Unknowingly received a CCJ for unpaid service charge

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    Unknowingly received a CCJ for unpaid service charge

    Hi,

    I own a flat in London which is managed by {Name Removed}. I had been living in New York for the last 3 years and had notified them that I needed to be notified of service charge payments via email rather than post as I obviously wouldn't have access to post.

    In June this year they had sent me a letter (no email) notifying me of the service charge and ground rent payments. Despite having all my contact details on file, they did not send me an email. A debt collector/solicitor {Name Removed} was the appointed to collect the payment. They too only sent me a physical letter and an email to my old work email address which bounced back. Once again they did not make any effort to contact me despite {Name Removed} having all my contact details on file for myself, my brother and even my parents. Next thing I know I have a County Court Judgment for not paying it, which has also past the 28-day period so I will have to incur additional costs to overturn it.

    I know that I have a duty to make the payments myself but I just cannot believe that I've gone from not being properly contacted about this to ending up with a CCJ. I have on record emails from myself requesting to be informed of such payments by email, and as I said they have all my contact details on file and could have just contacted me rather than taking legal action; I would have just paid it straight away.

    It's very frustrating and feels like a money-making scheme to me; does anyone have any advice or had similar experience with {Name Removed}? I know I can just make the payment and pay the extra cost to overturn the CCJ but to be honest I don't want to let them get away with this and am willing to risk a bit of money to file a counter claim against them.

    #2
    I'd set up a mail re-direct for post addressed to you to your address in London.
    There are a number of documents and notices that are meant to be served to an actual address (and need to to be valid).
    Many leases and their covenants and terms pre-date the notion of electronic communication.

    When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
    Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

    Comment


      #3
      We are only allowed to comment in general terms, so you may wish to remove any names from your post.

      Without any reference to specific freeholders, it is a familiar tactic of some freeholders to act in the hope that you will not receive the demands, in fact some do not issue any demands at all. They then add large additional sums as administration charges and "legal" fees,

      Against that of course, you should be aware that charges will arise and you will be expected to make an effort to find out the amount payable and pay a reasonable amount.

      I suggest that you apply to the court to overturn the CCJ and ensure that you pay any reasonable amount which is payable, making it crystal clear which items you are paying and importantly what you are not paying. I suggest that you dispute the administration charges and legal fees and ask them to be determined by the FTT.

      Comment


        #4
        Thank you. I have heard of such tactics from others and I can't believe they expect to get away with it.

        I just spoke to a friend who lived in apartment managed by the same service provider and they were so bad that the residents teamed up to form a group to have them fired and replaced.

        I think I will look into putting together a similar group once this is resolved. I'm not going to let them get away with this.

        Comment


          #5
          Freeholders do get away with it because the majority of leaseholders just pay up instead of challenging the unreasonable charges. Forming a RTM Company may be a solution if you can obtain support from 50% of the leaseholders.

          Comment


            #6
            A similar thing happened to me but it was an RTM director who was scamming with the complicity of the agent. The debt collector claimed it had already gone to the county court and sent a fake CC document. When I asked for the case number to defend it, I never heard from him again. I paid only the service charges, made a 'formal complaint' through the agent, which was pointless except it shows a court you tried to avoid litigation, and then stated that I was taking an action against the RTM at the Tribunal . It took 18 months to resolve because I was told the 'arrears' had been removed but they weren't. I received invoices with no arrears but the arrears were still there when I requested a copy of my service charge account!

            Things got far worse and I was pestered with nuisance letters and baseless demands for money which were clearly coming from the same director with the complicity of the agent. These were on the agent's letterhead but contained demands and fines on the same notice and a further sum was taken from my account without my knowledge.

            Only when documents were disclosed for a tribunal case following years of harassment did I discover that he had targeted a group of 12 flat owners as soon as the funds were transferred from the freeholder and pocketed £450 each from their service charge accounts by making false entries in the accounts which he clearly had access to at the agent's premises. The agent was also paying him by cheque on request and with no legal authority (contrary to their contract) from the service charge funds.

            This went on for 5 years until he resigned and I could not have discovered it without the disclosure of documents for the case. These scams were only possible because the lessees were kept out of the loop. There were no AGMs, no section 20 consultation and no access to supporting documents. When I requested access to the RTM documents, I was ignored. It's much less stressful to involve others and get some control as Eagle2, AndrewDodd and others suggest.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by Maite View Post
              A similar thing happened to me but it was an RTM director who was scamming with the complicity of the agent.
              That is a shocking story, especially when a fellow leaseholder was involved. Criminal action should be brought against those concerned. Have you reported it to the police? I suggest that you also inform your MP.

              It is always worth requesting supporting documents in order to try to understand the charges, you should not need to apply to the FTT in order to obtain disclosure. It is also worth keeping in touch and comparing notes with other leaseholders. It is much easier if you can act together and exchange ideas and share the workload,



              Comment


                #8
                In our building the directors decided to use the sinking fund to upgrade a fellow director's bathroom. When one - newly elected - director objected, they called an EGM to vote him out. The new director responded by forwarding the invoice to all the leaseholder to prove his case. Instead of responding to the clear and proven allegation by this director, they have sent several lengthy emails defaming him instead, accusing him of stealing personal information about the leaseholders etc etc etc.

                And apparently this dissenting director's emails have been turned off by the other directors (separate mailbox in the name of the building), so we have not heard from him since he exposed them. Unfortunately, all of this is just highly confusing to most residents. The fact stated by this whistleblower director has been proven. Invoice and all. They haven't even been refuted by these corrupt directors. The allegations stated by these disgruntled directors haven't. But what can we do? Once he is voted off, they will continue.

                In the meantime our service charges have nearly doubled in the past 2 years, our building is run badly and two of the directors have newly painted front doors - painted by the tradesman who got the contract to paint our lobby. No prizes for guessing that this was not separately paid for by the directors. It is all very unpleasant. The only ones benefitting from all of this is the management company, who keep recommending major works and sec 20s to these out of depth directors, and the directors using the sinking fund to upgrade their properties.

                This whole system needs to change.

                Comment


                  #9
                  There are quite a few things you could so as leaseholder. The question is why you are complaining here and talking to fellow leaseholders?

                  Comment


                    #10
                    London2021

                    The simplest way of proceeding is for the members to vote to add new directors and remove the existing directors at the EGM

                    Comment

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