Patricia Pearl - Small Claims Procedure - A Practical Guide


An excellent guide for the layperson in how to use the County Court - a must if you are intending to start a claim.

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  1. #1
    Basic Account Holder mincepie88 Novitiate

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    Default Can freehold residents challenge estate service charges?

    Hello All

    1st time here, wondered if anyone has experience of the following.

    We (and the majority of residents on the estate) are freehold houses, there are a few apartments on the estate I believe are leasehold. The management company has sent through the latest budget for 2009, and the again the costs have increased significantly.

    The house was sold by the developer on the basis that the service charge would be 125 for the 1st year. A management company is employed to look after gardening of communal areas, communal electricity (roads not adopted yet or for at least another 2yrs), general repairs, a managing agent fee, accountancy fee, company secretary fee.

    All this seems reasonable at 125. In 2008 it went up to 185, and for 2009 it moves to 215! And then because there was a shortfall from 2007, they charged a further 50 recently.

    The gripe among many of the freehold residents is that the biggest cost of grounds maintenance (approx 1/2 of the total estate charge) is that the road is nowhere near where the communal area is, and we have to maintain our own gardens directly outside our houses) and a small area that the gardeners were supposed to look after was neglected for over 12 months because the landlord (the building developer) alledgedly didn't inform the management company it needed doing. Also, the management company claim it also covers repairs to "private" road, which conflicts with the council, who say that if a road is planned to be adopted, which it is, the landlord must pay for maintenance as oppose to the resident.

    I appreciate costs will increase over time, but this is hugely above an inflationary increase, and the overall cost seems excessive for the frequency and quality of gardening (that we don't see), but as freehold, I understand we can't easily challenge the costs through leasehold valuation tribunal.

    Any ideas anybody?

    Thanks!

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  2. #2
    Basic Account Holder Trilby274 Novitiate Trilby274 Novitiate Trilby274's Avatar

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    Default Re: Can freehold residents challenge estate service charges?

    On your conveyance, does it list the service charge as a covenant? If so, what are the terms?


  3. #3
    Basic Account Holder mincepie88 Novitiate

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    Default Re: Can freehold residents challenge estate service charges?

    I'll have to have a look and report back. Any specific I should be looking for regarding reasonable charges?


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    Basic Account Holder Trilby274 Novitiate Trilby274 Novitiate Trilby274's Avatar

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    Default Re: Can freehold residents challenge estate service charges?

    I shouldn't think anything to that effect will be in the covenant. First thing to establish is that there is actually a covenant.


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Can freehold residents challenge estate service charges?

    Ok, had a look, their are a number of subsections:

    Transferees covenants in favour of the transferor and the development
    Transferees further covenants
    Covenants by the transferor
    Covenants by the Management Company
    Covenants by the Transferee in favour of the management company and the transferor
    And then a section regarding maintenance expenses


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    Default Re: Can freehold residents challenge estate service charges?

    Do there appear anywhere in the transfer the words "rent charge"?


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    Default Re: Can freehold residents challenge estate service charges?

    Think it's the section on maintenance expenses that you need to concentrate. If the management company have done their homework, I suspect they can pretty well make any 'reasonable' charge for maintenance. Unfortunately, there never seems to be any definition of what is reasonable.

    How about forming a resident's association and inviting the management people along so that they can explain everything - and you can have a go back at them?


  8. #8
    Basic Account Holder bellijayne Novitiate

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    Default Re: Can freehold residents challenge estate service charges?

    You could try arguing that the contract is not a fair & reasonable one. What surprises me is that you are a Freeholder. Here's a Q. for you. Does it state within the Title Deeds, words to the effect Fee Simple as being yours? (fee simple is your right to pass on to your heirs your home). The reason I'm asking is that if so then once the mortgageicon is redeemed the Property is yours in accordance with a shed load of old Acts which have yet to be repealed. Hope this helps.


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    Default Re: Can freehold residents challenge estate service charges?

    This is an old thread bellijayne. As its not been posted on for over 4 years I would think the problems been resolved, or at least moved on.



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