When a landlord wants to begin work on a building it is important to follow the full section 20 consultation process, as shown by a recent decision from the Upper Tribunal of the LVT; Stenau Properties Limited and Karin Leek, Klaus Reckling and others.
Stenau Properties Ltd had written to the leaseholders informing them of the consultation requirements and had subsequently held a meeting with the leaseholders. However, the impression formed by the leaseholders was that their views would not be considered in the selection process.
Stenau Properties argued that there had been very little if any prejudice to the leaseholders and therefore the fact that the consultation process had not been followed to the letter was not important. However, although the LVT found that the service charges were reasonable, it held that the leaseholders, being the people who would ultimately be paying, must have confidence that they had some influence in the decision making process. It also held where there is a significant breach of the consultation requirements, there is likely to have been genuine prejudice whether or not the final choice of contractor would have been the same.
The Lands Tribunal confirmed this view and went on to say that even if the failure to properly consult was due to a misunderstanding of the process or incompetence that could not excuse a breach of the requirements. As a result of this decision, Stenau Properties will only be able to recover £250 from each leaseholder.