Late ground rent and subletting

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    #16
    Hi,

    The freeholder, in chasing their late ground rent fee, are pointing to a clause on which I could use some clarification:

    (In the Covenants by the lessee)
    To pay and discharge all rates taxes assessments charges duties and other outgoings whatsoever whether parliamentary parochial or of any other kind which now are or during the Term (excepting those chargeable on the Lessor for rents receivable) and relating to the Term shall be assessed or charged on or payable in respect of the Demised Premises or any part thereof or by the landlord tenant owner or occupier thereof

    I interpret this as an agreement to be responsible for council tax etc... Not even closely related to their trumped up admin fees. Can anyone confirm?

    Comment


      #17
      Is it really worth all the hassle for £60 when you were delinquent on two payments and they had to chase you?

      Comment


        #18
        You are correct, the clause does relate to the payment of bills for council tax etc and does not permit the freeholder to make an administration charge,

        The Land Registry charge £3.00 for a search so the sum of £60.00 is unreasonable.

        I suggest that you ask the freeholder to either withdraw the unreasonable charges or apply to the FTT (as advised by andydd) to determine (1) whether or not the charge is payable and (2) whether or not the amount is reasonable. I agree that you should warn that you will apply for your costs if the FTT determines in your favour.

        Comment


          #19
          Hi,

          Should I
          A) Apply to the Tribunal myself
          B) Inform them that if they will not drop it I will apply and look to recover costs
          C) Inform them that they must apply if they wish to continue to chase the charge

          If they apply, I am sure they will look to add their own 'legal fees' onto what is owed. These will also, I believe, be unrecoverable, but should the decision go the wrong way at the tribunal I could be on the hook for $$$

          Comment


            #20
            As andydd has stated, you should invite them to make the application. That way the burden of proof lies with them.

            If they do not make the application and do not reverse the charges, you may need to make an application yourself but at least you will be able to state that they were invited to make an application and it is reasonable to assume that they were not confident of succeeding therefore you had no alternative but to make an application yourself.

            When making future payments, you should make it clear exactly what you are paying and state that payments may not be accepted for any other purpose and in particular disputed charges.

            If you are satisfied that the lease does not permit the charges and the charges are unreasonable anyway, there should be no/little risk of losing the decision.

            The FTT could award costs against the losing party whoever makes the application.

            Comment


              #21
              If it were me..Im not sure I'd make an application solely due to the fact the cost is a few hundreds pounds...whilst its possible that a FTT make ask the FH to refund it..its not certain.

              Id just sit tight and see what their next step is......unfortunately..it sometimes ends in a viscous circle of charges on top of charges.
              Advice given is based on my experience representing myself as a leaseholder both in the County Court and at Leasehold Valuation Tribunals.

              I do not accept any liability to you in relation to the advice given.

              It is always recommended you seek further advice from a solicitor or legal expert.

              Always read your lease first, it is the legally binding contract between leaseholder and freeholder.

              Comment


                #22
                I don’t think that the FTT has the jurisdiction to say that a sum should be refunded, all they can determine is whether or not an amount is payable and whether or not an amount is reasonable. It is then up to you to recover the amount.

                Comment


                  #23
                  It's the mounting sum of the charges that worries me. If they continue to invent charges so that the amount grows, I don't want to end up liable for some impossible sum that I cannot afford to pay

                  Comment


                    #24
                    Unfortunately, that is exactly what some freeholders rely on, they compound the unreasonable charges and then hope that you will submit into paying in full in order to avoid the hassle of applying to the FTT.

                    Have you checked to see if the freeholder has been involved in previous FTT cases?

                    Your options appear to be (1) pay in full, (2) try to negotiate by offering to pay what you consider to be a reasonable amount (3) ask them to make an application to the FTT, (4) make an application to the FTT yourself or (5) sit back and wait to see what happens next

                    Comment


                      #25
                      Having had a quick google, it does appear that they have been involved in FTT cases before. Mostly to do with subletting charges.

                      They have a 2007 case in which they were successful in demanding a sublet fee (linked below) which they have supposedly pointed to even since the 2012 "£40 is reasonable" decision.

                      Comment


                        #26
                        "Although the additional admin fees were applied to your account as per the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002, I am willing to remove the remaining £60.00 to settle this matter."

                        ^^ From their latest email.

                        Many thanks to all for your help. I invited them to apply to the FTT, having pointed out that they were incorrect, pointing to relevant cases:

                        - Upper Tribunal case number LRX/92/2015
                        Which shows that defensive clauses only protect landlord from 3rd party costs, not their own work done in chasing debt

                        - LVT case CAM/00 KF/OCE/2010/0009
                        Which shows that unless there is a specific and unambiguous clause in the lease stating that an admin charge is to be paid, it is not owed.

                        I pointed out that they were now in breach of the lease for preventing "quiet enjoyment of the property" and said that should they apply to the FTT I would seek costs for time spent dealing with their harassment.

                        Hope the above can be of help to others in the future

                        For me, next step will be bringing the sub-let back into compliance with the lease. I expect there to be some large demands for fees here too which I will have to fight - I may look for further advise down the line!

                        Comment


                          #27
                          Well done, it is always nice to know when someone succeeds in recovering an unreasonable charge. From their point of view, it is easier to write it off rather than face an adverse decision by the FTT. Sadly many leaseholders just pay up.

                          Comment


                            #28
                            Hi, Please can you signpost where I can find details of the above cases.
                            Thank you.

                            Comment


                              #29
                              RPTS and Lease Advice sites have archive of decisions, can be a bit tricky to track down stuff though.
                              Advice given is based on my experience representing myself as a leaseholder both in the County Court and at Leasehold Valuation Tribunals.

                              I do not accept any liability to you in relation to the advice given.

                              It is always recommended you seek further advice from a solicitor or legal expert.

                              Always read your lease first, it is the legally binding contract between leaseholder and freeholder.

                              Comment


                                #30
                                And please, get your Royal Mail redirect back in place, and keep it in place...

                                Comment

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