The First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) (FTT) has the jurisdiction to resolve service charge reasonableness disputes such as apportionment and that any agreements on this and other service charge questions that might have been agreed to in the lease are void for FTT challenge purposes, was held by the Supreme Court recently.
To arrive at this decision the Court had to examine section 27A(6) of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985:-
27A Liability to pay service charges: jurisdiction
(1) An application may be made to the appropriate tribunal for a determination whether a service charge is payable and, if it is, as to—
(a) the person by whom it is payable,
(b) the person to whom it is payable,
(c) the amount which is payable,
(d) the date at or by which it is payable, and
(e) the manner in which it is payable.
(2) Subsection (1) applies whether or not any payment has been made.
(3) An application may also be made to the appropriate tribunal for a determination whether, if costs were incurred for services, repairs, maintenance, improvements, insurance or management of any specified description, a service charge would be payable for the costs and, if it would, as to—
(a) the person by whom it would be payable,
(b) the person to whom it would be payable,
(c) the amount which would be payable,
(d) the date at or by which it would be payable, and
(e) the manner in which it would be payable.
(4) No application under subsection (1) or (3) may be made in respect of a matter which—
(a) has been agreed or admitted by the tenant,
(b) has been, or is to be, referred to arbitration pursuant to a post-dispute arbitration agreement to which the tenant is a party,
(c) has been the subject of determination by a court, or
(d) has been the subject of determination by an arbitral tribunal pursuant to a post-dispute arbitration agreement.
(5) But the tenant is not to be taken to have agreed or admitted any matter by reason only of having made any payment.
(6) An agreement by the tenant of a dwelling (other than a post-dispute arbitration agreement) is void in so far as it purports to provide for a determination—
(a) in a particular manner, or
(b) on particular evidence,
of any question which may be the subject of an application under subsection (1) or (3).
(7) The jurisdiction conferred on the appropriate tribunal in respect of any matter by virtue of this section is in addition to any jurisdiction of a court in respect of the matter.