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    Hi, firstly I would like to make it clear I am the homeowner of this property rather than a landlord, but hoping someone may be able to help me.

    I have received the below from {Mod - name removed}, after being told by my solicitor that the ground rent was lapsed and not being 'actively sought after'. My solicitor has since closed down, therefore I'm unable to get in touch with him.

    From my limited understanding, they are demanding a £100 charge for a ground rent of £12.60 - I will have to order a chequebook to pay this (never written one in my life at 27 years of age) but I am totally against paying £100 for the pleasure of a letter.

    Can someone please advise me how I might be able to respond? My understanding is that as they haven't sent me an invoice of sorts, this isn't legally binding. I'm a bit stuffed with the solicitors no longer existing, but loathe the idea of paying a 1000% markup on my pittance of ground rent. Purchased the property in May 2017 and this is their first correspondence with me.

    Thank you


    Please remove all information that identifies the sender of the letter as naming and shaming is a breach of the forum rules. You only have a limited time to make changes.

    You are not being charged a late payment penalty. You are being charged the registration fees, that, I assume the lease says you must pay, to record your details as the new leaseholder and details of your mortgage.

    The demand is actually invalid, but the amounts will become payable when they issue a valid demand, in the correct format for ground rents (assuming that this wasn't already issued to your seller), and with the summary of rights for administration charges.

    When our solicitors extended some leases seven years ago, they insisted on the lease specifying at least £50 for the administration charges mentioned here, so I believe it is quite likely that your lease specifies these amounts.

    Please reserve yourself an evening to read your lease several times through as it seems likely you haven't done so properly if you were unaware of the registration fees for assignments and charges.

    Assignment is what you might call a sale, and charge is what you might call a mortgage.


      I would check the completion statement issued by your solicitor when you purchased the leasehold interest. The solicitor would normally include a ground rent apportionment and the cost of notices within that statement.

      The advice from the solicitor appears to be strange to say the least. The ground rent is payable in accordance with the lease and even if it is not “actively sought after” there is nothing to stop a freeholder from changing his mind. It may well be that the cost of charging £12.60 is considered to outweigh the benefits and the freeholder waits for it to accumulate before charging but it would become payable when it is demanded and when you receive the proper notice.

      The charges for the notices depends on the wording of your lease. It looks like you have an old lease and unless it specifies that notices are to be served and an actual amount is payable, the charge may not be payable or it should be reasonable. A notice of tenants rights relating to administration charges should accompany any demand for payment of this charge. I note that the freeholder is not asking you to supply the notices, he is asking you to pay administration charges as though notices had been served.

      The insistence on payment by cheque or postal order is probably unreasonable in this day and age. You are probably entitled to reply that you can only make payment by bank transfer. I recommend however that you do obtain a cheque book. Paying by cheque can be useful if you are making part payments eg you can write on the back “ground rent only” and retain a copy of a cheque.

      I suggest that you reply requesting a proper demand and asking them to refer you to the clause within the lease which states that the administration charges are payable.

      In the meanwhile, I would check your lease and obtain a cheque book.


        Unless the lease specifically excludes the use of legal tender, I would assume you could pay in legal tender.

        The company you refer to does get adverse comments on other forums. My guess is that the original freeholder collapsed, and were bought out. One case I saw was where they bought took over the freehold from an absentee freeholder, and some of what you say suggests that may be the case here, but I would expect your solicitor to have required insurance against the risks involved with that.

        However, apart from the cheque requirement, and the proper statutory notices, and subject to seeing the wording on the lease, the current notice doesn't seem to be going over the top. Without the notice of assignment, it would be difficult for them to find you to bill you for the ground rent.


          I consider that you are entitled to offer payment by your usual method and if the freeholder refuses payment, he cannot then claim non payment.

          At the moment the charges are not payable anyway, therefore the point is academic.

          It is impossible to say what is a reasonable charge for a notice without knowing the wording in the lease.


            Although fees for notices of assignment and charge are administration charges, they are not normally formally demanded. The solicitor typically does what is required in the lease, without such a demand, or at least does what is in the reply to form LPE1. Whilst the freeholder in this case seems to specialise in taking on properties for these sorts of fees, a normal freeholder might not think in terms of issuing the formal summaries of rights, because they would normally be dealing with solicitors.


              The freeholder has demanded monies from the leaseholder and has no excuse for failing to supply the notice for the ground rent and the summary of tenants rights for the administration charges. As such the charges are not payable.
              The fees payable for the notices are usually charged by the solicitor to the purchaser which is why I have suggested that the leaseholder checks the completion statement where they would normally appear. It may well be that the solicitor has collected the fees from the leaseholder and has failed to pass them over to the freeholder.


                Having seen some of this from the other side of the fence, solicitors seem to be getting very reliant on LPE1, rather than doing their job and actually reading the lease. Sometimes they don't even issue LPE1 and rely on the seller to tell them what the lease requires. Where I live solicitors have needed to be chased even to provide the notice of assignment. If they had relied on receiving the notices, they wouldn't have found out until the old leaseholder had complained about a service charge demand.

                This can be a particular problem in cases where the notice of underletting is required, as that is often done without a solicitor being involved. Having an AST tenant is underletting.

                In this case, I'm surprised that red flags weren't raised by the solicitor regarding failure to collect the ground rent A number of things point to a non-functional, or missing, freeholder, at the time of the sale, which would normally limit one to cash only buyers.


                  Refusing on the grounds of missing statutory notices is only a delaying tactic. If this has been a share of the freehold company, I would have said it would be bad politics to antagonise them over technical breaches; generally, if you know the breach existed, you should know what the notices would have said.

                  However, with a company with a business model based on living off ground rent and administration charges (their last annual report essentially says this), I don't think you are going to sour the relationship by standing on your rights, as you'll just be a number to them.


                    It is pointless speculating on what was included within the LPE1, what the solicitor may have said, notices for underletting, changes in the freeholder.

                    We can only go by the facts as reported, the leaseholder lives in the property and has just received an invalid demand from the freeholder.

                    Why should the leaseholder accept an invalid demand? It may not be payable anyway. We do not know what the lease says or if the leaseholder has already paid the cost of the notices to the solicitor.

                    Did someone make a scurrilous attack on a solicitor for having to be chased to part with monies sitting on a client account?


                      Hi, I have no idea how to remove the information I've posted, I can't see an option anywhere unless someone can advise please. I am going to check my lease information tonight, thanks all so far.


                        My responses from the solicitor at the time (email only)

                        On 13/12/17

                        Hi Cerys,

                        My apologies I thought we discussed this previously. I can confirm the ground rent is not collected on the property.

                        Hope all is well

                        Kind regards,

                        On 11/07/17

                        Hi Cerys,

                        Hope all is well, I note you called earlier, but the call did not connect for some reason.

                        Just by way of an update for you on the Registration we have contacted the Freeholder and await the response.

                        Kind regards,


                          "Ground Rent is not collected"makes little sense, we assume that the lease provision for GR is still intact.

                          A FH can (and they often do) send a valid demand/bill for the previous 6 years GR out of the blue (they cant collect further back than this).

                          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.


                            Fantastic old lease, ground rent of 12 guineas and the notice fee is 1 guinea (at 3n) and there is no review,
                            So the freeholder can only ask for £1.05 per notice.
                            The next step is to see how much your solicitor asked you to pay and the breakdown of the costs (completion statement) in order to see if he collected anything.
                            You should definitely not pay the amount demanded and ask them to let you have a proper demand for the amount stated in the lease together with the proper notices.
                            They should realise that it will cost them more than that to collect and that is probably why your solicitor said that ground rent was not collected.


                              Thank you for the advice, I will dig out the completion statement tomorrow.


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