Q. The service charges on our development have just been increased to what most of the owners believe an unreasonable level, what is the best way of challenging this – is there someone we can approach to discuss our concerns?

A. Both landlords and leaseholders have a right to ask a Leasehold Valuation Tribunal whether a charge, or a proposed charge, is reasonable; however, there is no statutory definition of what is ‘reasonable’. The Tribunal will consider the evidence presented and then make a determination on the matter.

An application may be made to the LVT whether or not the charge has already been paid. It can be in respect of costs already incurred for works, services or other charges, or in respect of an estimate or budget. However, if the charges have been agreed by the parties or finally determined by a court or tribunal, or by post-dispute arbitration, no application to an LVT can be made.

LVTs are part of the Residential Property Tribunal Service (RPTS) and provide an accessible and relatively informal way to resolve residential leasehold disputes. Each LVT usually consists of three members: a lawyer, who is often the chairman, a valuer and a lay person. The LVT is entirely independent and impartial in its approach.