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Hello,

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.

DSC00196a.jpg

post-30307-0-11977600-1298067752_thumb.jpg

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Hello,

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.

You have a right to insist on seeing the receipts for these items.

I suggest that you exercise it.

tim

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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.

There is a statutory body that you can complain to if you think the charges are excessive for the work done, Leasehold Valuation Tribunal

If you follow the Decisions tab you will be able to find the types of complaints they have heard and see how they have ordered them to be resolved.

Another organisation dealing with this type of situation are Leasehold Advisory Service.

Both these sites will give you the expert advice you need and will give you the guidance you need on what steps to take to resolve your difficulty.

Good luck

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Thanks for the replies.

Interestingly, it appears that I do not have to pay service charge fees, which I assume includes ground rent, insurance, maintenance charges and managament fees, beyond 18 months ago and that I am quite entitled to view the accounts of the property.

I shall do some more investigating and post any interesting findings that might benefit other subcribers here.

Any more feedback/leads would be gratefully received.

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firstly you need to check your lease to see how much of any charges you are liable for - will probably be 25% but best to make sure.

Also I think ground rent can be claimed for longer than service charges so look into this.

then you should write to your freeholder (it has to be letters rather than conversations from this point) asking him for a full breakdown of the costs, dated and with receipts where possible.

This way should he supply this information he will list 2007, 2008 and the start of 2009 which you are no longer liable for, making it easier for you.

If he fails to supply this then you don't need to pay until he does (I would have a solicitior confirm this however).

You should also copy the other leaseholders on the letter, even though they may not want anything to do with it, this could change if they realise you are prepared to do the leg work to there benefit.

In the meantime take date stamped photos of any poorly kept areas like you attached above so you can reference these later if required.

Once he responds you will need to write to him again (and pay him what you owe). This is the point where you may need to go to a solicitor or at the very least phone the leasehold advisory service who can help with the wording of a letter as this will be the point where you tell him you are not liable for anything over 18 months old.

Some solicitors will give a free 30 min consultation and send a letter for around £50, with the extra weight this carries it could be worth doing.

I would definitely speak to the leasehold advisory service who offer free advice on matters just like this

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Under section 22 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, I am entitled toinspect the accounts, receipts and any other documents relating tothe service charges. I believe these are supposed to be made available free of charge (except for any photocopies and postage that he may reasonably charge for) but my landlord is trying to charge me £30 an hour to put them together and he reckons it's going to take him a minimum of 2 hours. Does anyone know whether he can make this charge?

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usually the solicitor for the seller writes to the management company and requests a large package of information which the seller generally has to pay for - and in that package there will be the last 5 years of accounts information, along with a lot of other information that they are required to collate. This information is then passed over to the buyer for them to consider.

That has always been the case with any leasehold property that we have owned, at the time of coming to sell it on.

There has always been such information made available to us when we have bought a property - again as part of the package of information that the solicitor acting for us, has requested of the seller.

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usually the solicitor for the seller writes to the management company and requests a large package of information which the seller generally has to pay for - and in that package there will be the last 5 years of accounts information, along with a lot of other information that they are required to collate. This information is then passed over to the buyer for them to consider.

That has always been the case with any leasehold property that we have owned, at the time of coming to sell it on.

There has always been such information made available to us when we have bought a property - again as part of the package of information that the solicitor acting for us, has requested of the seller.

But the seller will get a bill in that case.

To the OP, no I don't believe that the freeholder can charge you for the time of "putting this together" when exercising your legal rights.

tim

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To the OP, no I don't believe that the freeholder can charge you for the time of "putting this together" when exercising your legal rights.

The freeholder, or whoever collects the service charges is under an obligation to prepare accounts to show how the monies collected for service charges have been expended. He can legitimately charge for for doing so. The cost is borne by all those who are liable for the service charges.

Sounds as if you have someone who isn't aware of their obligations. Look on the sites I gave you the links for in February for fuller information and the enforcement steps you can take.

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  • 277 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

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