Major Works and Service Charges

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Darren Bagnall from Manage Your Block, provides an insight into major works and the process involved.

An element of living in a block of flats involves being involved with and often living with major works. Collection of fees, in accordance with the properties Lease are essential for upholding the quality of the building, its amenities, and the overall living experience. In this article, we delve into the significance of major works and service charges, what they entail, and how they impact residents.

Defining Major Works and Service Charges

Section 20 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 defines major works for blocks of flats as ‘’one-off’’ works or maintenance, repair or improvements. ‘’Major works’’ otherwise known as one-off or qualifying works, refers to substantial construction, renovation, or improvement projects carried out within a property or building. The overall aim of major works is to enhance the structural integrity, safety and functionality of the building. When carrying out major works, it is important to consider careful planning, coordination and compliance with regulations and standards to ensure the safety and welfare of residents and visitors.

‘’Service Charges’’ refers to the payments made by residents to cover any expenses related to shared amenities or services, property upkeep and general management of the property. Service charges play a role in maintaining the property and ensuring smooth operation of the building. It also ensures that communal areas and facilities are properly maintained for the benefit of all residents. 

Service Charges: Managing Shared Expenses

Usually, service charges are collected by the property manager or Residents’ Management Company. They are allocated to finance a range of services and amenities that benefit all residents. The services covered by service charges may include:

  • Security: Delivering security services, such as surveillance and controlled access systems, guarantees the well-being of residents and the protection of their belongings.
  • Cleaning and Maintenance: This involves the maintenance and cleanliness of communal spaces such as corridors, lifts, entrances, communal areas, and outdoor areas.
  • Utilities: Service charges often cover the cost of shared utilities like lighting in common areas, water supply, and waste management.
  • Repairs: to cover smaller value, day to day repairs.
  • Landscaping: This encompasses the maintenance of garden and outdoor areas. This creates a more welcoming and appealing environment for residents and visitors.
  • Administrative Costs: Property management expenses, insurance premiums, and legal fees associated with communal areas and services are also covered by service charges.

Sinking Funds: If the Lease allows,funds can be collected in addition to those covering everyday costs to provide a sinking fund. Sinking funds are normally used for larger repairs associated with the building and ongoing care of shared amenities. This may include staircases, roofs, lifts and similar.

It is important for residents to understand the breakdown of the collection of service charges can have a detrimental effect on how a building is maintained, which in turn could influence their overall living experience.

Major Works: Ensuring Long-Term Sustainability

Major works projects often require a significant financial investment, some examples include:

  • Structural Remediations: Addressing concerns pertaining to the building’s framework, which may entail rectifying cracks, reinforcing foundations, or renewing aging support systems.
  • Roof Replacement: This may involve installing a new roof or repairing an existing one to prevent leaks and maintain the building’s integrity.
  • Exterior Renovation: Revamping the building’s external appearance, cladding, and windows to augment aesthetics and optimize energy efficiency.
  • Plumbing and Electrical Enhancements: Upgrading outdated plumbing and electrical systems to ensure increased safety and efficiency.
  • Lift Installation and Modernisation: Installing new lifts or upgrading existing ones to meet safety standards and improve the overall accessibility.
  • Energy Efficiency Improvements: This might include introducing ecologically friendly solutions like insulation, solar panels, or energy-conserving lighting systems to curtail overall energy consumption.

Major works requires careful planning, resident consultations, and strict compliance with legal regulation. Where the Lease does not allow the Residents Management Company to collect additional funds, typically, the cost of major works will be divided among the residents through a process known as a ‘major works consultation’. Throughout this process, residents have the opportunity to provide input and to understand the scope, budget, and timeline of the project.

Significance of Major Works

  • Preserving Block of Flats Value

Addressing major works supports the preservation of the block of flats value as time progresses. Disregarding maintenance can result in the decrease of the building’s and each owner’s resale price for their flat or apartment, however by consistently investing in maintenance, renovations, and general upkeep, the property is safeguarded from depreciation. This impacts not only the residents’ living standards and quality of life but also their financial investments.

  • Energy Efficiency

Providing energy efficiency in properties is important in today’s world. Improvements carried out during major works can include energy-efficient measures like the introduction of solar panels, upgrades to HVAC systems, and the installation of insulation. By minimising energy consumption through endless measures will contribute to decreased utility expenses, and a reduced ecological impact/carbon footprint.

  • Safety and Adherence to Regulations

Major works encompasses safety-focused enhancements and compliance with building codes and regulations. This dual focus ensures the safety and security of residents while also guaranteeing compliance with legal requirements to create a healthy and secure living environment.

  • Enhanced Aesthetics

The general upkeep of a building, regular maintenance and improvement projects play a pivotal role in elevating the aesthetics of a building. By addressing wear and tear, updating design elements, and enhancing the overall visual appeal, these efforts create a welcoming and attractive environment for residents and visitors.

Conclusion: Shared Responsibility for Enhanced Living

Living in a block of flats or apartment entails not only the pleasures of communal living but also a shared duty to uphold and to enhance the property. Service charges and major works play a pivotal role in creating a safe, comfortable, and attractive living environment for all residents.

By understanding these concepts and engaging in decisions related to property management and improvement projects, residents contribute to the overall well-being and value of their homes.

Manage Your Block aren’t here to tell you how to run your block of flats, but we can provide you with highly specialised software to make the management of your block much easier. Call us for more details on 0333 577 9070 or email