New Freeholder demanding back fees for renting?

by Readers Question

8:52 AM, 21st May 2018
About 7 months ago

New Freeholder demanding back fees for renting?

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New Freeholder demanding back fees for renting?

I have owned a leasehold property since 1995. After I bought it I rented it out having received permission from the freeholder. I then lived in the property for many years, but more recently I have rented it out again. The freehold was sold at some point and now I have received a letter from the new freeholder saying they believe the property is rented and asking:

1) to see the permission to rent from the earlier freeholder (I don’t know if I still have this as it was back in 1995),
2) for £130 regarding the latest tenancy
3) money in respect of any earlier tenancies (which they want listed).

Under the terms of the lease the freeholder does seem to have the right to charge each time the lessee rents out the property. But having not been asked to pay anything for 23 years, is the freeholder within their rights to ask for money now, including in regard to past tenancies.

Rob



Comments

Neil Patterson

9:04 AM, 21st May 2018
About 7 months ago

Hi Rob,

Freeholder fees for renting is a very common question and complaint with P118 readers. The fact the Freeholder changed and the last one gave permission does complicate matters. However. backdating the fees is also quite common and you can be threatened with forfeiture of lease.

Due to the severity of what you can be threatened with I would definitely recommend seeking legal advice if the Freeholder is being awkward.

Mark Weedon

10:33 AM, 21st May 2018
About 7 months ago

We have this on a couple of blocks. We write back and say we understand my obligatiomns under the lease but their fees are unreasonable. Nothing normally happens for another 2 years. They then write again with the original message and we write back again. So far I have not paid anything.

Rob Thomas

14:38 PM, 21st May 2018
About 7 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Mark Weedon at 21/05/2018 - 10:33
Hi Mark

Thank you. That sounds like a reasonable approach. They are not even asking to see the tenancy agreement so their only admin cost is cashing the cheque!

Ross McColl

8:13 AM, 23rd May 2018
About 7 months ago

Worth taking a look at the leasehold advisory service. I would think it is very likely that these charges are time barred at 6 years.

Puzzler

13:08 PM, 24th May 2018
About 7 months ago

Surely your payments due to the outgoing freeholder are no business of the current one? If they chase you for them, then say you will pay the former landlord as that's to whom they were to be paid

Rob Thomas

20:33 PM, 24th May 2018
About 7 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Ross McColl at 23/05/2018 - 08:13
Thank you Ross

I've looked at the leasehold advisory service website and there's some relevant information on there.

Rob Thomas

20:43 PM, 24th May 2018
About 7 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Puzzler at 24/05/2018 - 13:08
I don't know when the freehold was sold, but it's a good point and I will try to find out when the new freeholder took over.

Kate Mellor

17:41 PM, 2nd June 2018
About 6 months ago

It’s my understanding that certainly ground rent (not sure about other charges) can be charged by the new freeholders for periods prior to their purchase, however there certainly is a time limit of six years to claim back money owed. This is a statutory limitation. You must not admit the debt though to take advantage of this.

We had a new freeholder make a claim for ground rent going back before we even owned the property as it hadn’t been collected. We pointed out that they were time barred beyond six years, so they reinvoiced for just the period up to six years. If you lived in the property for this time or more prior to your current tenancy they have no real chance of collecting any fees prior to that time. You also can’t realistically be expected to produce paperwork from 23 years ago! Tell them you’ll swear a stat dec that you were given permission if they insist. I suspect they are simply trying it on, as ours were, and will reconsider their position when you point out the time limit on their ability to claim.


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