Late ground rent and subletting

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  • andydd
    replied
    GR is only payable if demands are sent..but all the landlord has to do is send them to your address...all the forwarding etc means it's a bit of a mess.

    Extra admin fees are only payable IF the lease allows and IF you have been sent a proper Summary Of Rights - Admin Charges attached..again
    .your forwarding situation confuses the issue.

    the subletting is more serious as you could be in breach of the lease.

    Leave a comment:


  • chuck990
    started a topic Late ground rent and subletting

    Late ground rent and subletting

    Hi,

    I've ended up in a bit of a bad situation which admittedly, is mostly my own fault. I would however appreciate any advice on how to best deal with things going forward. I'll write a full explanation below (it'll be reasonably long, but hopefully clarifies how I've gotten here), but also some TL;DR bullet points at the end.

    I bought a flat to live in a couple of years ago. The company I worked for then went bust 6 months later and I had to move to find work. I found myself as an accidental landlord renting out the flat while I lived elsewhere.
    I gained consent to let from my mortgage company and when I looked in the lease, what I saw was a clause saying I wasn't to underlet for more than 3 years without the Lessors's consent. I didn't intend for it to be a longterm thing, so didn't contact the freeholder about it. I went through an estate/letting agents and asked them to forward me any mail that arrived, and also set up 6 (or maybe 12?) months of Post office redirection (which will have ended before xmas). The letting agents/tenants were very obliging in forwarding mail.

    I re-mortgaged the property earlier this year to a proper BTL mortgage as I am now fairly certain I wont be returning. This involved extensive communications with the freeholder and payment of their fees (I thought these high, but couldn't really afford to wait and argue them) for a notice of transfer and a certificate of compliance (stating I was not in breach of the lease).

    In July, to the email address which I used to correspond about the re-mortgaging, I received a "Notice Before action" relating to unpaid ground rent for both January and July. I hadn't received either the January nor the July demands, neither any reminders etc. so this came as a shock. If I were more diligent, I might have noticed that I hadn't paid ground rent in over 6 months, but it's notexactly something I think about very often!
    sent a cheque to cover the ground rent, but disputed the admin charges, seeking their justification and also pointing out I hadn't received the notices and as such rent couldn't have been due (this is on the assumption that mail is being forwarded as it has been in the past...).

    I have since re-examined the lease looking for admin charges on ground rent arrears, but I noticed that I hadn't fully read the sub-letting clauses. The clause I had read before did indeed say not to underlet for more than 3 years without written consent, but it also says "PROVIDED ALWAYS that" and includes further terms, including "the Lessee shall immediately register full details of all and any occupier of the demised premises with the lessor or its agent".
    I therefore have two issues to deal with; the grount rent admin charges, and registering the under-let.

    Ground rent - as above, I have sent a cheque for the ground rent, but it hasnt been cashed. I sent an email explaining this, asking them to justify the addition of admin charges but have had no reply. It may be that they replied by post and I have asked the letting agent to check with the tenants for anything that arrives for me.

    Sub-let - The tenants are due to sign a new AST shortly anyway. My current thinking is to just present that AST as if it were the first. If possible I dont want the ground rent situation above to let them know the tenants are already there. They will almost definitely try to elicit some fee for underletting (though none appears due in the lease) and I think I am in a better place to argue this if not already in breach.

    TL;DR version:
    • Freeholder chasing me for ground rent from both Jan and July
    • Notices didn't reach me (either not forwarded by tenants, or not received at all)
    • The arrears should have been brought up during a remortgage this year (as I was in breach of the lease, they should not have allowed a disposition)
    • They have added admin fees which I dispute
    • Lease makes no provision for the fees (to my understanding)
    • Re-reading lease has highlighted that freeholder should have been made aware of tennants (they as yet are not aware it is sub-let)
    • Tenants are due to sign a new lease shortly.

    Hopefully the above makes sense. As I say at the start, it's largely a mess of my own making, but I've not set out to do anything wrong! Can anyone offer any advice?

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