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I own a leasehold apartment on a 125 yr lease. The property was built in 2003 by Bellway. The developer was also the freeholder & we paid ground rent to them. After 3 years the developer sold the freehold to another company without first offering it to the tenants. I understood this to be in breach of the law. Bellway first span off the freeholding company from Bellway (Midlands) Ltd to Bellway (Yorkshire) Ltd, Bellway (Yorkshire) Ltd, which is not the developer, but only the freeholding company was sold to Faihold (Yorkshire) Ltd, one of the Tchenguiz brothers companies. I was made redundant 2 years ago and have struggled to pay my £160 pa ground rent. I had requested it be added to my mortgage which is the convention in such circumstances. Howwever despite a letter from them last month saying I owed them £675 plus legal fees of £267, I have now received a summons demanding £1,429 for what would be a £320 debt. My question is (a) was their aquisition of the freehold legal and (b) surely there must be a cap on what can be charged to recover a debt. To charge £1,100 on a £320 debt seems excesive. Could I challenge such fees or is there any acceptable scale of charges. If the amount claimed last month was £942 (£675+£267) I cannot understan how it has jumped to £1,429 when the Court fee is only £80. Furthermore they threaten that if I do not pay the £1,429 then they will add further charges. I cannot understand why they want to gain a CCJ when they could have got the money from my mortgage company. That is what they will eventually do anyway, so the Court action seems just a ruse to gain more costs.
No problem. Are you in the UK ? I note that the time zone is quoted in EST ?
I have until Tuesday to send an acknowledgement of service (online) and I will request a further 14 days plus a jurisdiction transfer.
Do you think you are likely to get a response ?
I've requested an extension plus change of jurisdiction. so I have a little time but not forever.
What happened to the barrister whose name originally was assigned to my query ?
I've recently discovered that my mortgage company (C&G) advised me the freeholder had applied to them for payment on May 30th. C&G advised that if I didn't pay within 21 days that they would pay the freeholder. So the freeholder knew that payment was being processed when they issued the summons on 12th June. It appears that issuing a summons in such circumstances is purely vexatious and a cynical attempt to inflate their charges. Their request to C&G was for £675, yet whilst the payment was being processed by C&G they issued a summons claiming £1,429 of which only £80 is the Court fee. This seems a hugely inflated claim and one which should never have been issued. The claimant's representative is a firm employing 550 lawyers, they would certainly know that the convention is for the mortgage company to pay the ground rent charges (adding the cost to the mortgage) or risk forfeiting the lease. By issuing a summons they are simply piling debt onto debt unnecessarily: The recent Crown v WONGA case springs to mind
Any comments or advice would be welcomed.
I think I have waited long enough without any action. Please refund my fee