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Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 28946
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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We are looking for some advice regarding Management Company

Customer Question

Hi there, we are looking for some advice regarding Management Company service charges. We lease a commercial unit at the base of a block of flats, through a private landlord. Every quarter we get hit with extortionate service charges for services we do not benefit from as the commercial unit - for example maintenance of corridors/ heating of communal areas/ window cleaning / rubbish collection etc etc. Pretty much all we benefit from is the buildings insurance. Our last bill was over £6,000 and we can not afford this. Our landlord is on our side and has tried to fight this with the management company, and been, quite literally, ignored, since last October with no emails returned/ phone calls returned. The expense of these invoices is not something we can continue with and we are now resorting to some legal advice to see if there is anyway that these charges are not correct. If this is something you could help with we would be keen to speak with an adviser. Many thanks, ***** ***** Director
JA: What steps have you taken so far? Have you prepared or filed any paperwork?
Customer: Our landlord has sent numerous emails challenging the costs
JA: Where is the flat located?
Customer: it's a commercial unit in south west london
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: i don't think so
Submitted: 12 days ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Joshua replied 12 days ago.

Hello and thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practising lawyer in England with over 15 years’ experience. Please be aware that although I will endeavour to reply to you promptly, I am also in full time private practice and so I may not be available to respond immediately and it may also take me a few minutes to prepare a reply. The site will notify you as soon as I respond. I look forward to working with you to answer your question fully.

I am very sorry to read of the above and I imagine what a difficult position it must be. I will certainly try to clarify your options.

May I confirm if you have a copy of your lease available either which you can upload alternatively if you can tell me the provisions of the service charge clause or clauses within the lease please?

Expert:  Joshua replied 12 days ago.

I'm following up on the above. Without some further information from you as above, I am limited in what I can say on the matter but in the hope it is helpful nonetheless, I will provide you with the following broad answer. If you are able to kindly provide me with the above further information or if you have any further questions generally, I will be delighted to expand on the following - please just reply back to me in this case:

Notwithstanding the above, in general terms the starting point here would be to check the terms of your lease. The managing agent cannot charge service charge for anything that is not specifically provided for in your lease. if they are charging for items which are not provided for in your lease, then you can recover these charges.

In addition, if the landlord agrees your position, the managing agent works for the landlord and must carry out the landlord's instructions. It may be the landlord is feigning sympathy or ignorance in this respect for an easy life but is being disingenuous in failing to instruct the managing agents accordingly. Ultimately, if the landlord is supportive of you and feel strongly on the matter, he can issue an instruction to the managing agents to relieve you of certain elements of the service charge. Ultimately, the managing agent must obey its principal's instructions

I hope the above is of some assistance but if you have any further questions, please revert to me

Customer: replied 8 days ago.
Hi Joshua, thanks for the follow up and apologies for the slow reply, I was rushing out to the school run on Thursday and I don't work on Fridays. I hereby attach a copy of our lease. We are sure our landlord is genuine in his efforts to help; we've seen the emails he's sent to the Management company in the past, which have been ignored. He's always been very supportive of us and I'm sure if there's an avenue he can explore to help us here, he would be very willing to do so. We'll await further advice. Regards, Emily
Expert:  Joshua replied 7 days ago.

It appears here your landlord is not in fact the owner of the building - rather he appears to lease your premises from a head landlord and then you lease your premises from your landlord by way of an underlease. In other words you appear to have Freeholder -> your landlord -> you. This explains why your landlord is being ignored - because the managing agent is not working for your landlord but rather the head landlord.

The service charge unhelpfully is not set out in your lease but rather your landlord's lease. You will therefore need to obtain a copy of your landlords lease in order to ascertain the extent of service charge liabilities owing.