New MA demanding service charge payment for Old MA complaint

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    New MA demanding service charge payment for Old MA complaint

    The freeholder and managing agent (MA) changed hands while I was disputing very poor management and extortionate services charges with the old MA. The old MA will not resolve my dispute, the new MA continues to demand payment. The ombudsman can't intervene because I'm outside their scheme (charges don't apply to new agent). I've put everything in writing but the new MA couldn't read my simple spreadsheet of logged dispute items. When I attempted to sell the property the new MA demanded payment as part of the exchange of contracts. Sale fell through so I've decided to retain the leasehold and let the property.

    Dispute is for £1800. I've told the new MA to take me to court (fairly certain my case is strong enough to win/meet half way) but they don't seem to be motivated to do that either. They know they can play the waiting game until I sell or extend the unmortgageable lease. I've also just started a complaint with the new MA's professional body to put pressure on them to resolve. I seem to be stuck and would like to know some routes to get this matter looked at and resolved. I can't start court action because I don't have a court demand for payment. Is it worth trying the old MA's professional body (RICS)? Consumer law seems to apply but MA's seem to be above that law. Lease terms say 'reasonable charges' and not one of them is. Many thanks for any input.

    #2
    Presumably the disputed amounts are either service charge demands or administration charges?
    You can start a tribunal case to determine how much is 'reasonable' - but this will cost you money that you might not get back (many tribunals seem reluctant to award costs even if the party that starts the case wins on most, or sometimes even all, contested charges).
    You are right that the Freeholder is unlikely to start a court case themselves, if there is any doubt about whether or not they might win, because they can wait it out and basically blackmail leaseholders into giving up and paying if they want to sell the flat or extend the lease.

    it is very unlikely that you will have any luck with the 'professional' bodies that either managing agent belongs to. The managing agents have virtually no 'burden of proof' to convince the bodies that their membership fees support that their actions in pursuing an alleged debt are reasonable.

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      #3
      Thank you Macromia. Yes, the disputed charge demands are stacked towards admin with inflated repair costs for very poor repairs, fees for inspection visits from their staff who lacked the expertise to question the work, 6 quarters in a single year (when there are only 4 and we've been charged for 6) and so on and on....A remote MA that employed companies from hundreds of miles away to 'maintain' the property while the building became more and more delapidated.

      I know what you mean about professional bodies, but they must have a code of conduct and they don't want the bad publicity so they might prod him into acting. Yes, this is blackmail towards a consumer. I can consult my solicitor at some point but it's now a heck of a spreadsheet and a costly exercise to pick the bones out of so I would rather the costs came from the MA's direction and not mine.

      It just doesn't seem fair that I've been pleading for someone to hear me for 2.5 years and yet the blackmailers know they can win if I decided to sell. I've also contacted the local press - not as any form of blackmail for the new MA of course but it's good to know that I can remove income to more than the dispute value from the local struggling MA with his local shop that is sited right opposite the building. Popcorn anyone?

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        #4
        You should bring your complaint to your local MP and urge him or her to join the APPG for Leasehold Reform in Parliament which you can get further information on the "leasehold knowledge partnership" website.

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          #5
          Strangely enough, I was thinking about taking this up with my MP, Gordon. Mine is a known pompous git that doesn't seem to care much for underdogs at all. I got an email back from one of the MAs professional bodies whose logo is displayed on this website and he's not even a member. I should get a reply from my 'get stuffed' response to his demand for money. I'll let you all know what he says.

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            #6
            Originally posted by I Like Letting View Post
            Strangely enough, I was thinking about taking this up with my MP, Gordon. Mine is a known pompous git that doesn't seem to care much for underdogs at all. I got an email back from one of the MAs professional bodies whose logo is displayed on this website and he's not even a member. I should get a reply from my 'get stuffed' response to his demand for money. I'll let you all know what he says.
            The Daily Mail and Sunday Times have printed a report on leasehold abuse this month which you can read on the Leasehold Knowledge website or at your public library . Print a copy to show your local MP and get him/her to join the the APPG and to write to the Housing Minister about your problems. Ask the local MP to write a piece on how he/she is helping his voters ( leaseholders ) , for printing in the local newspaper.

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              #7
              Wow that website makes for very harrowing reading. My issue is nothing compared to the leaseholders with outrageous unaffordable cladding bills. Thanks for that but I can't see the leasehold abuse article? I see there are c4 million leasehold dwellings in the UK. I can understand the problem of needing a lease for a block of flats that needs a specialised maintenance schedule and how some leaseholders might be more problematic to make payments towards upkeep but it's too easy for managers to abuse their power. I am finding that the only way to get any control is to always be on the defensive with the MA and dare them to think about ripping us all off. So far it's working......I'm a texbook flea in their ear.....

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                #8
                As you point out, you will have to pay if you want to sell or extend your lease. The other issue you will have is the MA will allocate any payment you make to the oldest debt so to force court action you will need to withhold all payments (except perhaps ground rent) but be prepared for a hard long fight .
                I have had a 20 year battle with some notorious Southend shysters which only settled last year - for less than half the £60k they were claiming.
                You may also find your tenants harassed by hand delivered demands.
                Easiest route is pay up and sell up

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                  #9
                  Allocate payment to the oldest debt? Even though they send me an invoice and I pay that amount? This is getting murkier and murkier. Eeek. A 20 year battle? That's terrible. I may well have to pay up but they will get plenty of aggravation and bad publicity first! The thing is, they don't demand any money, they just mention it if I do.

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                    #10
                    Section20z,

                    You probably have gained enough information over 20 years battle on that freehold company to get your local MPs in Southend to join the APPG ( In Parliament ) for leasehold reform .

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                      #11
                      I've now written to my area MP. I will let you know what transpires.

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                        #12
                        You will probably need to apply to a Tribunal to determine whether or not the charges are reasonable. Professional bodies do not get involved normally if there are legal issues which can be resolved through the court or a tribunal.

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                          #13
                          Tribunal option not open to cases involving former managing agents. Update - I got a 'get stuffed' letter from my MP so that's a dead end. BUT new MA has dropped the rope and recommended that I complain to the former MA's governing bodies. I'm thinking that he got a prod from his governing body that I got in touch with so is being rather compliant now. So my 'debt' is being held on file awaiting action from old MA's governing bodies who should prompt old MA to deal with my complaint satisfactorily. I happened to mention that I was advised to do this by new MA. By the tone of his letter I'm guessing he got legal advice that said he shouldn't be hassling me and that it truly is a problem for the old MA to resolve. Roll on leasehold reform.

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                            #14
                            That cannot be right, your contract (lease) must be with your freeholder and agents only act on behalf of the freeholder, so I would ignore the agents completely and go to the FTT naming the freeholder as the other party. Governing bodies rarely assist and usually respond after a lengthy delay with a statement that it is a legal matter and they cannot intervene.

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