Service Charge Demand - Managing Agent Insisting on Web Portal Service

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    Service Charge Demand - Managing Agent Insisting on Web Portal Service

    Hi everyone, hope all keeping well.
    For several years I've requested that our Managing agent sends their service charge demand via email. A couple of years ago they set up a web portal and have recently been insisting we sign up and view our documents there. I again asked for service via email but was told I will need to sign up to the portal and make the request in the options there.

    I'm no luddite, but I really don't want yet another username/password to remember and it irks me somewhat that I'm being asked to go and collect their bill for me to pay. Ironically, even though I've never signed up to it, the portal sends me regular weather reports... which I can't stop unless I sign up to the portal.

    May i ask the knowledgeable members; does their method constitute proper service of the s/c demand?

    thank you.

    #2
    No lawyer self, but everywhere you see legal advice to landlords to 'issue' valid invoices for service charges (based on the lease etc) to the registered address of the lessee. No mention of demanding they come somewhere and collect it.

    The lease may use phrases such as 'supply' invoices or 'serve' invoices or some-such, but the idea seems to be that the landlord/agent does an act of serving, not simply requiring the lessee to come along and find, even if it is provided online and not just pinned in an envelope outside the agent's door (which a judge probably would raise an eyebrow at we might hope).

    Requiring leaseholders to set up an online account to read their invoices, or to ask for an emailed invoice, seems hardly acting in the landlord's best interests. We are a mere RTMC and we wouldn't t work with an agent that wouldn't issue invoices to addressess and email addresses as we want the income.

    There is such a think as opting in for 'paperless' billing.

    On the other hand, this is leasehold and personally I wouldn't want to make a stand on principle on my ownsome if all the other chickens in my block are complying. I'm pretty sure a debt recovery agency wouldn't demand debtors sign up to an online portal to download legal service, but anything is possible.

    It smells to me for what that's worth coming from a 'bloke on the internet' as a judge wouldn't care what I think.
    Do not read my offerings, based purely on my research or experience as a lessee, as legal advice. If you need legal advice please see a solicitor.

    Comment


      #3
      Tks MrSoffit, that's the feeling I get. Would they pin it to the noticeboard in the local library and deem it served? I'd opted for 'paperless' not 'bill-less' billing.

      Comment


        #4
        How does the lease state that the demand will be served?

        Is there mention of section 196 of the Law of Property Act 1925 applying to any notice demand or other instrument authorised to be served under the lease?

        I believe 'paperless' was to circumvent the above, but as you say has to be opted in to.

        Comment


          #5
          There are a few agents who are using web portal services, normally they send you an email advising you of a new invoice but that is not always the case, I am not aware that the issue has been tested by Tribunals and Courts but there have been decisions that demands may be issued by email regardless of whether or not you have opted in.

          Comment


            #6
            Read https://berniewales.co.uk/are-emaile...demands-legal/

            Does not give a definitve answer, but gives amunition to blast the Managing Agent with.

            But first, They cannot send communications to you by email unless you have authorised them to do so.

            I have at one of my properties insisted ALL communications are by mailed letter, and emails will not be received or answered.
            Fortunately, as it'a an RMC, they obliged.

            I argue that I am not prepared to print THEIR service charge demand for them, nor to have to buy a computer and printer and expence of internet services to receive their communications. - And as they are not paying for stamps, envelopes,and paper, any more, I want a reduction in management fees, but have not seen such a reduction in recent years.

            All service charge demands and other comunications should be filed at home in a folder for QUICK easy REFERENCE. and not on a computer that may fail, I recently had 2 hard disks fail, and beware of
            SSD ( Solid-State Drive.) they cannot be defragmented, and windows 10 wont let you. Thats how bad they are.

            Comment


              #7
              As others have said, you can consent to service by E-mail, but cannot be forced to accept anything other than post to your address for service.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by fos333 View Post
                How does the lease state that the demand will be served?
                Ive attached a couple of screenshots of the lease, clauses state:

                "The lessor shall prior to each of the said half yearly dates on which the Interim Service Charge shall become due deliver to the Lessee at the Flat a statement of the amount of the Interim Service Charge that shall be payable on such date..."

                "As soon as practicable after the signature of the Certificate the Lessor shall furnish to the Lessee an account of the Service Charge... and upon the delivery of such an account to the Lessee at the Flat"


                I haven't had a paper interim service charge statement or annual account delivered to the flat for at least 3 years.

                Originally posted by fos333 View Post
                Is there mention of section 196 of the Law of Property Act 1925 applying to any notice demand or other instrument authorised to be served under the lease?
                Only in relation to the Landlord being able to recover legal costs they mention s146/147 Law of Property Act 1925. However, the Landlord isnt involved as its an RTM property and the managing agent appointed by the RTM Co. so would I be liable for the managing agents costs if I was to fight what would be a small claims court application?

                Tks again for all the kind answers.

                Attached Files

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by ram View Post
                  Read https://berniewales.co.uk/are-emaile...demands-legal/
                  Does not give a definitve answer, but gives amunition to blast the Managing Agent with.
                  Tks, interesting reading.

                  Originally posted by ram View Post
                  But first, They cannot send communications to you by email unless you have authorised them to do so.
                  I wouldnt mind so much if they emailed me a pdf of the demand but, much like yourself, I dont appreciate being treated like their unpaid filing clerk and having to sign up to a service to retrieve their documents, especially when the lease mandates a method of service.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Your lease photo is to small ( i use a Real computer )
                    Best size for photo on here is 650 to 750 pixles wide.

                    Still try to obtain info to your address you live at.

                    Me, I would say, "You do not have my permission to communicate with me by electronic means, my address for all communications
                    is xxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxx xx
                    "If you choose to deliver information that does not go to my home address, as Emails are deliverd to an I.S.P. server located anywhere in the country, for me to "pick up from", and therefore is not sent to my physical address, that is your choice, but I will not be "picking up" emails from Liverpool, Birmingham, London, or where ever my I.S.P. is."
                    I can change my email address, I can have my email address barred when spammers bombard a particular .I.S.P. and I cant send or receive emails for a while. ( happened to R.a.M. twice )
                    I don't have this problem with my home address."

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by Holy Cow View Post
                      I dont appreciate being treated like their unpaid filing clerk and having to sign up to a service to retrieve their documents, especially when the lease mandates a method of service.
                      Quite agree.

                      I was recently asked by a commercial finance broker to sign up to their portal. We weren't doing business ; I had just made an enquiry. When he contacted me again to see if there was any update from my side, I explained -

                      I have not, btw, signed up for the ***** *** portal. This was quite intentional, due to Online Account Fatigue. (I have got too many online accounts, usernames and passwords already ; it becomes very difficult to manage.)
                      There is a fine line between irony and stupidity. If I say something absurd please assume that I am being facetious.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        For avoidance of doubt, the asterisks in my quote in the previous post represent a redacted company name, not an expletive.
                        There is a fine line between irony and stupidity. If I say something absurd please assume that I am being facetious.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by Holy Cow View Post
                          [I]"The lessor shall prior to each of the said half yearly dates on which the Interim Service Charge shall become due deliver to the Lessee at the Flat a statement of the amount of the Interim Service Charge that shall be payable on such date..."
                          I would say that this (and the mention of the account of the service charge being delivered to the flat) would give you sufficient grounds to argue that nothing is payable if these statements are not delivered to you.
                          That would mean that you cannot be required to sign up to a portal and 'collect' the statements.

                          The lease seems clear to me, the statements have to be delivered to you.
                          From what you are saying, they don't even intend to 'deliver' the statements by email, they are expecting you to 'collect' them.

                          The statements need to be delivered to you, not simply made available for you to view.
                          It sounds like you are happy to receive delivery via email, so in your case whether or not service by email is acceptable is not an issue - you just want the statements to be delivered, and that is a requirement in your lease.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            It's an interesting one as I fully understand your point about the portal, I even have one elderly lessee who flatly refuses to provide an email address so every year I trudge to the Post Office just to post one letter 🙂.
                            HOwever they will have to send you a pre action reminder before taking court action for arrears so no doubt you will get a pdf eventually but they might already add late payment charges, and you're left with a fight.
                            clearly the amounts would not be lawfully demanded but depends on your stomach for an argument...
                            Guess it comes down to what sort of job they do of management and your respect for neighbours who will bear the additional expense incurred by tardy payers.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              [QUOTE=Macromia;n1163020]
                              The statements need to be delivered to you, not simply made available for you to view.
                              I concur. and well described

                              Put another way,
                              The lease does not say, Leaseholders must COLLECT their letters and statements from the freeholder or Managing agent, either by visiting said agents / freeholder or by alternative means, such as visiting the agents web site to download all communications from the agent / freeholder, and to print on behalf of the agent / freeholder said communications, in order to have an "In writing" copy.

                              The first recorded lease agreements in the United States date back to the leasing of horses, buggies, and wagons in the 1700s, but the more important leasing agreements came about in the 1870s. ( https://www.strettons.co.uk/news/str...nt-and-future/ )
                              Therefore, when the lease jargon was written, there was no internet between approx year 1870 to approx 1990 and
                              "The statements need to be delivered to you meant to hand deliver or post to the leaseholders address, and not get on your horse or bullock and go get them.

                              I had one instance where i demanded all communications from a solicitor be sent "in writing", re a flat sale. ( reasons being as previously advised ) They said " Then we will charge you for sending you paper copies"
                              I said, - no paper copies, no sale and I will not pay.-- They then sent paper copies.

                              Please bear in mind, when a company secretary changes, especially in an RMC, one does not give new Co. Sec your hard disk that contains all correspondence and documents which may have the wrong connections if older computer ( before usb memory stcks were invented recently )
                              You hand them the files. separate folders, one for each flat, containing the papers.
                              The box files containing the last maybe 20 / 40 years of documents re lease extentions, building extensions / alterations, freeholder authorisations to change the flat layout / reports on which part of the underground drainage system was repaired under the garden / driveway etc.26 years ago. All of which would have been on paper prior to about 1998 ( been there, done that )
                              And not, well, here are the papers between 1890 and 1998, and here are the those after 1998 are on this little usb stick, go find them and print them, but if you dont have the word processor software etc that the documents were written with, you wont be able to open the files, but hey -- not my problem. Your'e the ones that do not want paper copies.





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