her response to this within the 21 days required by Section 20, and reflected in its own policy.  It also failed to consider and respond to Ms L’s subsequent correspondence on this matter, and then failed to address her formal complaint within the timescales prescribed in its complaints policy.

The Ombudsman found that the local authority had not recognised the extent of its failings in this case and determined that there had been maladministration. The Ombudsman ordered the local authority to limit Ms L’s contribution to the works to £250 (the limit allowed under the legislation for failure to comply with the consultation requirements).  The Ombudsman also ordered the local authority to pay Ms L £200 compensation for the inconvenience caused by its overall handling of the consultation and its delays in responding to the formal complaint.