The RICS 2006 Code of Practice on Service Charges in Commercial Property is now in force in relation to all service charge years commencing on or after 1 April 2007. Although voluntary, the code is backed by the British Property Federation and others and its recommendations are likely to be influential in dispute resolution. Designed to address current dissatisfaction among tenants, the new code covers areas such as improving communication and transparency, giving value for money, meeting performance standards in management matters and limiting fees to reasonable amounts.

The foreword to the code states that best practice requires owners and occupiers to ensure that, on lease renewal, their advisers bring leases up to the standards required by the code. The code can be accessed at: www.servicechargecode.co.uk In addition, new regulations that come into force on 1 October this year will make it compulsory for a demand for payment of a service charge to be accompanied by a summary of the tenant’s rights and obligations in relation to service charge.

The Service Charges (Summary of Rights and Obligations, and Transitional Provision) (England) Regulations 2007.