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James Mather
James Mather,
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 22629
Experience:  Senior Partner at Berkson Wallace
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I am one of four long leasehold tenants of flats in a conversion

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I am one of four long leasehold tenants of flats in a conversion of a terraced Victorian property in SW London. We tenants have just successfully completed a claim for the right to manage the property including placing buildings insurance. Having searched the market, we have secured cover with a reputable company, active and experienced in residential property insurance, on exactly the same terms as the previous managing agents (also the freeholders), and in accord with lease terms, for a premium of just short of 80% less than we were previously charged. All of us are long term leaseholders, 9 years in my case, and have been charged rates at or close to this level for all that time. We have made no claims in the last five years, probably longer, and we suspect that the freeholders are pocketing a substantial kickback. What rights do we have to challenge these costs, now historic? What are our chances of success? Thank you in anticipation of your help. Bob Cowper
If these are lease rates, surely you agreed the sum?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

I don't understand the question; the leases require the Landlord to place buildings insurance, covering the usual risks. we have now adopted that responsibility and are covering the same risks at the same declared value. Certainly, we've paid up every year, because, not having done any market research before, we have only made token protest and have never fully researched the market

So are you saying that in the past, you have not been paying the actual amount of the insurnce premium, but a vastly inflated sum, fabricated by the managing agent?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Who knows? The brokers place cover with a reputable insurer, currently AXA, but appear to have an unusually close relationship with the freeholders; they state in their Summary of Cover that they 'place insurance in accordance with [managing agents] instructions and in that regard are responsible to [managing agents] only'. The cover undoubtedly meets all the requirements (of mortgage lenders etc) but the premium is not competitive.

You are entitled to ask for a copy of the premium receipt.
At this stage, you don't actually know that they paid any premium at all!

If they don't come up with it, you are entitled to apply to
court for a court order for "pre-action disclosure" to compel them to
let you have (say) the last five years premium receipts.

You should only be paying the actual premium paid by the
managing agent, not a massive chunk on top.

Can I help further? Please bear with me today because I am
online and off-line. Thank you

James Mather and other Property Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Thank you, very useful. We have also agreed terms to buy the FH and are about to complete. Needless to say, the current owners are leaning on us hard to settle outstanding service charges (not significant other than in regard to this year's insurance costs which we haven't paid and are seriously upset about as you can imagine!) We don't want to lose the deal (because new negotiations could result in a higher sale price given Clapham values are going up and fees would soar etc) but neither do we want to roll over on the insurance issue. I appreciate this is a much bigger issue than we have been discussing but if you have 'take' on it in broad terms, it would be much appreciated! Best regards

I think you could ask for the premium receipts as part of the "handover" procedure.

If in doubt, simply pay the premium and then sue the old management company .

Good luck.


Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Thank you, I'm on the case!




Bob Cowper