I am a property owner and have just had notice from my property management company that they have been undercharging me due to them wrongly calculating the square footage of my flat. They are looking for three years’ backdated payment totaling around £1,300. Is this lawful?
Section 20B(1) of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 states that, “If any of the relevant costs taken into account in determining the amount of any service charge were incurred more than 18 months before a demand for payment of the service charge is served … the tenant shall not be liable to pay so much of the service charge as reflects the costs so incurred”.
So failing you having been sent a notice to say that these backdated charges would be payable by you, within 18 months of them being incurred, which presumably didn’t happen as you say the demand for the backdated charges has arisen out of finding an error with previous charging calculations, the furthest back your property management company can look to recover any charges not previously demanded from you is 18 months.
You may want to query on what basis they are now apportioning your contribution of the service charge though; is it in line with your lease?
You could also question the reasonableness of the sum being demanded, just as you can question the reasonableness of any service charges demanded, and it may be worth checking that the sums demanded from you relate to services and items that the management company is in fact entitled to recharge for.
Kirsten Blower, Solicitor at JB Leitch