Service Charges – An Update


Multi-let buildings are maintained through the payment of service charges, but such charges – and the landlord’s ability to recover them – give rise to endless tensions and disputes between landlord and tenant(s) – even where the landlord has wholly let the building and the tenant then sub-lets. This is particularly in the increasingly popular mixed commercial/residential building. This session looks at:-

  • What is covered and what is not: improvements, compliance with statute, legal and other costs: Tedworth v Miller; Southwark v St Saviours
  • Following the procedure: estimates, certification: East Tower v No 1 West India Quay; Southwark v Proktor
  • Costs – legal and management – the current approach of the court: Southwark v Akhtar
  • Statutory rights of residential tenants: the impact on the landlord: Waaler v Hounslow; Knapper v Francis

Learning Objectives

After this session, the delegates will understand:

  • To what extent improvements, upgrades and compliance with statutory obligations can be recovered through the service charge
  • Why following the ‘procedural route to recovery’ is so important
  • The court’s current approach to the recoverability of management & legal costs
  • How to manage buildings with residential tenants



Sarah Thompson-Copsey is a former property litigation partner at the firm now known as Dentons, where she acted for and advised many blue chip retail clients, developers and institutions. She is now a freelance legal trainer, lecturing and writing regularly on commercial property topics, with an emphasis on avoiding & resolving disputes. Sarah also works as an independent auditor of legal practices.

Sarah is co-author of Tenants’ Pre-emption Rights: A landlord’s guide to the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987 (Jordans) and Mixed Use and Residential Tenants’ Rights: The Landlord and Tenant Act 1987 and Leasehold Enfranchisement, (Elsevier 2009). She is also on the property consultation board of Practical Law Company and a site editor for the Property Law website at

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