Late ground rent and subletting

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    #31
    Originally posted by vmart View Post
    Hi, Please can you signpost where I can find details of the above cases.
    Thank you.
    https://decisions.lease-advice.org//...-6000/5359.pdf

    section 34 in conclusions is saying something helpful


    34.As far as the arrears late payment charges are concerned, it is clear to the Tribunal that the contra preferentem rule applies so that any ambiguity in the wording of the leases should be construed in the
    lessee's favour. Thus any right to claim what amount to administration charges etc. must be clear and unambiguous. In this case, the leases provide for the landlord to claim expenses 'in and about the maintenance and proper and convenient management and running of the building' but not further.

    The leases do not expressly permit the landlord to claim late payment fees or interest on late payments.

    Comment


      #32
      Hi Gordon

      Thank you so much - very interesting and useful.

      Comment


        #33
        Gordon999 - That is a very old LVT decision which you have attached and it cannot be used as a precedent. I agree however that it is useful to know the thinking of the Tribunal on that occasion.

        Comment


          #34
          Hi all,

          They are now of course trying to charge for sublet registration despite no call for this in the lease.

          They have pointed to the below clause in an attempt to justify the fee:



          "Clause 26 of your lease is referring to a “devolution” a tenancy agreement would constitute a devolution and would therefore require registering and payment made."

          My response is thatthe clause pointed to states that fees are payable on any "devolution of or transfer of title" however to my knowledge "devolution" of a title is the automatic transfer of said title, examples include inheritance after a death. The AST which is now registered makes no provision for any transfer of ownership of the title. I therefore consider this clause irrelevant.

          Is anyone able to confirm that their claim is incorrect? I have suggested that the next step is the FTT, but they say "We are entirely satisfied with our interpretation of the lease and your legal requirements.".

          I would argue that their arguments are intentionally set to mislead and that they are therefore fraudulent, but is this a sensible thing to suggest to the FTT?

          Comment


            #35
            It's a misuse of devolution, but "other matter affecting the premises" could well include sub-letting.

            Comment


              #36
              A lease would normally refer specifically to a tenancy agreement or an underletting if that was the intention. If you apply to the FTT, I would water it down to an unreasonable charge. You are not in a position to prove what is intended by the freeholder and the FTT does not have the jurisdiction to consider matters which are misleading or fraudulent, only the question in this case of whether or not an administration charge is payable and if so, the amount payable.

              Comment


                #37
                But as in the case above:

                "it is clear to the Tribunal that the contra preferentem rule applies so that any ambiguity in the wording of the leases should be construed in the lessee's favour. "

                There is a specific section in the lease (not that shown above) that states the sub-let must be registered, but makes no mention of a fee for doing so.
                This catch all statement, which specifies many things which would alter the ownership of the property/its title, but nothing about sub-letting, is not a clear and unambiguous justification of a charge and as such I dont think it can be used to imply one.
                The lease refers to registration of a sub-let elsewhere with no fee, as you say eagle2, if the intention was to charge for such, it would be stated.

                I have also pointed out to the freeholder that the fee is not reasonable - £45 has been stipulated by the upper tribunal, and they have admitted that the only work carried out was to enter the names of the tenants on their system which doesn't justify 2x this fee.

                Comment


                  #38
                  You state at #25 that the freeholder has been successful claiming sub-letting fees in the past which appears to be surprising. Can you please let us have more details eg links to the decisions or the case references?

                  Comment


                    #39
                    Originally posted by eagle2 View Post
                    You state at #25...
                    This was just as a result of googling at the time, I dont have references to hand. These will possibly have been in cases with other developments/different leases



                    Comment


                      #40
                      Latest update:

                      In a previous email, they argued that:

                      "We deem our standard fee of £95 to be reasonable when handling retrospective registrations where the terms or timeframes set out in the lease have been breached."

                      This annoyed me greatly as I have not breached the timeframe. I sent details of the tenants before the contract was signed, and the day it was signed I sent them a signed copy.

                      They also claimed:

                      "Devolve is open to two interpretations; at one level it’s the transfer of a legal interest from one party to another, so a transfer of the interest that is held. The alternative meaning denotes the transfer to a lower level. The word is therefore open to two interpretations . The former would not require notice of the sub-letting to be given to the landlord, but the latter interpretation would."

                      Which A) Is a load of garbage and B) Would fall foul of the contra preferentem rule.

                      In their latest email they have stated:

                      "However, as a gesture of goodwill and in order to bring the matter to a conclusion we are willing to reduce our registration to £48 (£40 plus vat)"


                      My question is, do I suck it up and pay this amount (which I find objectionable as it is still a fee not called for in the lease), or do I apply to the FTT?
                      How likely is a win at tribunal?
                      How likely is it that the FTT would make the freeholder cover the costs incurred?
                      If the FTT does award costs, could they also cover my time spent in dealing with this matter?
                      Does paying this pave the way for them to charge more trumped up fees with greater impunity?
                      I worry that - even if successful at the FTT - I may end up having paid more in fees to the tribunal than I save myself here.

                      One thought I had was to send a cheque for a smaller amount, £20 for example, stating that it was a gesture of goodwill on my part.

                      Comment


                        #41
                        Sorry..can you recap and remind us...are you being charged Admin Fees for late payment or for permission to sublet (or both)?

                        For any amount under a couple of hundred..its not worth the hassle of an FTT claim even if you are 100% confident.

                        We cant say how likely a win is...

                        An FTT is a no costs forum, the FTT cant force the FH to pay costs except in extreme circumstances but some FTTs ask them to pay your application fees, etc..its a bit hit n miss

                        Again, its unlikely you would get any costs, FTT operates on same basis as the "small track" at county court.

                        Maybe....you can always pay under protest..this allows you to fight it in the future if lots of charges build up and you then apply to FTT.

                        Yes..FTT fees have increased and it can be uneconomical if the FTT dont order fees paid back (of course this doesnt apply if the FH starts the case first).

                        If I were you Id pay all ground rent but not the admin charges...(I put my foot down about this issue with my FH...and now he doesnt dare charge me an admin charge).
                        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


                          #42
                          Sorry, to recap:

                          They tried to add extra charges for late ground rent. Managed to get them to drop it and ground rent paid.
                          They then also wanted £95 for registration of a sublet (despite there being no requirement in the lease). They have now agreed to lower this to £48.


                          Outstanding balance: £48

                          Comment


                            #43
                            Ok..sounds like you are mostly winning ...not sure if a fee can be charge for subletting if no mention in lease, although I have seen it argued that it can affect the insurance so a bit of extra admin is required by the FH.
                            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


                              #44
                              Originally posted by andydd View Post
                              ...not sure if a fee can be charge for subletting if no mention in lease, although I have seen it argued that it can affect the insurance so a bit of extra admin is required by the FH.
                              If a FH is allowed to charge managing fees (or is employing a managing agent and the lease allows their fees to be charged to leaseholders), any additional admin required due to subletting should be accounted for in the management fees - unless extra admin fees are specifically allowed for in the leases.

                              Comment


                                #45
                                Yes..good point...pretty certain extra fees cant be charged..just trying to play devils advocate..I suspect the Fh will have to back down on everything.
                                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

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