How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • Go back-and-forth until satisfied
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Joshua Your Own Question
Joshua
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 31701
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
35043042
Type Your Property Law Question Here...
Joshua is online now

I've been using this site for help in taking a property

Customer Question

I've been using this site for help in taking a property managing agent to court for breach of my lease in respect to Auditing of accounts as specified in my lease and charging me admin fees for withholding funds.
.I've submitted the claim to the County Court but the Managing Agent tells me that I should make it against the freeholder. The freeholder has appointed the managing agent and has never replied to any of my letters and refers everything back to the Agent.
I have also served a section 21 request for a written summary of service charges to the managing agent which has not been dealt with.
I've been negotiating with the managing agent for five years and I have never been referred to the Freeholder.
Submitted: 15 days ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Joshua replied 15 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.

Expert:  Joshua replied 15 days ago.
  1. May I confirm what you are actually claiming or seeking an order for precisely please? from a brief review of quality of your previous questions, it appears that you are disputing at least some of the service charges that have been raised against you. Is that correct?
  2. Have you only issued proceedings against the managing agent to date?
Customer: replied 15 days ago.
I am asking to have the accounts retrospectively audited to see exactly what I owe and to have £ 1200.00 admin charges removed, to have my legal fees of aprox £ 1700.00 repaid, and correct other errors in my account.Also to direct the company to provide a separate bank account for the property. This has been going on for over 5 years, they will not take me to court, so I have to resolve the issue by taking them. The freeholder owns the managing company.
Expert:  Joshua replied 15 days ago.

Thank you. May I ask why you elected to issue in the county court rather than make an application to the first tier property tribunal?

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
The tribunal told me that during a landlord for breach of lease has to be with county court
Expert:  Joshua replied 15 days ago.

But here you are seeking to determine your liability for service charge payments are you not rather than seeking to specifically hold the landlord in breach of a lease term in and of itself?

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
My losses are due to the breach of lease. The legal advice I have had to pay for is because they have never audited accounts and I have been getting year on year admin charges added to my account.
My question is am I able to proceed with my claim against the managing agent ,or do I have to change it to the freeholder.?
Expert:  Joshua replied 15 days ago.

thank you. Fundamentally, it seems to me that the claim may be better suited to the first tier property tribunal by way of an application to determine your liability to pay one or more charges that you dispute under the commonhold and leasehold reform act.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/form-leasehold-1-application-for-a-determination-as-to-liability-to-pay-an-administration-charge-or-for-the-variation-of-a-fixed-administration-charg

I've course do not suggest that the County Court can also deal with such a claim and as you suggest, there are imitations to a property tribunal claim-for example you would not be able to claim indemnity for legal costs and the like as the tribunal's authority is limited to determining service charges that have been made and therefore I certainly do not suggest your approach is wrong but I of the above simply for consideration.

Expert:  Joshua replied 15 days ago.

In terms of the substantive question you ask, the managing agent is acting as agent for the freeholder and as such, providing the agent has disclosed the identity of its principal (the freeholder) which I am certain it has done and in any event is likely already known to you, then under agency law, your claim is properly as against the freeholder and not the agent.

If a hearing is not yet been held to determine your claim, then you may wish to give consideration to making an application to amend defendant t the claim under part 19 of the civil procedure rules:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/form-n244-application-notice

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
Will I have to send a letter before action to the freeholder ?
Expert:  Joshua replied 15 days ago.

If you decide to proceed with the above application to change parties to the claim, then you would need to serve a copy of the application on the freeholder and agent. There is no need to repeat the process of a letter before action because be zoomable you have already been corresponding with the agent in this regard and what you send to the agent can be deemed as having been sent to the freeholder as they act as agent for the freeholder

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
Sorry I am not clear. Will you be able to call me?
Expert:  Joshua replied 15 days ago.

Sadly, owing to work commitments this afternoon I'm not able to call but your call request is open to colleagues. I am happy to clarify any remaining queries you have on the above here in chat though.

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
I am doing this with the gov.site Money Claim, on line. I am able to make changes on line, but are you saying that I should send ( by email) the modified claim?
Expert:  Joshua replied 15 days ago.

an application to change parties cannot be made online I regret. it needs to be made using the above N244 form which is sent in triplicate to the court that is dealing with the claim. This may either be the Northampton County Court where would have been issued or it may have  already been transferred to a local court in which case it would be that court you would apply to.

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
Would I be better to cancell this claim and make a new one ? Do I then send a letter before action?
Expert:  Joshua replied 15 days ago.

that is an alternative but you will be unlikely to recover the court fee paid if you do this. you may wish to therefore consider this against the court fee payable in respect of the above application which is £275 unless you obtain the consent of the parties in which case if is £108.

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
I'm sorry i am still a bit lost what do you mean earlier when you said "if you decide to proceed with the above application to change parties to the claim, then you would need to serve a copy of the application on the freeholder and agent." If I did that do I need to send Letter before Action ?
Expert:  Joshua replied 15 days ago.

If you decide to proceed with an application using form N244 to change the parties you do not need to send a letter before action.

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
The money Claim site says I should " apply to ammend and re-serve the claim"
Expert:  Joshua replied 15 days ago.

That is correct. as above, if you decide to proceed with the N244 application, it is necessary to serve a copy of the claim form both on the agent and freeholder (this is re-serving the claim).

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
i'm still not too clear but ill check the guidance notes on how to amend claim. Thanks for your help.
Expert:  Joshua replied 15 days ago.

you can find the relevant practice direction on the process at the following link:

https://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/civil/rules/part19/pd_part19a

Expert:  Joshua replied 14 days ago.

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

Expert:  Joshua replied 14 days ago.

I trust the above was of assistance and that you do not have any follow up questions for now. If there is anything else I can help with please reply back to me though.

Customer: replied 14 days ago.
I have replied to Just answers regarding the charge of the phone call which you were unable to make.
Also that your suggestion of the N244 form suggestion did not help. I've no idea how to fill this in and deal with it.
However ,since I had only submitted the claim on the 9th May, I do not have to proceed with it. I will lose the fee, and I will start again with a new claim. Much simpler.
Expert:  Joshua replied 14 days ago.

thank you. I hope customer services have been able to assist you with a refund. They are normally fairly quick to respond.

In terms of the approach proposed, if you find this to be the simpler one, as we discussed above, that is certainly an alternative.

Customer: replied 14 days ago.
thank you
Expert:  Joshua replied 14 days ago.

I'm glad the above is of some assistance

Expert:  Joshua replied 13 days ago.

I hope I was able to answer your question. If you would like to ask me another question in the future, you can add me as a favourite Expert. You'll have the option to do that on your "My Questions" page if you choose to rate our interaction or you can request me by name if you wish. Thank you again for visiting JustAnswer and see you again in the future I hope.