Absent leaseholder not maintaining flat or paying service charge

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    Absent leaseholder not maintaining flat or paying service charge

    We, three out of four flats, collectively purchased the freehold of the property where we live. The non participating leaseholder who owns the basement property has left the flat empty for a year and has not maintained it to a good standard for the last ten years. She has also not paid any service charges or ground rent since we took over the freehold and any letters go unanswered. We don’t know where she lives but are concerned about the negligence of the basement of the building. Apart from seeking a solicitor‘s advice and taking her to court what options/powers do we have? If the property is not maintained and therefore breaking the lease, can we make a claim for repossession?

    All the options involve taking her to court.

    Repossession is called forfeiture, and it is theoretically possible, although you will probably first have to get her a ruling that says comply or sell within a certain time.

    There is a danger of service charges becoming statute barred, so you should claim for those in the county court and get a CCJ, even if you don't have a valid address.


      Does anyone come to pick up the mail ?

      If the leaseholder is a retired person and taken ill and in hospital ?? , Check with social security ?.

      You can start proceedings for forfeiture if the service charge arrears exceed 350 pounds and arrears owing for over 3 years.

      So you have to keep billing the service charge to the basement flat for 3 years and show the falling into arrears in service charge payment.. .


        I would use a tracing agency to locate the leaseholder, it will save time and expense.
        Have you carried out a Land Registry search? That may reveal an address and identify a mortgagee.
        If you are concerned about the condition of the property, you can complain to the Council.
        I doubt very much that you would succeed with a claim for repossession, every opportunity would be given for the leaseholder to put matters right so I would concentrate on trying to make contact with her.


          Originally posted by eagle2 View Post
          I doubt very much that you would succeed with a claim for repossession, every opportunity would be given for the leaseholder to put matters right so I would concentrate on trying to make contact with her.
          My apologies, for "repossession", please read "forfeiture"


            Thank you for your comments so far. Looks like this will be a lengthy process. We have already sent an ultimatum with the latest sc reminder but have not acted on it yet.
            The immediate concern is the state of the flat. Weeds are growing into the rear bedroom through the gaps in the doors. Regarding the comment about complaining to the council, is this possible with a private property?

            Nobody seems to pick up the post at the moment either but we know she owns a second property in the next borough. We received a letter from a free legal council in that area demanding we sell her a share of the freehold which we do not wish to do as she has caused us a lot of stress during the franchise and incurred an extra 10k in marriage value.


              If you have received correspondence from someone acting on the leaseholder’s behalf, I suggest that you ask them to request that the leaseholder contacts you as a matter of urgency.

              The local council can become involved if a property is in a state of disrepair or if a property is left empty.

              A mortgagee may be will be willing to settle any arrears or encourage the leaseholder to pay so it is worth obtaining a Land Registry search.


                Thanks, eagle2. The free legal councillor refuses to give us her address or doesn’t have it and the land registry just lists our property as her address. Mortgage must be paid off as she has owned the flat over 30 years.
                this was why I came on here...to maybe get any ideas we haven’t considered yet.


                  I would not expect the legal counsellor to disclose her address but he should be willing to pass on a message for her to contact you.

                  BT has a free search engine, you may be able to pick up an address and a telephone number that way. Otherwise, there are other search engines most of which make a charge but I would use a specialist agent, it will save you considerable time.

                  Another reason for not claiming forfeiture is that you would be unable to invoice service charges and by the time you receive a decision, it would probably be too late to raise some of the invoices if the claim is unsuccessful.


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