Block Management

S20 Procedures

Managing Agents are often blamed for taking so long with regards to organising expensive repairs, especially if an S20 consultation is required.

Please find below the details of the S20 procedure, which Managing Agents have to follow:

Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 – consultation with leaseholders on major works

Section 20 (s20) is a clause in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 which is intended to protect leaseholders from paying unnecessarily large sums for work carried out to their building. In effect it says that a leaseholder’s contribution to the cost of works will be capped if the landlord or their managing agent fails to follow a set consultation process.

Section 20 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 (as amended by the Commonhold & Leasehold Reform Act 2002) sets out a three-stage consultation process which must be followed when carrying out qualifying works to a building where the contribution from any one lessee exceeds £250, or a qualifying long-term agreement where the contribution from any one lessee exceeds £100 in one financial year.

Stage One – s20

For qualifying works, under Section 20 managing agents / freeholders must serve a “Notice of Intention to Carry Out Works” on all lessees.

This Notice must generally describe the proposed works, state the reasons for considering the proposed works, and invite leaseholders to make written observations within 30 days.

It is a requirement that a correspondence address for these observations be stated within the S20 notice. The Notice of Intention offers lessees the opportunity to provide the name of a contractor from whom the landlord, managing agents or Resident’s Management Committee (RMC) can try to obtain estimates for the proposed works.

Stage Two – s20

At the expiration of the 30 day consultation period, at least two estimates should be obtained: one of these estimates must be from a person completely independent of the landlord, the managing agent or the RMC.

If nominations were made within the consultation period, then estimates should have been obtained from at least one of these nominations. The landlord/agent/RMC must then provide a “Statement of Estimates” which will set out the details of estimates that have been obtained and a summary of observations received within the consultation period.

All estimates obtained must be made available for inspection by the lessees, including estimates obtained from nominated contractors.

A “Notice to Accompany the Statement of Estimates” must also be served in conjunction with the Statement of Estimates, which sets out the hours involved, and a place where details of the estimates may be inspected, again inviting lessees to make written observations on the estimates within 30 days, and specifying the address to which those observations should be sent.

Stage Three – S20

If, at the expiration of the consultation period, the chosen contractor did not provide the lowest estimate, then a “Notice of Reasons” must be served upon all lessees.

This means that the landlord/agent/RMC must state the reasons for awarding the contract where they do not opt for the lowest estimate.

The nomination is open to a test of reasonableness by the First Tier Tribunal under Section 19 of the 1985 Landlord & Tenant Act.

Where it can be shown that the consultation procedure is not followed correctly, and the landlord/agent/RMC is successfully challenged at the FTT, then the maximum amount recoverable from lessees under the service charge is £250 for major works and £100 for long-term agreements.

For more information on Section 20 lease matters see these guides:

- The Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA) – Advice Note Section 20 Consultation and Major Works – works? a guide to the S.20 consultation process for major works and long term agreements.
- The Leasehold Advisory Service – What is the Section 20 consultation process for major works?