Landlord was wrong to apply service charge for clearing rubbish
A tenant has successfully appealed a service charge he incurred after his landlord removed rubbish from the car park of the property.
The tenancy agreement included the rent payable as well as the right of the landlord to add a variable service charge to cover services specified in the agreement, such as garden maintenance and lighting.
It also stated that the tenant would not leave personal belongings in the common area and the landlord would keep it in good repair.
After a problem with fly tipping, a pile of rubbish began to grow in the car park behind the building. The landlord had it removed and charged the tenant.
The tenant brought the case to the First-tier Tribunal, arguing that as tenants didn’t have exclusive use of the car park, they shouldn’t be responsible for the cost of removing the rubbish.
The tribunal ruled that the landlord was within his rights to apply the charge as the tenancy agreement stated that service charges were variable.
This was overturned by the Upper Tribunal. It ruled that the tenancy agreement did not give the landlord the right to charge the cost of rubbish removal.
There was already a list of services within the agreement that could incur a charge, the landlord was not entitled to add to this.
The service charge being ‘variable’ meant that costs would rise or fall depending on how much work specified in the agreement was done. It didn’t mean different services could be added.
Please contact Shyam Patel or Holly Baker for more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of commercial property law.