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Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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Can an expert in property law to respond to my question

Customer Question

My question is that, it seems to be a normal procedure for the landlord to charge legal fees to service charge account. However at times landlords take individual lessees to court to reimburse the legal fees they have charged on service charge account.

My landlord took me to court for a small amount of service charge I had withheld. I had made a counter claim against the landlord.

At the time that I received the summons I paid the withheld amount in full.

the day of the court I was ill and could not attend. They estimated their legal fees £15000.00 for small claim court.

I was ordered to pay this amount.

I had applied for the case to be set aside. A hearing date is set for 17th of July to argue the case.

I have recently inspected the supporting documents to our service charge account. I notices that the legal fees that they are claiming from me has already been paid through our service charge account that I pay my share as a leaseholder.

1- Isn't it abuse of the legal system to claim fees through courts when I have already partly paid it, even if they claim they want to reimburse it back to the service charge account, as they have not specified to the court during the past year that they have already charged the payment through the service charge account? isnt that making false statement?

2- They have also applied for a charge order which will be heard on the same day and have put £15000.00 charge amount on my property. Can they do that when these legal fees have already been paid?

I have also proved that their service charge statement of account did not comply with the law (S21of landlord&tenant Act 1985) and they had to correct the Statement/summary of account and send the amended version to me:

3- If the accounts were not in compliant with the law, will the demand (their claim in the court for the withheld amount which the high legal fees arose from it), which was based on that summary be lawful?

Another words can I go to court and claim that they cannot claim these legal fees as it arose from a demand which was unlawful?

Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Nicola-mod replied 2 years ago.
I've been working hard to find a Professional to assist you with your question, but sometimes finding the right Professional can take a little longer than expected.
I wonder whether you're ok with continuing to wait for an answer. If you are, 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.
Thank you!
Expert:  Nicola-mod replied 2 years ago.
I can refund a month's subscription payment if required, please confirm.
I can only tell you I am looking for someone to assist, which is true. Unfortunately I have had no feedback on the question from Experts.
Thank you,
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Please do refund a month subscription, if you cannot find any expert to answer my question in the next couple of hours.

Expert:  Nicola-mod replied 2 years ago.
We will continue to look for a Professional to assist you.
Thank you for your patience,
Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
Hello my name is ***** ***** I will help you.
Do you still need assistance?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hello Alex

Is property law your area and may I know if it is how long you have been practicing in this area. It is very important as I will be using your advice in a legal matter. If you are confident in property law please respond to my above questions.

Thank you

Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
Does the agreement allow the Landlord to charge you legal fees or indemnity costs?
I have been in this area of law for 8 years.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

In my opinion the lease states that legal fees should be charged individually, but the landlord have been charging legal fees collectively for years. In a previous tribunal hearing, they argued that they can charge collectively.

However although I have been paying partly for years for the legal fees of other lessees through my service charge payments, they are claiming these fees which is ridiculously high for small track any way, individually from me. Can they do that?

Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
What does the lease say about this and whether or not they can charge such fees collectively?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

The lease actually says "to pay lessors'cost in proceedings under S.146 L.P.A 1925 and for consents.

However I don't want to argue about that in court as there isn't enough time. the issue is regardless of what the lease says, shouldn't the landlord behave consistently following one rule and not choose and pick, who they want to charge individually and who to charge their fees collectively?

Is it fair for me to pay other lessees' fees while I have to pay for my fees?

Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
No it is not. There is nothing in the Act or lease that says you have to pay for other costs. This means for a £500 arrears claim for another tenant they could expect all of the tenants to pay over £10,000 in legal costs. This simply isn't fair as there is no checks or balances.
You can't even contest those costs to which you are not a party to. What you may have to do is seek a declaration from the court in that you are not liable for the costs.
Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I cannot do that now as this case is about my legal fees and not the fees that I have previously paid for other lessees through my service charge payment. Which Act are you talking about anyway? We can actually contest those costs through tribunal claiming they are unreasonable costs.

Please respond to my questions that I had originally posted listed at the start of the post on the number I have raised them.

Thank you

Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
You can ask for those fees to be refunded or indeed start a Tribunal matter about unreasonable fees. It seems to be more of a Tribunal matter to have the service charge assessed to see what can or can not be included rather than anything else.
Does that help?