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Ash
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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We purchased a leasehold flat as a buy to let in July 2010.

Resolved Question:

We purchased a leasehold flat as a buy to let in July 2010. We set up a direct debit to pay the management charge from August 2010 which was collected untill Dec 2012. Since then we have not heard any thing from the Managment Company and we have had no correspondence untill August this year. We noticed that the direct debit had not been taken but were expecting a one off revised invoice for 2013. In August this year I had a letter from my mortgage company asking me to clear the outstanding management charge. I wrote back to the mortgage company to say that the amount would be cleared but we had had no notification of what was owed. I then contacted the Solicitor for the Managent Company and paid the outstanding Management charge with in the seven days specified by email. I paid this in order to avoid problems with the mortgage company and to try and maintain a reasonable working relationship with the management company. However I was not prepared to pay the solicitors fee as we had not engaged them and I felt that the management should have contacted us first and provided us with the correct legal information as required by the lease. This specifically says that the management company should provide an annual estimate in writing to the lease holder of the management charge payable. Can you advice on whether the solicitor can recover his fees and costs from us in these circumstances. My feeling is that as no documentation has been provided so the cost should not be recoverable. Yours sincerely ***** *****

Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
Alex Watts : Hello Andrew my name is ***** ***** I will help you with this.
Alex Watts : When do the Solicitors say the demand was sent?
Alex Watts : Do the solicitors have any explanation as to why the DD was not collected please?
Customer:

Hello Alex,

Customer:

The solicitor has not given me any dates as to when the demand was sent. I have asked several times for copies of invoices statements and correspondence. So far this has not been forth coming.

Customer:

No explanation has been given as to why the direct debit was not collected.

Customer:

It is my assumption that there was an intention to revise the management charge and send a new direct debit mandate in January 2013. If this was the intention then nothing has been recieved. It is conceivable that the paperwork has been sent to the Flat. However our tenant is pretty certain that he has not seen anything of such nature.

Customer:

When the original direct debit was sent out it was sent to the flat. I was able to retrieve it because it was unoccupied. I phoned the mangement company to let them know the correct correspondence address. I also confirmed this in writing because I was concerned that correspondence might be sent to the flat again in future.

Customer:

I have a vague recollection of querying with the Management Company in Mar 2013 why the direct Debit had not been collected.And this may have been the answer given. I can't peove this though as I don't have a copy of my telephone bill for this period to check whether a call was made.

Customer:

Andrew

Alex Watts : It seems to me that if there is a dispute then they can try and take it to court. They would have to show a judge that not only was the demand served, ie produce the invoice but also explain why the DD stopped.
Alex Watts : A standing order is set up by you and you make automatic payments which can either be until cancelled or when a specific sum has been paid, A direct debit is actually called for by the company and then collected
Alex Watts : If this was direct debit they must have failed to call the sums owed and it therefore their fault.
Alex Watts : If they can not show when the demand was made or a chasing letter then you are not liable for these additional charges.
Alex Watts : They should be disputed and a judge can decide whether they are lying or not.
Alex Watts : Can I clarify anything for you about this today please ?
Customer:

Thank you Alex,

Customer:

This very much confirms my own view.

Customer:

If the management company can not provide copies of invoices/ Statements and chasing letters it is very difficult to see how this can be legally recovered.

Customer:

Andrew

Ash and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hello Alex,


 


A couple more developments on this recently. I would like to check whether they alter the legal position.


 


The management company have now emailed copies of the management charge invoices.


 


This confirms that the invoices were all sent the wrong address, to the flat rather than my home address as requested. we can not be certain that they were actually delivered.


 


The invoices should have been forwarded by our tenant to our managing agent but this did not happen. Our tenant says that nothing has been recieved except for junk mail.


 


Direct Debit notification and correspondence from the management company all used the correct address untill June 2012. There after the address appears to have been inexplicably changed.


 


The management company claim that they also email invoices as well as sending by mail. We have no evidence that this was done in this case and have asked for copies of any email that was sent.


 


The management company forwarded a copy of their current policy on direct debits which makes us responsible for informing them if they fail to collect. However they admit that previously direct debits were not updated annually.


 


We obviously have not seen either the change in policy or copies of out standing invoices untill recently when emails were recieved. These were all sent to the wrong address.


 


Andrew


 

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