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Alex J.
Alex J., Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 3695
Experience:  Solicitors 2 years plus PQE
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If there are retrospective service charge fees due on an apartment

Resolved Question:

if there are retrospective service charge fees due on an apartment after completion (at completion all service charge fees were paid up and confirmed via a statement from the management company), is the current owner liable and responsible for paying the additional fees?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Alex J. replied 2 years ago.
Hi,
Thank you for your question and welcome.
My name is ***** ***** I will assist you.
If the demand for the service charge was made to the previous owner then the previous owner is liable for it. If the demand was made to you personally but relates to a period before you owned it, then I am afraid you may be liable for it.
Did you obtain a warranty on completion confirming all service charges were paid and up to date?
I look forward to hearing from you.
Kind regards
AJ
P.S I would note there is government endorsed website where you can obtain free advice on issues like this - here - http://www.lease-advice.org
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I will have to contact my conveyancing solicitor to find out if a warranty was provided, I doubt it, based on their current performance! Would the fact that the management company did not provide "A demand for the payment of a service charge must be accompanied by a summary of the rights and obligations of tenants of dwellings in relation to service charges" or a break down of what the amount was for at the time of invoicing us for the outstanding amount be sufficient grounds for not paying the amount due. We also have the added complication that we are now being charge admin fees and legal fees on top of the original amountCry

Expert:  Alex J. replied 2 years ago.
Hi,
Thank you.
Do you know what the charges actually relate to? When did they send the original demand for them?
Your solicitor should have accounted for this if a demand was already made - if no demand was already made and the seller did not disclose this additional amount, then the seller may have to pay you for it.
Can you find out (i) what the charge relates to? (ii) What period of time it relates to?
Kind regards
AJ
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Completion was 21/08/2014. Retrospective service charge bill received 25/03/2015 with no explanation of what it covered other than "assign service charge year end adjustment b/f" for period 01/09/2013 to 31/08/2014.

The demand was not made to the previous owner and his solicitor did not retain any funds for any outstanding amounts.

Expert:  Alex J. replied 2 years ago.
Hi,
Thank you.
So presumably what they did was recalculate the service charge for that period, worked out there was a shortfall and are now seeking to recover it from you.
Is there any way the seller could have known? Is there any way your solicitor should have known?
Kind regards
AJ
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Looking at the management Companies annual statement, sent to the seller and supplied to both sellers and my solicitor it clearly indicates an annual adjustment at the end of each year so I would have expected both seller and the solicitors to have picked this up.

Expert:  Alex J. replied 2 years ago.
Hi,
Thank you.
Unfortunately as it stands you are liable for it. However you have the following options:
- You may have a warranty in favour from the seller that all service charge was paid in full;
- Really your solicitor should have picked this, it may be the case the solicitor has been negligent and you might be able to recover the loss from the solicitor.
You have to start by getting your solicitor to explain whether you have any cover for this and why this was not noticed during the due diligence.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Kind regards
AJ
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