I am sure this topic has come up numerous times before although the search facility on here didn't recall anything specific. Apologies in advance if I have overlooked any previous threads focusing on issues raised below and please feel free to copy and paste links to them.
My problem is with the management fees and service charges for my leasehold flat in Cardiff. I purchased the flat in 2002, lived there for 6 years before renting it out in 2008 to the present day. My flat is one of four in a large converted end-terrace house. The freeholder owns two of the flats and another young couple own the other flat, which they rent out. The owner of the two flats and freeholder also "manages" the freehold along with a number of other properties in Cardiff.
Since moving in, the common parts have pretty much been neglected and are in an average to poor state. At best, the grass and hedge gets cut once, maybe twice a year, but it takes a number of phone calls and a bit of pressure to get this done. The common parts are never cleaned. The building looks quite tatty and run down (e.g., render falling off, cracks appearing, guttering faulty, etc.). The bills, I believe, are quite excessive for the work (or lack of) undertaken and they are always late and come in spuriously. For example, I have just received the bill for 2007-2010, which total over £1,700!
A typical bill looks like this:
Ground Rent - £25
Buildings Insurance - £70-80
Common Parts Lighting & Maintenance - £150-300
Management Fees - £125-150
On the face of it, these figures don't appear especially high, but when you consider virtually nothing is done to the property, they are, in my view, excessive. Ground rent and buildings insurance are fine, but I believe the management fees and especially the common parts lighting and maintenance are disproportionate to the work carried out. The common parts contain about 8-10 bulbs over the three floors and only about half of these work at any one time, so electricity consumption ought to be small. Remember, all fees are "apportioned equally" so you can times the figure by four to get the real cost for the whole building.
It would be good to hear other peoples' views on my plight and the figures I have quoted, especially those who have found themselves in a similar situation. Unfortunately, the young couple who own the other flat in the building have little interest in getting involved and seem happy to pay up just to have a quiet life. I would also like to get a professional to look at and interpret my lease (it's written in old english) but unsure how much this would cost and who the best person is to consult.
I have attached a sample picture of the back yard that is indicative of the lack of maintenance of the common parts.