Advice for difficult and evasive freeholder - quoting fees not listed in the lease

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    Advice for difficult and evasive freeholder - quoting fees not listed in the lease

    Hi everyone,

    Just for context, I am the leaseholder of a maisonette with a new freeholder. I have had the property since 2013 and have never had any issues with the previous freeholder. The new freeholder came into the picture around May 2019.

    Immediately he began requesting money for tenancy agreement notices (which I never had to pay before but was not against, so long as its a part of my lease). He requested £100 for the tenancy agreement notice but refused to clarify where in the lease it specified such a charge.

    After challenging this fee and informing the freeholder that the only reference to fee for notices is £8, he begrudgingly agreed that we could pay £8 - but then he asked us to pay for all the previous years that we hadn't with the previous freeholder. Stating that he was allowed to do so. Given that I wanted to have a positive relationship with the freeholder I paid for all the previous years without challenging this.

    Now fast forward to today, I am in the process of trying to get a remortgage on the property and the freeholder has sent the following to my solicitor after they asked him to complete a leaseholder questionnaire:

    "Our requirements are £250 for the form and £250 nor the remortgage notice.

    Can you please pay a total of £500 to our account below"

    My question is, what is this fee?

    Is it reasonable?

    I have tried asking him to confirm if this fee is some sort of administrative cost or service cost and his reply was very helpful:

    "I suppose you can call it what you like. There is also a notice fee payable for the mortgage of £150 plus to supply a copy of the land registration post completion."

    Please see below the section about notice fees from my lease, which to my understanding states that I only need to pay £8 for any such notices. I assume the mortgage notice falls under this section too?

    “(19) Within Twenty one days next after any absolute transfer assignment mortgage charge underlease or devolution of interest under the present Lease of the demised premises or any part thereof to give notice in writing of such transfer assignment mortgage charge underlease or devolution of interest under this present Lease of the demised premises or any part thereof to give notice in writing of such transfer assignment mortgage charge underlease or devolution and of the name quality and place or places of abode of the transferee or the transferees or assignee or assignees of other person or persons in whom the said interest is thereby vested or charged to the Lessor or its solicitors to pay them a fee of Eight pounds (£8) for the registration of such notice“

    Can someone please advise me on what I should do?

    I am at the risk of incurring interest everyday until this matter is resolved.

    I have also asked him for a list of all his fees, to which he has simply ignored.

    Happy to provide any further information if required.

    Apologies if this topic has already been answered, happy to read if someone could just share a link to the original post.

    Many thanks

    Citizen_L

    #2
    The fee should be the same as the rental agreement fee. As stated in the lease

    They are just trying it on

    Comment


      #3
      Are you remortgaging with the new lender?

      Comment


        #4
        You may be advised to pay under protest and have the charges reviewed by the FTT

        Comment


          #5
          Sussex818,

          Thank you, that is exactly what I was thinking. Do you know if the Freeholder has to list out all their fees? Is there a resource I can refer to compare what is a reasonable cost for his services?

          Comment


            #6
            Anna1985,

            Yes I am remortgaging with a new lender

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by sgclacy View Post
              You may be advised to pay under protest and have the charges reviewed by the FTT
              Good idea, thank you.

              Comment


                #8
                I would go back to the freeholder and inform him that unless he reduces the charges to a reasonable level, you will apply to the FTT and you will claim your costs and refer to the correspondence when doing so, That should be sufficient but otherwise, you will need to pay under protest in order to remortgage and then make a claim to the FTT as stated in #4. It looks like you will have endless problems with this freeholder and it may be worthwhile contacting the other leaseholders to collectively purchase the freehold interest or takeover the management responsibilities of the freeholder.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by citizen_l View Post

                  Good idea, thank you.
                  No. Bad idea.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by Lawcruncher View Post

                    No. Bad idea.
                    Any particular reason why?

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by eagle2 View Post
                      I would go back to the freeholder and inform him that unless he reduces the charges to a reasonable level, you will apply to the FTT and you will claim your costs and refer to the correspondence when doing so, That should be sufficient but otherwise, you will need to pay under protest in order to remortgage and then make a claim to the FTT as stated in #4. It looks like you will have endless problems with this freeholder and it may be worthwhile contacting the other leaseholders to collectively purchase the freehold interest or takeover the management responsibilities of the freeholder.
                      Is this in reference to the leasehold questionnaire? What do people usually pay for such services?

                      I agree I probably will have issues with this freeholder but I will try my best to be amicable. The other leaseholder isn't interested in buying the freehold or taking on more responsibility.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by citizen_l View Post
                        Any particular reason why?
                        Risky - see here: The Risks in Making 'Payments under Protest' (irwinmitchell.com)

                        Apart from that, the practicalities are that if you part with money you lose control over it and if you want it back you are the one who has to take action.

                        The registration fee is fixed by the lease so there can be no argument over that.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Thanks for elaborating, to get things rolling I'll just pay the leasehold questionnaire fee. I have a call with the Leasehold advisory service coming up, so I am hoping they will be able to answer all of my other questions so I can get a better gauge of what's reasonable.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Let us know what the Leasehold Advisory Service says.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Quick update: I have now paid the fee for the leasehold questionnaire but our solicitors have decided that the registration notice is also a part of our completion requirements. The freeholder has told them that it is £250 and our solicitor who is probably overworked has decided that they will pay it upfront on our behalf. This has really frustrated me because our lease states that we have 21 days after completion to pay and that the fee is £8. I will never use a discounted law firm again! The call with the Leasehold advisory service couldn't come any quicker.

                              Comment

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