Service charges to be properly certified

Where a lease provides that the amount of service charge payable will be certified (eg by a surveyor or accountant) then the production of such a certificate is usually a condition precedent to recovery of the service charge.

Akorita v Marine Heights (St Leonards) Ltd ([2011] UKUT 255 (LC)) concerned the service charge payable by A, the tenant of a flat. Marine Heights was the landlord / management company. The English Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) decided that where a lease provides that the amount of service charge payable will be certified (eg by a surveyor or accountant) then the production of such a certificate is usually a condition precedent to recovery of the service charge. It is always a question of construction but this is often what the parties must have intended (since otherwise there is uncertainty as to how much the tenant should pay). Here there was no surveyor’s certificate as required by the lease and so the landlord could not recover service charge arrears from A.

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