Previous long leaseholder sold us flat with service charge outstanding

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    Previous long leaseholder sold us flat with service charge outstanding

    Previous leaseholder sold us flat with service charge outstanding, We have had to pay the service charge or the freeholder would have forfeited the lease. Our solicitor is being totally unhelpful. Can we issue a Money claim against the previous leaseholder for the amount we have paid and if so on what grounds?

    #2
    Sorry to hear about the outstanding service charge. Your solicitor really should’ve brought this to your attention before you exchange contracts. But there’s no point worrying about things that should’ve happened. Let’s focus on solutions.

    Will presume that you bought the property under contract, which incorporates of the standard conditions of sale (5th edition). This is the standard for around 98% of all residential transactions in England and Wales.

    Pursuant to standard conditions six, the parties to a transaction are to apportion of the outgoings and incomings of a property.

    This means that if there was service charge relating to the sellers period of ownership you should be able to demand that they paid this, under the contract of sale.

    The issue you really have is logistics. The first is knowing where the previous owner is, and your ability to serve formal notice on them.

    The second is regarding the size of the claim. If the claim is below £10,000 in size, it is deemed to be small claim. This means that you are only entitled to recover the sum you are seeking, interest under the County Court act (around 8% per annum) and the court issue fee. You’re not entitled to your legal fees. It’s normally means that issuing for a claim under £10,000, is logistically unfeasible if you want to use a lawyer. However nothing stopping you from doing it yourself.



    Hope this helps

    Comment


      #3
      I had the same situation and told this to my conveyancing solicitor who then got the previous owner to pay for the outstanding charges. How is the solicitor exactly being "unhelpful"? It is the duty of the solicitor to chase the previous owner, not yours. Is your solicitor registered with The Law Society?

      Comment


        #4
        I agree with the above, your solicitor should have found out that their were outstanding charges, told you about them, and arranged something with the vendor.

        I'd tell them that you expect them to sort it out (and if they continue to be 'unhelpful' ask for a copy of their complaints procedure and tell them that you are willing to take the complaint further if it isn't sorted out).

        Comment


          #5
          Thank you so much Protoknight25 really helpful information. Just wondering when you say Formal Notice do you mean just sending a letter requesting payment? And then following that issuing a claim in the county court?

          Comment


            #6
            I think it is up to o/p's solicitor to have made enquiries about this. If they didn't, I think it's too late to complain to the old lessee now. Maybe solicitor will cough up?

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by JK0 View Post
              I think it is up to o/p's solicitor to have made enquiries about this. If they didn't, I think it's too late to complain to the old lessee now. Maybe solicitor will cough up?
              Unless there was an agreement that the arrears would become the responsibility of the buyer, they remain the responsibility of the seller (which means that, hypothetically at least) the buyer can pursue the seller to recover the amount.
              However, this does presume that the sums involved were actually due before the sale took place. A large sum due for work that took place before the sale, but which was not due for payment until after the sale (i.e. a sum demanded in arrears) might not be recoverable from the seller.

              If the solicitor was meant to confirm that the service charges were up to date and didn't, then they were potentially negligent.

              Comment


                #8
                Dear Protoknight25

                Though not directly related to the OP's situation, can the 8% interest be charged by a landlord when making a claim in respect of unpaid service charges even where the lease does not allow for interest to be added.

                Thank you.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by vmart View Post
                  Though not directly related to the OP's situation, can the 8% interest be charged by a landlord when making a claim in respect of unpaid service charges even where the lease does not allow for interest to be added.
                  If a landlord takes action to recover unpaid service charges in the county court they can ask the court to add interest regardless of whether or not the lease contains a provision allowing interest.

                  Any interest would be 'awarded' by the court as a part of the court decision rather than because it was a contractual part of the lease.

                  Comment

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