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About

A Leasehold Dispute is a legal dispute between a leaseholder and a freeholder. The leaseholder may be in breach of the terms of the lease, or the freeholder may be in breach of the terms of the lease. Solicitors can help resolve these disputes and ensure wronged parties are fairly compensated.Next steps

How much does help with Leasehold Dispute cost?

The cost for a licensed solicitor to help with Leasehold Dispute is dependent on many factors including the complexity and specific requirements of the case. On average it is expected to range from £112-£149 but in some cases it could cost as much as £186.

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There may be times where disagreements occur and questions arise over who should be responsible for certain aspects of the property. This is called a leasehold dispute, and when they occur, it can leave everyone feeling a mixture of emotions and often worried about what this may mean for them and their future surrounding the property. 

leashold-dispute

In this article, we will have a look into what leasehold disputes are, and provide you with some simple steps that may help you to solve a dispute without there being large costs involved. 

We cover: 

What is a leasehold dispute?

A leasehold dispute arises when there is a disagreement or conflict between the leaseholder (the tenant) and the freeholder (the landlord). Leasehold arrangements are really common, especially in the case of flats or apartments.

If you are a new or existing landlord, have a read of our Guide To Letting Leasehold Property so you can be sure you fully understand your legal rights and responsibilities.

Common leasehold disputes

Leasehold disputes can cover a wide range of issues such as:

  • Service Charges

  • Lease Terms

  • Lease Extensions

  • Major Works

  • Ground Rent

  • Management of the Property

  • Right to Manage

As a leaseholder, your lease will tell you the conditions that you’ve agreed to before moving into the rented accommodation, for example:

  • if you need permission to make alterations

  • how much you’ll have to pay to maintain the property

  • whether you or your landlord has responsibility for repairs and dealing with noisy neighbours

It’s important to know your rights and responsibilities clearly before pursuing any leasehold disputes to ensure you have followed the rules.

How to solve a leasehold dispute

Resolving leasehold disputes often involves various approaches, including negotiation, mediation, or, in some cases, legal action through a tribunal. 

The First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) in England and the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal (LVT) in Wales are common forums for resolving leasehold disputes.

ADR (Mediation, Conciliation, Arbitrations and Facilitation)

Alternative Dispute Resolution encompasses various processes, including mediation, conciliation, arbitration, and facilitation. These methods aim to provide parties with more flexible and often less formal alternatives to resolving conflicts. 

Let’s have a look at an overview of each ADR method:

Mediation

Description: Mediation involves a neutral third party, the mediator, who assists the disputing parties in reaching a voluntary and mutually acceptable resolution. The mediator facilitates communication, encourages collaboration, and helps the parties explore possible solutions.

Usage: Mediation is widely used, and many disputes, including family, workplace, and commercial disputes, are resolved through this method.

Conciliation:

Description: Similar to mediation, conciliation involves a neutral third party, the conciliator, who helps parties in dispute reach an agreement. Conciliation is often used in employment and labour disputes.

Usage: Conciliation services are commonly provided by organisations such as ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation, and Arbitration Service) in the context of employment disputes.

Arbitration:

Description: Arbitration involves an independent third party, the arbitrator, who considers the evidence and arguments presented by both sides and makes a binding decision to resolve the dispute. It is a more formal process than mediation or conciliation.

Usage: Arbitration is frequently used in commercial disputes, construction disputes, and other matters where parties agree to have their dispute settled by an arbitrator.

Facilitation:

Description: Facilitation involves a neutral facilitator who guides a group or individuals through a process to reach a consensus or make decisions collaboratively. It is often used in group settings or community disputes.

Usage: Facilitation is employed in various contexts, including community engagement, planning, and public policy discussions.

ADR is encouraged by the UK legal system, and in some cases, you may be required to consider ADR before pursuing court proceedings. The Civil Procedure Rules in England and Wales, for example, promote the use of ADR to resolve disputes more efficiently and cost-effectively. 

It’s worth noting that engaging in ADR processes can have cost implications, and you may be responsible for the costs of the ADR procedure, however these costs are generally lower than those associated with court proceedings.

Apply to a tribunal

Tribunals are independent bodies that hear and decide on cases across various areas of law, and they provide an alternative to traditional court proceedings. The application process may vary depending on the type of tribunal and the nature of the dispute. 

To apply to a tribunal you should:

  • Identify the relevant tribunal - determine which tribunal is appropriate for your case. There are various tribunals, each dealing with specific types of disputes, such as employment, immigration, social entitlement, and property matters.

  • Gather necessary information - collect all relevant information and documents related to your case. This may include correspondence, contracts, witness statements, and any evidence supporting your claim.

  • Check eligibility and time limits - verify whether you meet the eligibility criteria for applying to the tribunal, and be aware of any time limits for submitting your application. Some tribunals have specific deadlines for filing.

  • Complete the application form - obtain the appropriate application form from the tribunal service or website. Fill out the form accurately, providing details about your case, the parties involved, and the nature of the dispute. There will be documents you need to include in your application and an application fee. Fee waivers may be available based on financial circumstances.

It's essential to carefully follow the specific guidelines and procedures outlined by the tribunal you are applying to. 

Seeking legal advice or assistance from a solicitor, especially if your case involves complex legal issues, is advisable to ensure that your application is properly prepared and presented.

Leasehold Valuation Tribunals in Wales

The Leasehold Valuation Tribunal (LVT) in Wales has been replaced by the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) Wales. This change occurred as part of broader reforms to the tribunal system.

The First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) Wales has control over various property-related matters, including leasehold disputes. If you are dealing with a leasehold issue in Wales and are considering tribunal proceedings, you would typically apply to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) Wales rather than the former LVT.

Before proceeding to a tribunal, consider attempting negotiation or mediation to resolve the dispute. As discussed above, many disputes can be resolved amicably through discussion.

First, ensure that the issue falls within the jurisdiction of the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) Wales. The tribunal deals with various property matters, and your case should align with its scope.

Obtain the appropriate application form from the tribunal's website or office. Complete the application as per the guidelines and ensure you attach all relevant documents needed. 

Send the completed application form and supporting documents to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) Wales.

Do you need a solicitor for a leasehold dispute?

Whilst it is not a legal requirement to have a solicitor for a leasehold dispute, it is often advisable to seek professional advice and legal representation. 

It's crucial to consider the nature and how complex your dispute is when deciding whether to involve a solicitor. For simpler matters, you may choose to handle the dispute yourself or seek initial advice from a Citizens Advice Bureau or a Leasehold Advisory Service

However, for more complex or contentious issues, consulting with a solicitor is generally the best way to navigate the legal complexities effectively.

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Can the council help with leasehold disputes?

The council may not typically be directly involved in resolving leasehold disputes. Leasehold matters are usually private legal issues between the parties involved, such as leaseholders, freeholders, and managing agents. 

leasehold-dispute-1

However, there are specific situations where the council or local authorities may indirectly play a role or offer assistance:

Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE):

LEASE is a government-funded organisation mentioned above that provides free advice on residential leasehold law. While not a council service, LEASE can offer guidance on leasehold-related matters, including disputes. You can contact LEASE for information and advice on your rights and options.

Local Government Ombudsman:

If the dispute involves the actions of a local authority, such as a housing department, and you believe there has been maladministration, you may consider approaching the Local Government Ombudsman. The Ombudsman investigates complaints against local authorities and can provide recommendations for resolution.

Housing Department:

Some local councils have housing departments that may offer general advice on housing-related issues, including leasehold matters. However, their involvement is likely to be limited, and they may direct you to appropriate resources or organisations for specific leasehold advice.

Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs):

In some cases, councils may become involved in addressing issues related to the use of communal spaces, noise, or anti-social behaviour in leasehold properties through the implementation of Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs).

Should leaseholders apply to a First-tier Tribunal?

Leaseholders may consider applying to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) if they have been unable to resolve a leasehold dispute through negotiation or other informal means. The First-tier Tribunal (FTT) has jurisdiction over a range of property-related matters, including leasehold disputes.

What disputes can you take to the First Tier Tribunal?

Some common reasons leaseholders might apply to the FTT include:

  • Service Charge Disputes: Disagreements over the reasonableness or validity of service charges can be brought to the FTT.

  • Lease Extension Issues: Leaseholders seeking to extend their lease may apply to the FTT if there are disputes over terms or costs.

  • Lease Variation Disputes: If there are disagreements about proposed changes to the terms of the lease, leaseholders may seek resolution through the FTT.

  • Management Disputes:

Disputes with managing agents or issues related to the management of communal areas in leasehold properties may be brought to the FTT.

  • Breaches of Lease Terms: Leaseholders can apply to the FTT if there are breaches of the lease agreement by either party.

  • Right to Manage Disputes: Disputes regarding the right to manage a property can be brought to the FTT for resolution.

Applying to the FTT involves completing the relevant application form and providing supporting documentation. The FTT process is designed to be more accessible and less formal than traditional court proceedings. It often encourages parties to resolve disputes through mediation or negotiation before a formal hearing.

Before applying to the FTT, leaseholders are generally advised to explore alternative dispute resolution methods, such as negotiation or mediation, to try to reach an amicable resolution. Seeking legal advice or assistance from professionals, such as solicitors or organisations like the Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE), can also be beneficial.

Do you have to go to court for leasehold disputes?

You do not necessarily have to go to court for leasehold disputes. The legal system encourages alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods to resolve conflicts outside of formal court proceedings. 

As mentioned earlier on in the article, before going to court, you could try negotiation; mediation; First-tier Tribunal - Property Chamber; or getting support from services with the Leasehold Advisory Service. 

Of course, court proceedings and pursuing litigation through the court system is an option if any of these other methods fail, however it is generally considered a last resort due to the associated costs, time, and formality. 

It's essential to seek professional advice, such as consulting with a solicitor, to explore the most appropriate and effective methods for resolving a specific leasehold dispute. The choice of dispute resolution method often depends on the nature and complexity of the issues involved.

Get help with leasehold disputes from the UK’s best property solicitors

If you find yourself in a leasehold dispute, our expert property solicitors are on hand to provide you with the legal support and guidance you need. Get in touch with us today and tell us about your case to get a free, no obligation assessment. 

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