Advice on claim for legal expenses by landlord over missing Ground Rent

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    #16
    Originally posted by L.Dina View Post
    I must admit, my sister and I are struggling to find the time between jobs and children that it takes to take on this case.
    Unscrupulous freeholders rely on people being too busy to challenge their unreasonable demands. Do take up Lawcruncher's kind offer of assistance, it is easier when you have someone knowledgeable on your side.

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      #17
      Thank you very much. I know it is the right thing to do to challenge it, so I'll do my best and will take the offer of help.

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        #18
        Has probate been obtained? Sometimes organisations will not deal with anyone after a death unless they can see a clear authority on who to deal with.

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          #19
          Originally posted by Lawcruncher View Post
          The clause quoted does not cover (a) an administration fee or (b) legal costs arising in connection with arrears of rent. Section 146 does not relate to rent as provided in subsection (11).

          If you email me the solicitor's letter I will draft a reply. See my PM for my email address.
          For the benefit of readers, will you please post an outline of the reply without any personal information.

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            #20
            Probate has been obtained.

            I have a letter to send, kindly drafted by Lawcruncher. I'll let you know what happens in the end.

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              #21
              Originally posted by eagle2 View Post
              For the benefit of readers, will you please post an outline of the reply without any personal information.
              Suggested letter

              Dear Sirs,

              I have now taken advice from a landlord and tenant specialist lawyer.

              I quote the relevant clause in the lease:

              "To pay all reasonable costs charges and expenses (including legal costs and fees payable to a Surveyor) properly incurred by the Landlord and Head Landlord in or in contemplation of any proceedings or the service of any notice under sections 146 and 147 Law of Property Act 1925 including the reasonable costs charges and expenses aforesaid of and incidental to any inspection to ascertain whether any notice has been complied with and such costs charges and expenses shall be paid whether or not forfeiture for any breach shall be avoided otherwise than by relief granted by the Court."

              The first point to make is that the clause does not cover the landlord’s administration expenses in connection with anything, let alone the late payment of rent. Accordingly that sum is not payable.

              The second and far more important point is that section 146 of the Law of Property Act 1925 does not apply to non-payment of rent as provided in sub-section (11). It therefore has to follow that no costs can be payable in respect of a section 146 notice.

              In view of the above I have paid the outstanding rent to the landlord, stating expressly that the remittance is to be applied to rent, which if I owed anything for costs or anything else (which is denied) I am entitled to do.

              If any further demand for costs is made I shall have to treat it as harassment on the grounds that forfeiture is being threatened when no grounds for forfeiture can be made out.

              Your faithfully,

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                #22
                By way of an update; I did not hear anything at all from the solicitors after I sent the above letter that Lawcrucher drafted for me. I have since received a statement from the landlord agency which still had the owed rent on it as well as some smaller fees for notifying us of missed payments. I told them that I had paid the money to the solicitors and told them that we were not liable for the fees and have not heard back from them since. I do still feel that this might not be over, but that is the story so far.

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                  #23
                  thanks for the update lets hope thats the end of it

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                    #24
                    I understood that you were going to pay the agent, not the solicitor. I recommend that you ask the agent for a complete statement of account showing all your payments.

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                      #25
                      The letter we got said to pay the solicitor, so that's why I did that, although I am starting to wonder now if that was the correct thing to do. I'll ask for a statement.

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                        #26
                        Originally posted by L.Dina View Post
                        The letter we got said to pay the solicitor, so that's why I did that, although I am starting to wonder now if that was the correct thing to do. I'll ask for a statement.
                        You will be fine so long as you said the money you remitted was for rent.

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                          #27
                          Just looking at what has happened to other leaseholders in a similar position, if you pay the solicitors, their costs are usually deducted from the payment before a net amount is transferred to the agent and credited to you. Payments to the agent are usually accepted on account of the charges and credited in full. So for the benefit of other readers, I would recommend payment to the agent. With the rogue operators, it is unlikely to end there, yet more administration charges are often added and it usually requires a FTT application to resolve. Complaints to the SRA are usually met with the response that it is a legal matter between the parties and they cannot intervene.

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                            #28
                            eagle2,

                            The crucial point, whoever you pay, is to expressly say that the payment is to be applied as rent.

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                              #29
                              The difference is that the monies paid to a solicitor are unlikely to be credited by the freeholder or agent and it is more difficult for a leaseholder to recover monies from the solicitor. The SRA is unlikely to assist leaseholders with legal matters and surprisingly, it does not seem to consider that these solicitors have acted contrary to its principles. So, I recommend that readers pay the freeholder or agent, not the solicitor. I agree that it should be made clear what exactly is being paid and what is disputed.

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