Unfair demands/treatment from managing agent and their lawyer?

Unfair demands/treatment from managing agent and their lawyer?

9:08 AM, 6th October 2021, About 2 weeks ago 8

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Dear All, I am a leaseholder in a large building, and pay my half-yearly service charges on receipt of emailed invoices from the managing agent. Out of blue, I received an emailed bill this September from a debt collections law firm, demanding legal costs/late fees of £2,593 on top of ‘unpaid’ July service charge invoice of £1,541.

I immediately paid the July SC £1,541 invoice in full and explained to both firms that I had not received any email since the last SC invoice dated 13th May, therefore totally aware of this July invoice, and asked for evidence of it being electronically served on me.

I even offered to set up a Direct Debit with the managing agent, basically handing my bank account to them, in a desperate move to avoid future such pitfalls happening again.

I got virtually no response to my emails/calls until 5th October. Their email said: “It appears the original invoices were emailed and indeed received, yet this did not yield in payment”, but offered me a much-reduced legal cost of £966 as “a full and final settlement strictly on a Without Prejudice”, to be paid by 8 October 2021.

As they still have not provided evidence of the July SC invoice being served on me, I declined to pay the £966.

The whole experience has caused enormous mental distress while I am trying to recover from a recent physical injury. Despite knowing I am totally in the clean, these people’ threat to pursue me in court hounds me daily. I have put my flat in the market to avoid future trouble from this managing agent.

Is there any route to get assistance without hiring expensive lawyers (as I was told a loser does not need to pay for the winner’s legal cost)?

Any advice/support will be greatly appreciated.

Jasmin



Comments

by Karen

10:47 AM, 6th October 2021, About 2 weeks ago

Hi Jasmin
Who is the managing agent and the freeholder out of interest?

by Puzzler

10:59 AM, 6th October 2021, About 2 weeks ago

If you pay half-yearly and you had a demand in May, why was there one in July? If it was for something unexpected there should have been a S20 consultation. Difficult to say more without knowing what your lease says and why it was issued

by Judith Wordsworth

12:00 PM, 6th October 2021, About 2 weeks ago

if your service charges are paid half yearly and the normal service dates are May and November why did they send out additional service charge demand in July.?

What does your lease say re how service charges can be demanded/paid?

Do you have a Residents Association? If you do speak to others in the block to ask why there was this July demand in the first place.

by liu liu

12:38 PM, 6th October 2021, About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Karen at 06/10/2021 - 10:47
hi Karen
The Managing Agent is: Y&Y Management Ltd.
The freehold is: Avon Ground Rents Ltd

In Trustpilot website: I just noticed several similar cases being reported by other leaseholders.

by BernieWales

14:10 PM, 6th October 2021, About 2 weeks ago

As a general rule, service charge demands have to be delivered by post. Email is not "legal service" and as such cannot be relied upon in proceedings. Therefore, you should not be liable for the costs (allegedly) incurred.

Furthermore, if the costs are a charge derived from a lease - then they come within the scope of an administration charge ... and thus the demand must be accompanied by the Summary of Rights and Obligations for Admistration Charges. If the correct summary was not attached, then the charge is not due or payable.

The same applies to service charges, which need to have the Summary of Rights and Obligations for Service Charges attached.

I suggest you sit tight and don't pay the charges. If they "go legal" ask the County Court to transfer the matter to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber). The FTT will check the validity of the documentation and its service. They will rule in your favour, based on what you've said.

Check the precise wording of your Lease regarding service of notices, including notices in proceedings. That will clarify the methodology required for sending your service charge demands.

I hope that helps.

by Jontyv

18:40 PM, 6th October 2021, About 2 weeks ago

Hi Jasmin, There are many bad managing agents out there! I bought flats on 4 developments and found 4 awful managing agents who seemed to think they were our masters and not our servants, paid little heed to the law and continued to do so until we looked into our rights in law and the terms of our leases. We ousted them by forcing an AGM (which needed only 5% of the voting share of the members to call) and dismissed them, initially managing the development ourselves and then choosing a reputable managing agent. the results were immediate - from around £20,000 for interior decoration our new agent did the job for £3k! Check your lease if there is a residents management co. you should have the power to hire and fire your managing agents if not you may be able set up a "Right to Manage" company and do the same thing. Bad managing agents rely on the leaseholders' ignorance of the law and also that many leaseholders do not have contact details of their fellow leaseholders. (I knocked on doors and used the Land Registry), Good luck!

by Puzzler

19:32 PM, 6th October 2021, About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by BernieWales at 06/10/2021 - 14:10
I have just looked at three random leases and they only refer to payment of rent and proportion of expenditure. No mention is made of service charges or how and when they must be requested. Many leases provide for payment on account or into a reserve fund. The FTT may just rule that the notice must be served correctly. I trust you will indemnify Jasmin if she takes your advice and they don't rule in her favour 🙂 LOL

I travel a lot and I have missed correspondence when sent by post particularly if it requires to be signed for as I am never home. It is an outdated, unreliable and impractical method of communication which can favour the sender as posting deems it as being served. Notices can be served by email by consent of the recipient which it looks like was given.

Seems to me more important why this additional amount was charged outside the normal routine. I would advise Jasmin to ask.

by BernieWales

13:16 PM, 7th October 2021, About A week ago

Reply to the comment left by Puzzler at 06/10/2021 - 19:32
Puzzler - send me those three leases and I'll go through them.

If Jasmin sends me her lease - I'll check that too.


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