Flat Sale -Held over a Barrel by my Managing Agent and their Solicitors

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    Flat Sale -Held over a Barrel by my Managing Agent and their Solicitors

    Hi everyone,
    I am currently selling my flat. Offer accepted 1st April Completion due around 2nd August.
    I have been paying my service charge by DD for 11 years. 2 years ago a new management agent took over and I paid my service charge in a Lump sum.
    This year I was sent my annual invoice and I requested to DD Mandate ( I chased them for it) I sent it back, but nothing taken from my account. I received an arrears statement 10 days after payment was due I emailed them and they claimed they had not received the DD Mandate so I cleared the month via Bank Transfer which was received. I sent in a second DD which was also not logged at their end. I made another bank transfer. As I was coming to a good point with my buyers I was looking at changing my bank in advance of my new situation so I continued to pay via bank transfer.
    Basically I have paid the first three months of my service charge (4th payment due tomorrow.) as soon as my solicitor started sending enquiries concerning my sale, they told him I was in arrears and the matter had been sent to their retrieval solicitors to deal with and they were unable to respond to hm. The later that day retracted the email saying they were mistaken and my account was not in the hands of a lawyer. I contacted them immediately asking them why was in arrears and why I hadn't been sent notice previously. they said that bank transfer is not a form of payment they accept despite accepting my payments, and despite their now website listing bank transfer as an acceptable form of payment method. I had been back and forward with them on email with no one giving me any real answers, just stating I was in arrears and I owed them £1800 the outstanding payments for the 9 months and £250 in charges. I heard nothing back. 10 days later I receive an email from their solicitors demanding £3179.11 0 no breakdown of charges just the figure. I asked what the charges are for and why this was being serve as I outlined that as far as I was concerned I was not in arrears and I wanted someone to discuss this with me. The management company are refusing to discuss with me as they say my file is closed and with their solicitors. their solicitors just maintain the line that I am in arrears and I have 7 days to pay. I have spoken with their solicitors and have now started the complaint procedure against my management agent. In the meantime, my sale is in jeopardy and my completion date may be held up.
    I have an appointment with LEASE tomorrow, but just hoped for any advise out there. Should I pay the service charge £1800 and then dispute the charges separately.


    I would cancel any direct debits or standing orders which you may have. I would then pay by cheque all service charges up to the date of sale indicating on the back of the cheque what it is for. I would add in a covering letter that the cheque may not be accepted for any other purpose. I would obtain a receipt of posting from the post office.

    You can then produce to your solicitor a copy of the letter, a copy of the cheque and a copy of the proof of posting.

    I would then ask the RMC to withdraw the administration charges otherwise I would apply to the FTT to determine whether or not they are payable and if so, whether or not they are reasonable. You need to start the application whilst you are a leaseholder ie a party to the lease and before completion of the sale.

    The complaints procedure against the MA will probably not lead anywhere, the RMC is charging you, the MA is acting only as agent and the Ombudsman will not normally interfere with the legal process.


      The OP Is up against a time limit. If he challenges, the buyer's solicitor will almost certainly advise the buyer to pull out.


        If you have been paying by DD then the legal principle of Estoppel applies..i.e they have happily been accepting payments upto now..but as mentioned.this doesnt help if you are in a hurry to resolve 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.


          I would send any payments etc. (post ~2 refers) by Special Delivery.


            You may need to agree to your solicitor withholding from the sale proceeds the amount of the charges pending the FTT decision. That should satisfy the buyer.


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