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Joshua
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 25358
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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Hi, I am desperate and really need some help. I own a leasehold

Resolved Question:

Hi, I am desperate and really need some help. I own a leasehold property and I have been having problems with the management company. From looking around the net, I know it's a common tale. There are maintenance issues that have been outstanding for years. We recently had a break in via a defective entrance door that we have been begging to have repaired for the past 2 years. There are also charges for work that hasn't been done. They even sent a statement for last year that showed that of a total of nearly £7000 that they collected, they spent only £10 on maintaining the property. I have asked for receipts from them and have tried to negotiate but to no avail.

I complained directly to them and withheld payment. I was told by their credit department that my account was on hold until we reached a resolution. The next thing I get from their solicitors is a CCJ demand.

As a horrible twist, when I was broken into, the paperwork that was in a bag with my laptop was stolen. So I was forced to wait for the judgement letter as the court would not deal with me without the case number.

Right now I have the choice of paying them knowing that they will again pocket the money whilst my property deteriorates, or appealing against it. Whilst all the time their solicitors add extortionate charges.

I don't know what to do. I am desperate and just feel to sell up and move on. This is my first home. I work long and hard to get it and its been tainted by this whole situation. Anybody please help.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.

Joshua :

Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practicing lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.

Customer:

Thank you Joshua,

Customer:

I would be greatful if you could help me.

Joshua :

May I ask if the freehold is owned by a third party or whether it is owned by the residents through a freehold nominee company - i.e. a share of freehold please?

Customer:

Hi Joshua, The freehold is owned by a third party who I believe is associated with the management company.

Customer:

Sorry I'm using my old windows XP computer as new one was stolen. Unfortunately it's not very stable. So if I go off line suddenly, it probably crashed.

Joshua :

Thanks. Have you asked for a break down of how service charges have been spent which have been claimed for?

Joshua :

presumably there are obligations under the lease for the landlord to maintain the common parts?

Customer:

Yes I have asked for a break down as have some of the other lease holders. However, nothing has come of it.

Joshua :

Thanks. It may be helpful if I first outline some of your rights in respect of future invoices for service charges and then deal with the previous charges and finally steps you can consider re failure to maintain.


It is unlawful for a landlord to seek to recover service charges for work that was paid for more than 18 months prior to the invoice being issued for the same. The landlord or agent must issue the demand within 18 months of his incurring the cost. If the demand is provided later than this, the landlord cannot recover the costs at all, unless a notice is served during the 18 months stating that costs have been incurred and that the tenant will be required to contribute to them by payment of a service charge.

Joshua :

In addition for any charge that will incur cost of more than £250 per tenant a s20 consultation notice and procedure must be followed by the landlord/agent otherwise they are limited to £250 / tenant in terms of the maximum cost they can recover. Finally any invoice must have the landlords full name and address and a summary of rights an obligations on the reverse or it is invalid and can be ignored until replaced with a correct invoice.

Customer:

They have fulfilled that requirement, in that they have asked for payment. I have asked for proof of the work they did but they did not provide them.

Joshua :

You can also demand the agent provides a summary of service charges paid under the lease to date by serving a s21 notice on the landlord / agent. You then have the right to demand further information backing up the summary you receive by serving a s22 notice. If the agent does not provide the information requested then the landlord can can be liable for prosecution and a fine of up to £2500. The local authority can assist in prosecution if necessary. Either before or after obtaining such information as you reasonably require you can challenge both the reasonbleness in the circumstances of the service charges already demanded for repairs and the current service charges now demanded for the same by applying to the Leasehold Tribunal using this form:

Joshua :

http://hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk/courtfinder/forms/leasehold-003-eng.doc

Joshua :

You can use this form to prevent the landlord/agent charging costs in relation to the application to the service charge account:

Joshua :

http://hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk/courtfinder/forms/leasehold-07-eng.doc

Customer:

Thank you. I can do that going forward. The biggest problem that I have is the CCJ and the demands that I have received.

Joshua :

in terms of the landlords unsatisfactory attention to maintenance, an application can be made to the County court for an order that the landlord has breached the lease failing to adhere to its maintenance obligations. In addition if the breach relates to unsatisfactory management or unreasonable service charges as appears may be the case here you could apply to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) for a manager to be appointed - however in respect of this latter application, ideally such an application would be made by a number of the residents jointly rather than you on your own

Joshua :

in respect of the County Court judgement that is presently be made against you, I am suprised that the court and the solicitors refused to supply you with information about your claim. Did you indicate you intended to enter a defence or were you not able to respond at all?

Customer:

That would work as we are all in a similar position.

Customer:

I was unable to respond at all.

Customer:

I didn't have the case number

Customer:

as it was in the laptop that was stolen in the break in.

Customer:

Like I said, I couldn't have had worse luck :(

Customer:

I did contact the court as soon as I got the judgement that contained the case number.

Joshua :

thank you. I will turn to that in a moment with your permission Finally though in Terms of your above rights, if more than half of the residents are fed up with the current management you may consider collectively exercising your right to manage the property. this is a statutory right where 50% or more of the residents choose to exercise the same (providing the building is not more than 25% commercial use) and provides you with a right to take over management of maintenance and collection of service charge and so on. The landlord cannot prevent such an application providing it is made properly except in very limited circumstances, such as if the building contains more than 25% commercial use or the landlord is resident and there are only four flats or less.

Joshua :

additionally, you could of course also collectively acquire the freehold from the landlord in a similar way although of course this option would cost money as you are required to buy the freehold of market rate. The right to manage however is cost effective in that there are no costs other than set up fees.

Customer:

We are working on the RTM at the moment. We have also been looking into trying to change to Common holds from lease holds.

Joshua :

Regarding the CCJ, you will wish to consider making an application to set the judgement aside using form N244.You will need to give a statement explaining the position and ask the judge to set aside the default judgement on the basis that you could not respond as the neither the court nor claimant would give you any information to enable you to do so and that you had a reasonable prospect of a defence in that you dispute the charegs are lawful. You will need to explain why you are late in making the application to explain the delay (if applicable) - that you have only just discovered the judgement for example. You will have to pay £85 fee with your application.

Joshua :

http://www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk/HMCSCourtFinder/GetForm.do?court_forms_id=484

Customer:

I don't know much about the differences between common and free holds, but a friend said that it might be easier and more cost affective; cost affective is good for me at the moment with all this going on.

Joshua :

You do not need to prove in your application that you are not liable for the debt or submit a full defence, but merely why you could not respond to the original claim and that you have a reasonable prospect of defending the claim. Assuming the application is successful and courts are usually very willing to allow default judgements to be set aside the claimant will be back to square one, the entry on your credit file will be removed and the claimant will have to have a hearing to establish your liability where you will have the opportunity to fully defend your position in court or alternatively if you accept the debt, pay it.

Customer:

Joshua, that is awesome. I think that you may have saved my bacon.

Joshua :

Commonhold has never really caught on and there is anecdotal evidence that they are more difficult to sell on so check with local agents before considering common hold. I have been practicing for 10 years and have never yet dealt with one - I do a lot of property work.

Joshua :

is there anything above I can clarify for you?

Customer:

Joshua I can see why you have such a good rating. You've relieved a lot of stress for me.

Customer:

Thank you so much. I now know what I need to do.

Joshua :

That's very kind of you to say. Thank you. If I can assist any further as the situation develops please do not hesitate to revert to me

Joshua :

If you have no further questions for now I should be very grateful if you would kindly take a moment to rate my service to you today. Your feedback is important to me. If there is anything else I can help with please reply back to me though

Customer:

I will bookmark you. If we do go ahead with the RTM would you be interest in helping with that? I would need to get a yes from the other guys but you have impressed me that much.

Joshua :

unfortunately was there will be delighted to do so, the terms of this site prevent me from accepting private instructions from its customers. However, if you would like any assistance with the process generally, I would be delighted to assist with this via this site.

Customer:

The reason I ask is because I feel that the amount I have offered isn't enough, but my funds are limited at the moment as I'm sure you can appreciate.

Customer:

OK, I understand. I will look you up if I have any more questions.

Customer:

Thanks again.

Joshua :

Please do. You can reach me via this link
http://www.justanswer.co.uk/law/expert-joshua/

Joshua :

If you have no further questions for now I should be very grateful if you would kindly take a moment to rate my service to you today. Your feedback is important to me. If there is anything else I can help with please reply back to me though

Customer:

Got it. Will do.

Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 25358
Experience: LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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