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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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I bought a flat in October last year, works were going on which

Customer Question

I bought a flat in October last year, works were going on which we found out a week before completion so the previous owner gave us a £5000 deduction. Now the management company have come back and are invoicing us for the works which went back from Dec 12 & the last invoice was July 13. One invoice is not even itemised for £22,000 and is mainly cleaning and minor works. They cant give me an itemised invoice and think because they know I received a deduction on the price for £5000 they can charge me £4771 for my apportionment of the works. Can they do this if nothing is signed for by myself accepting these works?

Many thanks
Elena
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Joshua replied 3 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.

Joshua :

May I ask if the invoice you have received is a new invoice or a copy of a previously issued invoice which the management company claims is unpaid please?

Customer:

The management company issued me with their own invoice dated 15th March 2014 but I asked for the contractors invoices which were all dated from December 2012 to July 2013

Joshua :

Thanks. Is the invoice broken down at all in terms of how it has been calculated? £22K clearly cannot relate to routine maintenance but rather must relate to major works being carried out? Does it specify individual amounts making up the total or just give you a total amount requested?

Customer:

Basically the management company didnt charge these on last year and waited until this year to do it. Works were finished before August 2013.

Joshua :

Do you know if the management company issued s20 major works notices for the works carried out?

Customer:

There is a breakdown on the other invoices but the 22K one has no breakdown and I cant see any major works on it. They said the contractor quoted them for all jobs with one amount which I cannot accept

Joshua :

Thanks. Finally you mention that a £5000 reduction was agreed. Can you confirm that this was not agreed on the basis that the sellers would have no further liability

Joshua :

... for outgoings but rather was simply a reduction against the price that was agreed because you found out about the works.

Joshua :

Would you like to continue?

Customer:

hello

Customer:

are you still there?

Customer:

hello

Customer:

The line was cut off this morning, can we continue?

Joshua :

I am sorry to hear that you had techinical difficulties. unfortunately I had to step in to a long meeting at 9am and have only recently returned to the office. I would be very pleased to continue to assist if you would like me to?

Customer:

hi Joshua, Yes please. I am not online too

Customer:

I am online

Customer:

Hi Joshua,

Customer:

I think I need to take this to a property tribunal but want to know where I stand. The £22000.00 invoice to me is very overinflated and I think its probably the management company have added on extra charges to line their own pockets

Joshua :

Thanks. I note you have rate my service to you as bad above - I appreciate why you may have done so. Before I continue would you kindly confirm that you are content to withdraw that initial rating for the present?

Customer:

sorry Joshua, I thought that was the end of our chat hence the rating

Customer:

of course we can proceed and I can change the rating

Joshua :

That;s quite alright. I am sorry I was offline for so long. Thank you.

Customer:

not a problem, I presumed that was the end of it and I didnt have an end result

Joshua :

the position here is twofold: there is the question of the validity of the invoice from the management company and there is the question of your position with regards XXXXX XXXXX seller. with your permission, I will deal with each in turn. With regards XXXXX XXXXX seller, can you confirm precisely what was agreed in respect of the £5000 reduction. Was it simply agreed that the price would be reduced or was it agreed that it would be reduced on the condition that the seller has no further liability in respect of any outgoings on the property either past or present?

Customer:

the reduction was a last minute thing as my solicitors picked it up. Nothing was put in writing about us being liable for the works done. The management company wrote a letter to the seller stating the works would cost up to the value of £5000.00 I would have presumed his solicitor would have wanted something in writing to agree we would take on these charges. It was a reduction not a redemption

Joshua :

thank you. in respect of the service charges for works you have been asked to pay, it would be helpful to me to set out the various rights you have and the operations of the landlord/managing agent initially

Customer:

ok what information do you need from me?

Joshua :

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.

Customer:

It is within 18 months, however we purchased the property in October. Are we liable to pay or the previous owner?

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.

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. 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 however which the agents could be held accountable for financially if they are found to be negligent in dealing with tyour request by the freehold company. 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

Joshua :

there is then the question of your position with regards XXXXX XXXXX seller which applies notwithstanding all of your above rights with regards XXXXX XXXXX landlord/ management company

Customer:

so in short you mean the invoices if more than £250 must all have been accepted by the leaseholders before works were carried out?

Customer:

And I can raise the issue of the £22000 invoice not acceptable due to it not being itemised?

Joshua :

as you will be aware, you have a contract with the seller. this contract incorporates terms known as the national conditions of sale. these conditions contain provisions for apportionment's in respect of any income and outgoings in relation to the property. The invoice you have received constitutes outgoing as defined under this condition and the condition provides that any invoice that relates to a period during which the seller was owner of the property must be apportioned between the seller and buyer in proportion to the respective periods of ownership. Accordingly as the invoice appears to relate to works carried out during the period of the Seller's ownership of the property, there would presumption that the sellers would be liable for the invoice notwithstanding the above points. equally, in respect of any ongoing service charges for maintenance and so on, such charges would be apportioned between you and the seller.

Joshua :

Under the national conditions of sale, the seller is deemed to have owned the property up to the end of the day on which you completed.

Joshua :

accordingly, the approach would appear to be that you give notice to the seller of receipt of the invoice and inform them that you are disputing the same at present however that any monies that are ultimately required to be paid which relate to a period of their ownership will be sought under condition 6.3 of the national conditions of sale

Joshua :

is there anything above I can clarify for you?

Customer:

yes this is my argument, why are we billed in March 2014 for works which were clearly finished in July 2013. Is this acceptable?

Joshua :

It is potentially legal (which is ultimately the key question) but only if they have issued s20 notices and followed statutory consultation requirements otherwise they will be limited to £250 per tenant in respect of those major works. this also does not mean that the charges are reasonable as even if they have complied with the above requirements, if the charges are unreasonable in respect of either the amount charged or the quality of the work carried out, there are grounds for a challenge on this basis as referred to above. however, no sending all of this, under the national conditions of sale, it would appear that the previous owners would be liable for such charges in any event

Customer:

does this mean we are not liable for any of the works as it was completed before completion date?

Joshua :

That is what 6.3 of the national conditions of sale provides. Providing this was not excluded from your sale agreement this should be the case. It should not have been excluded but your solicitor will be able to confirm.

Joshua :

is there anything else I can help you with?

Customer:

last question. do I get in touch with the seller to ask about the s20 notices or the management company?

Joshua :

You can ask the management company for copies of the initial s20 notices that were sent and subsequent notices they had to send at each stage of the tenerring process. Your solicitor may already have these as he should have asked about them himself in his standard enquiries.

Customer:

thats great, many thanks!! I will get onto it now.

Joshua :

A pleasure. 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 re-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:

can I just log in or do I have to pay again?

Joshua :

if you have any further questions, you can ask these without charge by simply returning to this thread. if the line of questioning is significantly different or enlarged from the original question, we may need to discuss a further charge but I am certainly happy to answer any follow ups to the above without further charge.

Customer:

thank you. I hope you have a good weekend!

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