Can we counter admin fee with our own fees for replying?

by Readers Question

9:47 AM, 5th March 2019
About 3 months ago

Can we counter admin fee with our own fees for replying?

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Can we counter admin fee with our own fees for replying?

We own a commercial unit in a mixed used building. We recently had major issues with our Freeholder (FH) that has now mainly been resolved. The FH has presented us with an admin charge that we will dispute once we saw the breakdown.

What I would like to know is can we counter the admin fee with our own fees for replying to the FH questions that related to problems outside of our demise, in finding the answers we had to make visits and gather photography evidence and present this in emails many times.

Not only to the FH, but the the insurance brokers and the police. we calculated we have spent over 40 hours reporting on problems that the FH should have dealt with. would this be something we could present to them as our admin charge?

We hope this makes sense and thanks for reading

Des



Comments

Neil Patterson

9:58 AM, 5th March 2019
About 3 months ago

I couldn't find anything in relation to this type of counter fee on the Leasehold Advisory Service site >> https://www.lease-advice.org/

Mike W

11:31 AM, 5th March 2019
About 3 months ago

Hi Des,
I'm not a lawyer but have several years of dealing with commercial agreements. I have sympathy with your points. Much depends on the legal agreement itself but fundamentally you seem to be saying that you incurred expense because the FH did not undertake work that you consider they should have done and, as a consequence, you did the work and incurred expense as a result of their failure. Worth a try. However there are many contracts where one party doesn't do what you expect and you have to prove their failure - in the insurance sphere (as an example). Still its a negotiation and in my opinion you have a point worth pushing. Unfortunately there are many FH agreements where all the FH's costs are simply passed on to the LHs.

Graham Bowcock

14:24 PM, 5th March 2019
About 3 months ago

Dear Des

I share Mike's view and also sympathise with your position. From the point of view of a professional (who charges for time) then we would not do very much work without establishing who is going to pay us. Often we get a fee undertaking, if fees are to be met by a third party, of signed terms of business when acting for a client.

If there was no advance agreement is is unlikely that any claim you make will be successful, unless the freeholder is sympathetic to what you have done.

I get involved (as a chartered surveyor) in compensation claims and find it increasingly difficult to get payments agreed even when they are due. There is a view that owning and occupying property comes with some obligations that cannot always be costed or compensated.

If the sums are great then maybe see a lawyer, but litigation is expensive and litigation with no contract is not for the nervous.

Gracie

16:00 PM, 5th March 2019
About 3 months ago

Good luck. The freeholder did not agree to be penalised for his or his agent's bad performance. Lease agreements are as one sided as the feudal times they were drawn up in. How something from almost 100 years ago is still considered fit for purpose is beyond me.

Best option:
Abolish leasehold petition https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/238071

This is the support from the Law Commission to move from leasehold to commonhold
https://www.lawcom.gov.uk/the-time-is-right-for-commonhold-announce-law-commission/
Commonhold consultation closes 10 March https://www.lawcom.gov.uk/project/commonhold/

Right to manage consultation closes 30 April
https://www.lawcom.gov.uk/project/right-to-manage/#right-to-manage-consultation

Further information - some groups fighting for change
https://www.leaseholdknowledge.com/
https://nationalleaseholdcampaign.org/

paulkin

12:36 PM, 7th March 2019
About 3 months ago

Thanks for the response everyone,
Our lease states that “any fees have to be fair reasonable and in proportion, ” this we believe they are certainly not. We have requested a full transparent breakdown of the admin charges, so far non have been forthcoming.
We have dealt with the issues relating to our demise that brought us extra expense, via contractors surveyors and loss Assessors etc.
We have been presented with an admin fee for what we believe is for responding to questions and reporting maintenance issues outside of our demise. We have doucumented this and would like to present this along with our charge to the FH, After taking further advice.
Thanks again for the kind advice.


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