£900 admin / legal charges for an unadmitted breach

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    £900 admin / legal charges for an unadmitted breach

    Hello everyone

    About six months ago I asked to get some advice here after receiving lawyer's letters about my foster dogs, which had not previously been an issue before residents began the right to manage process. The letters were stated to have been triggered under the S146 forfeiture process, which our lease does allow for recovery of.

    However, as our lease contains no blanket prohibition against dogs and no resident complaints were received, I admitted no breach, and after receiving some excellent advice here, I was able to hold off the lawyers until an adoptive home was found for the dogs. Once that was done I communicated same to the lawyer and heard nothing more.

    Today I've come home to an end of year bill which contains a few extra items, comprised of:

    - £282 for 'initial breach of lease'
    - £600 for 'solicitors legal fee'

    ...and I would like your advice on what should be done about these costs.

    I think I've got a pretty good chance of fighting this. Our lease contains no justification for the admin charge for breach of lease, much less an unproven and unadmitted one. And while our lease does allow for the Freeholder to recover S146 costs, my feeling is that this is quite a heavy handed use of S146; moreover, I have a Tribunal decision from 2011 which disallowed all legal costs as the lease 'did not provide for them'. On the other hand, our MA are very willing to double down on these costs by initiating frivolous legal cases so I need to be quite sure about my next steps.

    What are my options here? I suppose i could either refuse to pay and push them into requesting a determination; I could pay and request a determination myself; or I could pay and initiate a determination following RTM. Are there any other options? Any other learnings here?

    What would you recommend I do about these costs?
    Last edited by Benzo; 06-12-2018, 14:57 PM. Reason: adding a bit more emphasis that I'm after advice on the costs, not on the dogs

    #2
    Although S146 may seem heavy handed, it is often the only way a freeholder can recover the costs of enforcing a lease. Your protection against abuse is S168 of the Commonhold and Leaseholder Reform Act. If they have obtained an FTT ruling against you, it is quite reasonable that they should use this route. If they haven't then they need to obtain the FTT sanction.

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by Benzo View Post
      Hello everyone

      About six months ago I asked to get some advice here after receiving lawyer's letters about my foster dogs, which had not previously been an issue before residents began the right to manage process. The letters were stated to have been triggered under the S146 forfeiture process, which our lease does allow for recovery of.

      However, as our lease contains no blanket prohibition against dogs and no resident complaints were received, I admitted no breach, and after receiving some excellent advice here, I was able to hold off the lawyers until an adoptive home was found for the dogs. Once that was done I communicated same to the lawyer and heard nothing more.

      Today I've come home to an end of year bill which contains a few extra items, comprised of:

      - £282 for 'initial breach of lease'
      - £600 for 'solicitors legal fee'

      Now I think I've got a pretty good chance of fighting this. Our lease contains no justification for the admin charge for breach of lease, much less an unproven and unadmitted one. And while our lease does allow for the Freeholder to recover S146 costs, my feeling is that this is quite a heavy handed use of S146; moreover, I have a Tribunal decision from 2011 which disallowed all legal costs as the lease 'did not provide for them'.

      What are my options here? I suppose i could either refuse to pay and push them into requesting a determination; I could pay and request a determination myself; or I could pay and initiate a determination following RTM. Are there any other options? Any other learnings here?

      Our MA are very willing to double down on these costs by initiating frivolous legal cases so I need to be quite sure about my next steps. What would you recommend?
      Use wording in your Lease and aks them to state where in the Lease does it say that dogs are NOT permitted firstly? If there is nothing in the Lease ie no pets clause then state this after you have got an answer back about where it states in Lease you could not house a temporary pet? Does anyone else have pets there....a cat or bird or other? What are legal fees for? Ask them to break them down and qualify what was the legal advice for? Then go to CAB and Lease to get some advice as well as on here?

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by Benzo View Post
        Hello everyone

        About six months ago I asked to get some advice here after receiving lawyer's letters about my foster dogs, which had not previously been an issue before residents began the right to manage process. The letters were stated to have been triggered under the S146 forfeiture process, which our lease does allow for recovery of.

        However, as our lease contains no blanket prohibition against dogs and no resident complaints were received, I admitted no breach, and after receiving some excellent advice here, I was able to hold off the lawyers until an adoptive home was found for the dogs. Once that was done I communicated same to the lawyer and heard nothing more.

        Today I've come home to an end of year bill which contains a few extra items, comprised of:

        - £282 for 'initial breach of lease'
        - £600 for 'solicitors legal fee'

        Now I think I've got a pretty good chance of fighting this. Our lease contains no justification for the admin charge for breach of lease, much less an unproven and unadmitted one. And while our lease does allow for the Freeholder to recover S146 costs, my feeling is that this is quite a heavy handed use of S146; moreover, I have a Tribunal decision from 2011 which disallowed all legal costs as the lease 'did not provide for them'.

        What are my options here? I suppose i could either refuse to pay and push them into requesting a determination; I could pay and request a determination myself; or I could pay and initiate a determination following RTM. Are there any other options? Any other learnings here?

        Our MA are very willing to double down on these costs by initiating frivolous legal cases so I need to be quite sure about my next steps. What would you recommend?
        Also has admin charge been accompanied by the right request format?

        Comment


          #5
          This is a case of someone generating lots of threads on the same issue, something I seem to remember that you do. The clause restricting dogs has already been given and been heavily debated.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by leaseholder64 View Post
            This is a case of someone generating lots of threads on the same issue, something I seem to remember that you do. The clause restricting dogs has already been given and been heavily debated.
            Sorry if I've caused offence, leaseholder64 - I only included the background for context, not to go over it again - I agree that the clause in the lease has been debated to death. There's no point discussing the dogs because the dogs are gone.

            The purpose of this thread is around these costs - whether I should refuse to pay, pay them under protest and challenge, or what. I have added more context to the original post to make this clearer.

            To answer your question, a FTT decision has not been obtained by the Freeholder and no application has been made for same on either side. I do not think S146 proceedings are likely; I'm just interested in what the board would recommend I would do about these costs.
            Last edited by Benzo; 06-12-2018, 15:39 PM. Reason: more clarity

            Comment


              #7
              There is nothing wrong with a new thread referring to the background information on a different thread. It is clearly a new point which has not been made previously.

              You can apply to the FTT to determine that the administration charges are not payable and you would need to make a s20c LTA 1985 application to ask that the costs of the application could not be added to the service charge expenditure.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by eagle2 View Post
                There is nothing wrong with a new thread referring to the background information on a different thread. It is clearly a new point which has not been made previously.

                You can apply to the FTT to determine that the administration charges are not payable and you would need to make a s20c LTA 1985 application to ask that the costs of the application could not be added to the service charge expenditure.
                Thanks eagle2 . This place is an excellent resource and I want to be respectful of it.

                Would it be better for me to apply to the Tribunal for this determination, or should I make an offer and suggest the MA / Lawyer does so if they're not happy with it?

                Comment


                  #9
                  It would be better to say that you do not intend to pay anything unless it is determined by the FTT, that way the burden of proof lies with the landlord. Your landlord however seems to do the opposite of what he should, so you may need to make the application yourself and if you wait for the RTM and the transfer of trust monies, the landlord will not have access to those funds to finance the case, I would not make any offer, that accepts the landlord's right to charge you and it seems unlikely with the history involved that an offer would be accepted.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by eagle2 View Post
                    It would be better to say that you do not intend to pay anything unless it is determined by the FTT, that way the burden of proof lies with the landlord. Your landlord however seems to do the opposite of what he should, so you may need to make the application yourself and if you wait for the RTM and the transfer of trust monies, the landlord will not have access to those funds to finance the case, I would not make any offer, that accepts the landlord's right to charge you and it seems unlikely with the history involved that an offer would be accepted.
                    That makes sense. Do you think there's any sense in pursuing the complaints procedure before going to Tribunal? Some advice I received suggested it'd make me look more reasonable than going straight to litigation!

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Complaints procedure?!

                      Come on Benzo. How likely is that to get you anywhere?

                      You need to stop being such a pussy with these people. Get thee to the FTT.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        You can politely ask them to remove the charges otherwise they will leave you with no alternative but to apply again to the FTT. You have sufficient history to demonstrate who is being reasonable.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          I think you guys might be right. I will ask them what the charges are for, what work was done to incur them, ask them to remove if I'm not satisfied with their answers, and make an application to FTT if they still fail to be reasonable.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            If I remember correctly, the freeholder didn't make any contact regarding the perceived breach prior to instructing their solicitors. Is this correct?

                            I would be inclined to argue that this would make at least some of the costs unreasonable (even if it were eventually determined that the costs were reasonable in part).
                            If they wish to argue that the solicitors costs can be recovered until the s.146 forfeiture clause, it is surely reasonable to communicate this possible course of action to a leaseholder before instructing solicitors (at least in cases where it is likely that the leaseholders will take the required action to avoid forfeiture)

                            Comment


                              #15
                              If you wish to go back to the MA, I suggest that you ask for full details of the charges eg who is making those charges, request details of the “initial breach of the lease”, request a copy of the solicitors bill with a full breakdown of the charges and ask them to let you know exactly which clause(s) of the lease they are relying upon.

                              It is better to obtain the details from them now rather than make assumptions and allow them to spring surprises later.

                              Comment

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