Section 20 consultation

Find out more about the consultation process we must follow with leaseholders and shared owners about the work and services we provide.

On this page you’ll find a short summary of the regulations and process that we as a landlord must follow when we consult you about work or services which you’re responsible for paying for. This is known as section 20 consultation (S20). These regulations came into effect in October 2003 as part of the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002.

The information and frequently asked questions provided on this page are for guidance purposes only. For a fuller explanation of the relevant legislation, visit the Leasehold Advisory Service website.

Frequently asked questions

Under the terms of your lease, you are required to pay towards the cost of any services or work to the building your home is in or the estate it is on. You do this by paying a service charge. Under S20 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (amended by section 151 of the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002), we must consult you about some of the work and services that you are responsible for paying for.

As your landlord, we must consult you first before we do any of the following:

  • Carry out work which will cost any one leaseholder/shared owner more than £250. This includes repairs, maintenance and improvements to your building and estate.
  • Enter into a long-term agreement (also known as a Qualifying long-term contract), for more than 12 months, with outside contractors for work, supplies or services which will cost any one leaseholder/shared owner more than £100 a year. Examples include cleaning, grounds maintenance and surveying.
  • Carry out work under a long-term agreement where the work will cost any one leaseholder/shared owner more than £250.

A section S20 notice is a document that’s sent to you to inform you that we intend to carry out work or provide a service that leaseholders/shared owners will have to pay towards, if stated within the terms of their lease agreement. We must serve a S20 on any leaseholder/shared owner who will be affected by the work or receive the service. We must also send a copy of the S20 notice to any registered tenants’ association (RTA) that is associated with the building your home is in or the estate it’s on.

The S20 notice will include information about what we plan to do and how much it is estimated to cost. It will give you the opportunity to take part in the consultation process and comment on what is being planned.

  • Internal or external redecoration and repairs
  • Structural works
  • Roofing and rainwater goods (guttering, drainage, pipework)
  • Windows and doors
  • Communal lighting (including estate lighting)
  • CCTV
  • Digital TV aerials
  • Door entry system
  • Vehicle barrier gates and bollards
  • Lifts
  • Mechanical ventilation
  • Fire equipment (dry risers, fire extinguishers)
  • Cavity wall Insulation
  • Communal boilers.

The S20 process is set out in law and is made up of four schedules, each dealing with a different situation (see question ‘What’s involved in each schedule?’ below).

The content of the S20 notice and the procedure we must follow will vary depending on the type of contract and what it is we are planning to do. It also depends on whether we need to give a public notice (see question ‘What is a public notice?’ below).

Generally, you will get three separate notices under the S20 process, one at each of the following three stages:

  • Pre-tender stage: before we invite contractors to tender for the work (that is, to give an estimated cost).
  • Tender stage: after we’ve received the tenders (confirmation of estimated costs).
  • Award of contract stage: when we award the contract to the successful tender. We will only issue this notice when we do not award the contract to the cheapest tender.

Schedule 1 & 2

A QTLA is an agreement the landlord enters into with an independent organisation or contractor for a period of more than 12 months after 31 October 2003. (The act does not apply to agreements entered into before this.) The deciding factor is the minimum length of the commitment. In other words, it’s an agreement for a term which must exceed 12 months. In a property where not all leaseholders pay the same service charges, landlords must consult all leaseholders if the amount any one leaseholder must pay would be more than £100 in any one year. The figure should be calculated based on the leaseholder’s total contribution resulting from the agreement, including VAT (and any associated management or administrative costs which arise specifically from the proposed agreement).

If the landlord does not consult leaseholders, they will not be able to collect service charges over £100 per leaseholder, per year.

The consultation rules for QTLA are set out in Schedule 1 and Schedule 2 of the 2003 service charge regulations.

Examples of possible QTLA include:

  • agreements which affect the building generally (for example, contracts relating to lifts, entry-phone systems, or waste-management or maintenance services);
  • cleaning and gardening;
  • insurance; and
  • utilities (water, gas and electricity services).

Some of these services may only have one possible supplier. However, landlords must still carry out the consultation, or apply to the tribunal for permission to dispense with (not keep to) the consultation requirements.

Schedule 3

Where we appoint a long-term agreement with a contractor under a QLTA, under Schedule 1 or 2 (or group of contractors) to carry out major works, we ask the contractor(s) to quote for individual projects. Once we’ve received these quotes, we’ll carry out a one-stage Schedule 3 S20 consultation with affected customers, outlining the costs. Consultation will last a minimum of 30 days.

Schedule 4 (Part 1)

If the cost of the planned work is more than £5,336.937, we’re bound by UK procurement rules to advertise the contract using a public notice on the ‘Find a tender’ website. We’ll then follow a two stage Schedule 4 S20 consultation process, with each stage lasting a minimum of 30 days.

  • The Stage 1 notice gives customers the chance to make observations, but you won’t be able to nominate a contractor
  • The Stage 2 notice will give customers the estimated costs from the tenders we receive.

Schedule 4 (Part 2)

If we plan to carry out work using a contractor with whom we don’t have a long-term agreement, and if the cost of the planned work is less than £5,336.937, we don’t have to advertise the contract on the ‘Find a tender’ website, but we do have to go through a full tendering process. In this case, we’ll follow a two stage Schedule 4 S20 consultation, with each stage lasting a minimum of 30 days.

  • The Stage 1 notice will give customers the chance to make observations and you do not have the right to nominate a contractor.
  • The Stage 2 notice will give customers the estimated costs from the tenders we have chosen to carry out the works.
Schedule Consultation Public Notice Threshold
1 Qualifying Long Term Agreement (QLTA) No £100.00
2 Qualifying Long Term Agreement (QLTA) Yes £100.00
3 Qualified Works under QLTA No £250.00
(part 1)
Qualifying Works Yes £250.00
(part 2)
Qualifying Works No £250.00

Whenever the public sector has a need for goods, works, or services (which are over a certain contract value), they are required to publicly advertise this need, and encourage businesses to compete for the work. This process is referred to as publishing an ‘Invitation to Tender’ or ‘ITT’, and the associated documents have become more commonly known as tenders. As the public sector relies on public funding to make decisions, all procurement must be made respectfully, encourage free and open competition, achieve best value for money and ultimately benefit the public.    

Where we don’t have to give a public notice, you do not have the right to suggest a contractor to tender for the work or long-term agreement. We must however still carefully consider any comment you make about the work or services we’re planning.

You have the right to give us your views and comment on the proposals during the consultation period. Stage 1 & 2 lasts for 30 days whereby you can make your observations by contacting us and feeding back your responses. We must take note of any observations we receive and carefully consider the comments and suggestions about the work or the long-term agreement and respond within 21 days of receipt. In some circumstances, you will have the right to suggest a person, firm, or contractor who you would like to tender for the work or long-term agreement. This does not apply to schedules 2 and 4 (part 1) where we must give public notice.

If we do not follow the regulations, we’re limited to how much we can charge you for the work or service. Currently, the limits are £250 per item of repair work and £100 for services that we provide under a long-term agreement. In certain circumstances, we can apply to the first-tier tribunal (FTT) for ‘dispensation’. If the FTT gave us dispensation, we would not have to follow the rules fully. However, we’d have to satisfy the FTT that we had taken all reasonable steps to make leaseholders aware of our plans or that the situation was an emergency. An example of an emergency might be repairing a lift in a tower block.

We don’t invoice you for Section 20 works but we will detail any costs we’ve recovered within your service charge communications.

If you still have a question you'd like to ask us about the Section 20 process and how this affects you, please contact us by emailing or by calling 0800 652 0898.