Section 155: Liability to pay service charges: jurisdiction
259.Subsection (1) inserts new section 27A into the 1985 Act. Subsection (1) of the new section provides that landlords or tenants may apply to a LVT for a determination as to whether service charges are payable and, if they are payable, by whom they are payable, to whom they are payable, the amount which is payable, the date they are payable and the manner in which they are payable. Subsection (2) of the new section makes it clear that an application may be made even if a payment has already been made. Subsection (3) of the new section enables landlords or tenants to apply for such a determination before relevant costs are incurred.
260.Subsection (4) of the new section provides that an application cannot be made to a tribunal under this section if the matter in question has been agreed or admitted, if it has already been determined elsewhere, or if it is subject to a ‘post-dispute arbitration agreement’ (see below). Subsection (5) of the new section makes clear that a matter has not been agreed or admitted for these purposes by virtue of a person having paid all or part of the sum in question.
261.These provisions replace and extend the existing provisions under section 19(2A) to (3) of the 1985 Act (which enable LVTs to determine the reasonableness of service charges) which are repealed by Schedule 14. Subsection (6) of new section 27A now provides that arbitration agreements are void unless arbitration is agreed to after a particular dispute has arisen. Previously LVTs were unable to hear disputes where leases contained a section requiring the use of arbitration. Subsection (7) of that new section provides that this new jurisdiction for LVTs is in addition to any existing jurisdiction of the courts.
262.Subsections (2) and (3) of this section define ‘post-dispute arbitration agreement’ for the purposes of the 1985 Act.