Late ground rent payment charge & legal fees no warnings

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    #16
    Originally posted by KingstonBee View Post
    Ok, so they’ve said that I should only be now talking with PDC “it’s now in the hands of them sorry!” - Do I negotiate with the original Lease Holder OR PDC? Also are the costs fixed as per the claim amount on the court paper?
    At this point, the most important things for you to be doing are probably the following:
    1. Respond to the court regarding the court claim. The papers you have received should inform you what type of response is required, and the date this needs to be submitted by. You must ensure that you meet all court requirements.
    It may be advisable to include a request that the case is transferred to a First Tier/Leasehold Valuation Tribunal when you respond (the correct tribunal depends on where in the UK the property is).
    2. Seek advice regarding your lease, and the requirements within it. You may be able to get free legal advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau (if your local one is working at the moment), or from either of the following (all would need to see a copy of your lease):
    https://www.lease-advice.org
    https://www.leaseholdknowledge.com

    I would think that the law firm that this has been passed onto will not accept anything less than the full amount stated in the court papers at this point - unless they know that it is something that they cannot possibly win if it goes to court, and don't want to risk the court not awarding costs.

    Unfortunately, costs can increase considerably if this actually goes to a court hearing. What the law firm will then be seeking is payment of the full sum detailed in the claim plus payment of all of their costs in association with the court action.

    Originally posted by KingstonBee View Post
    How much is reasonable? And is this an offer on the legal fees too or JUST the admin for the lease and maybe a late payment fee?
    What is reasonable depends on what it says in your lease, and whether the freeholder (or their managing agents) genuinely sent out properly addressed, valid demands and made genuine attempts to chase the 'debt' themselves before passing the matter onto a law firm for debt collection.
    If no properly addressed, valid demands were sent out, then nothing should be payable and all admin and legal fees that have been added are unreasonable (the additional fees are also potentially unreasonable if the lease doesn't allow for them).
    If valid demands and reminder letters were sent, and you have somehow overlooked them, then additional fees for each reminder letter become reasonable (probably no more than £50 per letter) as do legal fees (although, I.M.O., the reasonable first step for a lawyer should have been to send out a letter before action, not to start court action straight away).

    The problem is that the freeholder's lawyers only have to show that it is reasonable to assume that, on the balance of probabilities, that properly addressed letters were sent - they usually don't have to prove receipt. In your case it might be different if the lease does require demands to have been sent by recorded/registered delivery, and the freeholder can't show that demands were validly served according to the requirements of the lease, or that you have agreed to other arrangements.


    Originally posted by KingstonBee View Post
    Well, they haven’t included any evidence in their court pack other than a PDC letter (again that was never received).

    Do you have a template I can use to argue these points please? and to whom?

    The fees on the court paper already includes legal fees, can these actually increase now?!
    Evidence supporting their claim won't have to be sent to you, or to the court, until a later date (after you have responded and both sides have submitted statements of claim).
    At this point you probably have nothing to lose from telling the court that you do not dispute that you have an obligation to pay both ground rent and insurance if properly demanded, but that you did not receive any demands and have not been shown any evidence supporting the assertion that valid demands were sent.

    You do not yet have to provide any statement to the court (or to the freeholder, or their solicitors), other than what the papers you have received require. At present this is likely to only be acknowledgement of receipt of the papers, confirmation of the contact details you want used, and details of whether or not you dispute any part of the claim.
    After you have sent this response (which the papers will likely say needs to be copied to the claimant (or in this case, their solicitors), the freeholder's solicitors will produce a 'statement of case' detailing their claim in more detail. You will then be expected to respond to this with a more detailed statement of your own.

    As stated above (where I have responded to your replies to other posters), the judge can be asked for any costs associated with the case to be awarded, including court fees, solicitors fees, the costs of preparing and sending out statements and other documents, travel costs, accommodation costs if an overnight stay is reasonable (e.g. for an early hearing a long way from the solicitors workplace), etc.
    Costs are not usually awarded at a tribunal (and you may have to pay applicant fees if you ask for the case to be transferred) but the solicitor will almost certainly ask for the case to be transferred back to the County Court for consideration of costs.

    If you win all parts of the case, and nothing is considered to be payable under the lease, the courts shouldn't award any costs against you (your argument in this situation would be that, since there was legally no debt in the first place, the solicitors should have informed their client that this was the case and no costs should have been incurred - other than, perhaps, a small consultation fee payable by the freeholder).

    Good luck!




    P.S. I have no qualifications to practise law, and any advice that I have given is therefore opinion only (based on my personal experience of dealing with leasehold claims of my own).

    Comment


      #17
      KingstonBee,

      Have you actually received papers from the court? It's a common tactic of certain firms to send out fake "particulars of claim" to intimidate.

      Comment


        #18
        Originally posted by Paulsen View Post
        Hi, just wanted to say that I had a similar experience, I received my demands but they were not in accordance with my lease demanding some costs at 100% instead of 50%.
        MA instructed PDC which lead to court proceedings. In total MA wanted £13,000 plus £3,000 for PDC solicitors. Yes your solicitor bill from them will increase last minute just before the day of your court hearing. Think in my original court pack it was around £800, in the papers before court it had increased to over £3,000.

        I believe PDC are intimidating and they rely on the court not wanting to deal with these cases properly, just reach a quick settlement. I just wanted to share my experience so you know a bit of what to expect. Macromias advise is really good, you are now responding with your defence to the court if you have already been served court papers. Good luck I know how stressful it is.
        Highly appreciated! Thanks for this, it’s what I feared - Takes the biscuit doesn’t it?! I’m thinking of writing to my local MP about it too.



        Originally posted by Macromia View Post
        At this point, the most important things for you to be doing are probably the following:
        1. Respond to the court regarding the court claim. The papers you have received should inform you what type of response is required, and the date this needs to be submitted by. You must ensure that you meet all court requirements.
        It may be advisable to include a request that the case is transferred to a First Tier/Leasehold Valuation Tribunal when you respond (the correct tribunal depends on where in the UK the property is).
        2. Seek advice regarding your lease, and the requirements within it.

        I would think that the law firm that this has been passed onto will not accept anything less than the full amount stated in the court papers at this point. Unfortunately, costs can increase considerably if this actually goes to a court hearing. What the law firm will then be seeking is payment of the full sum detailed in the claim plus payment of all of their costs in association with the court action.

        What is reasonable depends on what it says in your lease, and whether the freeholder (or their managing agents) genuinely sent out properly addressed, valid demands and made genuine attempts to chase the 'debt' themselves before passing the matter onto a law firm for debt collection.

        If no properly addressed, valid demands were sent out, then nothing should be payable and all admin and legal fees that have been added are unreasonable (the additional fees are also potentially unreasonable if the lease doesn't allow for them).

        The problem is that the freeholder's lawyers only have to show that it is reasonable to assume that, on the balance of probabilities. In your case it might be different if the lease does require demands to have been sent by recorded/registered delivery, and the freeholder can't show that demands were validly served according to the requirements of the lease, or that you have agreed to other arrangements.
        How much weight do you think my argument has over this? Is it a conclusive argument for a win or just a point made in the entire case? (including that they have not even emailed me when I explicitly told them that’s m,y preffered method of contact due to postage not always being delivered? and them going straight to the county court rather than just knocking on the door / calling on the phone?).

        Well, the ‘court paper’ is a “Claim Form” photocopy with a printed sticker over the case number etc. There is NO action on this paper or date to return etc... BUT there is a small seperate pack seperate within the envelope which is a “COUNTY COURT CLAIM FORM” it gives plenty of option on how to respond but no date etc.

        I’ll be calling the Citizens advice on Monday!

        As my flat is now up for sale I can’t have this lingering, is it best to just email the lease company to just email them a settlement offer (maybe £300 for admin and reasonable amount for late fees) and be done with it - The Lease and insurance have now been paid and not returned via bank transfer.



        Originally posted by Section20z View Post
        Have you actually received papers from the court? It's a common tactic of certain firms to send out fake "particulars of claim" to intimidate.
        It’s a “Claim Form” and “enclosed county court claim form has been issued to you as a defendant to the claim”

        That’s it!



        Thanks all once again, really appreciate all of your time and efforts with this x

        Comment


          #19
          The court papers should have name and address of claimant, directions of response and timeframe for the response and address were to send your response.It also should have a phone number that you can contact at the small claims court if you have a query about the directions.

          PDC have their on solicitors if you google the company you find more information. They used to be debt collecting only but now has a law firm working with them.

          If they have accepted your payment, is that cost still included on the claims form? Once they have issued court actions they usually don’t accept any payment or correspondence.



          Comment


            #20
            Paulsen,

            Just a POBOX address under Claimant name and address on the claim form.

            No timeframe I’ve checked it over 4 times now. It looks like a photocopy of their claim form as its filled in with their details and preferred hearing centre etc. But the loose pack that was also included has a Acknowledgement of service too again with no date to action by.

            I’ll also call up the courts to be sure too as it’s not initially clear on what to do.


            Well they haven’t returned it yet? How long until it is deemed unacceptable to refund if they don’t accept it?

            They list the GR & I cost, Admin Fees and Contractual fees...

            Comment


              #21
              It sounds like this might have been sent by the debt collector/solicitor firm to try and intimidate you into paying, rather than having come from the courts - but you need to be sure before ignoring it.
              If the papers do come from the courts you need to respond within 14 days, at least by acknowledging receipt.

              As for how strong your argument is, for that you need proper advise from someone who has actually seen your lease and has been able to give consideration to all clauses and how they might have been affected by any relevant law.

              However, if anything that the freeholder's have failed to do makes their demands invalid, this should be all that you need. If no valid demands for ground rent and insurance were sent then neither cost became due - and if the sums weren't due in the first place, no charges can be made for failing to pay them.

              If the demands were sent by registered/recorded post then the managing agents should be able to produce evidence of this - but there is a complication if it can be argued that section 7 of the Interpretation Act 1978 applies, as this (+case law) allows 'notices' that would otherwise have to be sent by recorded post to be sent by standard 1st class post. I think that the fact that registered/recorded post is specified in your lease might mean that this doesn't apply, but if this was my main/only argument for disputed the payment I'd want confirmation from someone qualified that I had a case worth fighting.

              Comment


                #22
                Originally posted by KingstonBee View Post
                Well they haven’t returned it yet? How long until it is deemed unacceptable to refund if they don’t accept it?
                How long is considered reasonable before returning the payment you have made and stating that the payment has not been accepted is likely to depend on how it is argued.

                If you didn't notify the managing agents that a payment had been made, they might reasonably be able to argue that they were not aware of the payment for several weeks, especially with present circumstances where fewer staff might be in the office. If you did. send email notification that you had made a payment, whether the email went to a single individual or a general email account might be important - it's easy to say that an individual was on holiday or off sick.

                Comment


                  #23
                  Macromia,

                  I checked with the courts and it has to be done by tomorrow - I’ve paid the GR & I so do I defend in full or part?


                  Also, I emailed the company to express an interest in paying a little something appropriate to get rid of this etc but the owner replied and said he didn’t want to discuss it. I sent another email again expressing their position should be to settle this away from court and by forcing it to go to court wouldn’t look very good for them when I’m trying to resolve it. He responded and told me to speak with PDC...

                  I called PDC and tried to discuss it and the woman was so defensive and dismissed any suggestion of trying to resolve outside of court. She was very forceful with her tone and explicitly said to never contact her client again - despite that who the lease is with (?!) But I insisted again that they have a duty to limit their costs and exhaust all avenues before court but she insisted that she wants to push it to court. She also said that she will instruct her client to refund the GR & I fee - Seriously why? Wouldn’t she be counter-intuitive in doing this?

                  Any advice on this?

                  Comment


                    #24
                    Originally posted by KingstonBee View Post
                    Macromia,

                    I checked with the courts and it has to be done by tomorrow - I’ve paid the GR & I so do I defend in full or part?
                    If "tomorrow" (presumably now today) is the 14th day after the court papers were sent, you should be able to send back just the acknowledgement of receipt, which would then give you 14 more days for a proper response (perhaps time to get legal advice).
                    You must get at least that to the court though, or you may have judgement for the full amount awarded against you in default.
                    You may also wish to consider whether to ask for the matter to be transferred to the appropriate First Tier tribunal.

                    If you are going to defend against the claim, you will need to acknowledge that you accept that the ground rent is due (state that this has now been paid, and the date that you paid it) but that you contest the remainder of the claim.

                    You may be able to use arguments about the freeholders and their solicitors not trying to come to an agreement without court to limit any award of costs against you if it comes to that (but expect them to lie and say that they have tried to reach an agreement).

                    Comment


                      #25
                      Macromia,

                      Great, I’ve done and said all that on the defence section and was very clear about them not engaging in settling the matter outside of court etc.

                      Let’s wait and see what comes back.

                      Comment


                        #26
                        Don't do nothing while you wait, make every effort than you can to seek legal advice.
                        You may find that the recommendation from people who have legal training is to pay what has already been demanded because it is likely that you will lose in court and end up with additional costs to pay.

                        Obviously I hope that this wouldn't be the case (and my person view, based on what you have said, is that it is worth fighting), but the case won't be decided on what is fair, it will be decided by what the law says, and how well the legal position is argued.

                        Comment


                          #27
                          Had some advice from Citizen advice and a housing charity, and they both say they to do what’s been said above as in pay the amount that’s owned minus any fees and defend the case. They can’t give additional advice once it’s gone further though.

                          Since emailing the Company and calling PDC we have now been totally ignored by them! They won’t respond to anything. On top of that I have been sent a new invoice for “Sub-letting Registration Fee” because the company has done some internal shuffling of accounts - It’s £100! I dont sublet and I live here - I own my flat. They won’t even respond to this query - I assume to purposely delay it to incur costs! Any advice on this too please?

                          I’ll be glad to sell this flat and see the back of them - Nasty people!

                          Comment


                            #28
                            PDC is a vile and nasty company with out a doubt! I was unlucky in court and got a judge who hadn’t read through all the paperwork and couldn’t be bothered as these cases should be heard in the Tribunal instead. She made that clear at the beginning but the PDC law barrister argued the court had jurisdiction on the case. This is why I feel you might be better off in the Property Tribunal as they do go through all the paperwork.

                            You will be recommended meditation before court which I agreed to and PDC representative also did. However on the day of mediation they didn’t answer the phone. They lied in court and said the phone lines didn’t work! Well they worked for me and the woman doing the mediation even emailed with no response! If the same thing happens to you tell the one from the mediation that you want it in a email that you were available at the agreed time but the other side didn’t respond. At least then they can’t lie in court.

                            Comment


                              #29
                              I clearly said in the defence form from the court that I would like this case to be first heard at the Tribunal stage. I’ve been making sure I get all details in order and I’ll definitely action your suggestion around mediation should this happen.

                              Comment


                                #30
                                FTT won't deal with ground rent so that aspect will be heard by County Court.

                                Comment

                                Latest Activity

                                Collapse

                                • Freeholder owns a number of leases, is this something to avoid?
                                  by phatfish
                                  I am buying a flat in a block of 11 where the landlord is a small company with two directors. One happens to be the owner of the lease i would take possession of.

                                  The other does not own any of the leases directly, but some family members own at least 4 of them (maybe one or two more, i...
                                  27-09-2020, 17:43 PM
                                • Reply to Freeholder owns a number of leases, is this something to avoid?
                                  by Macromia
                                  All leaseholders should be treated equally and in accordance with the terms of the lease. Unfortunately this isn't always what happens.

                                  Hypothetically, you have the same protections where the freeholder is a company owned by leaseholders, and run by directors who have a controlling interest,...
                                  28-09-2020, 01:19 AM
                                • LPE1 Questions
                                  by comm1985
                                  For the purposes of LPE1 could someone clarify the below:

                                  1. Slightly confused by the terms 'Managed Area' and 'Common Parts'. For a building of 4 standalone flats with no communal areas or entrances.

                                  a) I assume the "Managed Area" is the building containing the...
                                  27-09-2020, 18:28 PM
                                • Reply to LPE1 Questions
                                  by Macromia
                                  Managed area will include the building and any grounds, gardens, outbuildings, etc., basically anything that the leaseholders may be required to contribute to the maintenance of via service charges.

                                  Common parts would include communal corridors, gardens, etc., and may also include parts...
                                  28-09-2020, 01:08 AM
                                • management and maintenance costs for parking court
                                  by cooked
                                  sorry this may in the wrong forum but I could not see a forum title which was relevant
                                  my wife and I own (leasehold) two flats in a block of 3 flats
                                  each of the 3 flats has two parking spaces in a 30 space parking court
                                  in 2018, we became the RTM for the building but the parking court...
                                  25-09-2020, 22:30 PM
                                • Reply to management and maintenance costs for parking court
                                  by Macromia
                                  Without knowing what your "parking court" is like, I would think that all of the charges that you list would likely be considered reasonable - apart from the management fees (personally I would consider the accountancy/audit charges to be of no value whatsoever to leaseholders, and therefore...
                                  28-09-2020, 00:53 AM
                                • Reply to Freeholder owns a number of leases, is this something to avoid?
                                  by phatfish
                                  Hi Scot,

                                  Thanks for the reply. Yes i worded that badly, all i meant was the lease has a provision that states that all leaseholders are responsible for an equal share of a service charge and i have no reason to believe one lease is different from another.

                                  I did familiarize...
                                  27-09-2020, 20:52 PM
                                • Reply to management and maintenance costs for parking court
                                  by cooked
                                  The fees charged to us for the parking court have risen slightly in the last few years and there was no reduction when we took over the management of the building.
                                  The management of the parking court remained with the original management company even though the management of the building itself...
                                  27-09-2020, 19:27 PM
                                • Reply to Freeholder owns a number of leases, is this something to avoid?
                                  by scot22
                                  The Freeholder MUST abide by the lease and any leasehold ownership can be problematic. I doubt if you have to pay whatever is demanded. It would have to be expenditure justified by the lease and be reasonable.
                                  I suggest looking on the LEASE site where there is a wealth of information.
                                  27-09-2020, 18:25 PM
                                • Responsibility of window frames
                                  by charlie8899
                                  Hello - I hope someone can help. I own a new build flat and have a faulty window that needs replacing. This will be quite costly and requires erecting scaffolding. I was surprised to hear from the building management company that windows are the responsibility of the leaseholder. This doesn't seem right...
                                  23-09-2020, 08:05 AM
                                Working...
                                X