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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.
Is this a commercial or residential lease please?
Residential. Block of 40 retirement apartments. Seperate companies handling maintenance and ground rent.
Thanks. DO you by any chance have the exact wording from the clauses dealing with ground rent increases?
When did you purchase the flat roughly and did you use a solicitor?
What was the ground rent prior to the increase?
Yes. please wait a mo. whilst I get the lease. Thankyou.
This is rather lengthy, but here goes:
Sorry - you can skip all the maths and references about how the lease is calculated if that helps or alternatively I can give you the things I am looking for and you can check the clauses to see if they are there?
Is there a provision about "time being of the essence" on the landlords part for rent increases?
Is there reference any any the ground rent increase provisions to an index that no longer exists?
original lease dated 1991. Lease states after 23 years (2014) initial rent will be increased in line with Index of Retail Prices. This has been calculated as being £225 per annum increased to £431 per annum. I would mention that at no time was this bought to my attention by the solicitor dealing with the conveyancing of my property.
Thanks.When did you purchase the flat and is it in or outside of london?
purchased in 2001 - in Hampshire.
Thanks. A lease rent increase clause cannot be challenged unless a) it was granted after 1999 and contains an unfair consumer contract term (not applicable here based on the dates you give as it was granted before 1999), or b) if it contains a time of the essence provision - that the landlord must act within certain specified time period if you wish is to increase the rent (from what you say you cannot identify such a provision in the rent increase clauses) or c) if it contains reference to a now-defunct or invalid reference index ( the retail prices index still exists and so in the absence of any other different index that is referenced within the calculations this is unlikely to be of use).
However there may be an avenue you can look at with regards ***** ***** you received when you purchased the property.
Based upon what you say, the ground rent following the increase does not satisfy the test of a "low rent lease". Outside of London, the definition of a low rent lease is £250 or less. Police falling within the definition of a low rent lease used to be very significant as if you did not have a low rent lease, you did not have rights to buy the freehold and so on. This is no longer the case however if the lease is not a low rent lease, it still has an effect on the way the valuation is carried out. This is obviously a tangent but the issue is that your solicitor should have advised you of any onerous conditions including that the lease would in the future not be a low rent lease which could make extending or buying the freehold more expensive
you have comparatively little time in order to revert to your solicitor if you do decide to make a claim. The limitation periods for making a claim in this case will be three years from the point at which he became aware there may be negligence with an overall limit of 15 years from the date the negligent action allegedly occurred. If you go over this limit, irrespective of whether the solicitor was negligent or not, your claim will fail so you must careful to watch the clock in this respect
After reading pages of internet info. I almost know there is no chance of fighting this increase, but the mention of the Solicitor being sued because she did not point out this particular clause or any other for that matter, makes me wonder if that is a course I could take?
accordingly, you may wish to revert to the firm that acted for you seeking clarification as to why you are not advised of the ounerous rent increase provision and what proposals they have for you. If you are not satisfied with their response, you can refer the matter to the independent legal ombudsman service which offers a service to consumers using solicitors much like the financial ombudsman does for banks. the legal ombudsman can make an independent determination and if appropriate award compensation in your favour. There is no charge for their service and their decision is binding on the firm of solicitors though it is not on you.
Have I been able to help you with all your questions on the above?
Is there anything above I can clarify for you?
I am having difficulty in reading your comments as the space in which your reply comes is very narrow. Can I open this up?
I am afraid I am not certain as it depends on what device you are using the service. I can however ask that the entire thread is emailed to you if you would like so you can read it in a more convenient format?
Yes that will be great, thankyou. I have taken a note of the ombudsmon web site, and would thank you again for your help and advice, albeit not a great deal of help with the actual ground rent excessive increase. I will deal with the Solicitor separately. Many thanks.