Late, unexpected and excessive service charges

Late, unexpected and excessive service charges

13:07 PM, 20th April 2015, About 6 years ago 16

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I own a 2 bed flat with a managing agent of the building based up in Nottingham.

I receive invoices twice a year for 6 months worth of payments in advance for the management/maintenance of the building (12 flats and 3 business units).

The quality of service from this organisation has been appalling with hardly any cleaning taking place and repeat visits from companies who fail to fix problems but undoubtedly charge for each return visit. But I have been reluctantly making these payments even though its galling to do so.

This week I received a service charge statement for the period 25/12/2013 to 24/12/2014. This period I had paid for with payments at the beginning of 2014 and mid 2014. totaling £1,024.02.

This letter shows an amount due of £1,950.40, so minus my payments for that period a amount due of £916.38!

Not at any point have I had prior notification that the service charge would almost double during 2014 and to put it simply, I haven’t budgeted for this and I bet that within days I will get threatening letters for non payment.

I know some of the other flat owners haven’t been paying the charges going back years because of the terrible service. Its been morally hard for me to continue to pay them but I didn’t want to find myself in debt to them and the stress associated with that. But then they do this and drop a bill of £916 on me for fees going back possibly 14 months!

Can they simply do this to me?

Many thanks for any help.

Markcharges



Comments

by Sue J

12:40 PM, 21st April 2015, About 6 years ago

Hi Mark,

I think you need to find out what the 'unexpected' expenditure is within those figures you have given, only then can you target your enquiries to the managing agents. Your lease will set out how the service charge is to be apportioned between the properties contributing and you might just check to make sure that the correct allocation of costs are being made. Do you have a sinking or reserve fund (what I describe to people as a rainy day fund) which is collected within the service charge? I have often seen this fund being taken out and this leaves the leaseholder open to the spikes in expenditure which occur as the properties age?

by Kailee Hurdiss

13:51 PM, 21st April 2015, About 6 years ago

Call them up and ask for an explanation

by Mark Saunders

14:56 PM, 21st April 2015, About 6 years ago

From looking at the budgets, it does not look like they take a reserve each year. So i understand that's why these blips happen. But its just this very large blip some time after the event that getting to me.

Called them up this morning @ 9. Person responsible not available, still waiting for them to call back. I once waited a month for a response via email, even with chase up emails.

M

by Chris Amis

22:03 PM, 21st April 2015, About 6 years ago

Your plumber analogy is not as bad as it can get, in LH the MA could get a surveyor to say a plumber is needed, charge to prepare a schedule of works, charge to run a section 20, select a plumber and demand the money.

Then they can sit on the money for a year or so until you choose to go to the tribunal, who agree it is a shambles and get the section 20 run again. Guess who gets paid again 🙂

Anyway I just reread the start of this, you say 12 residential and 3 commercial, unless the shops/communal areas are very large you should be able to make 75%.

The rule is; "If more than 25% of the internal floor area excluding common parts is considered as non-residential, the building may be exempt from the right to manage."

If so it is no brainer, RTM and then appoint a manger to work for you, rather than for the FH.

Details on http://www.lease-advice.org/

Good hunting.

by Shakeel Ahmad

10:33 AM, 25th April 2015, About 6 years ago

Management of blocks by a managing agents in my experience is the most misused & abused sector of the economy.

Criminal offence or not. It is constantly abused by using law based on a fuedel system. Miillions are extorted by crooked Agents and their crooked lawyers mostly they are related or with family connections.

One, only has to look at the Freeholds that are sold at Auctions. I cannot see anyone wanting to take the responsibility of a Freeholder for say £100 ground rent ( not withstanding where lease extensions are due ) .

Approaching LVT/First tear tribunal is a waste of time besides if you wish to experience how one sided & bias the system is in favour of the Freeholder/managing Agents just take an application to them.

A few years ago when the current Tory party chairman Grant Shapps was the Housing minister there was a big movement by the public to look into these abuses by the freeholders/managing agents and the obvious weaknesses in the current legislations .

Mr Shapps did nothing and stated that on balance the system was working OK.

Don't expect any changes in the future as the big landlords are doners to the two main political parties.

To think that people buy the property for quite & peaceful occupation. A place for solice, comfort and to return to after a hard day at work and than has to deal with the dirty trick,extortion of the Freeholder/managing Agents.

We should also not forget that the biggest landlord in the Country are the Royal family and people like the Duke of Westminster.

by Mark Saunders

8:39 AM, 28th April 2015, About 6 years ago

Thanks for all your comments and advice on this.

I'm 100% sure none of the leaseholders were sent a section 20 at any point, does that mean we have a case? or is it possible there be some loophole that means in some circumstance that they did not need to?

I guess i'm worried that they must be used to this all the time and know exactly how to throw it back at us.

Many Thanks,

Mark.


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