Section 22 notice sent, what now?

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    Section 22 notice sent, what now?

    I have sent a section 22 notice recorded delivery to my property management company for access to see full accounts and supporting documents. Property manager emailed bank statements and a spreadsheet breakdown but no further documents such as invoices and no access granted to see the supporting documents. As a private leaseholder the local council is not interested, so can anyone tell me the next course of action to get access?

    #2
    Councils, whilst being the prosecution authority, don't have to prosecute, and in these years of central government imposed austerity will not incur costs they do not have to incur, so the criminal aspects of this law are toothless.

    I presume you have good reason for believing the summary accounts are not representing the truth and service charge money has been misused. II so, your only real option is to challenge the service charges at the FTT. They will insist on disclosure of the the section 22 information and look badly on the failure to disclose in the first place.

    Comment


      #3
      Thank you for the advice, ftt it is then

      Comment


        #4
        The risk, with the FTT, is that if the service charge turns out to be reasonable, and the manager coughs up the documents promptly, you will have to pay the application fee. Getting discovery of the invoices is a side effect of any action, not something for which you actually take action in itself.

        Comment


          #5
          A s21 notice is required to be served first and a summary of relevant costs received before a valid s22 notice may be issued.

          You can either start again with a s21 notice or if the property manager is a managing agent who has a formal complaints procedure, you could follow that procedure.

          I do not recommend going to the FTT unless you have evidence of overcharging or the expenditure is clearly unreasonable.

          Comment


            #6
            I have the bank statements, summary and a spreadsheet breakdown of the summary for 2017. There has been nearly 4K withdrawn from our reserve account for work that was never started, so I feel I have to proceed, because there appears to have been another drop in reserve in the last year too for work that has never been started. It may be perfectly ok, but I have my doubts due to movement of the large sums for work that was never started too.

            Comment


              #7
              Have you made a specific request for information regarding the expenditure charged to the reserve fund? Can you see specific amounts coming out of the bank account and if so, have you asked for details? You just need to be prepared before you go to the FTT and it will assist you if you can demonstrate that you have asked for specific details and no adequate response has been forthcoming.

              Comment


                #8
                I haven’t asked for details on any specific amounts. I will do that next and await their response.

                Comment


                  #9
                  As mentioned above, S21 is the request to see the Summary of the service charges, etc and S22 is to request a date/time to physically inspect them....so if the Fh has replied to the S22 with copies of docs write back and explain what a fool he is..you are requesting a date and time..not more copies of docs.

                  But as mentioned, LAs will rob do bugger all about it, it maybe hard to make an FTT application if you dont have the full picture and its easy to get stung with the fee(s) which are a rip off now, it maybe possible to with hold certain payment and force the FH to make an application but this can be fraught with perils.

                  I believe its also possible to make a county court application to see docs but I dont know the process of this.

                  Might be good idea to mark correspondence to the FH Without Prejudice Save as To Costs, the costs bit meaning you will ask a court/FTT to examine correspondence and award you costs as the FH has messed you about.
                  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


                    #10
                    So after emailing freeholders agent, they finally got my property manager to respond and he emailed all invoices for 2017. There are x3 management invoices that do not relate to any work that was started(just under 4K) and there are x4 invoices(@60) for a completely different property in another area that we have been charged for! What would be the best route now, these are audited accounts that are incorrect?

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Well done, you managed to obtain copies of the documents. Your next stage is to raise specific questions with the agent relating to the documents which you are querying and invite their comments. Try to keep it separate to any other emails and keep a copy. Try to be polite, remember that a copy of the emails may be produced to the FTT.

                      With regard to audits, unfortunately you cannot rely on them to pick up all errors. They are based on only a sample of the transactions. The benefit of audits is questionable, they are better than nothing but they do not give value for money. Only if there was a large and serious error which the auditor had missed would you be likely to succeed with a complaint to the auditor and his regulating body.

                      You have done the right thing by requesting and obtaining the copy documents. Hopefully, the agent will correct any errors or let you have a satisfactory explanation.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Thank you for your help, this is an update. The site manager has liaised with finance who state the invoices are valid and will not be refunded, even though the costs are for surveys prior to work that was never started, and where a section 20 notice was never sent and they cannot provide the invoices from the surveyors detailing what work was carried out by them! Also the invoices that were not for our property address have not been answered after three attempts, the site manager simply does not answer a direct question in regards to this. So what would be the general consensus- go for the first tier tribunal?

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Replies to question of this sort regularly seem to say that a section 21 request is required before a section 22 request, for sight of relevant invoices etc. can be made.
                          This is not correct. Section 22 requests can be made whenever a leaseholder has received a summary of the type referred to in section 21 (i.e. a summary of costs for a service charge year). Whether the summary was provided following a section 21 request, or not, doesn't matter.

                          Anyway, whether or not you go to a tribunal regarding the invoices that you mention will be a decision that you have to make based on (1) the amount you have contributed towards the disputed costs, (2) the likely cost of going to a tribunal - taking into account whether or not your lease allows the freeholders costs to be passed onto you, or added to the service charge, (3) the likelihood of you 'proving' the costs to be unreasonabke, and (4) whether other leaseholders would join you.

                          Tribunal cases are time consuming and you could end up paying out more than the disputed amounts, even if you win.
                          If the proportion of the costs that you are required to pay is relatively small, it can sometimes be better to make sure than you retain evidence that you have challenged the cost and then consider whether a tribunal application might be worthwhile at a later date when there may also be other matters to challenge at the same time.
                          If you do wait, I would suggest raising the disputed cost again with the freeholder/managing agent occasionally (perhaps an email or letter following each annual service charge summary pointing out that you still contest the earlier sum and haven't yet received a satisfactory reply justifying the payment).
                          You can't wait too long before going to a tribunal, but they are usually prepared to go backgat least 5 or 6 years, especially when you can show that the costs were challenged at the time.

                          You should note that surveyors costs etc., may be considered reasonable even when no maintenance work followed. It could be argued that the need for the work needed to be properly assessed and that it was then decided that it was not an immediate priority.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by Macromia View Post
                            Replies to question of this sort regularly seem to say that a section 21 request is required before a section 22 request, for sight of relevant invoices etc. can be made.
                            This is not correct. Section 22 requests can be made whenever a leaseholder has received a summary of the type referred to in section 21 (i.e. a summary of costs for a service charge year). Whether the summary was provided following a section 21 request, or not, doesn't matter.

                            .
                            The information required under s21 is different to the usual summary of charges which are supplied to leaseholders. A s21 report ,must contain a report by a registered auditor. A s22 request only applies where the tenant has received the information under s21. The landlord is only required to supply the supporting documents relating to the s21 report. The tenant cannot therefore enforce a s22 notice unless he has applied for and obtained a s21 report,

                            Comment


                              #15
                              I would go back to the manager and say that you intend to apply to the FTT unless he supplies the supporting documents and a full and proper explanation for the invoices which contain a different property address. I would also say that you would intend to apply for your costs of making the application and that you would refer to the correspondence in support of your claim.

                              Hopefully, you will then receive a satisfactory response from the manager.

                              Comment

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