The three big priorities renters are looking for in 2021

As we continue with imposed regional restrictions in 2021, we are reminded of how it began and what it has taught us all so far.

The March lockdown caught many people off-guard and the world was forced to adapt quicker than they had ever expected. The letting market is no different. Tenant priorities have changed, as they look for new features within their tenancies and their properties.

Bigger spaces

Lockdown restrictions and social distancing guidelines throughout the year have forced people to assess their living situations. As more people are working remotely, the demand for extra working spaces has risen. This has been evident in larger cities where extra space, whether indoors or outdoors, can come at a premium. The rise of the home office has pushed tenants to look elsewhere to properties that can match that demand and give them that extra space.

A noticeable trend is the growth in appetite for properties outside of the capital and large cities in the UK. Not needing to be in such close proximity to the office has allowed prospective tenants to widen their radius. Pre-COVID, the thought of living in a city centre high-rise apartment complex wouldn’t come with too many challenges.

Now however, the isolation factor may still linger even with recent news of a potential upcoming vaccine. Time will tell when, and if, normality significantly returns, but people won’t forget. The idea of living in a different type of property, in a different area and possibly nearer family is becoming more popular.

Longer tenancies

The desire for tenants to stay in larger properties for longer has accelerated during 2020. Properties with more indoor and outdoor space have taken precedence over city-centre flats in close proximity to the office. This has ultimately increased the average tenancy length across the board.

Recent data from, Zoopla, indicates that tenant demand in rental property continues to rise. On average, demand from tenants in the private rental sector in September rose by 20% compared to the previous year. This increase has pushed prospective tenants to look for longer rental periods.

While the housing market remains open, remote and virtual management is highly encouraged. IPM are already at the forefront of technology by using their app to help manage, assess and communicate with tenants.

More flexibility

While 2020 has forced many people to adapt, it has also encouraged them to be flexible. More people are looking to try new areas, new properties and new ways of living before they commit to a purchase. This has been the case even pre-COVID.

However, what we are seeing now is more people trying new areas and properties that they otherwise would not have considered. For example, the growth in demand from London-based individuals for properties outside of the capital attests to this.

By renting, tenants can analyse the short to medium-term with an eye on the long-term. What they value now, or previously, might have changed. Tenants can see how the economy responds and whether a vaccine will return us to a more normal working/living environment.

For many, living further away from work and working from home has encouraged a better work/life balance. This trend is showing no signs of slowing down. Therefore, it is becoming clearer how significant the rental sector is for the future of the housing market.

Flexibility doesn’t just mean in terms of how people want to live, but the way the live with the increased rise in pet ownership. Many tenants are looking for flexibility in their leases to allow pets and designated exercise areas within their developments.

There are lots to think about in 2021 but the biggest factor is how we all adapt to these new changes.


New leasehold reforms to ‘transform the future of home ownership’

The Law Commission of England and Wales has published a package of leasehold reforms which it says will “transform home ownership for millions of people in England and Wales”.

The improvements would make it easier and cheaper for homeowners to buy the freehold, extend their lease, or convert to commonhold. The reforms will also pave the way for a system where flats are sold with freehold title (as part of a commonhold).

The reforms would also make it easier and cheaper for leaseholders to take over the management of their building without buying the freehold, by exercising the right to manage.

It has been estimated there are at least 4.3 million leasehold homes in England alone.

The reforms – laid out in three reports – work in tandem with planned changes from the Government, but the Law Commission says it is ultimately up to Government to decide whether the reforms should be compulsory (in all or some circumstances), incentivised, or left optional.

The first report, the Enfranchisement report, recommends changes to make the scheme of enfranchisement rights work more smoothly and efficiently. This would allow buildings with up to 50% non-residential space would qualify (rather than 25%, as is currently the case), as well as enabling leaseholders to make a claim straightaway, rather than having to wait for two years.

Additionally, the price to purchase a block would be reduced by allowing leaseholders to compel landlords to take “leasebacks” of some flats.

Leaseholders would be able to buy the freehold of multiple buildings at once and a new right to a lease extension for a term of 990 years would be introduced, in place of shorter extensions of 90 or 50 years under the current law.

The second report, the Right to Manage report, recommends the removal of existing obligations on leaseholders to pay the landlord’s costs of the RTM process, including of any Tribunal action.

It also wants to make the RTM claims process easier by reducing the number of notices that leaseholders must serve, and giving the Tribunal the power to waive minor procedural mistakes in the process.

The third report, the Commonhold report, sets out a plan to make commonhold not just a workable alternative to residential leasehold for all involved, but the preferred alternative.

The recommendations place leaseholders in control of the conversion process and enable conversion to commonhold without the agreement of every person, with safeguards to protect those who have not agreed.

It also wants to introduce flexibility into the way commonholds can be built and managed, enabling their use for developments of all types and sizes – moving away from a “one size fits all” approach which the Commission says makes the current scheme too inflexible for many developments.

Professor Nick Hopkins, Commissioner for property law, said: “The leasehold system is not working for millions of homeowners in England and Wales. We have heard how the current law leaves them feeling like they don’t truly own their home.

“Our reforms will make a real difference by giving leaseholders greater control over their homes, offering a cheaper and easier route out of leasehold, and establishing commonhold as the preferred alternative system. The reforms will provide a better deal for leaseholders and make our homes work for us, and not somebody else.”

Julie James MS, Minister for Housing and Local Government, Welsh Government, commented: “These comprehensive and much anticipated reports mark a significant step towards much needed reform. It is clear that the current leasehold system often fails resident leaseholders and these reports will give us a better understanding of the issues involved; we now need to take the time to consider them carefully.

“The Law Commission have undertaken a mammoth task in unpicking the current law, engaging widely on the options for change, and putting forward comprehensive recommendations and I’m grateful to them for their excellent work.”

What will Brexit mean for property prices?

Whether you’re a staunch remainer or avid Brexiteer, there’s no denying that the uncertainty around when the UK will leave the EU, and the terms under which it may happen, is causing property market uncertainty.

On Tuesday, Theresa May said that it might no longer be possible for the UK to exit the EU on 29 March 2019 as originally planned, although this still remains her preference. The prime minister has promised to put her withdrawal agreement to MPs for a ‘meaningful vote’ by 12 March. If, as many predict, the deal is rejected again, Mrs May has offered two further votes: one allowing MPs to rule out leaving the EU without a deal, and another allowing her to push back the Brexit date.

The announcement followed Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s declaration on Monday that he would back a second EU referendum if Labour’s own proposed Brexit deal wasn’t adopted. Many are now predicting that Brexit will be delayed until the end of June at the earliest.

What might a no-deal Brexit mean for house prices?

Many business leaders and financial experts have expressed concerns about the potential consequences of a no-deal Brexit. In September 2018, Bank of England governor Mark Carney warned that leaving the EU without a deal could send house prices tumbling by a third, and this week he added that UK growth would be ‘guaranteed’ to fall in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

So, what does all of this mean for the property market, and what impact has the vote to leave the EU already made on house prices and sales volumes? New analysis of the property market activity before and since the Brexit referendum indicates what experts from the estate agency, building, mortgage and buy-to-let sectors think will happen over the coming months.

What’s happened to house prices since the Brexit vote?

House prices did stagnate for a while following the referendum in June 2016. This could well have been down to the usual pattern of prices growing in spring and plateauing over summer, which was also apparent the same month in 2017. But, with Brexit looming ever closer, house prices suffered a bigger post-summer dip than usual in 2018, dropping from a peak of £232,797 in August to £230,630 in November.

The latest ONS House Price Index shows that they crept up slightly in December, meaning that the current average UK house price is £230,776.

Are UK house prices falling?

Looking at year-on-year house price change over the longer term can be another useful way of understanding what the market’s doing. Transaction volumes since the referendum is another way of judging the health of the housing market by looking at transaction volumes, meaning the number of property sales in any given month. A lower number of sales can indicate market uncertainty, which is often triggered by events such as an election or a referendum. According to HMRC’s most recent seasonally adjusted figures, there were actually more house sales in January 2019 – 101,170 to be exact – than in the same month the year before (99,830).

What’s the pre-Brexit market like for sellers?

Two commonly used measures of how the market is performing for sellers are stock per branch – which is the average amount of properties on each estate agency’s books – and time to sell. In January, the average time for a property to go under offer shot up to 77 days, the highest it’s been in years – and this could be partly due to nervousness around buying a home in the run-up to Brexit. Stock per branch was also up year-on-year, from 42 in January 2018 to 45 in January 2019.

As it stands, the only thing that’s clear is that nothing is clear, and you’d be justified in having no idea whether now is the right time to buy, move, invest or remortgage.

Source and information provided by

Read more: – Which?

Owning and Managing a Listed Building

Owning and Managing a Listed Building is considered by English Heritage and the Government to be a building of special architectural or historic interest, and worthy of protection. Houses are the most common buildings to be ‘listed’ but listed buildings range from major structures, walls, to individual boundary stones or lamp-posts.

Inclusion on the statutory list protects the exterior and interior of buildings from all types of inappropriate and unsympathetic alteration, under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.

Buildings are listed to ensure that their “special interest” is passed down to future generations in good condition. The longterm interests of a historic building are best served by keeping it in use, and listing protects buildings while allowing appropriate positive change to occur.

Who decides?

The Government decides which buildings are included on the statutory lists, based on recommendations by English Heritage. Anyone can suggest buildings to English Heritage, using a simple form available on their website, but a building will only be included on the list if it is judged to be of special interest after being visited and assessed by an English Heritage inspector. You can visit for more information. If a historic building that may be worthy of listing is under threat, the local authority can serve a ‘building preservation notice’ on the owner and occupier. This ‘lists’ and protects a building for six months pending a decision by the Government as to whether it should be added to the statutory list.

It is a criminal offence to carry out work to a listed building, other than minor like-for-like repairs, without first obtaining Listed Building Consent, and it could lead upon conviction to a period of imprisonment and a very heavy fine.

What grade is it?

There are around 374,000 listed buildings in England. Buildings are classified into grades to indicate their relative significance:
Grade I (one) Buildings of exceptional interest – about 2.5% of all list entries (note: this can include whole terraces as just one entry) in England.
Grade II* (two star) Particularly important buildings of more than special interest – about 5.5% of all list entries in England.
Grade II (two) Buildings of special interest which warrant every effort being made to preserve them – the remaining 92. Each grade is equally protected under the planning system, the main difference is that English Heritage must be consulted on applications for works to buildings of grade I and II*

What alterations need consent?

Listed Building Consent is required for any alteration which materially affects the ‘special interest’ of a listed building. For example, consent would normally be needed for any of the following alterations:
• Adding an extension or rebuilding walls in different materials.
• Changing the roof pitch or roof covering materials.
• Inserting roof lights, removing, altering or adding dormer windows, adding solar panels or other microgeneration equipment.
• Altering or removing chimney stacks and pots.
• Covering existing wall surfaces e.g. with render, cladding or paint.
• Changing the size of door, window or other openings.
• Altering window frames or doors, replacement with different types, including replacement of singleglazing with double-glazing.
• Removing historic features e.g. door cases, chimney breasts.
• Forming new openings for any reason, including boiler flues.
• Changing the material of any rainwater goods.
• Adding any feature including porches, signs, satellite dishes,

security alarm boxes, CCTV cameras or external floodlights.
• Inserting cavity wall insulation.
• Works to boundary walls.
• Works to buildings in the grounds that were present in 1948 and at the time of listing.

• Altering the plan by removing or adding walls or forming new openings.
• Taking out or altering original features including staircases, fireplaces, decorative plasterwork, panelling, shutters, doors, architraves and skirting boards.
• Installing new ceilings, partitions, doors and secondary glazing.
• Filling in cellars, or digging out cellars to increase usable floor space.
• Removing or replacing floors or floor finishes.
• The obliteration of wall paintings, decorative tiles and mosaics.
• Installing new ducting, waste pipes and openings associated with new bathrooms.
• Inserting damp proof courses or tanking systems. Some works that require Listed Building Consent may also require Planning Permission or Building Regulations approval. You should check with the council before you apply for consent.

Listed Building Maintenance

If you own a listed building you should keep it in reasonable repair. The most important element of caring for historic buildings is maintenance, which if undertaken regularly can avoid the need for repair or restoration work altogether, saving you money and time, and sustaining the historic fabric of the building into the future. By establishing the nature, extent and cause of any problems at an early
stage by carrying out regular inspections, owners will have the opportunity of remedying defects promptly and economically.

Damp problems, in particular, can often be remedied quickly and without using expensive and invasive damp proofing methods. Damp is usually the result of water getting into a building, for example through a leaking or blocked gutter. If the water source is removed and the building left to dry out naturally, the problem will normally be resolved. The inspection of a large house or similar sized building may well be within the capability of the average owner but if historic buildings are of particular importance or complexity, it may be necessary to employ experts from different specialisms to design appropriate repairs.

IPM have experience in managing a range of listed buildings and objects from a listed mill, a clock tower, a chess board and many other listed properties within their portfolio. If you would like to discuss your listed building and are looking for an expert in managing this type of property or development, please get in touch with a member of our team.

What is Right-to-Manage (RTM) and how can we start it?

If you are a first-timer, living in an apartment you may be confused by all the terms batted around like RTM, freeholders, leaseholders, managing agents.

So what is RTM?

Management is generally seen as those duties bestowed upon the landlord under the lease agreement that relate to the up-keep of the building and the legal governance of the property. In practice this means the collection of service charges to fund maintenance works and services while at all times being accountable to the leaseholders of the building.

Having the right to manage means that the leaseholders can force the landlord to give them the collective power to assume block management responsibilities through a limited company. This gives the owners of the flats much greater control over how their money is spent and what happens in the building.

Do I qualify for RTM?

Not all service charge schemes will qualify for the Right to Manage. For practical reasons RTM is restricted to certain blocks of flats. To qualify the building must:

  • be at least partly self-contained
  • have at least two leasehold flats within the property
  • have no more than 25% floor area non-residential
  • have at least two thirds of the leaseholders with leases longer than 21 years

50% or more of the qualifying leaseholders must also be in favour of becoming a member of the RTM Company. (For detailed information on the qualifying criteria, see the link at the bottom of this post.)

How easy is it to do RTM?

Two important notices must be served in accordance with the law to ensure the RTM Company is compliant. There are also considerations with the land registry that need to be addressed. For these reasons you should look to appoint a professional firm to help with the process.

How long does RTM take?

In most cases an RTM application will take about five to seven months from start to finish. It may take longer if the landlord decides to contest your application.

If I have a Right-to-Manage Company will I still need a managing agent?

In most cases yes.

When the RTM process has finished, the Directors of the RTM Company (usually volunteer flat-owners) will suddenly have the burden of block management responsibilities for the entire building to deal with. Having a professional agency to assist with billing, legal issues and maintenance makes sense therefore. Having said that, it is recommended that the Directors maintain an overview of their managing agent and ensure that important matters such as setting the budget are agreed jointly.

If I exercise my Right-to-Manage will my service charges go down?

In many cases, yes. In some cases, no.

Some freeholders charge well above the market rate for certain services owing to their indifference to leaseholders. Exercising the RTM will give leaseholders the opportunity to re-tender certain services and in some cases achieve big savings.

Buildings Insurance is commonly an area where costs are likely to go down. Conversely, some freeholders may have been under-investing in the property meaning that resident directors may decide to increase their service charges to get the building back up to standard.

Either way, the value of control is the main benefit to the leaseholders.

In Conclusion

Running a building through a Right to Manage Company is a much fairer and more democratic form of block management than the traditional freeholder-controlled model.

The RTM Company will be subject to a written constitution and must be transparent with its finances. In addition, all leaseholders have the right to be elected to the board of directors for the company. It is advisable for an AGM (Annual General Meeting) to take place each year to elect and re-elect the directors.

If you wish to obtain more information on taking over your block through the RTM process, or you have an RTM company which you’re looking for help with, please contact us for details.


Alternatively, below is arguably the most in-depth source for leaseholders to refer to, courtesy of The Leasehold Advisory Service.



Winter Maintenance for your Development Landscape

Do not slack on apartment landscaping maintenance during winter months or you could be paying an ugly price in the summer.

The winter months do not obviate the need for apartment landscaping maintenance. Giving lawns, plants, trees and shrubs the attention during this time ensures that the development grounds transform into lush and colourful landscapes when spring arrives.

Outdoor space is extremely important in keeping the feel and look of a development. Giving in later months a place for people to meet and relax. In the colder weather sprinkler systems left on can be particularly susceptible to temperature changes. Freezes can damage pipes and require immediate attention, so it is best to periodically check the system for leaks using zone-by-zone tests. Drain and test winterized systems zone-by-zone for repairs prior to spring.

With warmer temperatures, the potential for earlier germination of weeds is certainly possible. Apply herbicides and fertilisers now to fight weed germination that typically begins in April in slightly warmer climates.

Additionally, the landscape will need nutrients that it may not otherwise get from normal rainfall. Apply a slow-release fertilizer to ensure the lawn and vegetation has everything it needs to blossom in the spring. About half of the nutrients and nitrogen release in the initial application to give the landscape a jump. The rest will release over the next few months and stabilise growth. Green grass always looks better than brown!

Take advantage of those warmer days to do general clean up around the grounds. Clean leaves and dead plants out of beds and cut back grasses. The landscape will have a head start for new growth when warmer temperatures return for good.

For more tips on making the most of your development and to see how we uniquely manage many developments across the UK, why not get in touch with the Inspired Property Management team 01302 729500.



Service Charges Explained

What are service charges?

Service charges are fees that most leaseholders pay to cover their share of the cost of maintaining the building they live in.

Service charges usually cover the costs of:

Repairs to shared areas and the outside of the building, such as roof, external pipes, drains
Buildings insurance.
Freeholders’ administration or management charges

They can also be used to pay for shared services such as a caretaker, cleaners and the maintenance of shared areas.

You usually have to pay a share of everything even if you don’t use some of the services. For example, if you live on the ground floor and never use the lift, you probably still have to pay something towards its maintenance.

Which service charges you must pay?

Check your lease to see what service charges you must pay.

Your lease may set out in detail the services that you can be charged for.

It may also have a section that covers general services not specifically mentioned in the lease.

If your lease doesn’t have this type of clause, you don’t have to pay for anything that isn’t specifically included in the lease.

The lease may allow the freeholder to charge a reasonable management fee.

Cost of service charges

Service charges are usually variable. This means that the amount you pay changes each year.

Your lease should say:

  • what services you have to pay for and when
  • how your freeholder can collect the charges
  • how service charges are calculated
  • how they are divided between you and any other leaseholders
  • whether there is a sinking or reserve fund

Payment of service charges

Service charges can be paid annually or more frequently. Your lease sets out when you should pay yours.

You don’t have to pay service charges until the freeholder sends you a:

Request for payment
Summary of your rights and obligations
Your freeholder must send you a summary of the service charges if you write to them and ask for it.

You can then ask to inspect and take copies of the accounts, receipts and other relevant documents. The freeholder must allow this within one month of your request.

Sinking funds

Many leaseholders have to pay towards the cost of future repairs. This is called a sinking fund or a reserve fund.

Leaseholders are required to pay a certain amount every month or year to build up the sinking fund. You usually pay this as part of your service charges.

You only have to pay into a sinking fund if your lease says you have to.

Sinking funds provide a way to spread the cost of expensive works on your building.

If you sell your home before the money has been spent on repairs, you can only get a refund if your lease says this will happen.

You could agree with your buyer that they pay you a sum to cover what you have paid in to the fund.

Get advice if you want to set up a sinking fund. You need a formal agreement with the freeholder and all the other leaseholders.

Charges for major works

Your freeholder has to consult you if they are going to:

Set up a service such as gardening or cleaning that will cost you more than £100 a year
Carry out a repair or improvement that will cost you more than £250

Before arranging these repairs or services, the freeholder must:

  • Tell you what work they plan to do and why it is needed
  • Provide an estimate of the total cost of the work
  • For a repair or improvement the landlord must obtain at least two estimates.

You have the right to comment on what is being proposed and can usually suggest alternative contractors.

If the repairs needed are urgent and essential, the freeholder can go ahead before you have had time to comment.

If you were not properly consulted, you can take legal action through the tribunal. It could decide that you don’t have to pay for all of the service charge.

Get advice if you are in this situation. Contact the Leasehold Advisory Service.

Most leaseholders pay a service charge to cover the cost of maintaining the building they live in.

What are service charges?

Service charges are fees that most leaseholders pay to cover their share of the cost of maintaining the building they live in.

Service charges usually cover the costs of:

  • Repairs to shared areas and the outside of the building, such as roof, external pipes, drains
  • Buildings insurance
  • Freeholders’ administration or management charges
  • They can also be used to pay for shared services such as a caretaker, cleaners and the maintenance of shared areas.

You usually have to pay a share of everything even if you don’t use some of the services. For example, if you live on the ground floor and never use the lift, you probably still have to pay something towards its maintenance.

Which service charges you must pay?

Check your lease to see what service charges you must pay.

Your lease may set out in detail the services that you can be charged for.

It may also have a section that covers general services not specifically mentioned in the lease.

If your lease doesn’t have this type of clause, you don’t have to pay for anything that isn’t specifically included in the lease.

The lease may allow the freeholder to charge a reasonable management fee.

Get advice if your lease doesn’t give enough information about service charges. You may be able to ask a tribunal to change it.

Cost of service charges
Service charges are usually variable. This means that the amount you pay changes each year.

Your lease should say:

  • What services you have to pay for and when
  • Whether there is a sinking or reserve fund
  • How service charges are calculated
  • How they are divided between you and any other leaseholders
  • Whether there is a sinking or reserve fund
  • Payment of service charges

Service charges can be paid annually or more frequently. Your lease sets out when you should pay yours.

You don’t have to pay service charges until the freeholder sends you a:

Request for payment
Summary of your rights and obligations
Your freeholder must send you a summary of the service charges if you write to them and ask for it.

You can then ask to inspect and take copies of the accounts, receipts and other relevant documents. The freeholder must allow this within one month of your request.

Contact the Leasehold Advisory Service for more information on service charges.

Problems with service charges

Common problems with service charges include:

work not done or done badly, for example you may be paying for weekly cleaning but the building is not: Cleaned regularly
Charges are too high
No information on what service charges are being spent on
Being charged for things not covered in your lease
Contact your freeholder if you are unhappy with the services you are paying for. You may be able to negotiate a lower price or a better service.

Court action by freeholders over unpaid service charges
If you don’t pay your service charge, your freeholder can apply to the county court and in theory you could lose your home.

The freeholder has to follow special procedures and get a court order to repossess your home because you haven’t paid your service charge.

Apartment Living Horror stories – Beware…

Living in an apartment can be total bliss, once you’ve found your dream place and made it your home, whether you are a resident or manage a block, you need to make sure you are fully aware of some of the horrors which can surface if you’ve not done your research!

From nightmare neighbours to spine-chilling service charges, you should be aware of the frightening facts that you might not expect or have overlooked before signing your lease.

Here are some of the terrifying facts you should know about living in or managing an apartment block. 

1. Discovering that the building is under-insured when you suffer a major loss, such as a fire can be horrific for the people involved knowing they can not recoup the full value of their losses.

2. Buying a short lease on a flat in a prime central London location, only to discover how much you’re going to have to stump up for a lease extension!

3. Being the property manager of a prestigious development block and spending three hours at a residents’ association meeting where they’re still discussing item one of the agenda – whether the trees should be trimmed or not!

4. Realising that the apartment owners in your building are all Airbnb addicts, who are infact sub-letting their own apartments and using your concierge as a hotel porter and having loud parties every weekend.

5. Returning to your penthouse apartment on the 15th floor, weighed down by luggage to find the lift is broken.

6. You overlook charging the residents for major works which took place more than 18 months ago and find out that you can only recover £250 per resident.

7. Realising that your property manager has been using your block’s sinking funds and you now have nothing to carry out urgent repair works.

8. Discovering that your tenant has been keeping a family of black sable ferrets in their flat even though pets are prohibited in their lease and they’ve been breeding uncontrollably!

9. Having taken over the management of the smallest building in your portfolio, which has the most difficult leaseholder, you spend most of your time having to deal with them on the phone or in person, over stones from the driveway or leaves on the paths.

10.  Being the third manager to be appointed by the courts of a building in disrepair with no sinking fund and the residents cannot afford any uplift in service charges – and they all hate each other and can’t agree on any works! Total nightmare…

We all have horror stories but it’s how we deal and manage with situations. You should always be prepared when it comes to having all the facts as a leaseholder and knowing what your responsibilities are if you decide to be part of a Residents Management Committee.

A good block property managers will assist you in ensuring your property is managed efficiently and all issues are dealt with quickly, for more information about how Inspired Property Management could alleviate some of your horrors get in touch with one of our expert property managers today by calling 01302 729500.

Does building development interfere with the rights of an RTM company?

If a Landlord’s decides to develop a building, what will be the impact on the RTM Company be and what rights do they have?

When an RTM Company acquires the right to manage a block, they take over responsibility for the performance of management functions in respect of that block. Management functions are functions in relation to services, repairs, maintenance, improvements, insurance and management. The Landlord is prevented from doing anything that the RTM Company is either required or empowered to do (except if the parties agree).

Often, leases reserve a right for a Landlord to develop neighbouring or adjoining property, despite the fact that this may affect the demised premises. A landlord’s right to develop its property is in conflict with the rights of a right to manage company to manage the building and perform those management functions.

This tension has recently been considered by the County Court in Francia Properties Limited v Aristou (Unreported). Reported by Cassandra Zanelli from Taylor and Emmet Solicitors.

Relevant Facts

In this County Court case, the Landlord sought a declaration from the Court that it was entitled to develop a new flat on the roof space of the building. The lessee of the current top floor flat objected, as did the RTM Company.

One of the issues considered by the County Court was whether the construction of the new flat would interfere with the management functions exercised by the RTM Company.

Decision of the County Court

The County Court agreed to grant declaratory relief in favour of the landlord.

It was agreed between the parties that the roof and roof space of the building were retained by the landlord.

The Court decided that in the absence of an express of implied prohibition, a Landlord is entitled to use its retained land as it pleases. The roof was part of the Landlord’s retained parts, and therefore the Landlord was entitled to develop it.

Although the roof and roof space formed part of the buildings over which the RTM Company exercised the management functions, the RTM legislation does not take away property rights from the Landlord.

Essentially, what the RTM Company was required to do was manage the roof of the building. Although this would be affected by the works needed to build the new flat (and would change the size of the building and therefore the responsibilities of the RTM Company), this was not an absolute bar to the works.

The tension between the Landlord’s right to develop and the RTM Company’s obligation to perform the management functions could be resolved by allowing the landlord to carry out the works so long as the Landlord took all reasonable steps to minimise the disturbance to the management functions of the RTM Company both during and after the works.


This decision (albeit at County Court level) provides some guidance on how the tension between a Landlord’s proprietary interests (and right to develop) and the rights of an RTM Company can be reconciled.

We understand that permission to appeal the decision has been granted!

What is a Section 20 Notice?

So you are going through your daily post and find an envelope from your managing agent. You open it up to find something called a Section 20 notice of intent telling you that your Landlord (Freeholder) plans on doing some pretty major works to the building.

The problem is that not many people know about the Section 20 consultation process, nor do they know what their rights are and how the whole process can impact them.
The Section 20 consultation process generally has three stages:

  • A notice of intention
  • Notification of estimates
  • Notification of award of contract

Let’s break it all down then and let you know what it is, what it all means for you and how it can be beneficial to you and the rest of your neighbours.

What is the ‘Section 20’ law?

When you hear your managing agent mentioning ‘Section 20’ they are referring to Section 20 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 as amended by the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act (CLRA) 2002, excuse the mouthful there.

The intent behind the law was to give some protection to residential leaseholders so they may be duly consulted on any works that would eventually cost them more than £250.

(Section 20 law covers two parts, one for any major works that cost over £250 per leaseholder and then one part for long term contracts which we will cover in another article)

The law also enables a cap on the amount any leaseholder will pay if the Landlord does not carry out the required consultation.

To put clearly, if your Landlord does not carry out the consultation process as the law requires, you will only have to pay £250 towards the works, whatever they may be.

So what does your Landlord have to do?

What is the consultation process?

Your Landlord is required to carry out consultation with you which is broken down into (typically) three stages:

Stage 1 – Section 20 Notice of Intent

This is the more than likely the notice you have just received which has led you to this article. The Notice of Intent must include the following three pieces of information:

  • Describe generally the works that will be undertaken
  • The reasons why the works are required
  • An invitation for any comments or observations on the above information

To be clear, when we say comments or observations, this means you can make suggestions on any additional works you think needs attention, any companies you think the managing agent should ask for a quotation and so on.

You will be given 30 days from the date of the notice to provide any comments or suggestions so you do need to act quickly as soon as you receive this notice.

Stage 2 – Notice of Estimates (also known as the Section 20 or Paragraph b notice)

After the Notice of Intent’s 30 days are up, your managing agent will then send you a Notice of Estimates. This notice will also contain a breakdown of any comments or suggestions they received from the first 30 days’ consultation so you all can see what is being said.

The Notice of Estimates needs to include the following:

  • At least 2 quotes for the work (and only 1 estimate needs to be independent of the Landlord or Managing Agent)
  • Any comments / observations from the first notice of intent
  • Details of where the specification and quotations can be reviewed (office address, hours of opening etc)

As with the Notice of Intent, you have 30 days from the date of the notice to provide any comments or suggestions on the quotes you have been provided.

Stage 3 – Notice of Reasons

Now this notice is not always required however if the Landlord / Agent decides that the lowest quotation received will not be the one chosen to carry out the works, then this notice must be sent to explain the reasoning behind the decision.

Why am I getting a Section 20 notice?

As mentioned above, the Section 20 consultation process is only valid when there are works to be completed when your total contribution is over £250 (including VAT). This means that if there are 60 flats in your building and there are works that will cost £15,000 + VAT in total, your Landlord will have to complete the consultation or run the risk that you will only be liable to pay a maximum of £250 towards the project.

At times this consultation can be a nuisance, for example, imagine being in a building of 4 flats. For any work that is £1,000 + VAT in total, the landlord will have to complete a minimum 60 days’ consultation. Realistically, £1,000 + VAT is not a huge amount when it comes to repairs and therefore it can become a drain on efficiency.

How long does a Section 20 Notice last?

Whilst there is no specific law that states how long a notice lasts, there is precedent to state that a delay in the progression of the consultation process may allow changes in the ‘general situation’ of the building which could lead to problems in recovering the contributions from each leaseholder.

For example, if a project is delayed by two years, flats may have been sold in that time, it may cost more for certain aspects of the project, the building condition may have worsened in the time it’s been delayed.

These would all be possible reasons for a Landlord to re-commence the consultation process in order to avoid problems further down the line.

Where can I get more information on this Section 20 notice?

There is a plethora of information out there available from formal guides to the Section 20 notices and consultation process to blogs covering the most recent case laws.

Below we have compiled a few links that you may find useful to read through:

  • The wording of the Landlord and Tenant Act itself can be viewed here.
  • Association of Residential Managing Agents guide to the section 20 process is here.


If you need any further information or maybe you have questions regarding your current project or the section 20 notice you have received, simply give us a call and we can either help you or connect you with an appropriate person.