Accountant, Freeholder and Managing Agent all at same address?

by Readers Question

11:25 AM, 5th March 2019
About 8 months ago

Accountant, Freeholder and Managing Agent all at same address?

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Accountant, Freeholder and Managing Agent all at same address?

We have just had the latest ridiculous service charge bill (e.g. £250 for common parts electricity when we have one light-bulb on a timer in the hall and have used 120kwh this year!) from our freeholder who we know to be a particularly bad one (Trustpilot shows 94% “BAD” / 1* reviews) when we received the first one last year they assured us they would provide proof of receipts and all outgoings etc, instead of that they have provided us with a letter from a chartered accountant that says along the lines of “we certify that we have seen all receipts etc and that these are all very reasonable prices”.

Having just looked up the name of the accountant, Google Maps shows that they are registered at the same address as the freeholder AND the managing agent!

My question is should we be arguing that we are entitled to see the accounts, or at least the receipts, and are they allowed to use an accountant that is clearly affiliated with them??

Hope someone can advise!

Martha



Comments

Neil Patterson

11:31 AM, 5th March 2019
About 8 months ago

All at the same address does sound potentially suspicious!

Please start with the Leasehold Advisory Service >> https://www.lease-advice.org/advice-guide/service-charges-other-issues/

Service charges

Service charges are one of the principal areas for dispute between leaseholders and their landlords. This booklet sets out the provisions the law has made in relation to various matters, including:

the setting and recovery of service charges;
the rights of both the leaseholder and the landlord to challenge or substantiate the charges before the Tribunal;
the obligations placed upon the landlord to consult the leaseholders before carrying out qualifying works or entering into long-term agreements;
the statutory controls on demands;
accounting for the charges;
alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation.

Ian Simpson

21:30 PM, 5th March 2019
About 8 months ago

Let me guess.... SIMARC ...?

Mike W

11:30 AM, 6th March 2019
About 8 months ago

Not a lawyer and have little specific experience of dealing with difficult FHs. However this appears to be contrary to Leasehold Advisory advice and is clearly open to challenge on the grounds you have indicated. Indeed a more suspicious person might be thinking along the lines of potential fraud .... But of course I do not have all the facts of the case .... Frankly even if they were to pursue you in court I think the evidence would indicate they would have an adverse outcome.

silversurfer2017

15:34 PM, 6th March 2019
About 8 months ago

It depends what type of bulb is used. The old type 60 watt tungsten filament bulb used for 5.5 hours every day will use around 120 KWH in a year. A good quality LED lamp replacement will use only 20% of this amount. Persuade your landlord to switch to Ebico for this light or take over the account yourself. No standing charge and about 20p charge per KWH. Should cost you as much as £5 per annum + a new bulb every 3 or 4 years!

Gracie

16:05 PM, 6th March 2019
About 8 months ago

That's got to be a conflict of interests. Even if it was an unaffiliated accountant, I'd tell them I couldn't give a rats what anyone else feels is "acceptable", their opinion is of no interest, You have the right to see the receipts, end of.
Find the relevant quote from lease-advice, and send it to them, cc to their complaints dept, you need to do this before you can escalate it. So do it all in one shot - seeing as it'll be a second request to see the receipts.

Have you also got involved with the petition & consultations that are going on with the law commission?

Gracie

16:53 PM, 6th March 2019
About 8 months ago

I'm also having a lighting problem with my MA, how do you know that you've used 120kw a year, do you have a measuring device? Ours is also on a timer, to my knowledge we can't get a reading off the lights without the expense of an electrician fitting a device. I know the timer switches it off after 5 mins but no idea how many times the light is switched on. If there's a gadget that doesn't require an electrician to fit I'd love to hear about it!


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