A few problems with my FH!

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  • andydd
    replied
    Thats what the management fee is for, managing, this includes replying to reasonable demands which it sounds as if you are. (As per the RICS code mentioned above).

    Alas some FH just treat LHs as a cash cow to be ripped off as much as possible, but FH like this are normally pretty stupid and end up like mine, seriously out of pocket when the LH wises up and starts legal action and/or withhold payments.

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  • siva
    replied
    Originally posted by NickSH View Post

    I contacted the freeholder yesterday asking for the breakdown of costs under S21 of the Landlord and Tenant act, she replied saying that I am a leaseholder and not a tenant. She also said she is spending a lot of time dealing with my spurious demands and that her time is chargeable. She has then said that I can still book an appointment to see the documents and requested that I stop harassing her and that she's had more correspondence from me in one year then from all the other leaseholders over several years. Finally she finished her email reminding me that I am still "in breach of my lease and all the consequences that this entails".
    It sounds to me that your freeholder doesn't really understand the proper way to do things and is not prepared to listen.

    If you want to continue dialogue with her it might help pointing her towards the RICS Management Code. See here

    Are you particularly bothered about a s21 summary? It sounds like you know what the major items are for anyway. Getting a s21 summary will cost money and depending on what the lease says this may come back on you and the other leaseholders and if not alienate the freeholder further.

    Why not take her up on her offer to view receipts and take along a copy of the RICS code? You will see in there that they recommend a fixed management charge (providing the lease allows it) and that the guide can be used at LTT hearings. LTT's tend to know typical rates for their area - you could even dig out a local LTT decision or non-local if there are no local ones where the LTT have limited the management charge.

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  • NickSH
    replied
    Hi,

    Yes - they are the charges I am disputing along with the £22~ interest on the £80 charge. All of the cheques that have been sent have done so in recorded delivery and I have proof of receipt, the FH has also acknowledged they've been sent and returned them. The lease (I'm guessing it follows a standard pattern) contains the following referring to what I can be charged;

    All rates/taxes/assessments charges
    Legal costs for serving a section 146
    Articles included under the fourth schedule (general maintenance etc).

    I contacted the freeholder yesterday asking for the breakdown of costs under S21 of the Landlord and Tenant act, she replied saying that I am a leaseholder and not a tenant. She also said she is spending a lot of time dealing with my spurious demands and that her time is chargeable. She has then said that I can still book an appointment to see the documents and requested that I stop harassing her and that she's had more correspondence from me in one year then from all the other leaseholders over several years. Finally she finished her email reminding me that I am still "in breach of my lease and all the consequences that this entails".

    Andy I have previously asked her to show me where in the lease it allows for interest and she has said that its up to me to prove its not in there. Sometimes I'm not even sure she's read the lease..

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  • andydd
    replied
    Ok that's clearer. So what have you refused to pay and thus they are returning cheques ?, the interest ?

    Write to FH and ask where it allows manage fee and interest, beyond that not sure what more you can do, I would of thought any legal action would fail, if you are correct the manage fee and interest are not payable and you've tried to pay the rest !

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  • siva
    replied
    So you're disputing the £80 charged for the work carried out on the bin storage and the £292.50 management fees. You've sent cheques for everything except the £80. They have all been returned. Do you have proof of all this in writing?

    You are saying that the lease doesn't allow for management charges. What does the lease say in regard to what can be charged to the leaseholders? What does it say in regard to the freeholder's legal costs?

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  • NickSH
    replied
    All the cheques that I have sent (Insurance, SC and GR) have been returned. I'm really not keen on paying for what's asked then disputing as several people have warned me how difficult it can be to actually get money back. I also feel that it's not the right thing to do - where does it stop? If she built a £5k shed on my driveway should I pay for it and then dispute?

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  • andydd
    replied
    Well we don't know if the FH will try and recover legal costs or if they'd try and use the forfeit/s146 clause.

    Perhaps the OP can let us know if it's the gr of sc cheques that have been returned ? Or both ? They should be billed and accounted for seperately as they are two different entities.

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  • siva
    replied
    Originally posted by andydd View Post

    Might need careful manovering to keep you always in the right and avoid being liable for extra costs.
    Yes, I can't remember a full SC check being returned or this being discussed in terms of whether it establishes a breach.

    It seems crazy to think the freeholder can use this as a way of recovering their legal costs. I've just checked the LAS site and the determination by the LTT is that the charges are reasonable and payable so I'm not sure they would even consider the returned cheque.

    Perhaps the only way to go about this is to pay what the Freeholder asks and then dispute at the LTT. I know that is what the LAS were recommending way back when I was looking for help - they didn't say why though.

    Another way might be to dispute any 'forfeiture' legal charge as an unreasonable Administration charge.

    Leave a comment:


  • andydd
    replied
    It's unusual to return a service charge cheque or was this just ground rent ?

    Unless the lease allows legal costs they are often only recoverable via the forfeit route but the FH has to genuinely follow this, there are quite s few higher court cases about this but they are somewhat contradictory.

    For the OP I'd suggest writing asking where in the lease it allows management costs, interest, etc

    If it were me I'd send cheque for amount I thought was reasonable and let them chase for rest but if they return it there are only 2 options.

    Pay amount you think is owing and let them chase you for rest or pay full amount and apply to court/FTT to decide on reasonableness.

    Might need careful manovering to keep you always in the right and avoid being liable for extra costs.

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  • siva
    replied
    Originally posted by NickSH View Post
    1. Should I take her to an LVT to try and sort it out? I don't have lots of money and don't want a hefty legal bill, I'd also quite like to sell within the next couple of years so not keen on having it on record..
    If you don't want to pay you really should sort this out one way or other before you try and sell because the buyer will almost certainly only buy if the alleged arrears are paid. The solicitor should ask the freeholder about arrears as part of the conveyancing process.

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  • siva
    replied
    Originally posted by andydd View Post
    In any event she cant evict or the proper term is forfeit for amounts undfer £350 anyway although it would be almost impossible to forfeit for this alone anyway.
    Andy, I'm wondering about legal costs. Sometimes the only way a LL can recover their legal costs is if they take the forfeiture route. If I remember correctly the arrears have to be greater than £350 like you mention here. Am I right in thinking the arrears (service charges) have to be confirmed by the LTT too?

    Am I right in thinking a leaseholder can avoid the risk of having to pay the freeholders legal costs (forfeiture route) by sending a cheque to cover all valid service charges? Or alternatively sending a cheque to reduce the arrears to less than £350? Even if the cheque is returned?

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  • scot22
    replied
    Nothing to add but agreement with everything that andydd has posted.

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  • NickSH
    replied
    Ok, and yeah I've tried to pay with cheque and she's sent it back saying she wont accept anything other then the 'full payment'..

    Thank you!

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  • andydd
    replied
    Don't worry about the re enter bit the law has various changes over the years that over rule this.

    Have you been trying to pay ground rent but it's been returned ?

    What did they say ? Ground rent is completely seperate to service charges and you can't combine the two.

    I'll add more later

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  • NickSH
    replied
    Hi,

    Yes, sorry - I meant to put leasehold not freehold. I'll change this. The land that the bin store is on is demised to me within the lease but there is no mention of the actual bin store.

    The service charge is done as a varying charge at the end of the year based on the work that's been carried out throughout the year. The £80 was part of 2015's service charge and has come up again for 2016. The insurance is billed prior to the service charge and then again at the service charge if it has not already been paid.

    There's no mention of interest within the lease, certainly not a value of any kind.

    That's what I thought, £90 Hr is a salary well above £100k a year which seems excessive for managing a block of 4 flats! I've searched through the lease for a mention of a management fee and can't find one anywhere, I will have another look tonight.

    Ah ok, thank you - yes a breakdown/summary will suffice. I have been sent the valid demands and I will attempt to pay again using a cheque and recorded delivery, If she refuses to accept this (ground rent) my lease states she can enter the property after two weeks if ground rent isn't paid.. Will this stand even though I've made an attempt to pay?

    Thank you so much for your help!

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