Freeholder applying to the FTT for unpaid service charges

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    #16
    The FTT don't have the power to make the leaseholder pay. They only have the power to rule that payment is reasonable. A sensible leaseholder will pay up at that point because the County Court will accept that the money is payable.

    You need to go to the FTT on the basis of reasonable service charges, not on a breach of the lease.

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      #17
      I'd agree about the solicitor. The amounts at stake are too large, and you don't have a clear understanding of the process.

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        #18
        I also agree that you should seek legal advice before proceeding any further

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          #19
          Originally posted by leaseholder64 View Post
          The FTT don't have the power to make the leaseholder pay. They only have the power to rule that payment is reasonable. A sensible leaseholder will pay up at that point because the County Court will accept that the money is payable.

          You need to go to the FTT on the basis of reasonable service charges, not on a breach of the lease.
          Gotcha! Thanks for all of your advice. I will run everything past my solicitor before taking any action.

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            #20
            Originally posted by eagle2 View Post
            This case cannot be considered normal by any standard, I recall that the freeholder made no charges under the terms of the lease for many years, that is likely to be interpreted as the leaseholder having a valid argument for non payment and some sort of agreement existing between the parties even if they do not acknowledge it themselves. It is extremely difficult now for the freeholder to suddenly start charging.

            There is no chance at all of forfeiture in this case and it is not worth wasting energy considering it.

            Neither the court nor the FTT is the best place to attempt to settle a long running dispute. If the lease provides for resolving disputes, it should be followed, otherwise the parties should try to agree how to resolve their differences. Suggesting a surveyor appointed by an independent body was intended as a constructive suggestion which may be acceptable to both parties.
            Do you think there is a valid argument even if the property has changed ownership? What would have happened if I had sold the property to a developer who wanted to fix the leaking roof?

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              #21
              I do not know the full story but it is obvious that this has been a long running saga. You are in a difficult position because of your family connection and I think that it would be better if you were not involved, you would be more likely to reach an agreement with the leaseholder if you both agreed to appoint an independent person.to deal with the dispute. I suspect that the leaseholder would find it easier to discuss the problem with a developer. I hope that you do not take any form of legal action, that tends to deepen wounds rather than heal them. I am trying to assist you but you seem to be listening only to what you want to hear. Good luck anyway..

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                #22
                I believe that you will have inherited any costs linked to your fathers failure to maintain the property when you inherited the freehold.

                The leaseholder's argument that money you are getting from renting out the ground floor flat should be used to cover the cost of the roof won't carry any weight, but it is likely that they could successfully argue that the bulk of the costs of roof repair, and the cost of repairing any damage to their flat that has resulted from roof leaks, should be the freeholders responsibility on the grounds that more timely repairs several years ago could have prevented the need for such major work now. They would be in a much better position to argue this if they can produce copies of any correspondence with your father in which they highlight the fact that the roof is leaking, but ultimately it was your father's responsibility to ensure that the building was kept in a good state of repair, regardless of whether or not problems were reported (unless their lease states otherwise).

                You may find that you get a better reception at a Tribunal if you don't try and claim the full amount, reducing your claim to take into account the lack of maintenance (and also offering a reduced settlement to the leaseholders before taking any action).
                A solicitor would be able to advise you on whether any reduction may be appropriate.

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                  #23
                  Thank you for your comments.

                  I have been asking them them to provide me with documentation regarding repairs they made to the building whilst my father was alive. I have put this in a few letters to them. I would have happily covered these cost already.

                  I did in fact offer to pay for 90% of the costs in return for their consent to build a <3 meter ground floor extension and varying the lease to split the garden 50:50 (covering the legal fees). They refused and then have tried to obstruct and delay the repairs happening.

                  Will these previous offers be seen favourably by the court?

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                    #24
                    Most of what you say you have done would probably be looked at favourably by a court/tribunal and, if what you say about the leaseholder's actions is accurate, their actions won't have done hem any favours.

                    You can't be expected to have arranged repair work before you had control of the freehold, but the leaseholders are entitled to offset the cost of any repairs they have paid for, as a result of previous failures by the freeholder, against service charge demands, and are likely to only be expected to pay whatever would have been reasonable costs in a properly maintained building.

                    With regard to the roof work, you need to be prepared to justify the cost and explain why it wouldn't have been cheaper if more minor repairs had been carried out years ago.


                    The extension/garden thing is a completely separate issue.
                    If the garden and/or land that you wish to build the extension on, are within the property demised to their flat, if I was in their position I would want proper valuations of the land involved, and how the proposals would affect the value of my property before I'd even consider any offer without obligation (and with the surveyor appointed by me but paid for by you).
                    I would also want to know how you proposed to alter service charge provisions and all other aspects of the lease that might change.

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                      #25
                      I still have not filed my application with the FTT as my solicitor is busy/away/can’t be bothered so I am looking for another one. Is it possible to file 2 forms with the FTT? One to determine if service charges are reasonable and the second for forfeiture of lease? There is an ongoing leak that the leaseholders have refused to address for years. I have contacted them about it 3 times since 2017 and my tenants have just informed me the water is coming in again.

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                        #26
                        Reading the above, I think as someone else suggested, you should sell up. Even if you get the present money paid, all monies in future will be like pulling teeth.

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                          #27
                          It will but for me that is not a good reason to sell up (😂). I think I may have found an answer to my question. File for reasonableness first and then later forfeiture (although I am aware this is highly unlikely to happen).

                          Any my advice about the water dripping into my property? I can threaten to gain access to their property and fix the leak myself but I do not want to add a new bathroom to the long list of things I have already paid for?

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                            #28
                            Originally posted by Seaes56 View Post

                            Any my advice about the water dripping into my property?
                            Well that's another reason to sell up, isn't it? I know selling up sounds like admitting defeat, but just do one thing for me that will cost you nothing:

                            Go and see an estate agent, and ask if they will get you offers from their local developers. When you see how much the place is worth, I doubt you will give keeping it a second thought.

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