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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10257
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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My mother has vascular dementia/alzheimers and also advanced

Customer Question

My mother has vascular dementia/alzheimers and also advanced glaucoma.
As a result of this I have stopped working, and as her daughter I am her primary carer.
She owns a leasehold 2-bedroom flat where I live with her but is in arrears on the service charges which is about £9,655.56.
As I am not working and receiving only government benefits and my mother is 85 years old and in receipt of only a state pension, I do not see how I can afford to pay this and and I am totally stressed out and depressed by this and have as a result of all I'm having to do as primary carer etc., been diagnosed with clinical depression.
I have tried the route of equity release to clear the debt but that hasn't proved successful because of the length of time left on the lease.
I can send the managing agents £655.56 for now having saved that (and plan to send this via bank transfer and subsequently inform their solicitors by email) but that still leaves the £9,000,
Please can you advise what my next steps should be?
Can they evict us?? as I am so very worried, as I'm sure you will appreciate.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  F E Smith replied 1 year ago.

So, in essence, you simply don’t have enough money to pay the service charge arrears.

Is there enough money available to pay the ongoing service charge?

How many years are left on the lease?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The ongoing service charge is £442 half yearly and the ground rent is £37.50 which I will be able to cover via budgeting.The lease term commenced in 25 December 1982 with a term of 99 years.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I would prefer to have a written answer, just so that I can refer back to it.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
As I'm sure you will appreciate I am still waiting on an answer, so would be grateful if you could improve on your response.
Expert:  F E Smith replied 1 year ago.

I have been off-line with clients all afternoon and hence the delay.

I have no control over the offer of a telephone call but it is a facility that is available if you wish to avail of it. You can do that at any time. Exchanging emails is absolutely fine.

The lease has 34 years to run and hence, the property is not mortgageable until such time as the lease extended (which there is a statutory right to do) for which there is obviously a cost although it is possible to raise money to extend the lease depending on the equity which is in the property. It may also be possible to raise extra money to pay the service charge arrears also. The problem of course is that you do not have any income in order to be able to do either of these.

I don’t know whether the freeholder/management company are pressing for the arrears of service charge which clearly go back for what seems like over 10 years. I’m actually quite surprised they have let it go this long.

I think the important thing is to make sure that you start paying now so that the arrears do not increase and if they start to press for the arrears, come to an arrangement to pay at least the nominal amount of the arrears.

Ultimately, your mother is breach of the terms of the lease and the freeholder could apply to court to foreclose on the lease which means that would lose the property.

Ultimately, if that happens, you really have little option but to sell the property because there is not a magic way of either raising this money or getting the freeholder/management company to agree to an extended period of waiting for the arrears or to forego any arrears or simply leave them in abeyance.

I’m sorry I could not give you a more favourable answer but the situation that you are in brought upon by previous conduct is that it may simply not be economically viable to remain in the property.

Finally, with regard to selling the property with the short lease, that is not at all impossible because the buyer would simply reduce the price which was offered by the amount which it would cost to extend the lease.

Can I clarify anything else for you?

Please rate the service positive so that I get paid. We can still exchange emails afterwards.

Best wishes.