My chances of recouping service charge due at Small Claims Court?

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    My chances of recouping service charge due at Small Claims Court?

    Hi all, I live in a block of 12 flats and we all chipped in to buy the freehold in 2008. Since then we've self-managed without any professional management agent. But one owner has consistently refused to pay a single penny for the service charge and this has gone on for 4 years until 2012 (not given any reasons why, major recluse type). He finally responded saying he's not paying a single penny because the service charge demands didn't accompany with the statutory "Summary of Tenants Rights and Obligation" letter.

    Now we got tired of dealing with all the hassle and now hired a management agent to do things more professionally. Since 2012, along with the service charge demands, everyone receives a "Summary of Tenants Rights and Obligation" letter, accounts are audited etc.

    Now the non-paying owner is being taken to court as we have not received any response, and I have a question...

    - What are the chances or recovering 100% of the debt, considering that since 2008-2012, "Summary of Tenants Rights and Obligation" letter was not accompanied?
    - Would the judge see this letter as an absolute defense, making me unable to claim any money back between 2008-2012?

    #2
    Originally posted by shininghero View Post
    - Would the judge see this letter as an absolute defense, making me unable to claim any money back between 2008-2012?
    There is no defence just because the SoTRaO was not included.
    Service charges are due, but not payable UNTIL SoTRaO is included.

    Therefore lessee still owes the money.

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      #3
      Thanks Ram. So for example, if the historical service charge went like this:

      Year 1 - £1000 (SoTRaO NOT issued)
      Year 2 - £1000 (SoTRaO NOT issued)
      Year 3 - £1000 (SoTRaO NOT issued)
      Year 4 - £1000 (SoTRaO issued)
      Year 5 - £1000 (SoTRaO issued)
      Year 6 - £1000 (SoTRaO issued)

      Can I still make a full claim for £6000, or do you think the judge would somehow lean towards the full £6000 or more towards £3000?

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by shininghero View Post
        Can I still make a full claim for £6000, or do you think the judge would somehow lean towards the full £6000 or more towards £3000?
        Having never taken any of our leaseholders to court for none payment, I have no experience, but,

        There is a contract in place, called the lease in which the lessee agrees to pay the service charges presented every year. If they don't honour that agreement, the lease allows you to sue for the unpaid service charges.

        Just because a piece of paper was not included 3 times does not absolve the lessee from having to pay the service charges.

        The service charges are due.
        You are in a good possition as it it clear that the leaseholder has decided he does not wish to pay, does not wish to obey the lease, and found any reason not to pay.
        The last 3 years he decided for no reason at all, not to pay again.

        In my opinion, you are owed £ 6000 with 6 years interest, and can't see why a judge would not award you the full £ 6000. + your court costs etc.

        I hope the managing agent has issued the correct reasons, via the lease covenants, so as to get ALL your costs back.
        But that's up to you and the agants.
        Often, the only way to get your costs back is to apply for forfeiture, as again often that is the only part in the lease that allows you to recover your costs ( Cost to bring the action, including solicitors costs )

        If I was in your shoes, I would have no hesitation in expecting all 6 years service charges to be granted, and a court order issued to include costs on top.

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