Section 20 and the UK lift industry

Gareth Lomax from Ardent Lift Consultancy looks at how the Section 20 process applies to lift repairs.

As detailed in previous pages, the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, as amended by the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002, requires the Section 20 notification process to be followed when undertaking works resulting in a cost of over £250 per single leaseholder.

This means most small repairs to lift equipment will often fall under the threshold requirements and can be undertaken without consultation. However, when undertaking more substantial works (such as modernisation or replacement of the lift), the costs involved will mean that consultation is almost a certainty.

Consulting with residents

Due to the costs associated with major works to lifts, if it becomes clear that a refurbishment or replacement is needed, the project will require the section 20 Notice to be implemented. This is when the plans for the works need to be clearly identified, explaining to the leaseholders why these are to be undertaken and what the objective is, outlining the costs and timescales.

At this stage, supplying correct information to leaseholders is critical to ensure the project is accepted by all. Major works often cost substantial sums of money, which can be an emotive issue, but well-produced evidence and plans can clearly demonstrate why such works are necessary. Property managers and RMCs should ensure that meetings are held with residents at the earliest possible stage. Anyone who is unable to attend these should be informed of progress via emails or leaflets to ensure the consultation process is clear, effective and meets statutory requirements. It is important to respond fully to any written comments from leaseholders.

Getting the specification right

A correctly specified level of works has two distinct benefits:

  • It ensures the client’s requirements are clearly listed, so a lift that meets and often exceeds expectations can be provided.
  • It ensures that only those areas that need attention are addressed. Flat owners will have to pay for any remedial work, and it is easy to replace too much and leave them liable for the costs. If the specification is clear, the lift contractors can supply the correct pricing, which will ultimately result in savings for the residents. The specialist consultant will draw up a full specification for your project to ensure adherence to the contractual and technical requirements for the building, client and those using the lift.

Find the right contractor

The UK lift industry is made up of many companies, ranging from multinational powerhouses to sole traders. Either may do a good job but it is vital they are used for projects that match their skill set, so it is inadvisable merely to choose a name from a Google search. A spread of four to five companies will ensure a competitive price.

Your chosen independent consultant should be present at all stages to advise and guide you through the process, leading to simple, value-for-money decision-making. They will work closely with the lift contractor, commenting on all the paperwork and technical documentation, and making regular site visits to ensure the quality of work and programme are meeting expectations. They will also communicate regularly with the client and contractor so that all parties are aware of timescales and progress.

Timescales


A well-planned lift replacement or refurbishment scheme is not quick, but if scheduled correctly, ensures downtime is prepared for and kept to a minimum. Typical timescales for a lift replacement scheme are as follows:

2 weeks: survey lift and produce report

4 weeks: review survey report and planning the works

4 weeks: write specification for given site (this coincides with the issue of the first Section 20 Notice)

4 weeks: tender works to five companies

4 weeks: tender analysis and post-tender meetings (this coincides with the issue of the second Section 20 Notice)

14 weeks: place order and procure materials

8 weeks: refurbish lift

12 weeks: replace lift


From the survey stage to the start of replacement can take 32 weeks or more, which will enable residents who rely on the lift to make alternative plans for the time in which the works are undertaken. Lift service will be unavailable during any replacement or refurbished works, so planning when this will take place always makes residents’ lives much easier (rather than waiting for the lift to fail before acting).

The average refurbishment period for a lift would be around 8 weeks. However, replacement of a lift would be around 12 weeks and there would be more disruption associated with these works, because of percussion drilling and scaffold installation.

Following successful completion of the project, a full witness test of the installation should be undertaken by your lift consultant. This is to ensure the lift is safe, reliable and in accordance with the specification and all regulatory requirements. The service should also include monitoring of the lift during the defects liability period and beyond.

 

ARDENT Lift Consultancy can assist our clients with all maintenance issues by undertaking maintenance audits to assess quality of workmanship, adjustment levels, cleanliness and compliance with current Health and Safety legislation whilst inspecting documentation found at site, ensuring the performance, reliability and life expectancy of the equipment is maximised in a cost-effective manner and providing alternative solutions where required.

 

Reviewed: July 2019