Liability for previous leasholder's underpaid major works bill

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    Liability for previous leasholder's underpaid major works bill

    I purchased a flat in July 2012 as a leaseholder. A week ago I received a demand from my freeholder (housing association) to make a payment for an underpaid bill related to major works completed in 2009.

    Am I liable to pay ? I have never had any debts in my life and I am a law abiding citizen but struggle to understand why would I have to pay for something from over 4 years ago.

    During purchase process my solicitor conducted several checks and highlighted some planned major works that would take place in the future but never made my aware of any unpaid bills from the past.

    Housing Association suggested that the vendor and their solicitor were simply dishonest and I was naive to purchase without checking. I have indeed called the housing association during the purchasing process but was assured that any unpaid service charges or other debts are simply recovered from the sale process.

    Any suggestions, advice ?

    You can indeed be liable for previous debts but this is for the solicitor/conveyancer to check !
    Advice given is based on my experience representing myself as a leaseholder both in the County Court and at Leasehold Valuation Tribunals.

    I do not accept any liability to you in relation to the advice given.

    It is always recommended you seek further advice from a solicitor or legal expert.

    Always read your lease first, it is the legally binding contract between leaseholder and freeholder.


      At the time of purchase your conveyancer would/should have made enquiries re. any arrears and received replies from the freeholders.

      So, either the freeholders did not disclose the arrears, or they did and your conveyancer did not take any notice - which constitutes negligence. And if your conveyancer did not enquire about any arrears that's negligence too.

      If your conveyancer was negligent he is now liable to you for the arrears you are being asked to pay.

      If I were you I would approach your conveyancer and ask why he didn't tell you about these arrears, then see what he says.

      Professional indemnity insurance for law firms is expensive and if they made a mistake they will probably be eager to settle rather than risk being sued for negligence, because in that case they would have to tell their insurers and their already hefty premium would soar - and if they have already been sued they may even be unable to insure at all next time around, which would force them out of business.

      So I would start by writing to your conveyancer a terse letter asking why he did not tell you about these arrears when you bought.

      I think law firms are obliged to keep files for 6 or 7 years, so it should still be possible to dig up the file and see exactly what happened.


        Thank you very much.

        I contacted my solicitor and they are trying to go through the archives to find a relevant file. I have electronic copies of all the documents handled during the purchasing process and the only one that seems to be relevant is a Purchase Pack where the vendor answered "no" for any known disputes related to the property (unpaid bill from 2009 is a dispute isn't it ?). Otherwise there is no specific question asked in regards to any debt associated with the property.

        I will try my very best not to be fobbed off by my solicitor. At the same time the HA are being more and more aggressive in their demands.


          Hi there

          Now, you have to be careful here because there are two sets of enquiries made about leasehold properties.

          On the one hand enquiries will be made with the seller (or outgoing leaseholder); on the other, enquiries will also be made with the Freeholder, and these tend to be questions relating to outstanding arrears and future major works.

          So don't let them fob you off with the wrong set of enquiries.

          Oh, and of course, if they did not make any enquiries with the Freeholder they were negligent.



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