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Nicola-mod, Moderator
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 21
Experience:  Moderator
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I am a leasehold tenant...

Customer Question

I am a leasehold tenant at JorXXXXX XXXXX in Oxford, Our landlords have changed over the years and are currently A2Dominion . We receive no maintenance on our properties and have no leasehold communal blocks but do pay a service charge for estate maintenance, buildings insurance and admin costs and until recent years paid a Sinking Fund contribution which our lease does say "may" be charged. A few years ago A2D agreed that the Sinking fund was inappropriate for our estate and promised to check amounts paid and make a refund. At a recent estate meeting the refund was again asked for and promised but this promise has been recinded. I appreciate that where there may be a need for a sinking fund any payments are not refundable i.e. in the event of a sale, but feel that rule does not apply in our case . I have asked why they have again changed their mind, why it is not going to be refunded and for where the money is and justification of what it has been or may be spent on . There is no way it will be spent on the leasehold properties, am I correct in believing my payment is individula, i.e. has no relevance to any other estate costs and that , as the landlord has agreed in not continuing to charge it, it should not have been charged and is therefore refundable please.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  wingrovebuyer replied 4 years ago.

wingrovebuyer : Hello. I'm afraid that a agreement not to charge / refund would not really be binding unless it was given in writing, as a legal variation to the terms of the leases. Accordingly, the landlords don't have to keep their promise. However, leaseholders can demand justifications for service charges and sinking fund charges if the lease allows. Even if it doesn't, you can challenge the charges via the Leasehold Valuations Tribunal. You could say that any further charges would be unreasonable, be ause there is already a large sinking fund, and because you get nothing for the service charge. I would imagine threatening the landlord with this action will lead to more cooperation from them.
JACUSTOMER-tdbofcgw- :

Thank you. I think "justification" may be the clue because there will never be any works carried out and paid for from the sinking fund. The agreement to refund is recorded in the minutes of a meeting. As previously mentioned they no longer charge having agreed it was inappropriate. Am I correct in that the payments made can only be used on the leasehold properties concerned and not on the general needs properties please. I find your penultimate sentence confusing. I/we do still pay a service charge so could I suggest they use my old sinking fund payments to cover that? Would that be a way round thisd?

JACUSTOMER-tdbofcgw- :

I found your answer left me somewhat confused, in particular your
penultimate sentence . I/we continue to pay a service charge for
services we do receive though we are not totally happy that the charge
is justified. As mentioned we no longer pay a sinking fund contribution
therefore I do not know if your suggestion of a tribunal would address
the held sinking fund payments. I have therefore sent you a follow-up
question as to whether I/we could ask that the held sinking fund
payments be set against current service charge payments or arrears.I
should repeat that we have no communal leasehold blocks. . Some
Individual properties were bought as a result of the Right to Buy
legislation and receive no maintenance of any kind.

wingrovebuyer : The Leasehold Valuation Tribunal can look into current and historic service charge and sinking fund payments. The landlord would have to justify them. If they have said they have no intention of spending the sinking fund, then it may be that the LVT will order a partial or full repayment to leaseholders. If you don't think the service charge level is justifiable, and th landlord won't provide the details to prove how and why it is being set at the level it is, then the LVT can review the charges and order a reduction and / or repayment. I hope that has cleared things up sufficiently for you to amend your rating to a positive one.
JACUSTOMER-tdbofcgw- :

It isn't currently charged therefore not set at any level. There is and never has been any likelihood of the sinking fund being spent on these non-communal properties it is not a question of "intention"or of (as in your first answer), further charges being unreasonable. Our properties are our own responsibility apart from Buildings Insurance and receive no maintenance. Our lease says the original landlord "may" charge a sinking fund i.e. discretionary not mandatory and does not spell out what for. As the current landlord feels it was inappropriate they have ceased to charge it and did say they would refund but are now saying they wont. I don't feel you have answered my question regarding the suggestion of setting the withheld sinking fund payments against current service charges. Neither have you confirmed whether they have to let me know how much they hold and what they do intend to do with it. I feel I am repeating myself but perhaps you haven't fully grasped the issues. I can be contacted on XXXXXXXXXXX if you prefer.

JACUSTOMER-tdbofcgw- :

As above

wingrovebuyer : As you continue to rate poor service, I am not prepared to continue with this so I will opt out.
JACUSTOMER-tdbofcgw- :

I am sorry about that and I feel I have wasted time and money. Very disappointing

Expert:  Nicola-mod replied 4 years ago.

It seems the professional has left this conversation. This happens occasionally, and it's usually because the professional thinks that someone else might be a better match for your question.

Would you like me to search for another professional to assist you? If you would, please let me know and I will continue my search. If not, feel free to let me know and I will cancel this question for you and refund your deposit.

Thank you!
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thankyou. I think it would be better to abandon this at this stage.I still feel a phone call may have been helpful, please refund my deposit.

Angie Goff


Expert:  Nicola-mod replied 4 years ago.

I'm very sorry you did not receive a satisfactory answer to your question. I will process the refund for you and you should receive email confirmation that this has been done.

I'm afraid the site does not allow phone calls between Experts and customers.

I do hope you will give JustAnswer a try again in the future,