Making an Application to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal (LVT)

The leasehold valuation tribunal is part of the Residential Property Tribunal Service and is a body set up to decide cases of dispute between landlord and tenant.

Each region will have its own tribunal which will be made up of a chairman (who will usually be a lawyer or valuer but can occasionally be a layperson) and usually 3 but sometimes 2 members, who may be lawyers, valuers or lay people.

What Types of Dispute Can the LVT Resolve?

The LVT can decide on the price to be paid by the tenants for the landlord’s title upon enfranchisement or the price to be paid by a tenant for extending or renewing his lease, apartment leaseit can vary estate management schemes, decide upon liability for payment of service charges and settle disputes regarding the landlord’s choice of insurer. It can also settle disputes in relation to administration charges imposed by the landlord.

Do I Need a Solicitor at the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal?

Leasehold Valuation Tribunals were set up specifically to provide a less formal means of resolving disputes than is provided by the Courts and where parties can represent themselves. However you may wish to discuss this with an adviser particularly if the application involves complex technical matters. In such circumstances it may be of some help to have an independent specialist support your case. Such a specialist may provide a report setting out the evidence supporting your case, and/or attend the hearing, either with you or as your representative (without you being present).

Making an LVT Application

Your application should be submitted, using the LVT’s standard application form, to your regional rent assessment panel, whose details can be found at the end of this article. The form you need to use is different depending on the type of application you are making. You can download the following forms here.

  • Application to vary a lease
  • Application to determine the premium payable on enfranchisement (including lease extensions)
  • Application to determine liability for service charges
  • Application in respect of administration charges

You should enclose the appropriate fee and completed application form including as much detail as possible to support your case.

The LVT Application Process

On receipt of an application the clerks will complete the paperwork and it will be they who you will speak to if you want to discuss the application. It is also the clerks ho collect the fees. They will send a copy of the application to all parties who are affected but who are not named as applicants so it is important that these details are included.

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From here the tribunal will either determine the application on paper or will arrange a hearing. A paper determination will only be made if all parties agree and only then in the tribunal thinks it appropriate. Most cases will involve a hearing.

Where there is a hearing, there are two “tracks” which can be followed. If the case does not appear to be particularly complex it can be dealt with on a “fast track”. In this case the hearing will be within 10 weeks of the application. The tribunal may issue directions (instructions) to the parties prior to the hearing for example to provide certain additional information.

If the case appears more complex it will be dealt with on the “standard track”, for which there is no fixed timescale. The tribunal may call a pre-trial review (PTR) to identify the issues that need to be decided on and to see if there are any issues which can be resolved by mutual agreement. Following the review, the tribunal will issue directions to the parties.

The most common directions are to:

  • Indicate what information will be required by the LVT for the full hearing.
  • Provide written statements of your case. This is a document which sets out what is in dispute and a summary of the arguments in support of your case.
  • Provide the other parties to the case with copies of documents which are relevant to the dispute.
  • Try to agree with the other parties which documents will be used at the hearing of the application and collate these into a bundle. If no agreement can be reached each party will be asked to produce their own bundle of documents. The pages on a bundle of documents should be numbered for ease of reference.
  • Include expert evidence in a report

The directions will also set out a timetable for the full hearing of the application and often fixes a time for the LVT to inspect the property.

Sometimes a preliminary hearing will be held to establish whether the application is valid and/or whether the tribunal has jurisdiction to decide the particular dispute. If it decides it can deal with the matter the main hearing may take place that day, or may be arranged for an alternative date.

The applicant may withdraw an application at any point. An applicant who wishes to do so should inform the LVT, and all other parties involved, in writing.

The LVT Hearing

Hearings will be held as close to the property as possible, and can take place in various public buildings such as a town hall. They may even be held in the property itself. The hearings are open to the public.

A hearing fee of £150 will be payable by the applicant.

The hearings are designed to be as informal as possible. It is important that ant documents provided in evidence are produced to the tribunal before the hearing. Any documents produced for the first time at the hearing will need to be considered and will result in the hearing being adjourned. A postponement can be requested at the hearing by any party though the tribunal will need to be satisfied that it is justified.

The LVT Decision

A decision will usually be given within 6 weeks of the hearing date, though the tribunal will sometimes inform the parties of the decision at the hearing itself. Decisions of the leasehold valuation tribunal are binding however the tribunal has no powers of enforcement therefore if any party fails to comply with an order enforcement action will need to be taken in the County Court. If you do not agree with the LVT’s decision an appeal can be made to the Lands Tribunal.

The LVT cannot one party to pay another’s costs however if the applicant is successful it can order that the loser reimburse the applicant’s fees.

Some leases allow a landlord to recover the costs of any legal action he is involved in via the service charge, however the LVT has the power to make an order, known as a section 20c order, to prevent the landlord from doing so.

Schedule

Regional Rent Assessment Panels:

Northern Rent Assessment Panel
President: Martin Davey LLB
Panel Secretary: Marj Foster and Alison Lomax ( job share)
20th Floor, Sunley Tower, Piccadilly Plaza, Manchester M1 4BE

Telephone: 0845 1002614
Facsimile: 0161 237 3656

Midland Rent Assessment Panel
President: Simon Duffy
Panel Secretary: Maureen McCabe
2nd Floor, East Wing, Ladywood House,
45-46 Stephenson Street, Birmingham B2 4DH

Telephone: 0845 1002615
Facsimile: 0121 643 7605

Eastern Rent Assessment Panel
President: Bruce Edgington
Panel Secretary: Ann Oates
Great Eastern House, Tenison Road, Cambridge CB1 2TR

Telephone: 0845 1002616
Facsimile: 01223 505116

London Rent Assessment Panel
President: Siobhan McGrath
Panel Secretary: Donald Brown
10 Alfred Place, London WC1E 7LR

Telephone: 020 7446 7700
Facsimile: 020 7637 1250

Southern Rent Assessment Panel
President: Robert Long
Panel Secretary: Terry Pinker
1st Floor, 1 Market Avenue, Chichester PO19 1JU

Telephone: 0845 1002617
Facsimile: 01243 779389


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