On 1 October 2007 the government, as part of its strategy to better protect residential tenants of long leases (21 years plus), introduced measures whereby landlords and management agents must ensure that service charge demands are accompanied by a summary of the tenant's rights and obligations. An eye for detail is required since the statement must appear in precisely the same terms as set out in the legislation, running to 12 paragraphs in total. That's a lot of tenant rights to communicate and you cannot shrink this information since there is even a minimum font size with which to comply. Similar detail must also accompany any demand for 'administration charges' – typically costs payable by the tenant for the grant of landlord approvals under the lease. Some may wonder whether any tenant will bother to read the new warnings, whilst the cynical are already calculating to what extent this practice will have the opposite effect, increasing the landlord's administrative burden and so pushing up service charge costs.
That said, it is clear the government means business as demonstrated by the penalties for noncompliance. A tenant can withhold payment until the correct information is supplied and without incurring the usual liability to pay interest: those provisions will not apply for the period during which the tenant legitimately withholds payment