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UKSolicitorJA
UKSolicitorJA, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 4312
Experience:  English solicitor with over 12 years experience
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I have a lease to an office in Cannon Street, 6th floor. The

Customer Question

I have a lease to an office in Cannon Street, 6th floor. The rent includes service charge although recently we get two invoices, one for each. I'm a one-man band typing agency and my electricity bill is normally around £24-£27 a month. In 2010 it was a very bitter winter and things broke down in the building. We had no water and had to use the toilet in the tube station which took time. There was no heating and the lift broke down. I'm on the 6th floor and I'm 65 yrs.
The agents were slow in responding, we were weeks without toilet facilities. On top of that some people in the building kept using the toilets, it was appalling. I thought I was in a third world country. I had to use extra heaters and in fact stayed home for some of the time. My electricity bill when it came through was £443. I have refused to pay the service charge for the month.
The agents are asking me to pay this service charge now but I feel very upset with them. Since that time, the heating has NEVER gone on in the winter in the communal parts and it's unpleasant and like Siberia in the toilet.
Am I within my legal rights to withhold the service charge portion of the rent?
Many thanks.
Delia Caple
*****@******.***
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  UKSolicitorJA replied 3 years ago.
Hello,

How much service charge are they asking for?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Sorry, was on other computer. The Service Charge is £195.00 inclusive of VAT.

Expert:  UKSolicitorJA replied 3 years ago.
Thank you.
Although I do not know what the terms of your lease say, you are probably obliged to pay the charge without any deduction or set off I am afraid.
However, the amount is not very large and there is no point in letting the matter go to court as you will spend more time and probably money than the outstanding charge is worth. You may make it clear in your new lease that heating and adequate toilet facilities will be supplied to the common parts and for you use for the duration of your lease.
You may also try and make it clear to the agents that they have not provided facilities and the landlord is likely to be in breach of the lease by not providing toilets and heating in the common parts.
If you cannot agree these points with them, it is probably time to look for other premises with proper facilities. You may also report the matter to your councils environmental health officers as not having toilets and heating to the point where it feels like Siberia may be of interest to them.
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

There was another issue, a lawyer rents the office below me. He constantly smokes in the office, so much so that the smoke comes up the lift-shaft into my office. I am asthmatic and allergic to cigarette smoke, mould etc. Despite frequent requests the lawyer wouldn't stop smoking and eventually I stopped going to the office for full weeks. It took two years for the agents to do something about it. The lawyer is still there but promises not to smoke any more. The two years have been very difficult; I have had an operation on my gums recently not solely because of the exposure to smoke but it almost certainly exacerbated the situation.

It's illegal to smoke in office space as you probably know and the fact that the gentleman is a lawyer and broke the law is priceless.

The fact is I would like to have some recompense for the way I've been treated by the agents and the lawyer. Is there a point in counterclaiming?

Many thanks.

Delia Caple

Expert:  UKSolicitorJA replied 3 years ago.
I would suggest that you speak to a personal injury lawyer for your smoke related claim, I suggest you choose an APIL member who can take your case on a no win no fee basis, see here:

http://www.apil.org.uk/


You may also report the matter to your council's environmental health team.

All the best
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Many thanks, excellent service.

Expert:  UKSolicitorJA replied 3 years ago.
Welcome and good luck.