Changes to major works projects – is fresh consultation required?

Brady Solicitors assess a recent case where a freeholder was not required to carry out a second round of leaseholder consultation on a revised major works project.

Thorough planning is of course essential before embarking on a major works project. It smooths out the S20 consultation process and helps all parties to understand the scope of the work. Inevitably however, once the work gets underway, the contractors may come across issues that require the planned works to be varied in a small way.

This was the situation in the Reedbase* case.

The freeholder had proposed a programme of works to repair the tiled roof terraces and had consulted correctly with the leaseholders.

During the course of the works, the freeholder changed the specification from tiles bonded onto asphalt, to tiles resting on pedestals above a waterproof membrane. The cost of this was an additional £30,000 on the original £300,000 quote.

The leaseholders complained that the freeholder should have consulted on the change and that this lack of consultation meant they were only liable for £250 each. Also, in replacing the tiles, the leaseholders claimed that the freeholder had not ‘made good’ the damage caused to the original tiles.

The Court of Appeal dismissed their appeal.

On the consultation point, the judge found that the leaseholders had received sufficient information and the difference in cost was minimal in relation to the overall cost of the project.

Importantly, the judge found that the leaseholders were no worse off as a result of the change to the detail of the works nor the lack of consultation.

On the making good point, the Court found that the freeholder was entitled to act reasonably in restoring property, including replacing an item with something different if necessary. The freeholder had used new and good quality tiles and the judge found this to be sufficient.

This case offers helpful and practical guidance for when major works projects are required to undergo small changes.

Where the changes are relatively minor, and leaseholders are given sufficient information of the changes, then freeholders and their management companies should not need to undertake fresh consultation.

For help and advice on major works projects, please do get in touch.

You may also find these recent articles helpful:

Major works consultations: when can you apply for dispensation?

Section 20 major works: a guide to the notices


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