Problem Owner Selling – Can we use opportunity to reclaim outstanding costs?

by Readers Question

9:19 AM, 15th December 2016
About 2 years ago

Problem Owner Selling – Can we use opportunity to reclaim outstanding costs?

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Problem Owner Selling – Can we use opportunity to reclaim outstanding costs?

I’m a fifth owner of the freehold in a building of 5 flats. We manage the building ourselves and I’m company secretary of the freehold company which owns the building. We all have one share. scrooge

Four of us get along fine and pay and meet on an amicable basis. One of the owners has been difficult for many years. Pays only after numerous ignored emails and is generally offensive. Never attends meetings. His flat has also caused water damage to the communal areas. Probably around £500 to repair. He has ignored any communication to discuss this. We do not wish to claim on insurance as the cost is only just above the excess.

The difficult owner is now selling. Is there anything I can do now to force the damage to be repaired or have the funds deposited in our maintenance fund to cover the cost.

I will also need to answer the freeholder questions for sale. Am I able to charge £250 to answer these questions to in some way obtain something back for all the hassle this guy has caused.

Many Thanks

Karen



Comments

Puzzler

10:30 AM, 15th December 2016
About 2 years ago

Yes you can make a charge although £250 is a bit high, £75 or £150 is more usual. The fee should be paid to the company not to you.

And yes you can claim any outstanding service charges and ground rent. Presumably the seller's solicitor has been in touch so itemise everything very carefully and make it clear you require payment from the proceeds. Water damage is usually met from communal funds unless you can prove negligence.

I don't think you can charge for hassle, you can only charge for money you have paid out or they have not paid on account.

Let's hope you have a better neighbour when the sale goes through.

David Price

11:49 AM, 15th December 2016
About 2 years ago

I charge £300 to answer the freeholder questions and in one case I asked for £5000 (note no comma) because the outgoing owner would not pay his service charges and it cost that much to take him to court. He will not pay so he cannot sell his flat. No doubt he will take legal action to get the cost reduced eventually but what a hassle for him and all I have to say is that I put the decimal point in the wrong place. There is more than one way to skin a cat.

Lucy Fryer

14:38 PM, 15th December 2016
About 2 years ago

The vendor's solicitor should deduct the owed amount from the sale proceeds before passing the balance on to the vendor. Alternatively payment by the purchaser can be arranged, again via the solicitors involved who arrange payment on completion. Make sure you include an administration charge for answering the questions. And interest on the outstanding balance.

John Frith

14:54 PM, 15th December 2016
About 2 years ago

I've never been through this in practice, so my understanding is theoretical.

I believe it is usually written into the lease that the the freehold company has to give permission for the sale - such permission not to be unreasonably withheld. It is reasonable to withhold consent until any outstanding debts are paid.

If the sale is completed without permission (ie it wasn't requested - which is not unheard of), it becomes the new owners problem to sort out. I do not know what the consequences of the freeholder not recognising a sale!


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