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Service charges are levied by landlords so that they are able to i.e. cover costs spent on providing services to the building.
The charge normally covers the cost of general maintenance and repairs, insurance of the building and, where necessary, central heating, lifts, porters, lighting and cleaning of common areas.
The lease signed between the landlord and tenant should set out what can and cannot be charged by the landlord, and the proportion of the charge to be paid by the individual leaseholder. Leaseholders have rights to challenge service charges that they feel are unreasonable. When considering the purchase of leasehold flat or commercial unit within an estate, it is important to find out what the current and future service charges are likely to be – this information should normally be requested by your solicitor.